When battling writers block, one does well to remember how powerful writing something else is. This is a result of that.
It's long, as you can see from your slider thing to your right. And there will be an outtake chapter from EPOV, but that will be explained down the bottom because… well, I don't want to give anything away now, do I? *Winks*
I hope you like this, and I'm not sure I have anything else to say… just know that my writers block has nearly completely cleared up! YAY! :)
Thanks to Chandrakanta for pre-reading and Dawning Juliet for beta-ing this monster. They are amazing! And also, thanks to Bubbleybear (Lorraine) for your help. I'd say what you helped with, but again, I'm not giving anything away ;)
Edward's lips are on my skin. Fleeting, light touches. Silk, too, under my skin.
I open my eyes, and there he is; my angel. My personal haven.
"Edward," I breathe. He looks at me, his golden eyes smouldering as he smiles that special smile of his; the one he knows I love.
"Bella," he whispers back. His voice is like honey, like the very silk I seem to be lying on. His lips descend on mine again, and for the first few seconds, it's as it always is; heaven.
But then things change.
My vision warps, and I am no longer feeling Edward's cool skin against mine, cooling my own body deliciously. I'm feeling… heat. Fire; I feel as if I am on fire.
I open my mouth to scream, but Edward's lips are still against mine. Or rather, I think it is Edward. I can't be sure, though, for my eyes will not open. I will them back, tears welling in my eyes as I realise that my eyes are not the only thing I have lost control of.
My body will not move. I am trapped. Powerless. Out of control.
I want to scream, to cry… for help, for Edward. I have no idea. For all I know, it is Edward doing this to me.
But it couldn't be. Edward would never do this; he would never hurt me or scare me like this. He loves me.
And then, I hear it. I feel it. A soft whisper of my name in a man's husky tenor… a hand, gliding up my skin, dancing up my thigh, skimming my sides in a way that would normally make me shiver—were it Edward's hand that was touching me in this way. But these hands… they aren't Edward's. They're wrong, so wrong. They are calloused, hot.
And then the man speaks again.
I gasp. Or at least, I think I do. I am immobile, frozen in shock.
For this man… this man holding me and touching me…
I whimper, though again I can't be sure that I actually do. This is wrong, vile. This is something that should be kept between loves, between soulmates.
Between Edward and me.
Something changes again, and I am able to at least form words. "Edward," I gasp. My chest is then constricting and I cry. A moment later, I realise that my chest is constricting only because this imposter is on top of me; literally on top of me, crushing my chest.
I cannot breathe.
I gasp, wishing I could move my head. I know that that is Edward calling me – my body sings with the knowledge.
It's louder this time. Desperate… anxious… worried?
So he knows. Edward knows what is happening. But again, that doesn't make sense… if he knows, why isn't he here to help me, to take this nightmare away?
Gasping, panting and sweating, my eyes snap open. I'm awake, clutching at my chest, feeling just as I did in the dream – as if I can't breathe. Huh. Perhaps this is where that was coming from.
Suddenly, I feel cold hands cup my face and I sigh in relief, relaxing into Edward's hands, feeling safe.
"Edward," I whimper. I try to look around, but I can't see. Everything is blurry and I realise that's because of the tears streaming down my face. "Edward."
"Shh, beautiful." I hear his voice then and I sigh again.
"Oh god," I blubber. "Edward. My-my dream… it-he… it–"
"Hush," he murmurs. His fingers are stroking my flesh softly, his fingers smooth. Again, not calloused, nor hot; not like Jacob's… and nothing even vaguely similar to my dream. "Not now darling; later. You can tell me everything later. Now I just want you calm. You're too unsettled. You've been like this ever since the fight with the newborns last weekend. It's now Thursday and you're still this way, but you won't tell me anything."
I could hear the worry in his voice. And the suspicion. I had not told him anything of my dreams since that time. I also haven't told him that his account of that dreadful kiss with Jacob is incorrect.
I haven't told him that Jacob kissed me against my will. Again. And because of this, and Jacob's thoughts… and the fact that he can't read mine – he thinks that I allowed Jacob to do that; to kiss me like that.
And I let him.
I'm letting him.
It's killing me. It really is, but I have to do it. If I don't, Jacob dies—because though it's more than what he vowed, Edward will kill him to defend me, to defend my honour—and the relationship Billy has forged with my father is—will be—no longer.
I can't let that happen. At least, I can't let that happen…yet.
But with every dream—every scarring, crippling dream—my resolve is diminishing. The pain in Edward's eyes, in his voice…not to mention the actual content of the dreams…
I can't do this much longer; any longer.
I need to tell him.
His hand swipes quickly across my cheek, wiping another tear away, I'm sure, but I know it's because of what I'm thinking. Not the dream. My hands clench into fists, grasping at air. I blink a few times, looking upwards to expel the tears, and it starts to work. I squeeze my eyes shut for a second and the strange, stinging but relieving feeling of the last of the tears rolling down my face makes me smile – just a little.
I look around for a moment, my eyes catching the bronze, unruly mess. I smile, but wider this time. When I reach for Edward, my hands touch his skin…his hands…
I sigh, my tense muscles relaxing. I look into his eyes, hoping to communicate my love for him.
His chest rumbles lowly, leaning forward. I gasp and swallow, licking my lips just before his touch mine. What surprises me about this kiss is how all-consuming it is. Of course, Edward is always breath-taking, always good at everything he does, and intimacy—or rather, kissing and making out—is no objection.
But this…this is different.
"Edward," I whisper against his lips when he releases me. Just softly, his lips touch mine, barely anything—a flutter.
Edward growls my name, again and again. His lips touch mine again, harder this time, more consuming, more powerful. I moan, and he growls, swiping his tongue against my lip. Surprised, but thrilled, I open my mouth and hum when I feel his cold, smooth tongue stroke mine once, twice, before he really starts exploring my mouth.
This is new, different.
I like it.
I can't hide my arousal, and when I press up against Edward's hardness, he growls against my lips, breaking the kiss. He looks down with a grunt, concentrating, and I gasp when he presses his erection right against my core. My clit throbs and I moan, wrapping my arms around his neck to pull him down onto me.
His hips move in a rhythmic, almost perfectly timed rocking motion. Each thrust against me leaves me gasping, but before I can get over the first one, another follows. It's slow and sexy, and my defences are crashing down.
We've been intimate before, but just once. Our first time. It was only just a few short days ago; the night of the proposal. And now this is our first time together—though I know we won't come together completely—since then.
Up until now, I've felt too guilty to even comprehend commencing that part of our relationship.
But right now, it's a must. It is a need, a need that is coursing through my veins like fire.
No trepidation. No fears. Just a delicious fire, better than anything else I've ever known or felt.
"My Bella," I hear suddenly. It's a whisper, breathed against my skin just before his hips thrust forward again, a little hard this time. My eyes squeeze shut and I throw my head back, letting out a grunt of some sort. Edward growls, grinding his hard-on against me, thrusting his hips forward and back; I whimper each time his throbbing member hits my clit.
He speeds up a little, setting a new hypnotic pace. The glint in his eye is so feral. Inhuman. It makes me shiver; not in fright, but pleasure.
And the dance continues on.
The pleasure I'm feeling is like nothing else. Being the shy, self-conscious girl that I am, I've never touched myself—never done anything to make the feelings that are coursing through my body now happen. And with each thrust and grind, I'm climbing higher, getting closer.
And then I'm there. With Edward's lips planted against mine, searching my mouth, exploring thoroughly, I find my climax. My back arches when Edward swivels his hips just right and I cry out his name. He growls, ripping his lips from mine and he throws his head back as he grunts and growls my name over and over.
And all I can think is, well that was unexpected; amazing, but unexpected.
All week, Edward presses for details. He knows I am hiding something, and he knows that it's hurting me. As the man I love—the man who loves me—he wishes to rid me of that pain. But each request, I decline. Each question, I deflect. Each plea, as much as it pains me, I ignore.
There is no way in hell I'm telling Edward. I can't because I know what he does not. I know it will destroy him.
And I will not be the cause of my only love's destruction.
Whilst this is going on however, Charlie is hounding me. Jacob does as well, although he's the main cause of Charlie's constant badgering.
You see, ever since the altercation, Jacob has been trying to get to me. After he woke up and realised that I wasn't going to come to visit him, he started demanding to see me. I hadn't gone to see him after the fight—only adding to Edward's suspicions—but I knew I couldn't face him. And now, he's demanding to see me, claiming it's his right.
Granted, he gave me a few days, and I quote, "to get over things," but when he realised that I wasn't coming back—even to see if was ok after his near death experience, though I had called, of course—he got antsy, irritated and impatient.
Therefore, he began to call Charlie around the clock. At work, at home…hell, if Jacob knew my father's mobile phone number, he'd be calling that as well! And each day, Charlie would come home and speak to me—just quickly—about the day's events when I asked him over dinner. And he would not leave the details of his conversation with Jacob, or Billy for that matter. He even tried to force me to go down to visit Jacob, but when he noticed how distressed I became, he sighed and dropped it.
The mere thought of Jacob—let alone going to see him…alone, I might add, considering Edward is not allowed at La Push—brought on the memories of that kiss.
That is, if you could really call it that.
Alas, I am slowly winding down in a spiral that I cannot control. The dreams I have every night without fail are getting worse and worse.
Right now, I have no idea how I'm going to keep from spilling the beans.
And I really have no fucking idea how Edward, who thinks the kiss was just that, a kiss, a willing physical representation of want and desire between two people, can still love me, desire me, and make love to me. How he could kiss me and touch me without even the mere whisper of negative, untrusting thoughts is beyond me.
And each damned day, a little voice in my head whispers the truth that I seem unable to accept. A truth that scares me beyond anything else; even Jacob and his unwanted attention.
And it says, he'll find out, you won't be able to keep it from him any longer. And when he does, he will be furious. He will kill Jacob, violate the treaty, and begin a war right here in the homely, small town of Forks, Washington. And it will be your fault.
And just a few days later, the thoughts become worse.
The decision is made for me, and I begin to plan.
My first stop: Alice.
After I make my decision, Edward leaves the next Wednesday to hunt. I see him off, noticing how he holds me close to him, kisses my neck, my jaw, my cheek, and lastly my lips. He murmurs his love for me, and that he'll miss me. I return the sentiments, smiling up at him happily, though inside I am anything but.
His eyes narrow just a little, but he lets it go and with another deep pull of my scent through his mouth, he slowly walks to the trees. I know as soon as he reaches them that he's already gone.
I can feel it.
I take a deep, shuddering breath, closing my eyes. My arms tighten around my waist as I hug myself to keep from falling apart. I squeeze my closed eyes shut even tighter, my forehead crumpling as I will the tears and hysteria back.
It's okay, I think to myself, he'll be back before you know it.
"Back before you know it," I breathe with a small, short nod. I open my eyes and look around for a moment. Then I walk back inside and close the door. I lock it just as I had promised Edward I would—given everything that's happened recently, he's very worried about my safety—then walk upstairs to get dressed.
