Summary: Sequel to Dreamscapes. Reading that story first is highly recommended. Jacob's and Bella's dreams and desires keep drawing them together even while external forces pull them apart.
Rating: MA for later chapters for graphic sexuality and violence. Not intended for those under 18, or in the last quarter of the story, people who are squeamish. This story is categorized as romance and suspense, because those are the prevailing themes, but could also be categorized as adventure, humor, and horror.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of Stephenie Meyer. I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Thanks much to my fabulous beta, Babs81410, over at JBNP.
When Jacob Black was six, if you had asked him to rank the girls in his life in order of importance, Jasmine Hudson would have been fifth on the list. First place undoubtedly belonged to Sarah Black. But she could hardly be called a girl, at least in Jacob's young eyes. So really, Bella Swan could easily have been considered first, but only if Jacob's mother was disqualified due to being a woman rather than a girl. But considering how little he actually saw the older girl, Bella took a disproportionate percentage of his attention and affection, a fact that would not change, and eventually made more sense. Rachel and Rebecca were continually tied in third place, one edging out the other on a minute-to-minute basis, depending on what was going on. Considering how much he saw of them, and the fact that they actually took care of him in many ways, it was really unfair that he cared for Bella more than he cared for either of them. But neither of them minded. Girls their age did not get offended when their baby brothers strayed from their sides to follow someone else around. In fact, they were rather grateful when Bella's annual visits rolled around, as she would take their brother off their hands for a while so they could enjoy each other's company fully. Distantly, very distantly beyond these four female creatures, ranked little Jasmine.
When Jacob Black turned sixteen, if you had asked him to rank the girls in his life in order of importance, Bella Swan was firmly and unquestionably first on the list from the very moment she pulled up to his house with two broken motorcycles in the back of her truck. She almost, almost moved every other girl off the list, and to be honest, there wasn't much competition. Had Jasmine Hudson still lived in La Push, she might have been granted a place on the list, and likely a high one, but he had not seen her in years. Rebecca had moved to Hawaii and gotten married, and Rachel had gone off to school and seemed never to be coming back. Jacob still visited Sarah's grave regularly, still brought flowers and sat leaning against the headstone. And some days, when he was feeling particularly low (this got much worse in the springtime when Bella ran off to Italy and came home with her undead boyfriend), he lay on the ground and talked to his mother. Jacob hadn't felt so angry, so powerless, so frustrated, since Sarah herself had died. This was not quite so bad, of course, for many reasons, but it was also somehow worse. Because he had never felt as if he should have been able to save his mother. He did feel as if he should be able to save Bella Swan, but for the longest time, she refused to be saved.
But later that same year, the whole list rearranged. Leah Clearwater leaped to unexpected prominence on his list, Leah with her sarcastic wit, her lightning speed, her sharp bite, and her deep loyalty. Rachel came home and was dragged forcefully into his chaotic, magical world. And Bella started to seek him out in her dreams. And there, free from her layers of fear and guilt and misplaced obligation, she showed him her truest self. In his dreams, he was purely happy. And when he returned to her in the day, in the sun, and she finally, finally opened her heart and her arms to him, there was no question. She was first in his heart, and there she would remain.
When Bella Swan was six, if you had asked her to rank the boys in her life in order of importance, Jacob Black might not have even made the list. First place probably belonged to Charlie Swan, but truth be told, she barely saw him. And he could hardly be called a boy, at least to Bella's young eyes. Her mother's then-boyfriend Stan might have been second by default, but the same rule applied to him. Third place, at that time, belonged to Josh Grayson, who sat next to her on the bus to and from school. Fourth through sixteenth places were inevitably tied between all the other boys in her class. They were continually edging out each other on a minute-to-minute basis, depending on what was going on. Somewhere below them ranked Jacob Black. He was still sort of a baby. He wasn't even in kindergarten yet, and she saw him even less than she saw Charlie. But she still had a soft spot for him. He was sweet, and he made her laugh.
When Bella Swan was seventeen, if you had asked her to rank the boys in her life in order of importance, Jacob Black might have moved up to third on the list, except for one thing. First place unquestionably belonged to Edward Cullen. In fact, the entire list was comprised of Edward Cullen. As far as she was concerned, he was the only boy in existence. And considering how many other men were a part of her life, it was really unfair of her to devalue everyone else. Her father didn't matter, Phil didn't matter, certainly Jacob Black didn't matter. Jacob only mattered in so far as he had some information about the Cullens, and because he provided her with transportation.
