Note on bottom.

"The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple."

― Oscar Wilde

Chapter 20 - Hearts


The smell of coffee and bacon made my stomach rumble. It took me a minute to gather myself together and remember where I was. Becc's and Rachel's old bedroom. Seeing the Justin Timberlake, Brad Pitt, and various movie posters on the wall made me smile. The girls shared different interests than I did when we were younger; yet, we got along regardless during my Summer visits... Back when life wasn't complicated.

The door creaked open, and Billy wheeled in carrying a mug of coffee. He smiled warmly at me, "Morning. Food's ready."

I sat up, rubbing my eyes, and carefully took the cup from his hand. "Thanks, Billy. I'll be out in a bit."

He nodded and wheeled back out of the room.

I wish there was an easy fix button I could push and make everything better. I hurt Jacob, whom I love. I feel like I'm hurting Paul in some way. These emotions toward him are beyond complex. The inexplicable draw I feel toward him. Then there is the imprint that still doesn't make sense. I had so many questions that were burning on my tongue; before I could ask him, a multitude of howls ripped through the sky. Paul mumbled under his breath then hugged me awkwardly and left. The sun began to set by the time I came back into the Black house.

My gut pinched again, reminding me to get off my butt and go eat.

Billy was waiting for me at the small kitchen table. Seeing him being so pensive, I remembered Charlie. I needed to call him. "Can I borrow your phone? I promised Dad I would keep in touch."

He gestured to the wall where the phone was located.

Charlie was animated as we talked. He enjoyed being busy, though the higher crime rate was a shock to him. As he talked, I remembered all too well the night in the alley when I was still obsessed with figuring out what the Cullen's were. A shiver ran through me. What would Charlie have done if the worst happened? If Edward didn't save me in time?

"Bells! You there?"

Clearing my head of those morbid scenarios, I tried to sound cheerful, "Yeah, I'm here. That's great, Dad. How much longer do you think you'll help the department over there?"

He mulled the inquiry over for a bit, "I don't know. Maybe a couple of more days. Will you be alright by yourself? You could stay at Billy's you know."

"I know. I'll be fine. See, I'm at Billy's now..." The panic set in instantly... I forgot to lock the door when I left - Oh, crap! "Dad, I'm going back to the house soon. I just wanted to check in with you."

"Alright then. Love ya, Bells. Call me tomorrow."

"Got it. Love you too, Dad. Bye."

I rushed back to Becc's and Rachel's room, grabbing my shoes and stumbling to put them on. Billy stared at me, dumbfounded.

"I have to go home. I didn't lock the door, and I just left yesterday. I wasn't thinking," I tried to hurry through the explanation, then remembered that I didn't have my truck. My head started to hurt, and my stomach was killing me. "Billy, I need a ride..." The room tilted, blurring on the edges. I grabbed the counter and held myself steady.

"You need to sit, eat, and calm down. I'll get someone from the pack to go to Charlie's, and they can drive your truck down here as well."

There was nothing I could do except give in. All the weight I'd lost from those catatonic months made my body crave food on a starvation level. I was not taking care of myself. Billy regarded me while speaking to someone in hushed tones. Not bothering to think about how it may look, I inhaled the food.

Billy beamed at me, chuckling heartily. "I thought Jake was the only one who could put away food like that."

My cheeks tinged red, and I hid my face behind my hands. He laughed harder. "I'm so embarrassed."

"No need. I'm happy to have someone to cook for. Jacob was gone for-" he stopped himself from going further, seeing the devastated look on my face. It was difficult for me to think about Jacob, alone, and in misery after realizing the truth of the beginning of our friendship. We still needed to talk.

"Billy... I'm sorry. About Jake - I mean I know he left, and he was hurting..." my voice caught in my throat. I wanted to tell him, to explain, apologize. He wheeled in closer to my side of the table and patted my hand affectionately.