I text Alice before I leave; I know she knows I'm coming—she would have seen it the second I decided to do so—but I thought it polite to notify her like this anyway. She replies quickly, telling me that we'll go for a walk so we have more privacy. She requests that I meet her outside as it is faster that way, and I quickly text her back as I sit in my truck, about to leave, telling her I would. I thank her as well, press send, and then put the phone down.
And then I put the car in reverse, and slowly back out of the driveway.
The drive to the Cullens' is shorter than I remember, though that may have something to do with how involved in my thoughts I am.
When I do arrive, Alice is waiting. She smiles when she sees me, and I at her. I park the car quickly and get out, walking forward to hug her. She sighs and wraps her arms around my waist. Her lips press against my ear just lightly as she whispers, "Don't worry. Everything will be okay. I'll help you."
It's all I need to hear; my eyes close and the gust of air that leaves my mouth communicates my relief. I swallow down everything else, letting Alice's words settle my fears and worries.
She smiles her jovial smile, tucking her arm through mine—spinning me around to face away from the house in the process—as we begin our walk. We're silent for a while, and I know it's because Alice really wants to give me—us—the privacy she promised.
She finds a log and sits down on it. She smiles up at me and pats it; I laugh, but make my way to her side. I sit down, my hands falling onto my lap. I look at them for just a moment before looking at Alice.
Suddenly, my throat tightens. All of this is so hard, so secretive and so damned hurtful. I never meant for it to get so out of hand. I never meant to hurt so many people, especially Edward. The thought of Edward's pain makes my chest tighten.
It's not supposed to be like this. Edward isn't supposed to feel pain because of me, but he is, and I hate that. I want to make it go away, but I have no idea how. Alice smiles sadly at me and gently places her hand over mine, showing me her support.
"Alice," I whisper, still having a little trouble with controlling my emotions.
"I know," is her simple response. "And don't worry. As I said, we'll take care of it. I know what happened, but I need to hear it from you. I need to see what happened so I can understand exactly how Edward thinks that you wanted it."
"I know how Edward thinks that," I say persistently. "Jacob. He manipulated his thoughts. He changed the circumstances…" I trail off, frowning. It still hurt to think that Jacob, my childhood friend, could be like that. But I guess I had to understand and accept that Jacob was not my Jacob anymore. He was the one the tribe had created; more specifically, the one the wolf gene had made the second his "transformation" completed.
My friend Jake is gone, and he's never coming back. As long as he's a wolf, and his hate for the Cullens is present, we can never get along.
I realise that now.
But still, there is some part of me that wants to give him the benefit of the doubt. And so I voice the other possibility, unlikely as it is.
"But maybe he didn't mean to," I say, and Alice raises an eyebrow. I know what I'm saying is wrong, but I say it anyway, hoping—wishing—to be right. "Just hear me out. I'd like to think that on some level he's not that malicious. Maybe he was just so swept up in the moment that he didn't realise he was changing his thoughts. Maybe he actually thought I did want it, that I was responding. It's easy to translate things the wrong way—"
"Bella, stop," Alice says softly, effectively ending my speech. Her eyes are sympathetic, her smile friendly, sad and supportive, all at the same time. "As much as I know you like Jacob, as much as he was your friend, you must understand that what you're saying now isn't going to help you. I know you don't honestly believe what you're saying to be the truth. And as much as it hurts to think that your friend could be so manipulative, don't you think it's easier to accept rather than deny it and cause you more pain? I've seen you, Bella. My visions have not stopped this week. You're torturing yourself for something you cannot help. You can't help that you were unable to stop him from kissing you or manipulating his thoughts so Edward got the wrong idea. But you can do something about it. And that's what I'm here to help you with, just as you asked."
"I don't believe I've asked yet," I say with a soft smile, hoping to lighten the tension. It works to a certain degree.
Alice chuckles. "Perhaps not yet," she says. "But remember, I am a psychic. I know these things, Bella."
I laugh at the tone of her voice, thankful that she took my joke and ran with it.
The laughter dies and seriousness replaces it. Alice looks at me and, fiercely, she says, "everything will be okay. I've seen it. I still see you turned and happy with Edward for eternity."
I breathe a sigh of relief. Though I never thought for a second that it would not happen, it's nice to hear that she stills sees that particular vision anyway.
"How am I going to do this, Alice?" I ask, looking into her eyes. I'm panicky. Desperate. "How am I going to tell Edward? He's going to hit the roof; you know as well as I do that's exactly what's going to happen. And then he'll try to do something about it, and he'll get into trouble–"
"No, he won't," she replies strongly.
I frown, confused. What does she mean? "Of course he will. You know what Edward's like. He's protective, and he overreacts."
"He won't though," she says, looking into my eyes for a moment. Then she sighs and looks down, mumbling under her breath. I'm amazed I can hear the words. "He didn't tell her. Idiot."
"Didn't tell me what, Alice?" I ask slowly, hesitancy colouring my voice.
"Mating, Bella," she says with a huff. "He didn't explain the mating connection. Figures he probably doesn't want to 'scare you off' or some nonsense. It's just like him."
"What?" I ask, my voice shooting through two octaves. "Alice, I'm sorry, but what the hell is mating? And the mating connection?"
Alice sighs. "It really shouldn't be me doing this, but knowing Edward, he'd never tell you. Well, not until after your change anyway." She sighs again, looking away for a second. "You know that there're parts of your relationship that are… very supernatural, right?"
I frown. "Well, yes. I mean, Edward is a vampire."
Alice chuckles. "Yes, there is that. But that's not what I'm talking about. What I mean is that there are certain elements of your relationship that you wouldn't consider normal. For instance, that pain in your chest. It's a supernatural element of your relationship. Evidence of the connection you share, if you will. You feel pain every time you are away from Edward, just as he does."
I frown at the thought of Edward in pain. I don't like the sound of that, not at all.
But what's this about a connection?
I hear Alice sigh, and I look up.
"Think, Bella," she tells me. "Think about what else there is that may not be considered normal."
And I do. I think over all the finer details of our relationship. The feelings, the interactions, the reactions that the both of us sometimes have, and I realise that Alice is right. There are parts of our relationship outsiders who didn't know the secret would consider strange. It's only the fact that it feels so natural that keeps me from feeling the same, or noticing that it's different.
"Yes, I get it," I say with a nod and a glance at Alice's face. She smiles, nodding to herself. "Sometimes it feels as if there's something more to it than just two people in love, or rather, a vampire and a human. Sometimes it feels like he's hiding something… or holding himself back. And I know he has to, but… it's different. It's… more, you know?"
She nods, a small, understanding smile gracing her lips. "Yes, I get it. This is good," she mutters. "Well, the mating–" she pauses and huffs. "How to explain this… how to—" Alice stops again, mid-sentence, with a gasp. Her eyes glaze over and I relax, knowing she's having a vision now. When she emerges only seconds later, she smiles. "Oh!"
She looks back at me, her mouth pursed thoughtfully. "So I understand that Jacob spoke to you about the wolves' special relationships–"
"You mean imprinting?" I ask, grasping at straws.
"Is that the connection they share?" she asks, frowning a little.
Now she's just confusing me.
"Um, if you mean the connection between Sam and Emily, then yes. It's called imprinting." I pause for a moment, again confused. "You didn't know?"
"No," she says, before smiling sheepishly. "I tend to not really pay attention unless it's something important. I know Carlisle and Edward know, but those two are usually the only ones to go to meetings with the tribe. My Jazzy goes as well, but they don't exactly broadcast their relationships. They're very… closed off. They prefer to protect their ma-imprints from the likes of us, but Edward picks things up through their thoughts and usually discusses them with Carlisle. If they feel it's important, they tell us. If not, they don't; why bother us with stuff we don't need to know and frankly don't want to? And before you ask, as I know you will, because my visions are void around them, I don't need to go to the meetings. That, and Jasper won't let me because if I'm around the wolves, I get headaches. He doesn't like me in pain, just as Edward doesn't like you in pain."
She sits forward, giving me a pointed look before continuing. "But as I'm sure you know, the wolves can be hostile. To prevent fighting, Jasper goes. And because Carlisle is the leader and mediator of the family—or coven, as they call us since they refuse to acknowledge that we are actually a family—and Edward is the second oldest in the vampiric sense, they go as well. The only reason why Emmett and Rosalie don't always go is because Rosalie doesn't want to be around the stench. But you know Rosalie; she's self-obsessed and volatile in her own right. She'd create more upheaval with her thoughts and comments than her presence is worth."
I nod. It all makes sense to me. "But this mating connection… what is it?"
"Well, it's the vampire version of the tribe's imprinting," Alice says simply. "Of course there are differences. When a wolf imprints, whilst at first sight there is a connection, love doesn't come until later. Not much later, mind you, but later. Imprinting's first and foremost about bearing strong wolves for the next generation of the tribe. That is its goal. It's about protecting the tribe from us, from vampires. Imprinting sets the wolves up with a strong partner that can carry and bear stronger children for the wolf pack. It is all about the right genes, and the defence and protection of the tribe. Do you understand?"
I think for a minute before nodding. "I think I do. Jacob explained it wrong, it seems. Or rather, he explained it the way the tribe leaders want him to believe it is, and not how it really is. Maybe, I don't know. But he certainly didn't explain that it's more about genes, compatibility and the creation of a stronger generation to protect the tribe from vampires. It's a primitive connection that, whilst love is there, is more about the defence of the tribe as a whole than the love and happiness between two people."
Alice beams. "Exactly. And that is how it differs from the mating connection. You see, our connection is more about what you mentioned; love, happiness, completion. It's more about finding your other half, your soul mate. Genes are not important as far as the vampire connection goes."
"So…" I sit there, shocked. I try to speak and voice my thoughts, but nothing comes out of my mouth. I frown for a moment, then my eyes widen in awe as I realise what this means, what Alice is implying. "So I'm Edward's mate?" I ask, liking very much how that sounds.
Alice smiles radiantly and nods with a laugh. "Yes! You two are really made for each other, Bella! You're the only one for him just as he is for you."
"Made for each other," I mouth to myself in awe. I can't believe it. I'm… I'm meant for him. From what I understand—and it's very limited, but enough for now (I only really want to hear the rest from Edward, anyways)—there could only be one mate, meaning I'm it for Edward. It's a shock, I'll say. I've always known Edward's it for me, but to hear that I'm the only one for him? It's… it's elating, to say the least.
"Now do you see?" Alice asks, smiling. "I know you don't really want to hear a lot more about it from me, but just think for a moment all that you think about and of Edward. He's the only one for you, you love him completely, and his happiness and well-being are your top priorities, right?" I nod wordlessly. "So that's what I mean! He won't go ballistic, though he really will want to, because your happiness and well-being are his top priorities. In that moment, you are the only thing that truly matters. It's always as such, but then especially. Do you get what I'm saying?"