When Bella Swan was eighteen, if you had asked her to rank the boys in her life in order of importance, the answer would have depended greatly on timing, as well as Bella's current level of self awareness. But even during her most oblivious, self-centered moments, Jacob Black would have moved firmly into second place, and she would have given him credit, all along, for her being alive to be able to write the list. (If you had asked Charlie Swan to write the list, Jacob Black would have been first from the beginning). When Bella Swan was eighteen, she fell in love with the best man she would ever know.
By the time Bella Swan turned nineteen, Jacob had moved securely up to first place. But unlike Edward Cullen, he did not displace everyone else. With Jacob in her life, the list of important men simply grew longer. Along with Charlie and Billy, all the wolves of La Push became a more integral part of her. Despite this, Bella only had eyes for Jacob. And he had only ever had eyes for her.
When Jasmine Hudson was six, if you had asked her to rank the boys in her life in order of importance, Jacob Black would have been second on the list. First place undoubtedly belonged to Isaac Hudson, her father. But he could hardly be called a boy, at least to Jasmine's young eyes. So really, Jacob Black could easily have been considered first, but only if Jasmine's father was disqualified due to being a man rather than a boy. There wasn't much other competition, to be honest, as Jasmine had no brothers (or sisters, for that matter), and her cousins Brady and Seth were only toddlers. Quil Ateara and Embry Call were continually tied for a distant third place, one edging out the other on a minute-to-minute basis, depending on what was going on. Considering how often she saw the three boys at the same time, it was really unfair that she cared for Jacob so much more than either of the other two. But neither of them minded, and Jacob, oblivious, didn't notice at all. Jasmine only had eyes for Jacob.
They spent their childhood together. The first time Jasmine laid eyes on Jacob was on her first day of preschool. A friendly young teacher led her into the Willow Room. He was stacking blocks up high, creating veritable skyscrapers out of the well worn pieces of colorful wood. Quil would then exuberantly knock them down. Jacob didn't get angry; he simply started another. Embry hunted through the big blue Rubbermaid bin for what he considered to be the best blocks and handed them to Jacob. Jasmine's mother had been afraid that the little girl would be intimidated to be left at the school alone for the very first time. She was not, being too fascinated by the building and rapid destruction of the towers to be afraid.
Before her mother left her alone, a tiny little girl, even smaller than Jasmine, came right up to her. "I'm Julie. I'm taller than you." She was not, but neither Jasmine nor her mother corrected her. This, apparently, meant that Jasmine passed the test. Julie grabbed Jasmine by the hand and took her to a little table covered with paper and crayons. Julie talked, non stop, for the next hour and a half. Jasmine liked the chatter, but turned herself so she could keep an eye on the fascinating boys. Being three, she was not at all subtle about it. They moved on from block towers to Duplo structures, but the same pattern applied. Embry searched for just the right block, Jacob assembled, and Quil knocked down. It seemed very satisfying for the three of them.
Eventually Quil noticed Jasmine staring, and during a very brief pause in Julie's chatter, he came over to say hello. "I'm Quil. You pretty," he declared. She was, and also rather used to people telling her this. So used to it, in fact, that she thought it not unusual in the least that this boy, a stranger to her, was telling her so.
"I'm Jasmine," she answered. "Want play with those," she pointed at the interlocking blocks. She did not, actually, and much preferred to color than stack blocks, but Jacob Black already fascinated her, and he seemed to come along with the blocks.
"Kay," Quil agreed, and led her over. Embry didn't need help picking out blocks, and Quil had destruction cornered. But Jacob wasn't possessive about building, so Jasmine sat right across from him. She helped place blocks while continuing to stare at him, and he appreciated how much faster the building progressed. But not as much as Quil appreciated how much sooner he got to knock it all down. At one point, she handed Jacob a red brick that he wanted. He flashed a brilliant grin at her, and from that moment on she was a goner. By the time her mother came to pick her up, preschool was her new favorite place, and Jasmine Hudson was besotted.
