Jane steps toward the camera, peering at it with concern. Out of sight of any of the cameras, an eagle lands on a pine far above their heads, and watches. The vampires do not notice. "Do you have anything to tell us, Edward?"
Jacob speaks directly in Bree's ear. "I have been monitoring my surroundings," Edward answers and shrugs. "I could not adequately watch Bella inside and keep watch for my siblings, Charlie Swan, Jacob's tribe or, to be honest, you, all at the same time without assistance. There are several." He points out three more for good measure. "Surely the halls of Volterra are similarly outfitted? Our home in Forks is monitored, albeit the cameras better hidden. I am working with inferior equipment here, and not nearly so much time and energy as went into designing the security of our main home."
She frowns at him. "We do not appreciate being recorded, Edward."
He answers, "Nor do I. It is a closed circuit, digitally recorded on a computer attached to no network. Easily destroyed." He looks down at Jacob's and Bella's forms. "I can turn it off right now. There is nothing left to watch for. Even if someone comes looking for them, they are too late." He disappears into the house momentarily and appears with a USB drive. He holds it up. "It's going into the fire." He tosses it in the burning fireplace before Jane has a chance to protest.
Jane looks at him suspiciously. "Fine, but I would have preferred to examine and destroy that myself."
The wolves hold their breath. The cover is flimsy at best. If Jane searches the house, Bree will not be able to fabricate a functioning computer with surveillance software loaded on it. And Edward's statement about the closed circuit and offline computer are gibberish.
Edward looks contrite. "Apologies, Jane. I should have known." Luckily, Jane presses no further.
Meanwhile, Bella's cries have lessened to agonized whimpers. Jacob has gone silent and still. Jane asks, "Shall we await the transformations in the house? We could gather a few treats for our hungry newborns. It would make a nice snack for all of us."
Edward picks Bella up in his arms, transferring her to the bed. In the control room, Jacob issues more instructions to Bree. Edward says, "Let's talk a bit about proper hunting grounds. I haven't partaken myself, obviously, but I have gotten to know the area. Let me restrain this one first."
Edward bends over Jacob, but rather than being weak with pain, Jacob appears fully lucid. From the ground, the Volturi cannot see him, but Bree has turned his skin several shades paler than usual and has dilated his pupils out. His thin irises look bright red.
"Impossible," Edward breathes. He steps back from Jacob's still form.
"What is it?" Jane asks.
"I cast no spell on Bella," Jacob speaks as he rises to his feet. "But I cast a protection spell on myself." Edward, startled, steps backward until he runs into the rail. Jane, Chelsea, and Felix immediately jump to the balcony, but Jacob flashes to Bella's side just as quickly. He cradles her in his arms and looks up at them. The Volturi can see his red irises.
"Don't do anything foolish!" Jane implores.
"I won't," Jacob whispers. "There is only one thing left to do, and it is not foolish at all."
In his arms, Bella looks up at him. Through her haze of pain, she whispers a single word. "Please."
"I love you forever," Jacob answers. In the control room, he cannot bring himself to watch, illusion or no, even though he is the one directing the scene.
Edward leaps at them screaming, "No!" But Jacob is too quick. Just before Edward plows into him, he snaps Bella's neck at an impossible angle. An injury she cannot recover from, vampire venom or no.
Edward's force throws Jacob from the bed and out into the third floor hallway. They tumble down the stairs, clawing at one another. The Volturi follow. On the second floor walkway, Edward lands on top of Jacob and tries to pin his arms. Jacob headbutts Edward viciously, knocking him back. A well placed kick to the sternum flings Edward down to the first floor. Jacob throws himself at Edward, but Edward rolls away, and Jacob lands hard with an empty grasp. From his position on the floor, Edward grabs Jacob's leg in an attempt to trip him. But Jacob, possessing both greater size and supposedly newborn strength, simply steps on Edward's chest. Edward stops trying to pull him down and simply attempts to free himself unsuccessfully. Jacob leans down over Edward, grasping his head in both large hands.
"Don't!" Jane screams from above, and simultaneously hurls herself over the rail while appearing to concentrate to aim pain in his mind. Nothing happens to the illusory Jacob. But before she lands beside Jacob, he rips off Edward's head and tosses it into the blazing fireplace. The head screams.
"What did you do?" Jane shrieks and fixes her furious gaze on Jacob. He looks at her defiantly for a split second. Then he drops to his knees and falls forward, supporting himself with his hands flat on the floor. He takes deep, laboring breaths, head bowed nearly to the hardwood.
In the control room, Jacob turns to Rosalie. "Time to make an appearance." She nods and slips out the back door. He turns back to Bree. "End it."
Chelsea admonishes Jane, "He is still worth something. We don't have to go home empty handed. Let up on him."
Jane turns up to her in confusion. "It's not me! I'm not doing anything."