"I think so," I say with a nod. "Basically, he won't go crazy because he'll be more worried about me. He'll focus his attention on me rather than acting out his revenge on Jacob?"
Alice chuckles and it sounds darker than what I was expecting. "Oh, Bella... there will be revenge, I can promise you that, but it won't be any type of grievous bodily harm. Edward knows that if something were to happen to him, you would not survive it; it's the same for him, as you know. So, of course, he understands that to go and do it in such a brash way as to violate the treaty is out of the question. No, no; he'll attend to you, and then he will exact his revenge later. It will not violate the treaty, but it will get the message across."
"What message is that?" I ask, already having some idea.
"That you are his and his alone, of course. And not to mess with you, his mate," Alice replies matter-of-factly.
I nod. "Okay, thanks. So how do I tell him? What's the plan?"
Alice smiles a cheeky smile. "Well…" and then she launches into it.
I had been planning on telling Edward at the soonest possibility, hopefully even tonight, but when I get home after speaking with Alice, my father's plans interfere with my own.
As soon as I walk through the door, Charlie calls out for me. "Bells, is that you?"
I sigh and smile under my breath. Though I've been living here for over a year now, he still asks that. I remember idly the first night Edward stayed—or rather, the first time I knew he stayed. I remember my father arriving home, and me panicking, only for Edward to disappear. I remember how irritated I was when he called out and asked if that was me. And I remember how I'd grumbled and thought, who else would it be? only to realise that he wasn't so far off base.
"Yeah, it's me, Dad," I say back, my voice lower than his. I put my keys down on the bench so I can take my jacket off.
"Ah, good," he says. I can hear him get up with a grunt and shortly after, he's standing in the hall with me.
I notice immediately what he's wearing; jeans and a nice shirt. I raise an eyebrow. "Going somewhere?"
He nods. "Yep, we both are."
"What? Where are we going?" I ask with a frown.
He smiles. "Billy and Jake's house for dinner."
I stop cold. Really, I just… shut down. I gasp and my breath catches. My body stills and my eyes close. Behind the lids are the memories of what happened last time I saw any of the Quileutes and, besides seeing Seth, they're not pleasant.
None of them are.
"Bells, are you ok?" I hear my father ask. But his voice sounds strange… far away, even. I'm not sure. Had he moved? Then I feel his hand on my shoulder, first one and then the second on the other. And then I'm shaking. Is it… is it because of my father? Is he the one shaking me or is there something else wrong? And why didn't Alice see this? Why didn't she warn me? This is not part of the plan!
I look up at my father, the panic in his voice breaking me out of my odd little funk. "What?"
"Jesus," he gasps, looking at me. He's still a little panicky, something I can tell from the tone of his voice, but there's relief there as well. "Are you ok? You worried me out of my mind."
"Sorry," I say, clearing my throat and looking down before I turn away a little. I pretend to be looking at my keys as I ask, "So, we're going down to the Blacks?"
"Yes," he says. "But if you don't want to go, you don't have to. And quite frankly, after what just happened, I'd really prefer it if you stayed home."
My eyes close again only this time it's out of relief. This is good.
And for a moment I really do think that I won't have to go, that I could just stay here. I could wait for Edward and we could be alone. Hell, I could even tell him the way I'd been planning to originally.
But then my phone chirps. I swallow and pick it up.
It's Alice; a text. I frown and open it, wondering why she's texting me now.
I know you don't want to, but go. You need to speak to Jacob. Plus, I don't see you when you're there, but I see you when you leave. You seem to feel a lot better, Bella. Maybe getting closure and having it out with Jacob with help you tell Edward? ~ Alice
I'm about to reply, when the phone chirps again, signalling another text. I smile to myself and open it.
And before you ask, yes, you are allowed on their land. I know I can't see them, but I know that much. They can't turn you away when your father's going; they're not that stupid. They won't cause a scene. ~ Alice
I sigh. As much as I hate to admit it, Alice has a point. And she's right; I will feel better if I speak to Jacob, and I do need to speak to him. I need to tell him what this has done to me, and get some answers of my own. I also need to be there to answer any of his, if he has any.
I press reply, and type. Okay. I will. Is Edward home yet? Can I call him to tell him? ~ Bella
Alice's reply is almost instant. No need. He already knows, but yes, he's home. ~ Alice
I reply just once more. Okay, good. Thanks. Can you ask him to be here when I come home? ~ Bella
I'm not stupid; I know I'll need him after this. Plus, it might be easier for me to tell him after seeing Jacob.
I put my phone down and turn to my father. He's waiting patiently, and I can see he's curious as to who I'm talking to. "That was Alice. I saw her today. She just wanted to let me know I'd left something over at her place."
Dad nods, then he clears his throat. "Well maybe you can go get it tomorrow or something. So, are you coming? You don't have to."
I clear my throat as well and sigh silently to myself. "Yeah, I'll go. Do you know what time we'll be back?"
"Shouldn't be too late, why?" Dad asks as he grabs his things. He must've been waiting to go for a while.
"Just wondering," I reply.
"Ok, well, you ready to go?"
I look over at him. "Yeah."
He frowns. "You sure?"
I frown, too, confused. But then I look down at myself and I blush. "Uh, no… I'm not ready to go. Give me a few minutes?"
He shrugs, trying to hide his amused smirk. "Sure. I'll go call Billy and tell him you're coming. He wasn't sure if you would or not."
I don't reply as I climb the stairs. As soon as I reach the top and I'm no longer in my Dad's line of sight, I drop the façade. I open the door of my bedroom and walk through, not expecting the sight before me.
"You requested my presence and I came, love," Edward says. His voice is honey; silky smooth and sweet. His arms open and I can't help but walk toward him.
"I didn't know you would come now…" I say. "You didn't have to."
By then, I reach Edward. I move to sit down beside him, but he cups the back of my thighs and pulls me to straddle him. I gasp at the jolt of electricity, but quickly recover when his arms wrap around my waist and it lowers to a steady, delicious hum. It's something we've both grown used to and now that I know what it means, it means so much more. I sigh and relax into his arms.
"But I wanted to," he whispers, and I smile to myself.
He wanted to, I think blissfully.
We're silent for a few moments before I lean back. "I went to see Alice today."
Edward's eyes tighten, but apart from that, he offers no reaction. "I know. She told me."
I nod. "Does that mean you know that I know about the mating connection?"
His lips brush my cheek. "Yes. I do. And before you get the wrong idea, I'm not angry at you, or even really at her. I should have told you. I'm sorry I didn't."
I sigh and look into his eyes, cupping his cheeks. "It's okay. You were scared to. I know that—I know you. You thought that by telling me, you were trapping me." The fright and relief in his eyes tells me I'm right. I rub the pads of my thumbs against his cheeks. The action causes him to sigh and relax, so I continue. "You aren't. I love you and only you, Edward. Know that. I choose you. And besides, you have no idea how happy I am to hear that we're connected like that. Indefinitely. It's comforting, it... it puts me at ease."
"You didn't already know?" he asks, and I can just detect the pain and hurt.
I frown and swallow. "I didn't mean it like that. It's just… knowing that we have a connection, that it's not just like falling in love as humans do… it's more. I don't know how to explain how I feel about that. When Alice told me, all I could feel was love, awe and relief. To know that there's no way you could love another, just as I can't, to know that I really am your other half, that I'm meant for you and you alone, just as I've always felt about you… you have no idea how amazing that felt."
Edward's eyes are light and happy. "You mean that?"
"Yes," I whisper, sniffling slightly. I look down at him and the look in my eyes, which seems to be reflected by the look in his, makes him swallow. He licks his lips, eyes dashing down to my lips. He breathes in just as I breathe out.
And then he growls. It's just a word; one single, tiny, little word. It's also a word I haven't ever heard from his lips, I don't think.
And the sound of that word, his claim over me, coming from his lips… it lights a fire in me. I look at him and with no hesitance in my voice, I steadily reply with just one word of my own; the only one I need.
And the feel of that word from my lips, knowing how much it means to him, and knowing how damn true it is… it's heaven. It feels right, but more than right, it feels… liberating. There's no other fact that I need to be sure of except for the simple one of belonging to him just as he belongs to me and that he loves me just as much as I love him.
And then Edward does another something he's never done in my presence.
He purrs, and closes his eyes. The bliss is written all over his face and seeing it there makes me swell with happiness and all I can do is say...
"I love you."
His eyes open, but the purring sound doesn't cease. In fact, it gets louder. He replies with the simple but perfect, "And I, you, my love. And I, you."
The moment is lost, however, when Charlie knocks on the door. Edward and I both jump and I realise that this moment with each other had been so large that we'd let go, not paying attention to my father's whereabouts.
"Bells? You ready to go?"
"Uh, yeah," I reply, looking into Edward's eyes as I speak. "Just give me a second; I'll be down in a minute."
"Okay," Dad replies, and I hear his loud steps as he walks away and down the stairs.
I kiss Edward's lips once more and hug him quickly before I run over to my closet. Edward doesn't even look away—not that I want him to—as I strip out of my shirt and jeans. I pull on a boring, green button-down shirt that has long sleeves, making no effort to dress up. I then pull on another pair of jeans–my only other pair—and I grab my boots, slipping them on.
I look in the mirror and quickly tie my hair up into a bun. Edward's watching me and I catch his eyes in the mirror, smiling at him. He smiles back and within the blink of an eye, he's standing right behind me. I gasp before turning around to look up at him.
I wrap my arms around his neck just as he wraps his around my waist. "Can I do something?"
My eyes narrow playfully as I smile up at him. "Sure. What?"
He looks a little nervous and swallows. "It's a vampire thing. A mating thing, actually."
I raise an eyebrow. "Okay, what is it?"
"I want to… mark you," he replies, seeming unsure. I don't like that, and I frown. "Basically, I want to rub my scent on you so others know you're mine. That, along with the mating bite and exchange of venom, tells others that you are taken. That you are mine."
"How are you rubbing your scent on me?"
He smiles. "Why, Miss Swan… is that desire I hear?" My heart flies, effectively answering his question and he grins. "Mmm… I like that you like that. It pleases me very much, my love. And if you allow me to, it's simple. My scent already permeates your skin, and I simply want to reinforce that. Also, because we do not have much time on our hands, I cannot mark you as thoroughly as I want to. However, it should communicate the message I want to convey."
"And what's that?" I ask. My heart's thundering in my ears and, to be honest, I've never been so turned on in my damn life. I lick my lips and Edward growls.
"That you're mine and only mine," he growls in my ear. I blush.
"Ok. Mark me," I say, smiling up at him. Please, I add silently.
He purrs again in my ear, and a second later, his hands weave through my hair. Subtly, naturally, he takes me in his arms. His lips are on my skin, and he releases breath after breath onto my hair through both his nose and mouth. Only about thirty seconds later, he moves slightly and then his cheek is against mine.
It shocks me. I'm not expecting the feelings that rush through me. This feels right, natural. But more than that, I'm starting to feel possessive. In the back of my mind, knowing that this will not only mark me with his scent, but him with mine, makes me smile indulgently.