"You don't have to apologize to me. I know about the allure that vampires can hold on humans. Yes, Harry and I tried to warn Charlie, without giving away any part of our tribe's secret. It was hard, mind you. I want to tell him everything. He's my best friend. Unfortunately, it isn't up to me. I am the Chief, but decisions such as those go through our Council and the vote has to be unanimous."

"I get it. Don't feel forced to share anything you're not allowed to." The last thing I wanted was for Billy to get in trouble because of me.

"You will hear all of this sooner or later. I just... I wanted you to grasp that this does pain me to keep from Charlie. He was thrilled when you began to open up to him. That man was the happiest I'd ever heard him on his drive to Port Angeles. He doesn't feel like he did when you were with Cullen - like he was a hairs breadth away from losing you."

The tears I was able to hold back slipped down my cheeks. I knew Charlie went through a lot when I was trapped in that horrific limbo of an existence. "It was wrong of me to want to die. When I was with Edward, and after he left me. I shouldn't have wanted to die; however, I did."

A roar of my truck's engine interrupted the conversation. I was drained, both mentally and emotionally. As much as I wanted to talk to Billy, and Jacob, I needed a shower and to rest in my own bed. I stood and squeezed Billy's shoulder, "I'll come back. I promise. This - everything - is a lot to process. I want to go home."

He pointed to the cabinet, "Jake left you a note before leaving this morning. Take it with you... Bella," he sighed, "listen to your heart. That's all I ask."

After tucking Jacob's letter in my back pocket, I jogged out the door and climbed into my truck.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have started our descent in preparation for landing. Please make sure your seats and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Please turn off all electronic devices until we are safely parked at the gate. The flight attendants are currently passing around the cabin to pick up any remaining cups and glasses."

Jasper and Rosalie sat in coach, away from the rest of their Coven that was sitting in First Class. This was Alice's punishment for their lack of enthusiasm in regards to going back to Forks to make amends with Bella. Jasper picked the pen out of his pocket and grabbed the paper bag he found under the seat. He decided to write in a language long since forgotten to humans so none would understand if it were to be found.

- I know that look on your face. What are you planning?

Rosalie glanced at it quickly, and replied.

- Clear your thoughts so you know who doesn't eavesdrop.

He nodded and recited military tactics in his mind from World War II. Living with a mind reader demanded they all find ways to ensure some semblance of privacy.

She scribbled down the one of the true reasons she stayed away from the mansion in Ithaca. - I have been attempting to contact the Alpha since Emoward came back, but I have not been able to get a hold of him or any of his pack.

- When will you try again?

- As soon as they say we can get off the plane, I am going to run straight through.

- Including the Quileute border?

- Yes.

- You're insane.

- It's all I can do. If I don't, and they drag that girl back into this existence, I will never forgive myself.

- Well, I ain't letting a lady go by herself.

Rosalie grinned at him. - Is the Major planning on escorting little ol' me?

- Yes, ma'am.

- We could get killed.

- What else is new?

- We could be walking into a fight with a pack of dogs.

- I'll be right there with you. The human should not be forced against her will to follow the golden boy and the midget.

- Mr. Whitlock, I do believe you have made fun of your wife.

Her soft laugh made him smirk. He rolled his eyes and snatched the pen from her hand. - What are you going to tell the Bear?

- Nothing. He doesn't understand why I think this life is not enough.

- Because he has you. His fingertip whispered against her skin as he wrote, making her feel a burning ache. I won't apologize.

Rosalie ignored the surfacing emotions. Now was not the time. They needed to be on the same page as far as crossing the border and breaking the treaty. - If we come at them together, should we raise a white flag between us?

Jasper snorted a laugh. - With a peace symbol on it? It isn't the 70's, Rose.

The flight attendant notified the passengers that they could unbuckle their seatbelts. Rosalie's eyes met Jasper's briefly, then they made their way to the Exit - leaving behind their luggage, their significant others, and the rest of the coven.

Sorry for the slight delay. FFn was not letting me upload the chapter for some reason.

See you soon.