With a groan, Jacob collapses onto the floor, shaking. The Volturi look on in confusion. "What's wrong with you?" Jane asks Jacob. "You did it. You killed Cullen. It's over. Get up!" Jacob just moans and writhes in pain. Felix and Chelsea walk down the stairs. The three Volturi guard stand over Jacob, perplexed.
Rosalie opens the front door and surveys the situation. Three heads turn to look at her. "Rosalie Cullen?" Jane asks.
Rosalie steps forward, kneeling over Edward's headless body and looking at the remnants of his head in the flame. "Goddamnit, brother," she mutters.
"Can you explain any of this?" Jane asks, gesturing at Jacob. Rosalie steps between Felix and Chelsea and rolls Jacob onto his back.
"Edward bit him?" Rosalie asks.
"Yes," Jane answers. "But only minutes ago. Not nearly enough time for a transformation, yet he jumped up with supernatural strength and ripped Edward's head off. But then, this." She waves her hand at Jacob.
"We saw this once before. When we lived here in the last century. A shaman, not nearly as powerful as Jacob. This was his only defense from vampires. A spell of protection. After a nomad bit him, he turned quickly. Like this, only it took about an hour. When he woke up, he had the strength of a newborn. But it only lasted a few hours. Just long enough for him to revenge himself. As soon as he did, he died." As they watch, Jacob's writhing slows to shivers. He groans weakly. "The spell had a cost. Like a bee, I suppose. They sting in self defense, but it is fatal to them. They quickly perish."
"Is there nothing we can do? He would have been a prime specimen to take home."
"Nothing that I know of," Rosalie sighs. "He is the last male of his line, and the only shaman left. The girls do not have the talent, nor do they pass it on. Even his father did not display any power. What he knows dies with him." She turns back to Edward's headless corpse. "I told him to leave her alone. From the very beginning, it could only end badly. To fall in love with your singer? An impossible situation."
Jane looks infuriated. "So that's it? We came all this way for nothing?"
Rosalie glares at her, feigning misery at Edward's death. It isn't difficult. She really does feel bad about the way his life ended. "You got what you wanted. The human girl is dead, and her secrets are safe. Everything else, for you at least, remains the same as before. It is the rest of us who have to suffer the loss."
Jacob stills completely, his body relaxing against the floorboards. Rosalie rolls him onto his back, crosses his arms over his chest, and closes his vacant, red eyes. Back in the control room, the wolves hold their breath. The performance is nearly done.
Jane rolls her eyes at the gesture and says, "At least we have their bodies for experimentation." The watching wolves tense at the statement. Jacob begins to issue new instructions to Bree, but pauses when he hears Rosalie.
Rosalie shakes her head. "No. I will take all their bodies back. Charlie Swan will bury his daughter, and knowing she is dead, will not continue a search that could expose all of us. He will blame Edward, and will not look further. Carlisle will want to burn Edward ourselves and spread his ashes. We will return Jacob to his tribe. We have lived beside the Quileute on and off for a century. They are suspicious of us enough as it is. They expect their son returned to them and they will have him."
"Won't it just provoke them? To return his lifeless corpse, hard as stone and unbreakable?"
Rosalie shakes her head. "Carlisle is a man of honor. You know that, and so do they. He has promised to return Jacob to them, and he will do so. We will burn him first and return his ashes so they will not learn what happened to him. We are not trying to cause an exposure of our kind. But it would be worse to let them wonder of his fate forever. Although Jacob had disobeyed his people, although he went outside his tribe to love an outsider, they would still not want his body desecrated. He was their beloved son, and his remains are sacred to them. I will return him to them." She stands firm.
An odd look passes over Jane's face. She is obviously deciding whether to torture Rosalie into compliance. It would be easy, even if Jane was alone, let alone with Felix and Chelsea beside her. But she realizes that Carlisle still has the respect of her masters. And it is too late to bring home the real prizes already. She reluctantly agrees to leave. "You won't mind if we don't stay to clean up, then."
"Not at all," Rosalie answers. "Pass along my best wishes to your masters."
Jane steps out the front door followed closely by Chelsea, and the wolves grin at each other until Felix pauses in the open doorway and turns to face Rosalie. He narrows his eyes. "Where did you come from? I thought you were far ahead of us."
Rosalie looks down at the floor, frowns convincingly, and sighs. She thinks quickly on her feet, knowing her scent is all over the house and yard. "I followed him here well before you arrived," she admits. "I even helped him set up the cameras while I tried to talk him out of it. But that was futile. I hated her, the girl." She looks Felix in the eye directly, her gaze piercing. "She had a choice once. Between life and this miserable existence. She chose badly when she chose Edward. She had everything I always wanted, and she walked away from it. I despised her for it. But she changed her mind. Before it was too late." Her statements carry the ring of truth, as there is honesty in what she says scattered amongst the lies.