Edward seems to catch onto my mood, and he smirks. I can feel it as he rubs his cheek rhythmically and slowly against mine just once more before he switches to the other cheek.
"Bella, are you okay in there?" Charlie calls through the door. I jump and Edward growls under his breath. I look up at him, worried, but he smiles softly and shakes his head, mouthing that he's fine. I nod just as Dad speaks again. "Are you sure you want to go? You don't have to."
From the way Edward's head shoots up and his eyes set on my face, I know Dad's thinking about the little incident down stairs. He takes my hand in his, his eyes also communicating that I don't have to. I smile, cup his cheek, and kiss him once on the lips.
"I'm fine, Dad. I'm ready."
My voice is shaky. I hope he can't hear it; it'll only make him surer that I shouldn't go. I grip Edward's hands for a moment and he squeezes them, kissing me on the lips again making me giggle quietly.
"I love you. I'll see you soon," I tell him.
He nods. "I love you, too, Bella. Hurry back to me."
With a look that hopefully explains it all, I reply. "Always."
The drive is short. Neither my father nor I speak, and I slowly begin to tense the closer we get to our destination. Coming back here after everything feels so wrong. The only solace I have is that I will get to talk this out with Jacob.
I sigh. The criticism I face because of who I'm with never ends when it comes to pack members and to the tribe in general.
There's only really one exception, one reprieve. I smile, thinking of Seth. He's quickly become a friend of Edward's, and of mine. He's a sweet, generous boy who doesn't judge the Cullens for what they are, but who they are, despite the fact that they're mortal enemies.
He's what I had been hoping could happen between the Cullens and Jacob, or at the very least, Edward and Jacob. But I now see it's impossible. Jacob has changed too much, and it's not fair to either party.
I can't have both Edward and Jacob—not that I want Jacob even as a friend now. Once I've accepted Edward completely as his wife, his mate and as his equal, forever, then that's that. There's no going back.
But I know I won't regret it.
As we pass the boundary line—the treaty line—I stiffen. Only now do I notice that this seems to be a reaction I've always had. There's just something about being here, in this place, that sets me off. And it's with a quiet shake of my head and a secret smirk that I realise the reason.
Where they have failed me in the past—according to Edward, that is—they do not here. Something in my subconscious knows that there are predators here.
I snort silently. Of course I would find the people who are supposedly the preservers and protectors of human life to be dangerous instead of those who actually could—and previously have, well, some of them at least—and only choose to not hurt humans.
But then I remember what Alice said about mates. We're meant for each other, soul mates. I wonder idly if, were I not Edward's mate, I would have the same reaction. Would I find them to be the threat like others instead of the wolves? Or is it simply because I see the good in them where the wolves don't that makes me unafraid?
I decide instantly that it's a combination of the both.
Charlie breaks the silence for the first time since he put the car in reverse and rolled out of our driveway.
I look up at him and smile softly. "Yeah, Dad?"
"Thanks for agreeing to come," he says, smiling… or at least I think it's a smile. It looks kind of like a grimace, actually. He's very closed off, just as he always is, unable to show strong emotion because of how damned awkward it is. "I know you didn't want to, and I know that it's going to be hard for you tonight, considering your fight with Jacob. So just… thank you for appeasing me."
I shrug. "It's fine. Don't worry about it. Besides, I decided it would be easier for me to have it out with Jacob now."
Charlie's eyes light up. "Does that mean you'll forgive him?"
I sigh and look away, mumbling, "No."
"Oh," my father says.
I look up at him. "I can't, Dad. I can see that he's trying to get between Edward and me, and I won't take that chance. Besides, what he did is unforgivable."
"What did he do?" Charlie asks, a frown appearing.
I sigh again. Great, now I have to tell Charlie. "He kissed me against my will again… in front of Edward."
Okay, so that's a lie, kind of. I like to think of it as more of a stretch of the truth. It was in front of Edward that he kissed me, just not physically.
"He what?" Charlie growls.
I stiffen even more, which is definitely something. "He kissed me against my will," I repeat.
"I heard," he replies gruffly. "Bells, he's a good kid—"
"No, Dad," I interrupt him brusquely, looking up at him. "He's not. Not anymore. He may have been once but the pa-Sam and his friends have changed him," I vent, narrowly avoiding the word pack. Oops. "Surely you've noticed," I continue, sending him a look.
He sighs. His shoulders hunch under the weight of it, and I hate that. I hate that everything is so fucking complicated now. "Yes, I have. I have noticed. I was hoping it was just a phase, but I think you're right." He pauses for a moment. "Maybe I should have a word with Billy..."
My head shoots up and I panic for a moment. "No," I say and he looks at me with a frown. I know he's confused about my reaction. "Don't. I don't want you to have problems with Billy just because his son is now an ass."
His brow crinkles. "But I should say something."
"No," I repeat strongly, looking him dead on in the eyes. "You don't need to. He knows, Dad. He knows. Just leave it be. Please… for me. I don't want your relationship with Billy to suffer."
He sighs. "Are you sure? You're my daughter, Bells. I honestly don't mind. You know you are more important than anyone else to me, right? If I need to, I will defend you."
I smile. "I know, Dad. But you don't need to. I have Edward to do that for me now." Then I frown. I know I need to somehow get him to not think about it when we go back home, but I don't know how to make him do it. I think for a moment, before inspiration strikes. I look up at him again. "Um, Dad?"
He looks at me in question, but says nothing.
"Can you promise me something?" I ask. He nods wordlessly so I continue. "Just… forget I said anything. For tonight, I mean. Just forget I mentioned what happened. Please? Have a good time tonight and forget that there's awkwardness between Jacob and me. Okay?"
He sighs. There's silence in the car for a few minutes as he thinks about what I've said. It's only when he sighs again that I know he'll concede. "Okay," he says quietly.
By the time the conversation is over, we've stopped outside Billy and Jacob's house. I look up at it and sigh. It feels like a lifetime ago when I was happy here, when I could come here and just feel as if everything might not be as bad as I thought it would be.
It feels like a lifetime ago when Jacob was happy, when he was my Jacob—the nice, sweet boy that I had once been friends with.
My Dad looks at me with a sad smile. I smile back then make the first move to get out of the car. Dad sighs quietly before taking my lead and does the same. I smile briefly. Though we would never admit it to each other's faces, we're more alike than I think either of us actually realises.
"We won't stay long," Charlie assures me as we walk to their front door.
I look up at him, but he seems to be pointedly looking away. I smile to myself and look down.
We're about a metre way from the door when it opens. We look up to see Jacob. He's sporting a large smile, and if I didn't know better, I could say he's acting like the old Jacob. But I know that's not true. I swallow and look down quickly.
"Charlie! Bells!" he calls out. It's so loud I flinch. I hear Dad mutter under his breath and it calms me a little when he puts his arm protectively around my shoulder.
We walk up the stairs, and before long, we're standing in front of Jacob. I still haven't looked up at him, and I realise that I probably should. So I lift my head and look at him. My gaze is blank as I read his expression and I feel sick when I see his eyes on me.
"Jacob," Dad says, his voice sounding gruff. Jacob instantly looks over at him and he swallows. I peek at my father's face and if I hadn't been so nervous, I would find the expression on his face laughable. He's glaring at Jacob. His eyes are narrowed and his eyebrow is raised. It's clear what he's doing—he's warning him.
Jacob thrusts his hand out and my father takes it into his grip. I watch Jacob's face as he winces, and I know Dad's just done the typical shit-stirring squeeze thing that only fathers would do.
But again, I know it is all part of his warning.
Jacob readily invites us in, and I can't help but notice the way he looks at my father. There's confusion and suspicion there in his eyes and I know… I just know that he's noticed my father's attitude as far as he's concerned.
And then he looks at me.
As I walk past him, not looking at him, he grabs my wrist. I flinch when his grip tightens as he breathes in deeply. From the low growl he releases, and the muttering of words such as "bloodsucker," I know he can smell Edward.
I smile at the reminder of Edward's marking.
And for once, I don't care. In fact, I'm glad. Let him. Fucking let him. Edward's my mate—I still love that word and the way it sounds—and I am his. Why should I be ashamed? What have I got to be ashamed about?
I told Jacob from the start that I didn't love him—not the way he wanted, anyway. I told him from the start that Edward is it for me, and to not make me choose, but he has. Stubbornly, he's gone against my wishes and done what he wants.
However, as much as it pains me, I know he's not the only one at fault. I know I should have ended our relationship a long time ago, perhaps even when I came back with Edward from Volterra. I should have been strong enough to put my foot down and say "enough is enough." I shouldn't have strung him along or even remotely let him feel he had a chance with me when he didn't.
And I really should not have let him play me. Just as it is his fault for manipulating me and making me hurt the only family that has ever truly accepted me for me, it is my fault for letting him and forgiving him time and time again.
And right now, I could feel why Alice wanted me to come here tonight. And I know, above all else, that she is right. I need this. Not only for closure, to talk to Jacob about what he did to get us here, but also to set things straight, to have it out with him, to apologise to him for all the things I have done to put us in this position and to acknowledge that I am not innocent here. To make sure he knows that the time we spent with each other after Edward left was a mistake. And to tell him that I am happy with Edward, and that he isn't a monster. He may not see it, but I do, and I will be damned if I let him walk all over me with his talk about how they're soulless.
Um, excuse me, but who turns into the fucking huge dog? Not me. Not Edward. Who continues to put their people in danger because they can't trust people who actually, to a degree, trust them and respect them enough to be kind? Not me. Not Edward. Who also continues to repeatedly deny anything that an informed person tries to tell them because they refuse to see that their enemies are good people? Not me. Certainly not Edward.
And who constantly fights their true nature so they can respect human life? Edward. Who, knowing that wolves are dangerous but also knowing that they're my friends, has always put up with my shit when it comes to running away to meet Jacob? Uh, that would be Edward. And who put up with all the pain that I unknowingly inflicted on them by running into the arms of a manipulative friend who gloated about it in their thoughts? Always and without fault, Edward.
I could point out all the other things the pack and the tribe as a whole do that are wrong, but I won't. I can't because I know Jacob's not the only one at fault here.
So it's with determination that I look up at Jacob and glare. It's a glare that sends a few messages, not the least of which being that he no longer has emotional control over me. He looks at me, too, shocked. And that shock is enough to make him let go of my wrist. I wince as it begins to bruise. Edward's going to freak when he sees it.
When I hear the sound of Billy's wheelchair, I step away from Jacob. I look away, effectively cutting off the glare, just as Billy wheels through the door and into the room. I send a small smile his way, stuffing my hands in my jacket's pockets.
"Hi Billy," I say, and I'm sure he can hear my nerves.
He smiles at me, an action that startles me. I frown slightly as he wheels toward me. "Bella. How are you?"
"Good, thanks," I say with an uneasy nod. "You?"