Every day, Jasmine trailed along with the three boys. She often brought Julie with her, or the next girl to join their class two weeks later, Melissa. Missy talked almost as much as Julie. Sometimes they both talked at exactly the same time. Following them both at once was a little challenging, but Jasmine was a good listener. Usually Julie and Missy could be convinced to play near the boys, and sometimes actually with them. It made it easier that Julie liked to watch Embry the way Jasmine liked to watch Jacob. Other days, Missy and Julie couldn't be convinced to play with or even near with the boys. On those days, Jasmine reluctantly followed the girls, looking longingly back at Jacob from time to time. Quil occasionally noticed and would come over to try to convince her to come play with them anyway. She declined, each time resolving to herself that she would come as soon as Jacob asked her. He never did. But Quil always stayed by her side, telling her jokes until she laughed. He didn't want to leave while she still had a scowl on her face.
Then, two months later, Jacob disappeared entirely. Jasmine was nervous on the first day, worried on the second, and practically panicking on the third. Another boy had not shown up one day the month before, and he never came back. When she asked after him, the teacher told her he had moved to Canada. A whole other country. And he was never coming back. Was Jacob coming back? Embry and Quil looked perfectly calm, though, so nothing awful could have happened, could it? Where was he? She finally worked up the nerve to ask. Embry and Quil just shrugged in response. "Dunno," was all she got. She was so nervous every day before school that she quit eating breakfast, she was so queasy with worry. Always a hearty eater, her mother even took her to the doctor, who declared that she had a virus and sent her back home.
Thankfully, after a week, Jacob returned. Every other word out of his mouth was "Bella", and he had stars in his eyes. Jasmine soon found out that Bella went fishing, could catch frogs, and loved collecting shells on the beach. Jacob couldn't wait for each day to end since he was going to see Bella in the afternoon, or she was coming to see him. And other days he did not appear at all. If she asked where he went, Embry and Quil just shrugged. But she knew anyway. Jacob was with Bella. It made her tummy hurt, but she didn't know why.
After a month, he came in with the saddest frown she had ever seen on his usually sunny face. That made Jasmine's tummy hurt even more. When she worked up the courage to ask what was wrong, he just said, "She's gone," and didn't open his mouth again for three days.
That pattern repeated itself, in varying ways, for the next five years. The next year, still in preschool, but this time in the Oak room, the month in question was preceded by a several weeks' worth of loud anticipation of Bella's arrival. Then Jacob's attendance was spotty, he couldn't stop grinning, and all he talked about when he did come in was Bella. He was gone for several days, so Jasmine kept busy with Julie and Missy, but couldn't help wondering when he would return. Each day he came to school he had a new treasure in his pocket. A seashell, a polished rock, and once, a pretty piece of smooth blue sea glass. When he thought no one was looking, he would take his treasure out of his pocket and finger it gently with his other hand, a little smile on his face. But when Bella left, utter despondence. It was like someone just took the sun out of the sky. It took another two weeks for him to return to his usual self. But his smile returned, as always, the same one that Jasmine adored. And even in his lowest mood, if she hurt herself or lost a toy, Jacob always stopped to help her, leading her to the teacher to ask for a band aid, or searching in every nook and cranny looking for her lost belongings. Jasmine never noticed Quil watching her watch Jacob, but she did notice that Quil tried to cheer her up even though it was his friend who seemed more sad than anyone else.
Kindergarten was next. All six of them, as well as a newcomer, Katelyn, were in the same class. The year progressed much as the previous two had. Katelyn noticed Jacob in the same way that Jasmine had. Jasmine was alarmed to see that Katelyn stared at Jacob the same way she did. But Katelyn did other things, too. She actually tried to hold Jacob's hand. For a few days after Katelyn arrived, Jasmine was afraid that Katelyn would turn Jacob's head in the same way that the mysterious Bella did. But it was not to be. He was nice enough, certainly, but he was clearly just as happy to keep playing with Jasmine, Quil, and Embry, as he was to welcome the new girl. And when Katelyn tried to hold his hand, he looked at it skeptically and extricated himself before running off. Jasmine was relieved.