Felix shakes his head. "It was too late the day she stepped into Volterra."
Rosalie squeezes her eyes shut. "I know. But I wasn't going to let it happen to her."
"What did you think you could do to stop Edward? Or to stop us?"
Rosalie takes a deep breath. "Kill her. I thought if I got close enough, I could kill her. The true death. A mercy. Not our curse to walk the earth forever."
Jacob exchanges a glance with Leah. They are both wondering the same thing. How much truth is in Rosalie's statement? Would she really have killed Bella in order to stop her from being turned? Jacob had once told Bella in anger that he wished her dead rather than changed. But after being faced with the very real possibility of being with her as a vampire, he knew he would love her in whatever form she took.
Rosalie continues, "I was staying just out of range so that Edward couldn't hear my thoughts. Trying to figure out a way in. Making it past the cameras would be easy. But he would hear my thoughts long before I got close enough to do anything."
Felix nods in understanding. "But then the shaman came."
Rosalie nods. "And then all I could do was wait and watch." She glances up to the third floor where Bella's body lies still. "And it worked out anyway, didn't it?"
"My masters will be displeased at your attempts to interfere," he warns.
She just shrugs. "At my undirected thoughts? My failure to intervene? Let them. They can also be pleased that I am cleaning up the mess. There will be no secrets spilled, no nasty little truths revealed. I know how to be discreet, and I have broken none of their laws. They can think what they want of me. You can think what you want of me. At least I am honest. I did not want this fate, and I do not wish it on my enemies."
She walks to the stairs and turns back to Felix. "If there isn't anything else?" After several beats he nods at her to go. She recovers Bella's body quickly and bears it down the stairs as he watches her. Rosalie lays Bella's still form down next to Jacob's.
"What do you think?" Felix asks. "Did the shaman steal Bella from your brother with black magic?"
Rosalie tilts her head up at Felix. "You and I both know that we, not the humans, are the ones who possess black magic." He smiles darkly in acknowledgment, steps out of the house, and disappears into the night. Rosalie watches him go from the front window. She sees the eagle take to the sky behind him, following the vampires away, but doesn't recognize it for what it is.
The wolves stare at the monitors for long minutes after the Volturi guard disappear. Not one of them quite believes the threat has passed, and without a single casualty. It is simply too good to be true.
Quil breaks the silence first with a small chuckle. The chuckle turns into laughter, the laughter turns into guffaws, and then they are all slapping each other on the back and hugging and congratulating one another. Quil wheezes through his laughter, "If only we'd been able to work in the Jake Black special!" Embry wags his tail happily in his corner. Rosalie winks into the camera scanning the great room. She quietly states she is going to stay put for a few minutes in case the Volturi return, then sits calmly down on the sofa and starts thumbing through a magazine.
Bree's thin voice pipes up, "How long do I keep up the charade?" Sam lays her on the floor where she rocks back and forth like a turtle rolled back on its shell.
"Let's wait until we're sure they're gone," Jacob answers. He kneels over her. "I despise you, but I have to give credit where credit is due. You pulled it off, so I'll hold up my end of the bargain."
As soon as he finishes speaking, they hear Rosalie's phone chime. She answers, and they hear high pitched squealing from the other end. Rosalie laughs, thanks Alice, and hangs up. "Did you catch that?"
"She sounded like a mosquito," says Quil. Rosalie, of course, cannot hear him.
"She said that there is only one future for Bella now, and she can see almost none of it." Rosalie looks rather smug.
Jacob grins at the screen. "Guess that's our answer," he says to Bree. Immediately, the false corpses disappear.
Rosalie says, "Stay where you are for a bit longer. I don't know how far away they are, and we don't need the stench of wet dog to drift downwind and draw their attention. Call me if you need me before I get back. I'll clean things up here," and begins flashing from room to room. The cameras blink out one by one.
In the corner, Embry phases back to human form and tugs on his shorts. "Bella's going to have to fight Charlie for the right to give you the first kiss when we get back, man. He's even more excited than she is."
"Are you going to run back tonight?" Leah asks. It is late, and the other wolves all feel like a good night's rest is well deserved.
Jacob glances at Bree's limbless form on the ground. "Depends on how long this takes," he says, pointing at her. He addresses Bree directly. "We'll be taking your head off again, by the way. You probably don't need to feel your body being ripped apart anyway, and we'd just as soon not have you watching when we do this." Bree looks at him with a carefully neutral expression. He locks away her arm and legs for the time being so that they do not have to worry about her trying to reassemble herself while their guard is down.
Meanwhile, Sam goes to the kitchen to order five extra large pizzas. A knock sounds at the front door at the same time that Rosalie re-emerges through the back. She smirks. "So much for discretion, huh? Starving bellies trump your good sense?"
Quil protests. "Ordering pizzas is excellent sense."
"Ordering five extra large pizzas when there clearly isn't a party going on in here is, though. It's conspicuous."