He looks at me for a moment, and the awkwardness is so prominent in the room that all I really want is to get out of here. I'm tense enough, both from the fact that I'm here with Jacob and because of my newly found instincts…or newly acknowledged instincts.
But then he speaks. "I'm good as well."
I nod and don't say anything as I look around. My father's not in the room, meaning he's in the kitchen, most likely getting a beer. I really want to follow him in there. I want to stay with him rather than be alone with Billy and Jacob, but I know I have to be stronger than that.
To distract myself, I talk to Billy. "So how did you explain the sudden recovery to Dad?" I avoid saying Jacob's name. From the way Billy's eyes narrow, I can tell he notices this.
To my relief though, he says nothing about it. He simply answers the question. "Easy. He didn't know it was so bad to begin with?"
I raise an eyebrow at him. "What? I thought—"
He cuts me off. "Considering you haven't come to visit Jacob, of course you don't know the cover story. We sure as hell didn't tell your bloodsuckers."
My breath hitches at the same time that I'm filled with anger. I know Billy feels the same way about the Cullens as his son—and probably the rest of the tribe save Emily and Seth—but it's the first time I've heard him call them that.
My eyes narrow in response, and when I speak, my tone is low and angry. "Don't speak about them that way. You and your pack of indignant high-and-mighty, judgmental mutts have no idea what the Cullens are like. You refuse to interact with them. If you did, you'd see what good they have done, how good they are themselves. You resent them for what they are because of what it has made your son, blatantly ignoring the fact that they chose this life no more than your son and the pack did." I pause for a minute, my eyes flashing over to Jacob's face. I take in his anger, swallowing before I look back over at Billy. "I know I need to talk to Jacob and I will. Tonight. But if you want to know why I didn't come here to fawn all over him, ask him." I throw my hand in Jacob's direction and point at him. Harsh, I know. But I really can't care at this point. I'm sick of Billy's unforgiving, judging nature. "It's his fault, not mine."
There's fire in Billy's coal black eyes. He's about to retaliate with a remark of his own, but the sound of my father's footsteps stops him. With nothing else to say—at least, for now—we all look away from one another.
I look at Charlie as he walks through the doorway. He stares at all of us for a moment and when he looks at me, I can tell he's concerned.
No one answers, so I clear my throat then speak up. "Uh…yeah, Dad…everything's fine."
He nods, but by the expression on his face, he's not convinced. He walks towards me and stops at my side. "So…dinner?"
"Nah, Charlie," Billy says, smiling up at him. He wheels over to the TV. "There's a game on. Wanna stay and watch it?"
Immediately, Dad looks at me. In his eyes, I see all I need to see. He's worried about me, but at the same time, he really wants to stay for the game. It's not exactly what he originally promised, but I don't mind staying for the game. Not really, anyway. Not for my Dad.
I smile and shrug just slightly. He sighs quietly then looks at Billy. "Yeah, sure. Dinner during or after?"
"After," Billy says, turning the TV on. He sets himself up in front of the screen then looks at Jacob. "Jake, get me a beer, would ya?"
Jacob huffs but nods and silently he leaves the room, headed for the kitchen. I instinctively make a move to go after him but then think better of it. I can feel eyes on me and it's making me a little uncomfortable.
I look over at Dad, who's now sitting down next to Billy. He's watching me carefully. With his eyes, he silently asks if I'm ok. I nod my head and give him a small smile. I walk over to the other side of the couch, the one closer to the other one that sits adjacent to the one Billy and Charlie are sitting on.
I look around quickly. There's no room next to Dad, and there's only one other couch which means I'll have to sit next to Jacob. I sigh to myself and resignedly, I sit down on the vacant couch.
Jacob enters the room not two seconds later. I look over at him quickly, hating the way his eyes light up when he sees the vacant spot next to me. He quickly hands his father the beer before promptly sitting down next to me. I sigh, and push myself into the corner of the couch, grabbing two pillows. I stuff one at my side to create just a little forced space between us. I hear him mutter something and smirk a little. As cruel as it is, I'm glad he knows I won't be just letting things slide from now on. And I also hope that what I'm doing will make him regret that damned kiss.
I doubt it, though.
The other cushion I have in my hands feels really nice, so I tuck my legs up under me and hug the cushion to my chest.
I don't pay attention to the game. My mind is on other things. Mostly how I'm going to speaking to Jacob about things. But after a while, I get fed up. I don't want to think of those things anymore, so I try to remember other memories, more pleasant ones from before all this mess, before it was Jacob the werewolf and Edward the vampire fighting over Bella the human. I try to think about other times when I was sitting here next to Jake—my Jacob—watching the game.
As I struggle to remember such a time, I realise why.
I usually don't attend when a game is on. Everyone knows these things don't interest me in the slightest. They never invite me. They usually do it at my house so Dad will go and I can hang around in my room… with Edward.
So, why am I here?
With a pang, I realise that Jacob must've convinced his father into inviting me, which means this is yet another manipulation, because he knows that my father would either go, or not go at all if I'm invited.
This is just another way he's forced me to do what he wants. He knows that I will feel guilty if my father stays at home instead of going simply because I don't want to go.
I huff quietly and cross my arms. I've been tricked. Again. Angry tears well in my eyes, my throat simultaneously tightening as I realise just how easy I am.
Is there anyone who won't use my nature against me? Well, apparently not when it comes to the Blacks.
Jacob leans down—he's sitting right next to me—and whispers, his hot breath fanning across my face. I swallow in disgust and turn my head away just as he grips my leg. My breath hitches and I try to swallow any sounds of pain when he squeezes just a little too tight.
What is he doing?
"Something wrong, Bella?" he asks me. Even I can hear the fucking anger in his voice. It's misplaced, though.
With my jaw set to make sure I don't say anything—we still have most of the game to get through and dinner so I can't start this now—I turn my head and I glare at him. His brow crinkles, pain appearing in his eyes, but this time, I'm not fooled. This time, I am determined to not go through this.
This is not only my fault. Right now, it's not at all.
I hear a throat clearing, and I gasp. I look away from Jacob and in the direction of the sound.
And I smile as I see who it was.
He's frowning in Jacob's direction, and the look in his eyes is telling me that he won't tolerate anymore of Jacob's behaviour.
I nod at him and smile. He frowns at Jacob once more before turning his attention on the game.
My mind formulates ideas. I need to get out of here with my phone. I need to call someone.
In fact, I realise, not just one person. Two. I need to call two people.
And I know just who they are.
I need Alice first. I need to know that everything is okay and that nothing has changed. I need to know that she still sees everything going according to plan.
The other person? Edward. Simply so I can hear his voice. The ache in my chest, something that I now know is because of our mating connection, is something I have grown accustomed to. Something I now expect, even.
But it doesn't make being separated any easier.
"I'm going to the toilet," I say, rushing to get the words out. The sooner I'm in the bathroom, the sooner I'll hear Edward's and Alice's voices, the sooner I'll know that everything is okay.
When I reach the bathroom, I open the door, quickly closing it behind me. I lock it then slide down against the door, just in case Jacob tries anything. I don't think he'd be stupid enough, but you can never be too sure.
I whip my phone out and check it. There's nothing new; no voicemail messages, nor calls or texts or emails. Nothing. Zilch.
I nod to myself as I take a deep breath. Some part of me knows that this is probably a good thing. That really, if Alice hasn't called, then I should know that everything is fine; I should trust her enough to believe her.
And I do believe her. I really do. I just want to make sure.
Or at least, that's what I'm telling myself.
There's a moment of indecision as I try to decide whom to call first. But I quickly answer my own question when I realise that if I'm to walk back into that god-forsaken room after I make these calls, then I want Edward to be the last person I spoke to.
Smiling at my decision, I quickly dial Alice's number before lifting the phone to my ear.
She answers after only one ring, of course. The phone was probably in her hand as soon as I made my decision.
"Bella, everything is fine," is her way of greeting me.
I smile, immediately relaxing. With an amused smirk on my face, I reply, "I think the customary greeting is 'hello', Alice."
"Yeah, well, I don't like abiding by customs," she sniffs. "They're the norm. They're boring, and since I'm not normal myself, and never was as a human either, I don't see the point."
I snort. Alice is just… so Alice. Surely no one else thinks that way. "Okay, Whatever," I say, holding a hand up in surrender even though she can't see me. "I just wanted to check in. You know, make sure everything is still on track."
"It is," Alice chirps brightly. I can just see the smile I hear in her voice. "I thought I'd let you know that Edward's still at your house. He's waiting for you there."
I mewl to myself, overwhelmed by his sweet, sweet disposition. My love for him blossomed in my chest, and with it, the sharp pain that signified his absence. I sigh.
"Bella," Alice says. She's amused; I can hear it. "Are you all right over there?"
"Hmm?" Her question could mean several different things, though I'm not sure she means for it to be. Just as quickly as it came, the moment is gone, and I'm left with tension once again. I frown as I remember what I want to talk to her about, and also, what I've just remembered. "Um, yes. I mean… no. No, I'm not. Alice, I need to ask you something."
The tone of my voice changes the tone of this call. When she speaks, I can't hear the worry. I can't hear any emotion, actually; the tone is flat.
And it worries me.
I take a deep breath, my eyes closing. My voice is quiet, hushed, as I tell her. "Jacob grabbed me. Twice. You see, on the way over, I told Dad about what happened. I kind of had to, really. So he was angry, obviously and when we got to the Black's house, Jacob answered the door. Charlie did the standard intimidating father thing and that confused Jacob. Dad didn't hide his anger, so when he walked inside and I followed after him, Jacob grabbed my wrist."
I pause, not really wanting to tell the rest.
But Alice asks for it anyway, and I sigh, resigning.
"Dad stopped him, but there's a bruise," I say morosely. "It's unavoidable that Edward will notice. He'll probably smell it because of your enhanced senses."
Alice is silent for a few moments, before she asks, "And the second time?"
I frown, wondering why she hasn't replied about the Edward-seeing-the-bruise problem. But I drop it and tell her quickly of the second time.
She growls when she hears about it, and I think I hear the words 'moronic', 'dog' and 'audacity'. I don't even bother trying to listen for any more.
She takes several moments to calm herself before she speaks. "Bella, you don't have to worry about that, ok? Listen, the shirt you're wearing is long-sleeved and you've got jeans on. Edward won't find out. He'll suspect and he'll try to see them or inspect you somehow, but you just tell him that you really need to speak to him, okay? In fact, I'm pretty sure you'll know how to handle that when it comes up. Bottom line: do not let him see them until after everything has been explained."
"So," I whisper, frowning. I rub my hand against my eyes, squeezing them shut. I'm so tired of everything. I just want it all to be over. I want to be with Edward. Right now, I need to hear his voice, need his arms around me, comforting me, holding me and never letting go.
But that can't happen just yet. I have to get through all this before that can happen.
Before I can truly begin my happily ever after, my forever with my mate.
"So?" Alice prompts.