In the fall, Jacob helped teach her to add. He tried to teach her to subtract, but she didn't think he knew what he was doing. The teacher gently agreed, and they set that aside for later. He, Embry, and Quil switched from Duplo blocks to Legos. Katelyn prompted the girls to switch from Barbie dolls to Bratz dolls, although Jasmine didn't really care for either, and joined the boys whenever she could. All three of the boys joined Pop Warner football. Katelyn started Pop Warner cheer, and Jasmine begged her parents to let her, but was not allowed. All three boys talked about how good they were, but Katelyn confirmed that they were bragging more than anything. She explained that they really liked running into each other, and Jasmine wished she could be there to see it. The weather turned colder, and Jacob started showing up to school in a puffy jacket with a fake fur lined hood. Jasmine thought he looked like the cutest Eskimo she had ever seen. Katelyn's jacket was pink and sparkling, and Jasmine was afraid that Jacob would think Katelyn looked pretty in the coat, especially compared to Jasmine's own plain green one. But Jacob didn't notice. So everything was fine.
That is, until they returned from Thanksgiving break. Then another endless round of "BellaBellaBella" started. Embry clarified when Jacob was too excited to form coherent sentences. "Bella's coming for Christmas. He thought she wasn't coming until next summer, but she's gonna spend the holiday with her dad." Jasmine's heart fell into her stomach, but she didn't understand why at the time. Katelyn looked confused. By the time they returned from Christmas break, she wasn't confused any longer, and scowled visibly each time Jacob mentioned Bella. The mentioning, and the scowling with it, lasted well into February. Jacob also returned from the holiday bearing a shiny new fire engine in his backpack. The ladder turned all the way around and extended to twice its original length, and it had a working siren and light. He never, ever lost sight of the toy, and Jasmine quickly understood why. It was a gift from Bella. On the last day of school, an older boy, Paul Lahote, took the toy from Jacob and melted it in a fire he had started in the school parking lot. Paul got in trouble and was going to have to start his summer vacation in an otherwise empty classroom with nothing to entertain him. Jasmine thought that Jacob would cry, or maybe punch Paul, but he did neither. He did clench his little fists at his sides, but when Jasmine asked him if he was okay and told him she was sorry for what happened to his toy, Jacob sighed and shrugged. Then he gave her one of his sunniest smiles. "It's okay, Bella's coming back in two weeks. Just two weeks! She probably won't give me another truck, but she'll give me other stuff to remind me of her." At that, Jasmine felt happy and sad all at the same time. Then Quil unexpectedly jumped on Paul's back and started smacking him in the head, and everyone got distracted pulling them apart.
One month later, Jasmine's parents took her for a picnic on First Beach along with her cousins, Leah, Seth, and Brady. While the grown ups were busy eating and talking, she and Leah decided that Seth and Brady were being bratty even though they weren't. The girls decided to take off their shoes and decided to go for a walk. They slipped off their sandals and stepped just into the water, both of them trying to see how far they could go before they got their shorts wet. Leah was much better at this than Jasmine, as Jasmine was not very good at paying attention to the tide or the waves. At one point, Jasmine stopped walking entirely. A wave large enough to soak her shirt came barrelling at her. She didn't notice until she was wet up to her neck, when Leah pulled her back to the shore.
"What's up with you?" Leah asked.
Jasmine didn't answer. She couldn't breathe for several seconds. She had spotted Jacob sitting on a driftwood log several yards down the beach. He wasn't alone. He was with a pale, pretty girl with long brown hair. Their shoulders touched. They leaned so closely together that their heads were tipped together, and they were holding hands. Jacob looked more blissfully happy than she had ever seen him. This, then, must be Bella. She was about the same size as Jacob, even though Jasmine knew her to be older by two years. Jasmine didn't really notice Jacob's mother standing behind them with a camera, or Bella's father smiling at them calmly. She didn't move until Leah physically pulled her out of the ocean and led her back to their parents, saying, "Something's wrong with her. She needs new clothes and some food or something." Her mother provided her with both, then decided she had probably come down with a cold, and took her home. She wasn't sick, of course, but allowed her mother to baby her. It helped.
A month later, Jasmine was back on the beach with Brady, but not Leah or Seth. She came across Jacob in the exact same place as before. His sisters were chasing each other through the surf in front of him, but he wasn't about to join in. She took Brady by the hand and let him up to Jacob, who was sitting on the log, but slumped down so far she thought he'd fall off.
"Hi, Jake," she said.