"In that case, I hope the Volturi aren't delivering our pizzas tonight." Sam answers the door. The wolves devour the food as Rosalie looks on with a scowl of distaste.
She turns to Leah. "How do you stand it? They're pigs, not wolves."
Quil answers, "I'm so glad I'm a werewolf instead of a were-pig!"
Rosalie just rolls her eyes. Then she glances at her watch. "I think it's been long enough. They've got to be long gone by now."
Jacob nods and heads into the secluded backyard to check for any humans in the area. It is late, and no one is nearby, except for the eagle, which has returned to watch over them, and is sitting in a nearby tree. He nods to it in greeting. He recognizes that it is the same eagle who guided him on his first spirit walk.
Meanwhile, Sam has already unlocked the safes. At Jacob's signal, he brings the torso outside. The rest of the wolves follow with the remaining body parts. Inside, Rosalie lights a fire. "I don't think we'll need that," Jacob calls in.
"Better to be safe than sorry," she answers, and Jacob shrugs.
"Who wants the honor of beheading this leech?" Jacob asks. Although he knows that the whole pack is relieved to have tricked the Volturi into leaving, resulting in little to no remaining threat to the tribe, their natural inclination is to fight. There is something viscerally disappointing about being close to vampires and not shredding them to bits. Quil gives a feral grin and drops the leg he holds, lowers his shorts, and phases quickly. Jacob turns Bree's torso so she can see him just as Rosalie exits the house. "We'll know it if you try to tamper with any of those chips. If it happens in a year, in five, or when we're old and gray. Don't fuck with us, don't come back to North America, stay the hell out of Italy, and you can do whatever you want. Deal?"
Bree looks at the surrounding group of menacing wolves. "It's not like I have a choice. Deal."
Quil doesn't hesitate. As soon as Sam drops the limbless monster to the ground, Quil tears her head off with an awful screeching metal sound. Rosalie immediately appears to take the lifeless head in her arms. "Let me get started with this thing." She heads inside. A few seconds later a pungent, stinging smoke rises from the chimney, and Jacob and Leah rush inside. Rosalie stands in front of the fireplace. Bree's head is blazing.
"We made her a promise!" Jacob says with an expression of shock on his face. The rest of the wolves pile into the room behind him.
Rosalie turns to them with a cocked brow. "As for my part, I lied. Did you really want to have to track her until the end of time? Did you really want to let Bella out of your sight, knowing that bitch was still out there somewhere, minus one arm, working herself into a frenzy of anger, wanting revenge?"
"Of course not," Jacob admits easily.
"Then just be happy. Your honor isn't besmirched, dog. This was my decision, not yours. We didn't go through all this trouble just to leave her out there in the world trying to figure out a way to come back and ruin your lives. Vampires have long memories. Trust me. We hold onto our grudges. Our bitterness only grows. Even if she never tried to make a move on you or Bella, what about once you're gone? What about your kids? What about the tribe in a hundred years?"
Leah nods in agreement. "She's right, Jacob. She did you a massive favor. And you didn't even have to mislead Bree yourself. Just say thank you."
Jacob's expression of surprise fades into a grin. "Yeah. Of course. I'm being an idiot. Thank you."
She smiles. "Yes, you are. And you're welcome."
Sam says, "Guess we should get rid of the rest of her, then."
Jacob turns toward him. "Yeah, but we don't have to stink this place up any more than we already have. We don't own this place, and whoever lives here during the off season probably won't appreciate coming home to the aroma of burned vamp ashes. I'll take it out to the woods and do it there."
"I'll come with you," offers Rosalie. "These guys may want to get some sleep," she says, pointing to the rest of the wolves. "Unless you were going to run back tonight?"
They look at each other. Adrenaline has them all alert, but none of them has gotten good rest in the past few weeks. "Nah," Embry answers. "No need to pull another all-nighter."
"Why don't you guys go back to the bigger place, then? It's more comfortable, and there are enough bedrooms for each of you to have your own," she offers.
They agree and move toward the door. Embry pauses next to the box of microchips. "Were these good for anything?" he asks, picking them up.
"Those are old SIM cards from our discarded cell phones. They're old enough that they don't have GPS trackers in them. But there are phone numbers to some pretty interesting people in there, especially in the ones that belonged to Carlisle. He's made a lot of contacts over the years," she says. Embry laughs and tosses the box to her before the pack leaves.
Jacob heads out the back door, and Rosalie follows. "You were right. That was clearly the best thing to do."
"Why do you think I did it? It was easier than giving you the unwanted advice of telling you to do it yourself. Someone once told me it's sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."
Jacob laughs as he picks up Bree's torso. "I'm guessing that wasn't Carlisle."
She smiles grimly. "Of course not. It was Edward." Rosalie gathers the limbs, and they walk along the lake, just inside the treeline. The cover of darkness keeps them from prying eyes.