I sigh. "So I need to tell him about tonight as well? In particular, about the bruises and how I got them?"
Alice sighs, too, but I know she's not impatient with me. "Bella, may I ask you a question?"
I giggle in spite of myself. "You just did."
She snorts. I can just see her shaking her head. "Another one then," she says after a minute.
"Okay," I say seriously, even sitting up against the door.
"When Edward lies to you, do you see it for what it is?" she asks. "Do you know that he's lying? Is there just something telling you that he is? Something you can't explain? Even if it is on some level, can you see through him and get to the truth?"
I go blank for a moment. My instinct is to tell her no, but then I remember what happened during those months, the darkest of my life. I remember how Edward would always come back to me in hallucinations, begging me not to do what I was doing, asking me to keep my promise. In those moments, the rare light in my near-constant darkness, I felt loved. Wanted.
"Yes," I whisper, my voice still raw from the emotional weight of what I just realised. "Yes, I think—no, I know on some level I could. That's probably why I had those hallucinations during... well, you know."
"Yes, probably," Alice replies simply. "That's why no one thought you were strange, Bella. At the loss of one's mate, or the extended physical absence of them at least, each party deteriorates. They become beyond help, really, and delusional."
I frown. "But I'm the only one who became… delusional, Alice."
"No, you weren't, Bella," Alice replies softly. "Edward can't remember days, even weeks at a time. His memory of that time is sketchy at best, particularly towards the end. He became… well, for lack of a better term, a monster. And before you go yelling at me, I don't mean it like that. I mean to say that he was so hung up on the guilt of the lie he'd told you and the physical suffering he was undergoing at your absence that he was well past reason. I can't say for sure if he did have hallucinations as you did during that time, he doesn't remember it. But remember in Volterra? Remember when you got to him and he thought the both of you were dead? He thought you were a delusion, or at the very least, an angel of sorts? If he was so ready to believe that—as desperate as he was… as you both were… at that time—then what's to say he didn't hallucinate? No one can ever know, Bella."
I open my mouth to reply when suddenly, there's a loud rap on the door.
Boom, boom, boom.
I frown, not even breathing as I put the phone down.
And then the sound is repeated.
Boom, boom, boom.
And I realise someone's knocking.
I wonder who it is, and I get my answer when I hear words.
"Bells? Are you all right in there?"
"Yeah," I reply before I sigh deeply as I relax. It's my father, I think to myself, trying to calm my rapidly beating heart. It's pounding in my chest, the force of it in my head almost painful.
It's just my father, I repeat. I take a few deep breaths then sigh again in relief.
"Are you okay?"
"Fine, why?" I frown.
"You've been in there for more than half an hour," Dad replies. I can hear the urgency and the worry in his voice. He lowers it as he continues. "Bella, if you want to leave now, we can. We don't have to stay here, you can come back another time to talk to Jacob–"
"No!" I gasp out. My mind scrambles as I try to come up with something to make Dad let us stay here. I need to get this over with and I'm doing it tonight. I am telling Edward tonight. "I'm fine, Dad. I'm just talking to Alice. I was… uh, busy when she called me. We're just talking. I'm fine, really. I just don't want to watch the game."
His tone is flat when he replies. "You don't want to watch the game…so you're sitting there…on the floor…in the bathroom…chatting to a friend? To Alice?"
I nod even though he can't see it. "Yep, that's right. That's exactly right."
A slight pause, and then he replies, "Okay. Um, we're eating dinner now, so I'll save you a plate for later, okay?"
"Uh-huh," is my reply.
I listen closely, the phone held tightly against my chest. The sounds of my father sighing, which are followed closely by his footsteps, signal his leaving. I sigh and sag against the door.
"Hello?" The slightly muted voice of Alice sounds, screeching into the phone. I jump. "Bella Swan, I know you can hear me! Now what is going on?"
I pick up the phone and quickly press it to my ear. "Alice?" I ask, grimacing as I wait for her reply.
She huffs. "Yes, it's me. Is everything ok over there, Bella? Your heart was going a hundred miles an hour."
I laugh, but even to me it sounds wrong. "Um, yes, everything is fine. Dad just came to check up on me and scared me, is all."
She chuckle. "Oh, Bella, that's so cute."
I huff. "Don't flatter me," I mutter into the phone coldly. She simply chuckles again, ignoring me.
"Anyway, I should probably let you go. You need to call Edward, don't you?" she asks. I snort; as if she doesn't know the answer.
"Yeah, I do," I tell her. The anxiety, the fear, the utter need and the anticipation in my voice tells Alice what I verbally won't.
"Ok, I'll let you go then. Just remember that everything is going to be fine. Do exactly what I told you to and everything else will work out on its own."
I nod though she can't see me. "I will… but Alice? Will Dad be able to not think about it when we get home?"
"Yes," she replies without hesitation. "He will. He'll honestly be too tired to think about it. And just a little bit tipsy, as well. Edward says that human thoughts get a little fuzzy and muddled after drinking. And considering Edward can't really hear your father to begin with… Well, Edward won't know anything about it until he hears it from you."
I breathe out a sigh of relief. My eyes close as I finally smile a real, relaxed smile. "Thank you."
"I love you," I say sweetly. "As a sister, you know? You're my best friend and I… I couldn't be happier. Thank you for helping me with this, and for not judging me."
She sighs. "I would never judge you, Bella. This wasn't your fault. You know that."
I frown. "I'm not so sure about that. I'm not innocent in this, Alice."
"Oh, I'm not saying you are," she assures me. "There is blame on your shoulders, too. But it's not all your fault, and definitely not mostly. You can't help that you are good at heart, and that you try to see that goodness in others. Even if there is hardly any of it left. You also you couldn't control what you did when you were in that state, Bella. You couldn't control your actions. All you could think of was relief from the pain. And I can understand why you would feel you owe Jacob something. Everything will work out. Just… have faith."
"Thank you," I whisper, and a second later, the line goes dead.
I sigh. My hand, and the phone within it, falls to my lap as my eyes close. My head falls back to the door, against which it thumps. I grimace at the subsequent moment of pain.
I jump when my phone vibrates. Frowning, I peer down at it, only to smile.
Hello, my love. ~ Edward
Hello, you. :) Why are you texting me? ~ Bella
My phone vibrates not thirty seconds after the message is sent. Alice told me you wished you speak to me, and that you were going to call. I thought I'd save you the trouble. ~ Edward
I bite my lip and reply. That's very sweet of you. You didn't have to. I'm glad you did though. ~ Bella
I wanted to, Bella. Besides, this way, we can communicate through the night. ~ Edward
I didn't think of that. Smart man. ;) ~ Bella
I laugh silently to myself, which only escalates when I read his reply.
Who, me? ;) Shucks, love. ~ Edward
Are you purposefully making me laugh? My eyes are narrowed right now, Edward. And what's with your vocabulary there, handsome? Has it diminished? ~ Bella
You'll never know. It's my secret. And my vocabulary always diminishes when it comes to you, sweet girl. But you knew that already. ;) ~ Edward
I laugh to myself. Somehow Edward always knows what I need, even without me saying anything.
And you know it's the same for me, Edward. You seem to enjoy the fact, as I remember. ~ Bella
Oh, I do, love. Immensely. ;) But, sweet girl, I think you should go out now and have dinner, hmm? I'm sure everyone is worried that you've been cooped up in that bathroom for over an hour. I will text you throughout the night, and you know you can always do the same if you need me. I love you. ~ Edward
I sigh, begrudgingly realising that he's right at the same time that I feel my love for him bloom. In resignation, I reply.
Ok. :( And keep your phone with you. I will undoubtedly text you, Edward. And I love you, too. ~ Bella
I don't wait for him to reply. Instead, I get up and put my phone away. I walk over to the basin and wash my hands. I look at my reflection in the mirror and note that I seem a lot more relaxed now. Talking to Edward via text seems to be nearly as effective as calling and hearing the sound of his voice; something to keep in mind for future reference.
I also note that my face seems a little flushed and when I lift the back of my hand to my cheek, it feels hot. I wet my face to cool down and take a deep breath before drying my hands and leaving the room.
I walk slowly down the hall, not looking forward to what's coming. I can hear the three of them talking and laughing, the sounds of plates clinking and cutlery scraping. The sound always makes me wince, and it's no exception this time.
I round the corner, and all three look up. Billy seems suspicious, Dad's worried and Jacob… well, he's a bit of everything, plus happiness.
"Bells!" he calls, a goofy smile on his face. His seat scrapes noisily against the floor as he gets up and walks toward me. He stops just a few inches away, and then his eyes change.
Shocked, I breathe in sharply.
What is he doing?
His eyes peer down at me, the happiness and worry gone. He's now only suspicious, and when he speaks, his voice is grave. "What were you doing that took so long, Bella?"
I swallow. This is not my Jacob. I already knew that before, but this guy… this dangerous, territorial, Dictator Jacob… he's new.
And I don't like it.
I clear my throat quietly, not meeting his gaze as I walk around him to my father's side. I look down at the plate that he got me. There's potato, sweet potato, carrot, and two slabs of thinly cut pork. I smile in thanks as I sit down; he knows just what I like and how much.
"You okay?" he whispers.
I nod and wordlessly start eating.
I eat my small portion quickly. No one speaks throughout dinner, and unlike meals at home, it's an uncomfortable experience. I frown at the thought that I'm the one who's causing it. After all, they were talking and laughing before I came out.
I look at Billy's and Charlie's plates, and realise that they're finished. I wonder idly why they're still sitting here, my eyes flashing to Jacob's face. He's staring down at the last of his meal, chewing slowly. The annoyance on his face tells me he doesn't like them being here.
And then I get it.
It's my Dad's doing. He's staying here with me to make sure Jacob doesn't do anything. I look at Billy's face and see just a hint of anger; he must be hoping to leave soon so Jacob and I can have it out. Either that, or he wants to give us privacy in the hope that his son can swing me over to their side.
I sigh to myself. When did this become a game of politics? When did feelings not matter?
I silently tell myself that it started when my relationship with Edward became known, and then again when Jacob began phasing.
I clear my throat, putting my knife and fork down on the plate. I stand up. "Everyone finished?"
"Yeah, thanks, Bells," Dad says, handing me his plate. I smile at him and nod.
I take Billy's plate, and then reach for Jacob's. He sees me coming but does nothing to help me, instead just leaning back for me to take his plate.
I huff as I walk through to the kitchen. Putting the plates down, I separate them from the cutlery. I turn on the water, making it hot but cold enough that I won't get burned.
I busy myself with the cleaning, and it doesn't take long before it's done.
It isn't long before I have to have that conversation with Jacob. To be honest, I'm not looking forward to it. Yes, it'll be freeing to speak to him about everything and to finally lay it all out on the table, but I also know that this will hurt him.
He was my friend once. And I know that he is there, somewhere. It's him that I care for; him that I don't want to cause pain.
I sigh, turning around. I slump against the sink and close my eyes, burying my face in my hands. I know that I have to do this, and I want to, but at the same time… I don't.