He looked up, startled. "Hey, Jasmine," he said, with a flat voice.
She knew exactly what was wrong. "Your friend is gone again, huh?"
He pouted. "And she's not coming back for, like, a whole year!"
Jasmine sat on the log beside him, pulling Brady up beside her. "You've got lots of other friends, though." She was blatantly referring to herself, of course. If Jacob was ten years older, he might have picked up on it, but he was not, and did not.
"S'not the same," he sighed. "No one else is as awesome, or makes me laugh as much, or is as nice, or as pretty as Bella."
Jasmine's tummy felt all wrong at this statement. Luckily, Brady squirmed back off the log, so she had an excuse to go chasing him off. She didn't want to hear more about Bella. But she didn't want Jacob to be so sad, even if she was. She yelled back at him, "Maybe she'll be back again for Christmas this year!"
He perked up at that, and she got a glimpse of the smile she loved. "Yeah, maybe you're right!"
Soon enough, first grade started. The kids in her classes remained mostly the same due to the small number of kids on the Rez. Jacob, Quil, and Embry were still best friends, and her circle of girls didn't change either. Julie had also seen Embry several times at the grocery store, and turned those chance meetings into very long, intricate stories. Jasmine told Katelyn that she had seen Jacob at the beach a few times, technically true, but she made it out to be more than it was. The other girl got jealous. By now, Jacob really did know how to subtract, and helped her learn how to as well. Katelyn was better at subtraction than Jacob was, so she didn't need his help, but Katelyn did fall and skin her knee pretty badly at recess once, and Jasmine thought it was probably worth the blood and pain when Jacob helped her up and let her lean on his arm when he walked her to the nurse's office. Jasmine thought of doing the same, but couldn't bring herself to deliberately injure herself. Soon enough, though, he returned, and they continued their game of kickball. Jasmine was very good at this game, girl or not, and Jacob knew it. If he was captain, he always picked her for his team. She still couldn't convince her parents to let her start Pop Warner cheering with Katelyn, but the boys were still in football. This time, they were able to back up their bragging with a winning record of games.
That year, Bella did not come to visit for Christmas, putting a little frown on Jacob's small face for a few days straight. But when he came back from the break, he proudly displayed on his desk a homemade card that Bella had sent him for the holiday. She had cut it in the shape of a fire engine in memory of his toy that Paul destroyed. The card was removed by Valentine's day. The class all had to make valentines for each other. Each child was required to give a valentine to every other child in the class to make sure that no one felt left out. Jasmine put extra special care into the card she made for Jacob. She glued more hearts on his than on any other card she made, and made sure to use the prettiest color of red and silver glitter on the giant heart. She even pasted a lacy edge all around the border, no small feat for her small hands. She was very proud of her work, and he gave her a big grin when he opened it. And the one he handed back to her had both hearts and smiley faces drawn all over it, and even contained a roll of Smarties candies. But the Valentine that took the place of honor on his desk was not hers. Bella Swan had sent him a valentine of her own. Bella's was more neatly cut, and had less glue poking out of it. And it had come in the actual mail. Jasmine was a bit devastated, and also failed to notice that Quil had put more effort into her valentine than he had anyone else's.
A few weeks later, Jasmine was relieved to see the offensive valentine removed from Jacob's desk. But at recess that afternoon, Julie declared that she was jealous of Jacob. Jasmine couldn't think of a single reason that this would be true, and asked why. Embry had told Julie that Jacob was still getting letters in the mail. It started with the valentine, but then continued at least once a week, and sometimes two. Jasmine was afraid she knew why this was. The next day, as Katelyn was talking her ear off as they walked around the room during free time, they made sure to swing by Jacob's desk, as they always did. No one else but Katelyn was reliable enough to make this circuit with her. Jacob was bent over his desk, #2 pencil in hand, frowning in concentration as he carefully marked the lined notebook paper. Katelyn and Jasmine made sure only to glance at the sheet, but the top of the page was perfectly clear. "Dear Best Bella," it began. Jasmine didn't look any further. By the time she and Katelyn finished their loop, she was sad again. But then Quil appeared and told her about the new lizard his mother had gotten him as a pet, and she temporarily forgot about her misery.