"That does sound like him. Don't teach that lesson to Quil, okay? He'd really take it to heart, and it's hard enough to be his Alpha already."
"You don't really think it's hard. You're a good Alpha. Remember, I knew Ephraim. I have something to compare you to. He'd be proud," she says honestly.
"Thanks," Jacob answers. "Hey, while we're on the subject of unwanted advice?"
"Your cover story blows."
She laughs. "What do you mean?"
"Two crazy rich twenty-something parents who decided to adopt a bunch of teenagers, most of whom are supposedly unrelated, but all have ridiculously pale skin and matching sets of freaky eyes? And they let their kids all hook up with each other? Foster parents who let their kids date each other get investigated by Child Protective Services."
She looks amused. "Okay, fine, what do you suggest?"
"You're already pretending to be Jasper's twin, right? And there's no way Carlisle and Esme could be your actual parents."
"So keep Jasper your brother. You don't have to think outside the box at all to make Carlisle your brother too. You all look alike anyway. And Alice and Emmett can be related to Esme somehow. Esme and Carlisle bonded over having to take care of their little siblings, and that's how they ended up getting married and Brady Bunching you all together. If two of you can manage to keep your hands off each other while you're in public, it won't look that strange that every single one of you is paired off. And go buy some colored contacts. I'm pretty sure you can afford them. Only half of you even have to wear them. The other half have genetically matching crazy eyes."
"Oh." Rosalie looks chagrined. "We even used to do that when it was just Carlisle, Esme, Edward and I. We sort of stopped when the family grew. There wasn't even a reason why."
"And get some coverup. I'm pretty sure that in the last five decades, makeup technology has advanced enough to let you all out of the house when it's sunny. Bella told me you all go 'camping' on clear days?"
"Supposedly," she replies.
"I can't believe you guys have gotten away with that. The Forks school system needs a serious administrative overhaul if they let you get away with that shit. And Carlisle has an actual job, right? How does he just not show up to work when the clouds part in the sky? How hasn't he gotten fired?"
"He still goes to work, it's just the rest of us who cut classes," she answers. "He just stays away from windows as best he can, and he does put on some powder stuff to tone down the shine."
"So you guys know how to cover up, and you just choose to stick out like sore thumbs?"
She shrugs. "I'm vain, so sue me. I know I look better without it, so I don't put it on. And the powder feels wrong on my skin. It's not like attending high school civics for the twentieth time is a good use of my time anyway. I mean, what exactly am I missing by playing hooky?"
"Okay, we've been over that already. You aren't going back to high school again, are you?"
"No," she concedes. "Emmett and I are going to go to Africa soon, anyway. I'll enroll in med school next fall. What about you?"
"What about me? I actually am sixteen, not just pretending to be. I still have to get through high school the first time around. Which seems ridiculous, considering how I've spent my summer."
"I am sorry for that, Jacob. We really didn't think about the consequences when we moved back here. We should have known what would happen to you boys. It's not like we didn't know about the last pack."
He shrugs. He doesn't have anything nice to say on this point. It is easy to be magnanimous now that they have repelled the threats, but he doesn't want this to continue. The Cullens may be the best of their kind, but they bring chaos with them. He doesn't want his own children to suffer the fate that he did, even if it has turned out well in the end. "That's why I would still like you guys to move. You really are welcome on the reservation, Rosalie, it's the least we can do after all your help. But I don't want this to happen to anyone else. I want my kids to have more choices than I've got. Everyone's life is on hold for now. My pack should have the option to grow up and go to college, get normal jobs, meet other people, but they can't right now. And even once you all go, it'll take months or years for most of them to gain the control they need to stop phasing."
"Don't worry, we will be moving along. Even if we hadn't already agreed to go, Esme isn't going to want to stay in our house anymore, and she won't want to come back later. Too many memories of Edward."
They reach a spot that is secluded enough for their purposes, and Jacob goes to gather firewood while Rosalie guards the remaining body parts. Soon they have a fire blazing. Jacob watches the plume of bitter smoke as it rises into the sky. High above, the eagle circles. Bree turns to ash.
"How does it feel?" Rosalie breaks the silence.
"I'm relieved," he answers honestly. "And really tired."
"I miss sleeping," she says quietly. "I miss dreams." Jacob thinks to himself that his own dreams have brought him more joy than he could ever have imagined. "Are you going home tonight, or are you going to get some sleep?"
"Home is tempting. Going back to Bella is tempting. But I'm sort of dead on my feet, and I'm lucky. She'll be there in my dreams."
"Like really, actually there, right?"
"Yeah," he nods.
"Then go on and get some rest. I'll put this fire out."
"What about you?"
"It's time for a hunt. Been a few days. So I'll be occupied. Go on, I'll see you tomorrow."