My head falls back and I take a deep breath. Then another, and another.
I let my thoughts flood with memories of the old Jacob. I can safely say that he's either no longer there or he's buried too deep by the hate he has for what he is and the Cullens.
In a way, this is my goodbye to him. This is my farewell forever to the old Jacob that I used to make mud pies with.
This is my tribute to him.
I'm sorry, I think to him. I'm so, so sorry. Goodbye, Jacob.
I change the direction of my thoughts, wiping away the tears. No longer would tears fall from my eyes over Jacob Black.
I take deep, cleansing breaths. With each breath, determination fills me. With each breath, I feel surer of myself. With each breath, my decision is made.
I bring out my phone, and bring up Edward's picture. I smile down at it and then once again close my eyes, holding it against my chest.
They open when my phone vibrates in my hand.
I laugh. Edward seems to have impeccable timing, because he texts me with just what I need to hear.
I love you, Bella. ~ Edward
And I love you. Always have, always will. ~ Bella
I pocket my phone. That text may have been a little dramatic, but it's what I feel. It's what I feel every day, and some part of me needs to know that he knows that; that he feels it.
It's also partly my way of apologising for what's happening now. For what he thinks happened that day.
Just as I think of that, it stops me.
I can't be sorry for that. The lie… it's not mine. It is Jacob's, Jacob's lie.
As anger fills me, I remember telling him not to make me choose. That it would be Edward as it always has been.
But he ignored that.
Does he really think that he has a chance? Does he really think that I was just jesting when I said that?
Or is my Jacob, my best friend, really that far gone?
And I realise… yes. Yes, he really is that far gone.
And with that, I know I'm ready. I feel prepared and sure of myself. I feel ready to do this. I know I have to, but I feel as if I can. I know right now that I will have no regrets. That last realisation, coupled with his actions tonight, just shows me how we could never get along. We could never be a part of each other's life if we mean to truly move on.
In just a few months' time, I will become his enemy.
And he will become mine.
I clench my eyes shut, gripping the table. I take a deep breath then turn around to look Jacob in the eye.
"Jacob," I respond. "We need to talk. In private. Now."
His brow creases. "Look, Bella, I'm sorry for how I've been acting tonight. But you can't—"
"Don't," I warn him coldly, holding up a hand to halt his speech. "Just fucking don't, ok? Now, we need to talk privately. This is not something I want my father hearing, and I'm sure you won't want yours to hear what I have to say—and what you undoubtedly will say—either."
He frowns. "Um… okay. Yeah. Sure. Let me… let me go get my jacket."
I nod, my jaw clenched and I say nothing as he walks out of the room.
My phone chirps yet again and I frown. It's really active tonight. I bring it out and smile as I read what it says.
You can do it, Bella! :) Are you doing it? ~ Alice
Just about to, Alice. Wish me luck. ~ Bella
You don't need it. :) Love you. ~ Alice
I pocket my phone yet again but not before turning it off vibrating and just leaving it on silent. I really would rather not be distracted during this conversation, it's going to be hard enough. But now that I know what to look for when it comes to his constant manipulating of me and my emotions, I will be on guard.
He will not play me again.
Anger burns throughout my body, almost to the likes of vampire venom flowing through my veins. I know it will only get worse, so I don't bother to calm down.
I wish desperately to be able to text Edward, but I can't. I have to fight my own battles.
Knowing that Jacob is probably ready to go, I walk out into the lounge room. There, Billy and my father are sitting in front of the TV, beers in hand.
"I'm going out with Jacob for a while," I say, walking toward the door. "We should be back soon."
"Okay, honey," Charlie says, looking over at me. He's concerned, but he knows I am capable of handling things on my own. "We'll leave when you come back, okay?"
I smile and nod, still walking to the door.
I open it, and look around. Jacob's standing on the porch, waiting, and from his body language, I can tell he's nervous. Part of me feels sorry for him. The large part of me that thinks he damn right should be.
I walk to his side, and he looks up.
"Ready?" he asks, stuffing his hands in his pocket.
He nods, and we leave.
The entire way there, neither of us talks. The silence is not comfortable. It's tenacious, heavy, and on Jacob's part, I believe filled with dread. On my part, there's nerves, but something else, too… something more… freeing, somehow.
The walk itself is short, though it doesn't feel that way. I always felt that the beach was a nice, calming place, but when we arrive this time, it feels just as the whole night has; heavy with discomfort, tension and anxiety.
It's also fake.
Jacob tries to once again to be the happy, bubbly boy that he has been for most of the night.
I see right through it, and he quickly stops.
We stop after a little walk along the beach. I turn to face him, and quickly notice that we mirror each other in our stances and appearances. We both have our hands shoved in pockets, and we are both looking away.
I take a deep breath and open my mouth to speak, only to be cut off.
"I'm really glad you came tonight," Jacob whispers. "I've wanted to speak to you all week. I tried getting you to come down, but you wouldn't. I…I've been really excited to see you. I think we really need to talk about us and—"
"Jacob, please just shut up for a minute, okay?" I interrupt him. I look up into his eyes, and watch as he takes a deep breath then swallows and nods.
"Okay," he whispers again, and I can hear the defeat.
"Listen, I have also wanted to speak to you, but at the same time, I haven't." I frown at how ridiculous that sounds. Shaking my head, I take a deep breath and start again. "Jacob, we need to talk about… well, everything. My relationship with Edward, the things that have happened recently, and the way you've been manipulating me. The way you've changed since you started phasing in February."
I'm met with silence. And that silence… it makes it easier to say what I'm about to say. I look up at him, knowing that he'll need to see my face, my eyes, when I say this.
"Jacob, you've changed." He opens his mouth to object and interrupt, but I raise an eyebrow. He closes his mouth, his jaw locking with anger. "You've become some judgmental, hypocritical manipulator and you've hurt me more than you can ever understand or know. You've made me hurt the ones I love as well. You've made me lie to my family, and before you say something, let me tell you that the Cullens are my family. They are the only family that I have actually ever really fit in with. You've made me hurt Edward, my mate, and for that, I will never forgive you. You can do to me whatever you want, but I cannot allow my actions, which were influenced heavily by your own, to rule my life, dictate who I can or cannot be with and love or hurt anyone I love either."
I look toward the beach for a moment, pausing. "I can't be your friend, Jacob. I won't," I whisper, still looking away.
"But… but you love me," Jacob says quietly. "I know you do!" His voice grows in volume, and the growl laced within those words is filled with nothing but anger and hatred.
My head snaps back around and I look into his eyes, glaring, really. "No. I don't. And that seems to be something you fail to recognise, to even acknowledge! Jacob, I told you from the start that I don't feel for you the way you do for me. I told you I would never be able to. And I also told you not to make me choose because it would be Edward. And you know what? That's true. It is Edward. You made me choose, Jacob, and I choose Edward."
"No!" he shouts. He grabs my wrists, and I try to pull away, but his grip is too strong. "You can't! I won't let you! I won't let you become one of them, Bella!"
"It's not your decision!" I shout in his face. "I want this; I want Edward, not you, Jacob. You've changed! You've become this man, this monster that I don't even recognise! And I don't like it. It's not you. This dangerous, threatening jerk is not my best friend!"
He stops cold. Looking down at his hands, he swallows and lets go of me. I sigh and cross my arms, my hands trapped between my ribcage and forearms. My wrists are burning, tears of pain and anger and sadness rolling down my face and falling to the sand below my feet. The pain is so bad it causes my face to screw up but I continue.
"I tried," I whisper, my voice hoarse with emotion. I stare up at him, hatred brimming in my eyes. "I tried so hard to be your friend and Edward's mate at the same time. I tried so damned hard. But then I realised that it wasn't worth it, especially after the so-called kisses. I realised that you'd changed so much—too much. And that my Jacob, my best friend, the nice, happy boy, was either long gone, or simply buried under so much hate that he couldn't be salvaged."
"But I am here, Bella," Jacob says fiercely. "And I love you. I want you to choose me instead of him."
I'm shaking my head before he even finishes that last sentence. "I can't, Jacob. I can't. I need Edward. He's everything to me."
"He's a bloodsucking demon who's going to hurt you, Bella," Jacob growls. I look at him, and notice that he's shaking so I move backward just a little, hoping he won't phase. "He's going to turn you into something I hate!" he bellows.
"You only hate the Cullens because you and the fucking pack are too prejudiced to see what good people they are!" I yell.
"People?" Jacob laughs, shaking his head. "Nah, Bella. They're not people. Using the word 'people' is too much of a stretch."
"And what? You're a person? I'm sorry, but you are the one who transforms into a ginormous dog, right?" I ask incredulously. My answer is irrational at best, but I'm bloody pissed off.
He frowns. "Yes, actually, I am. And that's not the same, I didn't choose this!" He's hurt. I can see that. And for once in my life, I can see it but it doesn't fill me with guilt. Instead, I feel free. It's hateful to feel that way, but even this so-called man before me isn't the one I care about.
"No, you didn't." I laugh hysterically. Jacob is so similar to Edward in the way he thinks about what he is. He hates it, but he didn't choose it. "And neither did any of the Cullens! They did not choose this life, Jacob. And it's not as if they hurt people. None of them drink from humans."
"No, but they have before."
"Mistakes!" I shout in his face. "Everyone makes mistakes, Jacob. Even you! And let me tell you, your mistakes have cost you this friendship."
"You're not innocent either, Bella," he mutters.
I sigh, my anger diminishing. "No, I'm not. And I'm sorry for everything that I've done. I'm sorry I didn't stop you or end this friendship when I realised your true feelings for me. I'm sorry for everything, really, I am. But do you know what I'm not sorry for? What I could never ever be sorry for? Loving Edward."
Jacob sighs harshly. "So that's it? You've made your decision and what? You're just gonna leave? Just gonna end this friendship and skip home to your leeches?"
"I'm not even going to try to get you to stop calling them that," I grumble angrily, ignoring his question momentarily. "You're too immature. But yes, this is it. I'm going to leave, and I will be changed by Edward after the wedding. And you know what, Jacob? When I leave tonight, I am going to go home and tell Edward everything. Most importantly, I'm going to inform him of what you did the day of the fight. You will not have a hold over me any longer, Jacob Black."
I turn around to walk away, only to be grabbed again. This time, his arms wrap around my waist.
His hold is unrelenting and as I struggle and get nowhere, panic rising within me. The panic is enough for cold dread to fill my body and as I shake violently as a result of his own body shaking; my mind fills with disturbing thoughts and images.
But the most frightening is whether or not this is it. If I've pushed Jacob too far that he'll phase.
Young werewolves are volatile… young werewolves are volatile.
The words echo in my mind and I curse myself for not listening to Edward. I really am a damned fool – I should have just stayed away!
"Jacob, please!" I cry. I can hardly breathe and I feel like I'm about to be sick. I try to take deep breaths to calm down enough to speak and plead for him to let go of me, but it doesn't work. "Please! You're hurting me. Let go of me!"