That summer, Jasmine avoided the beach for the duration of time that she knew Bella Swan was in town. She did learn to swim in the community pool, though, and both Missy and Embry were in her class. Quil was in the advanced group, along with Katelyn and Leah, which ended right before hers started. Quil and Katelyn often stayed a bit late to play with them, disrupting their class and sometimes getting in a little trouble, particularly when Quil would come up behind one of them under the water and tickle their feet. It felt nice, actually. Quil always stopped tickling right before it went from funny to annoying. And Embry always got Quil back anyhow, dunking him under.
Second grade was a busy year. Jacob took to fractions right away, and with his help, Jasmine did too. He had a hard time focusing on their longer reading assignments, but he had a better time with it when they discussed them together. It was a bad year for football, but Katelyn progressed in cheering and liked it even more. Jasmine only asked to join once, and was again turned down. Julie, Missy, and Embry all joined the music program. Julie tried the violin. Jasmine thought it sounded like a yowling cat under Julie's inexperienced hands, but Embry kindly grinned when she played and told her how good she was. Missy took up the cello. It sounded much nicer, although Jasmine wasn't sure if it was because cellos were better than violins, or because Missy was just better at playing than Julie. Embry played percussion, very enthusiastically, and they all agreed that he was very good.
Jacob and Quil were moved up to the next division of football since they were bigger than Embry, who was left behind. But Quil was the one who broke his arm. Jasmine figured he must have gotten tackled, although seeing them bundled in their pads, she wondered how it was possible to get injured at all. Later, when she signed his cast with a bright purple pen, he sheepishly admitted that an older boy had actually tripped over the warm up bench and landed on him. It wasn't much of a war story, but she was just happy he was going to be okay. Without Quil, the team didn't do as well as they had the previous year, but they still had a winning record.
Two weeks before Christmas break, Jacob came to school with a frown on his face, announcing that Bella wasn't going to come see her father. He looked so sad that Jasmine decided to give him his Christmas present a little early. She had been carrying it in her Hello Kitty backpack, and the wrapping paper was getting wrinkled. It was a copy of Frog and Toad Together. Jasmine had helped Jacob focus long enough to read Frog and Toad are Friendsin class, and he had thanked her profusely and told her she was his lifesaver. Even though Frog and Toad were both boys, she thought of Jacob as Frog and herself as Toad. But she plastered a fake smile on his face when, after looking at the cover of the two friends bicycling together, he announced that it reminded him of him and his Bells. Then he squished her in a tight bear hug, and her smile turned from fake to real.
For Valentine's day that year, Jasmine again put her best effort into making Jacob's card. By now, Katelyn had moved along from her crush on Jacob to another boy in their class. But Katelyn had long ago picked up on Jasmine's continuing crush, and now she was old enough to have the language to tease her about it. Embarrassed, Jasmine hid the half finished giant heart in her desk. It got pushed beneath her other assignments. She forgot about it until Jacob displayed on his desk the delicate lace heart that Bella had sent him. Embry and Quil teased him that he had a girlfriend, and he blushed but didn't deny it. Jasmine found her partly finished valentine and tossed it in the trash. Missy saw her scowl and hugged her. Quil spotted how sad she had become and came to take over the hug. Then he started tickling her, and she was unable to stay sad any longer.
Over the summer, she, Missy, and Embry were all promoted to the advanced swim class with Quil and Katelyn. From time to time, Jacob showed up for free swim, which directly followed their class, with his older sisters. They proclaimed him to be a fish who needed no lessons to swim, and he proved them right by not only diving fearlessly off the diving board, but by cannonballing from the high platform. Quil and Embry battled with him over who could make the biggest splash. Then, despite her attempts to avoid running into Jacob while his friend was in town, Jacob brought Bella to the pool with him. The girl was clearly shy, but apparently did know how to swim. He coaxed her into the water, then into the deep end, where they chased each other from side to side, laughing and splashing one another. Embry nearly took out Bella during a poorly timed cannonball, and Jacob got so angry that his mother had to get into the water to pull him away. Jasmine watched with equal parts fascination and depression as the older girl followed him out and calmed him down by wrapping her arms and legs around him to reassure him she was fine. If Jacob could have burrowed into her body, he clearly would have. Soon enough, Bella attacked Jacob with tickles. Jasmine was certain she had never seen him so happy. She was almost embarrassed when he caught her staring, but he simply waved her over to introduce her to "My Bells". The older girl smiled shyly from her position behind Jacob. As Jasmine walked away, she heard Bella ask Jacob, "Does that mean you're my Jake?" Jacob giggled in response, and Jasmine knew better than Bella herself that Jacob was, indeed, hers.