Jacob jogs quickly back. He passes the large vacation home. He can sense his brothers and sister inside. Every window in the entire house is open to let out the stench of vampire, so it is very easy to tell that everyone is asleep.
He bypasses the large house in favor of the smaller one. He doesn't consider it a possibility to sleep where Bella was held hostage. He takes a quick shower, tugs on a pair of shorts he finds in a drawer, and falls into the nearest bed.
This time it is he who seeks out the little red house. He is certain she is there. He can sense her inside. He pushes open the door and finds her lying in his small bed, fast asleep. She looks serene. Her chest slowly rises and falls. Within it, her heart beats steadily. Her hand lies open and relaxed on the pillow by her head. Her thick lashes rest against her cheek. She is warm and soft and alive. He kneels at her side and runs his fingers lightly along the planes of her smooth skin. He feels warm puffs of her breath against his hand through her slightly opened mouth. He cannot resist their pull, and lightly runs his thumb over the plump bottom lip. She sighs and mumbles a sound that might be his name, but does not awaken.
She is so beautiful. No matter what happens to them, no matter where life takes them, he knows he will always have this. This peace. This tranquility in the depths of his soul from knowing that he can find her here. In the little red house that is his home, that has become hers as well.
Each and every time they found each other here, he was terrified she would not come. Would not be able to come. Would never be able to again. He cannot remember why, but he is no longer afraid.
She still has not stirred. He does not want to disturb her, but he needs his body closer to hers. He needs her in his arms the way she is already in his heart. He gingerly climbs over her and slides into bed beside her, slipping one arm under her to draw her in close, wrapping the other around her waist, spooning her. She hums in contentment and slips her hand down to cover his, but still does not rise. Jacob himself is asleep within seconds, breathing in the scent of his Bells.
It is still dark when Bella awakens to the feeling of strong, warm arms wrapped around her. Hot breath stirs her hair. She smiles to herself. Jacob is here.
She turns in the circle of his embrace so that she can look at him. The boy, the man, the wolf who has become her heart's home. Who was waiting for her so patiently, and for so many years. He has always been her friend, and has recently become her love. Now Jacob is her sanctuary.
She leans up to kiss him gently. At first she intends only to brush her lips against his. But she knows that he tastes wonderful, and cannot resist snaking out her tongue. Which results in him tightening his grip around her waist, fingers of his other hand threading through her hair, and opening his mouth to her on a groan.
She loses herself in pure sensation. They do not speak. Words are unnecessary, and it is impossible to kiss like this and talk anyway. And they absolutely cannot stop kissing. He is all heat and passion. His lips are full and soft. They tell her tales of love and friendship and desire, all without words. All for her. It is almost endless.
Eventually they have to separate, if only for a second, when his wandering fingers slip along her waist and up under her shirt, higher and higher, until they have to break apart to slide it off her arms and head. It falls to the floor. She grasps his shoulders again. Then he palms her bottom in his large hands, squeezing gently, before hooking his thumbs in her waistband and tugging down. This he can do without breaking their kiss. It's awkward, but she wiggles her hips, bends her knees, and shifts her legs until he can shove down with his foot, all the while tangling her tongue with his. Then she is momentarily annoyed to find that they are still not skin to skin. Since when does Jacob wear shorts to bed? It is an error that has to be corrected. Now. She pulls her hips back far enough to allow her hands room to undo his fly, and together they manage to work his shorts off and away.
She sighs in audible relief against his mouth when all she feels against her skin is his, his hot length throbbing against her thighs. She wants him, and he knows it. He rolls her onto her back and starts trailing his tongue down her neck. He bites gently along her clavicle, sending sharp waves of pleasure shooting through her. She buries her hands in his hair and massages his scalp. He kisses his way down her breast, and circles the areola with the tip of his tongue, then moves to her mark and massages it with his lips. She hums her contentment.
Coming together this time is languid and slow. For once, there is no sense of urgency, no air of desperation. No cold presence outside the window, no fear that she will be ripped away in the midst of passion, no sense that the morning will bring only loneliness. Tonight, they can take their time.
So when Jacob draws her stiff peak into his mouth and suckles, gently thumbing her other nipple with his hand, but doesn't immediately bring her to orgasm, she decides to relax and just follow him wherever he takes her. It isn't a tease tonight. It is an exploration. A rediscovery of the swells and valleys of her body that he has already mapped out, traversed, and made his home.
He leaves no inch of her skin untouched. After sampling both breasts, he slides down to her belly, tracing around her navel with his nose, brushing his cheek against her soft flesh, and dropping kisses on the arcs of her hips. He gently grasps one of her hands buried in his hair, and kisses each one of her fingers and the back of her hand. He opens her palm and holds it up against his much bigger one, entwining their fingers. He then kisses his way up the arm, across the top of her chest, pausing to lick gently at his mark on her breast, and then down the other arm. He repeats his loving treatment of her other hand. When he is done there, he slides his hand under her hip and pushes her onto her belly.