"I can't," he grunts. "If you'd only stop struggling… if you'd admit that you love me! I won't let you walk away from me, Bella!" he growls in my ear. I sob as I try to struggle against his hold. I cry out in pain when he turns me around, his large hands wrapping around my small arms easily.
He pushes me to the ground.
I scream out for help, but he presses his hand against my mouth to stop any more sounds from escaping.
"You're mine, Bella," he growls and I see more of the dangerous, volatile stranger I saw earlier tonight. "Not his! I won't let you be his!"
I gasp for breath. He stands above me, his chest heaving and his hands clenching and unclenching. My mind is blank with fear of what he'll do next.
He falls to his knees and then stretches his body over mine. My eyes are wide with fright, anxiety and dreaded anticipation but I can't see anything because of the stinging tears. He lets the length of his body press against mine to the point where I can hardly breathe.
The whole time he touches me, squeezing and hurting me, I gasp only one thing.
I writhe underneath him, trying to push him off me so I can breathe. The burn in my lungs tells me I'm running out of air and I try to stop the powerful sobs that are wracking through my frame, but it's no use.
With the last of my breath, I say, "I'm not yours. I will never be yours."
The sound of a hard slap and my suddenly stinging jaw tells me what I already know.
He's hit me.
My jaw throbs, and there's nothing I can do. I can only hope that someone will find us in time to stop him; that someone has heard our shouting match or my crying and will come to help me.
The pain in my jaw prevents me from talking; from pleading. I whimper in pain and desperation and fear, my eyes closing as tears leak.
Jacob's touch is hard enough to send sparks of pain through my body. I know he's causing bruises, and part of me at least knows that Edward will not let him get away with this. I want to tell him that, but I still can't speak.
Someone find me. Please… someone stop him.
And then my thoughts and prayers are answered.
I hear shouting in the distance, so I make panicked noises. Loud ones, as loud as I can.
I recognise the voice instantly to be my father and I sigh with relief.
Jacob's so involved in what he's doing that he doesn't seem to hear the person approaching. But I can.
I let the sounds out again, even louder. I hear someone running toward us, the thumps of feet against the ground and their voice getting louder….
Suddenly, the weight of Jacob above me is gone. I gasp and look around when I hear Charlie shouting.
I can't focus on the words properly, just the tone of them. He's angry, obviously, and I think I can hear threats but I can't hear what they are.
With each breath, the pain in my body gets worse. It blindsides everything else.
And then I feel a warm hand. I jump and whimper, but the person who's now holding me in their arms hushes me and tells me that I'm safe now.
I wish I could believe them.
"Edward," I mumble.
And I hear Charlie yell just before I fall into unconsciousness into his arms. "Someone get Bella's phone out of her pocket and call Edward Cullen! Now!"
I don't know how much time passes at all.
The next thing I know, I'm waking up in some place that's not familiar, and yet familiar at the same time.
The dead giveaway, which only confirms my suspicions, is the hard bed, the uncomfortable pillows and the light above my head which is bloody irritating, to be honest.
As I become more aware of other things such as my body and smell, things just seem to get worse.
For starters, everything aches—everything.
But then there's this scent in the room—one I know all too well because it's the only one that I live for—that dulls the pain enough for me to just be able to ignore it.
My mind is foggy at first when I try to remember how I got here. But then, memories seep back. Small, at first, just flashes of something… someone... of pain, too.
And just like that, it all floods back. Jacob's hands gripping me, creating bruises on my skin…
And then, lastly, my father.
The rich sound of Edward's velvety voice makes me relax. I open my eyes and breathe shallowly through my mouth—maybe that will stop the pain? —and my eyes instantly settle on his gorgeous face.
"Hi," I whisper.
He frowns, and everything about him is pained. I frown at that. He shouldn't feel pain. "Hi," he whispers back.
"How long have I been…?" What have I been? Unconscious?
"You've been unconscious for just about fourteen hours now," Edward replies. I can hear the anger in his voice along with something else, but he continues before I can comment on it. "They wanted to keep you over night and you wouldn't wake up, though there was certainly no rush. You've been through enough for them to give you some leeway." I look up at him, and notice that his jaw is locked and I can't read his eyes. I can sense a deep pain though and I hate that.
"Hush, Bella," he says quietly, smiling at me—or at least, trying to. "It's okay. You're all right now. And Jacob," he says the name in a growl of unadulterated fury and hatred. It makes me shiver "is taken care of."
I swallow and try to understand what he means. Is he dead? Is that what Edward means? Or has he simply exacted his revenge in another way?
"He's not dead," Edward inadvertently answers my thoughts. The sound of his voice is off though and I know that he's not-so-secretly hoping that he could have killed him. "I was going to, but then I decided against that. I wanted him to live with what he's done, what he's lost, and the pain that he will now always feel. Because of me," he adds with a dark grin of his own. "I want him to always live with the promise of threat and the knowledge that you are happy, contented and loved by me. He will know nothing more than pain."
He looks away, down at his hands for a moment, his expression dark.
I don't know how to respond, so I don't. Instead, I look at him and take in his appearance. As I think of what might have happened, what surely would have happened had my father not found me, tears fill my eyes.
He smells them, his head snapping up. His face crumbles into pain and he leans forward. "It's okay, love. You're safe. Everything's okay, I promise you."
"Edward, I…" I struggle with the words for a moment. "You have to know that I—"
"I know, love. I know," he assures me, his hand coming up to my face to brush my hair off it. The feel of his cool hand is like a soothing balm, and I take deep breaths as he cups my face gently, so gently it's as if I'm made of the finest china.
I frown as I recall his words, however, and I stare at him. "You…you know?"
He smiles. "Yes. I do. I figured it out, actually. That, and Alice told me what you were planning on telling me when you came back from the dinner." His eyes darken once again at the mention of it and I let my fingers brush against the back of his hand. I wish to reach up and cup his face, but then pain in my forearms from one of the times that Jacob must have gripped me is too great.
"When?" I whisper.
"When did I figure it out?" he asks and I nod. "A few days ago."
"And why didn't you say anything?"
He smiles softly. "Because I didn't know that it was the issue you were having difficulty with. I didn't know that was what consumed your thoughts. In fact until that night, I thought you were going to change your mind," he confesses.
I frown. "Edward, I love you and only you. You have to know that Jacob…I didn't love him. He thought I did but he thought wrong. He was like a brother to me; that's all, I swear." Again, I literally ache with the need to touch his face and soothe his doubts, but I stop myself. "I love you and only you. Always."
He smiles, and his hand lifts mine to his mouth. He presses a wet kiss to it and I sigh as our eyes never wander from each other's faces.
"As I love you," he whispers back, and I close my eyes when he leans down and presses a light kiss to my lips.
Something occurs to me and when he leans back; my eyes narrow as I think hard. "Hey, Edward?"
"How did Dad know?" I ask, frowning. "The Blacks' house is far enough that he couldn't have heard me screaming…or crying…"
Edward growls when I say that, and it's only after a moment of difficulty that he does answer. "Alice. She saw you here in the hospital and immediately called."
"But how did she get Dad to come after me without…well, you know."
He smirks. "Without revealing her gift?" I nod. "Simple. She asked if you were around and okay because you weren't answering your mobile. Charlie told her that you were speaking with Jacob and Alice told him that she didn't think that was a good idea because she'd noticed how violent he'd become recently and suggested that he find you immediately to make sure you're okay."
I blink in surprise. "And he wasn't suspicious?"
"No. He was more grateful than anything, especially after he found you," he sighed.
"And…" I begin, filled with dread as I think of what I'm about to ask him. I want to know, but at the same time a large part of me doesn't. "And how did you find out?"
Edward sighs, and for many minutes, he does not speak. He looks down at our intertwined hands, swallowing repeatedly. He also opens his mouth many times, but nothing comes out. Finally, he does answer. "Alice called me first after she had the vision. She didn't tell me specifics, only that it was about you and that I needed to come home immediately. I did as she asked…" He takes a deep breath, shuddering as he releases it. His eyes close and, in that moment, the pain on his face is so bad that I know he'd be crying if he could.
"When I got there, she told me. I tried to make my way to you, but she got Jasper and Emmett to hold me back. I very nearly got away from them, but then Carlisle stepped in and helped them hold me down. Alice told me that she'd already called Charlie and that I needed to calm down so I could go to the hospital and wait for you with Carlisle and Emmett there, just in case I tried anything, of course. Your father called just as we arrived, and I told him I'd be there by the time he was."
I sniffle, then breathe in deeply. I hate that I've caused him so much pain. I should have known better than to provoke Jacob. "I'm sorry."
Edward looks at me with fire in his eyes. "No. You did nothing wrong. Jacob is not in his right mind. The dog gene affected him badly. Believe me, love, as much as it pains me to say, I don't believe it is even Jacob's fault, at least to a certain degree. Still, he needed to be punished." His eyes grow even darker with anger. He raises our combined hands just a little, pressing a kiss to them. "It's a vampire's right to defend their mate when they have been wronged or hurt. It is our right to seek revenge and no tribal law will halt that. Even Carlisle agreed, and you know how he feels about conflicts." He looks at me and I nod. He looks down for a moment, his face crumbling. "God, Bella. To see you unresponsive in your father's arms, to see the bruises that mongrel had left on you, the mars on your perfect skin." He looks into my eyes, pleading, though I'm really not sure what for. "I had to exact revenge. I had to. The thought of him getting away with—"
"Edward, stop," I whisper. My hand is once again pressed lightly to his face, and I take the opportunity to stroke it with the back of my fingers. "Don't torture yourself. I understand why you did what you did. I understand. If anyone ever hurt you…" I swallow and take a deep breath, easily ignoring the constant sting in my ribs because of Edward's touch and that sweet electricity that we share.
"Hush, love," Edward says, reaching up with one hand to cup my cheek. "Let's not talk about this anymore, hmm? You need to rest as much as you can before you are discharged."
I nod, and hum in acquiescence.
For several moments there's a comfortable silence. My mind tries to forget everything that happened last night, but it's too hard. As a new question comes to me, I try to hold off, but I speak it before I can stop myself.
"What's going to happen now?"
Edward sighs, and I almost open my eyes to look at him again. But his touch calms me and I wait for his answer. "Now? We will move on with our lives, love. We'll be married in a few weeks, and then we will have our forever."
I smile. "You promise?"
Instantly, the electricity grows stronger. I gasp, knowing he's closer now. I sigh softly as he presses a kiss to my lips, and then to my forehead.
"I swear," he whispers.
And then I slowly drift to sleep with a smile on my face because I know that everything is going to be okay.
Ok. Deep breaths now. That was a long one, wasn't it? Holy shit.
So as I said above, like, way up above, I will have a shorter outtake from EPOV of him giving it to Jacob. ;) If you want his reaction to the news, then I'll do it. Just ask :)
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this. If you are hanging out for that outtake, make sure you alert the story. Please review!