A week later, Paul Lahote told Quil that he was going to get cooties from hanging around girls so much. Quil repeated this to anyone who would listen, and after that, Jasmine didn't see any of the boys quite so much. This meant that by the time third grade rolled around, the girls and boys no longer intermingled much at school. But Jasmine continued to watch Jacob from afar. He still helped her with her math, this time multiplication, but they no longer played together at recess. Mostly this saddened Jasmine. There was one upside to it, however. She no longer heard about Bella Swan all the time.
Around the same time, Katelyn clued Julie and Missy in to Jasmine's longstanding crush. Jasmine was mortified. If all the girls knew, then soon all the boys might know, and that could result in Jacob knowing, and that would be a disaster. So Jasmine immediately started pretending to hate all boys. Jacob included. It wasn't that hard, considering that the boys had already started ignoring them, which was annoying. So she played up how annoyed she was. She was never convinced that she was really fooling the other girls. Particularly since she still melted into a little puddle when Jacob sat down every day to do her multiplication tables with her.
When Christmas came and went, and no Bella Swan appeared, Jasmine was relieved. Relieved, that is, until March rolled around, and Jacob announced to Quil and Embry that Bella was coming up for Spring Break. Jasmine simply overheard him talking during recess. Actually, everyone overheard him, because he wasn't talking. He was so excited that he was yelling. Jasmine nearly fell off the big metal arch she was climbing. And when Quil stuck out his tongue and declared that Jacob was going to get cooties from making kissy faces at Bella, Jacob responded by leaning into his friend's face and saying something back, very softly. For some reason, rather than slugging Jacob like she expected him to, Quil responded by yelling, "I do not!", and then mysteriously grabbing up a handful of twigs and mulch, clambering up the arch, and dumping the mess in her hair. Jasmine was so perplexed that she didn't cry. And Katelyn, of all people, rushed to her defense. She ran up to Quil and tossed mulch all over him. Their teacher rushed over before it degenerated any further, while Jacob walked over to Jasmine, helped her down from the arch, and then sweetly picked all the little pieces of wood out of her hair. Her heart fluttered in her chest. He declared her "spic and span", gave her his signature grin, and then wandered off.
During Spring Break, two important things happened. The first far overshadowed the second. The second was that Jasmine spotted Jacob and Bella while she was getting out of her mother's car at the grocery store. Despite being two years older than Jacob, Bella continued to be exactly the same height as he was. Jacob was taking advantage of this fact to show her that he was stronger even though she was older, so when Jasmine spotted them, Jacob had wrapped his arms tightly around Bella's middle and was proving, very awkwardly, that he could pick her up. It worked until they both collapsed into a fit of laughter on the ground. Normally, this would have put Jasmine into a bad mood. But she was already in a bad mood. The first thing had happened that morning. Her parents had sat her down at the breakfast table while she was still in her jammies. Neither of them had food in front of them, which was usually a bad sign. And her mother, normally quite put together, was still in her bathrobe. Another bad sign. Her parents put on fake smiles. Even worse. Then they announced that her father had gotten a job in California, and that they were moving after the end of the school year. Jasmine didn't hear anything they said after that.
So over the summer, when Bella came to visit in June, she wasn't in LaPush to witness any of the hand holding or giggling or tickling that normally made her so sad. And two weeks after Bella left town, she wasn't there when Sarah Black was hit by a drunk driver. She wasn't there to see the beautiful smile disappear from Jacob's face, nor was she there to notice the letter from Bella that he carried in his pocket for weeks after her death, the one that almost turned into tissue paper since he never went anywhere without it. She heard about the accident a few months later when her mother's brother Harry came to visit, though, and she sat down to write a letter to Jacob herself until she realized she didn't know his address.
She didn't see Jacob Black again for another eight years. But when she did, all of her old feelings came back, intensified by teenage hormones. And later, all things considered, it should not have been so much of a surprise when Jasmine Hudson imprinted on Jacob Black.