The luminous canvas of her back begs for him to draw a picture with his fingers and his tongue. He traces spirals and sunbursts and stars on her skin, paying special attention to the mark on her shoulder. He kisses it and licks at it and rakes his teeth against it until she quakes with a small orgasm. And from that moment on, every point of contact between his body and hers is a warm blaze on her flesh. For a while, they both feared she might never be warm again, but now there is no more fear.
He makes his way down to the dimples in the small of her back and dips his tongue in them. She shivers in response. He gently massages the swell of her behind and pulls her hips up, spreading her legs and lowering down to kiss her folds gently. She trembles under him, and he laps up her musky flavor, but avoids dipping his tongue into her or touching her clitoris. He will not be rushed tonight. But her body does not know that, and she feels empty without him buried inside her.
He releases her so she can lie flat again, and she tries to be patient. She lets his love wash over her. It is palpable in the air around them. In this universe, they alone exist. His presence is all she could possibly need.
He kisses his way down her legs. He dips his tongue into the sensitive spots on the backs of her knees, and she squirms beneath him. Goosebumps rise on her skin, but she is not cold. She cannot be cold with his heat so close, warming her body and her soul. He sits back on his heels and draws her feet into his lap one by one so he can massage them. By the end of that, she is so relaxed she almost falls asleep again.
He turns her onto her back once more and crawls upward, massaging her calves and thighs in his hot hands. He settles himself between them. He kisses at the juncture of her left thigh, then her right. He breathes her in. Her lips glisten before him, tempting him to taste. There is no reason to resist any longer. He has neglected no spot on her body, left no parcel of skin unattended. He has prepared every other inch of her, and she is more than ready. He draws her knees up and tilts her open.
For long seconds he simply stares at her open, willing body. She feels his eyes on her, and does not move other than to breathe. His gaze causes a flush on her skin. He smiles at the sight. Her body has always been so easy to read, and is so responsive to his. The evidence of her desire for him is compelling. She would be embarrassed spread before anyone else this way. But this is Jacob. She knows that Jacob loves her more than anyone else has ever loved her, and she cannot be self conscious here with him.
He lowers his lips to her. First, he simply drops soft kisses on her outer lips. Back and forth, up and down. She runs her fingers through his hair with one hand, and toys with her breasts with the other. He sees, and it draws him from his place of peace and comfort into a state of heightened arousal. His neglected shaft aches for her. He dips his tongue into her body. She tastes of musk and sweetness and sex. Her tight passage contracts around him. Her flavor is for him, and him alone. They both moan at the pleasure of it. The sensation is electric. For both of them. There is a connection between them that goes beyond the physical, beyond even the deep love and friendship they share. His touch sends sparks flying through her and into him.
He shifts up to lap at her clitoris, and the contact is overwhelming for them both. He always loves doing this to her, but tonight is different. It is almost as if he can feel the impressions of his touch on her within his own body. His tongue swirls and sucks and teases, and they both thrill with the pleasure. He slides two fingers into her wet heat, pumping gently. Waves of bliss flow outward through her form and wash over him. He revels in it. He could drown in her and be thankful for it. He can tell how close she is, so he curls his fingers in just the right spot as he sucks her clitoris between his soft lips, and she shatters.
It brings her almost outside of herself. Almost beyond awareness. But she stays with him. Always with him. When he slides up her body and lays his heavy, muscular form along hers, flush against her, she wraps her arms around his broad shoulders and her world narrows down to only him. He slides his shaft between her thighs. He is so very hot. Silky smooth but steel hard all at once. He buries his face in the crook of her neck, reminding her of the gesture of a small boy tucking himself close to his mother, an odd juxtaposition with his massive, masculine body yearning toward her. But here, she is every woman to him. Lover, friend, family. She is contented to know that she can bring both ecstasy to his body and tranquility to his soul. And everywhere his body touches hers, heat kindles. He rises up to brush his lips against hers once more, then shifts his hips against her as she winds her fingers through his hair.
He drags his engorged cock between her labia and along her sensitive bundle of nerves. Again and again, slick and hot for her and only her. She feels strands of energy wind out from her core and throughout her body whenever he rocks against her. He isn't even inside her, yet she feels so full of him. It doesn't feel like sex, it feels like magic. Edward was right. (Who was that exactly?) Jacob is powerful. She can hear it in his voice, feel it under his skin. Jacob has been weaving around her the most wonderful spell. He started years ago, before he had any idea what he was doing, when he first became enamoured of her. With every touch of his hand to hers, every smile he aimed at her, each word of affection and laughter, he spun another thread. And since she returned to him, as they grew closer and closer, he wove the threads into a beautiful blanket, a tapestry, a web of magic. She is entwined in it, and never, ever wants to escape. Because the strands are built of truth, devotion, passion, friendship and love.
There is nothing left between them. No threats, no fears, no insecurities. No enemies trying to tear them apart. No false gods playing with her heart. She is no longer toying with his. They merge and are one.
He looks down at her as they move together. She is incandescent. She is happy and healthy and blissful as she unites with him. Her eyes lock with his, and he falls into her gaze. He cannot tell where he ends and she begins, and he wouldn't have it any other way. He fills her, she surrounds him, and they slide and slip and slick against each other. They join, again and again, sending ripples of euphoria through his entire body, to hers, and back to his again. It has never been this good. Never. Not their first time, not when he marked her in the dream or in the waking world, nor after he rescued her. It is a manifestation of their love, and their love is now pure. It is unadulterated by anxiety or doubt.
So as lips meet, hands grip, skin glides, sexes throb and marry together, each and every nerve sings in awareness of the other. Of mate. Their atoms combine, reform, and melt into each other. Each electron of his is a separate pinpoint of light on her skin, sinking into her, meandering through the very fiber of her being, changing her and making her stronger. And for him, the same. His web of magic envelops them both. Their coupling is passionate and overwhelming. It is more than making love. It is the twining of spirits. He has worked his way into her on every level, and she is never going to let go. Death itself could not entirely separate them now.
Time stops in a moment of pure bliss. The perfection, for both of them, is simultaneous and absolute. They explode together in rapturous bliss. The universe expands, then contracts, and eventually they are still. They drift off, limbs tangled, bodies still one.
The next morning, Jacob is only slightly disappointed to wake alone. He remembers each moment of the night before with perfect clarity. He feels different. Better. Stronger and complete. He would love to have Bella in his arms right now, but he understands that what happened to them could not have happened in the waking world. What happened to merge their spirits could only have occurred on the astral plane. He isn't certain what happened, not exactly. It wasn't imprinting, that he knows. He knows his brothers' minds quite well, and what happened between him and Bella was unlike anything he had seen before. It was better. So he cannot regret the physical distance between them. Once again, it paradoxically brought them together.
And besides, it is only a matter of time before he returns to her. A very short time.
So he readies himself quickly and returns to the house where his pack is loading Rosalie's and Charlie's equipment into her van. It is quick work between them. They rapidly move to the smaller rental, break it down, and head for home. Just as he phases, he hears the screech of an eagle. He looks up. The eagle circles high above. It leads him back home.
He outpaces each of them, even Leah. The only one that can match his speed is the eagle soaring high above him. It cannot be a normal eagle. It is much too intelligent, and much too fast. They race home together. He needs to close the distance between him and his heart. So he runs. He revels in the wind, the speed, the sheer exhilaration, and in the knowledge that each movement brings him closer to home. To her.
By midday, he can smell LaPush. The tang of the ocean and the musty verdant scent of the forest. The sun shines down on him in a rare display. Even the eagle looks excited to be going home. He slows as he approaches the reservation. He has to be careful. The light of day can reveal him if he is not careful. But even so, picking his way carefully home, he arrives in what feels like no time at all. He phases back, tugs on his shorts, and approaches the forest edge. The eagle alights in a tall pine overlooking the little red house.
The first thing he spots is not Bella, nor his father, or even Charlie Swan. Paul sits glumly on the back porch of his house. And there is an unfamiliar silver SUV parked in the driveway. Jacob picks out new human scents. And then he sees a tall, muscular, ebony-skinned man leaning out of the open back door. He has just put Rachel's suitcase in, and he shuts the door. Jacob gets a good look at him as he turns around. He has no hair, wide set dark eyes, prominent cheekbones, a strong jaw, and a bright smile as big as Jacob's own, directed at Rachel, who has just come out the front door and around the side where the car is parked. They do not touch, or speak, or flirt. Rachel looks back quickly, knowing Paul is very near, and spots her brother.
"Jake!" she squeals, and runs toward him. He hugs her tightly and laughs with her, and when he releases her, his love is standing in the back door of his home, their fathers right behind her. Everything, everyone falls away, except her.
She steps toward him, and he drinks in the sight. He does not move until she is close enough to touch.
"Where have you been?" she whispers, a smile forming on her lips, tears glistening in her warm brown eyes.
He smiles right back at her. "I'm right here."
He closes the gap between them, and wraps her up in his arms. He feels it again at the first touch of his skin to hers; energy passes between them, just as in their dream. "You're here?" she murmurs in his ear. Her breath sends shivers down his spine.
His heart swells nearly to bursting. He lifts her off her feet, twirls her around and around, and replies, "I'm here."
And he is home.
A/N: Thanks for going on this journey with me. I hope you enjoyed it.
This chapter of the story is concluded, but an alternate ending has been written as well. It has been posted on Jacob Black N Pack and Tricky Raven.
The sequel to the story has also been started, Dreamscapes: Revelations, and several chapters are available on this site.