A/N: HI! Just a few things you might want to know before reading this one. It's quite different from my last story in the following ways: First - it's pretty angsty; second - the timeline is a little different in that Bella and Jacob are the same age, they met a year earlier than in the books (while they were both sophomores), and this story takes place after they have both graduated from high school; and third - Bella and Edward don't (and won't ever) have Renesmee. That being said, let's check in with our hero now. It's an early April evening and everyone at the Black house is supposed to be asleep.

Midnight or Later

The phone vibrates rudely, disturbing the relative peace of the night. I'm awake, listening to her breathe evenly and softly by my side. Trying to move without disturbing her, I extract myself from the bed and pad over to the dresser, picking up my phone and closing the door quietly behind me. I go to the kitchen. No one will hear me talk there.

"Hey," I say without inflection. "Why you calling so late?"

All I hear on the other end is sniffling.

"What's the matter, babe?" I ask, concerned. She's crying. After all this time, after all that water under the bridge, it still digs a knife in me to hear that.

"Is she there?" she asks, her voice thick.

I close my eyes and sigh. It's going to be one of those calls. But they're all one of those calls.

"She's here. She's asleep, though. She can't hear me."

"Are you sure?" she asks.

"I'm in the kitchen. She's in the bedroom," I tell her.

"Go outside," she urges.

I roll my eyes, though I'm not doing it for anyone's benefit but mine. "Okay," I agree. I go out to the yard.

As I walk out the door, she says, "I just don't want her to hear you."

"I know, I know," I say. I wander over to the shed. "Okay, I'm outside and away from the house. What's up?"

The sniffling starts again. "I miss you," she says, her voice breaking. "I had a dream about us..."

Not this again! I can't take it. Doesn't she know how hard this is for me? I can't listen to this every other night. I don't say a word, though. I just listen. Like my life depends on it.

"And we were...happy, and...laughing. It was just like that time at the quarry. Remember?"

Remember? It's one of my favorite days to think about. Her, in that little pink bikini, jumping off the sheer sides of the quarry into my waiting arms. The quarry had been abandoned decades before, after it filled with water. There are 'No Swimming' signs everywhere, but groups of kids always swim anyway. It's like a private beach. We're surrounded by the walls of the quarry, down in the valley of it, our laughs echoing all around us. The screams of the girls are deafening as they soar off the cliffs.

She'd jumped off one of the shorter landings, one that was close to the water's surface - maybe fifteen or twenty feet up. She screamed as she fell through the air, but I'd known it wasn't from fear - it was sheer exhilaration. Then she hit the water, not ten feet from me, and as I went to grab her, my hand closed over one of her soft, perky boobs. Her top was floating next to me, the little strings trailing in the water. I'd pulled her up, clutching her against my chest so no one else would see her. I knew she'd be beside herself with embarrassment, so I snatched the pink top out of the water and shoved it into her hand.

She'd looked up at me with this look of incredible gratitude and her eyes just said love. Like, almost out loud. Something passed between us, and after that moment, she and I were inseparable. Not that we hadn't been before that, but now it was for real.

"Yeah," I answer shortly. I don't want to encourage her. God knows I'm not over her yet. And she obviously isn't over me either.

My terse tone startles her. She's blatant in her attempt to hide her tears now. "Um...so I just wanted to call and see how you were doing," she says lamely.

Now I feel bad. And like the sucker I am, I try to comfort her. "Yeah, I remember it, babe," I say huskily. "How could I forget?"

We were both quiet for a few minutes. I can tell she's trying to rein in her emotions, hiccuping the cries back.

"Why did we break up again?" she asks, fake laughter in her voice.

"I know, right?" I say, forcing a laugh too. "But yeah, I'm doing good," I continue after a minute of silence, answering her question with a lie. "How've you been?"

There was a pause. "Okay," she finally says.

I don't want to touch that with a ten foot pole, but I hear myself blurt, "Just okay?"

"I miss you," she whispers.

"Sweetheart, we've been over this," I say, exasperated. Another pause. "Where is he?" I finally ask.

"Out of town. He went hunting," she answers instantly.

Uh huh. Of course.

"Look, babe, I can't talk any more," I say, pretending urgency. I want her to think that I'm about to get caught. I want her to want to hang up, because if she wants to, I'm thinking it won't hurt as much to say goodbye.

"Okay," she says reluctantly. "Take care. Keep in touch."

"Yep," I answer. I realize then that just because she wants to hang up, it doesn't hurt any less to say goodbye to her. I push the 'End' button fast, before I can change my mind or hear her say anything else.


I go back inside, trying hard to be quiet. I don't need any questions now. I'm back in my room quick, lifting the covers to slide in next to her. She turns to me, drowsy and sweet.

"Hey, baby," she says sleepily. She reaches out for me, pulling me into her warmth. "Whatcha doin'?"

I know from experience that she probably won't remember this tomorrow. I snuggle into her neck, looking for comfort, and say, "I had to get up for a sec. Sorry I woke you." I kiss her ear.

"'S'okay," she breathes, and she's back to sleep. I smile. She really is adorable. I wonder for the umpteenth time why I can't bring myself to love her.

I lay awake for the rest of the night. Thinking.

I think about the day at the quarry. And the subsequent days, before he showed his stupid face again. Before my life essentially ended. Before...before That Day.

Ugh, That Day. I still feel sick thinking about it. I mean, literally sick to my stomach. I want to puke.

I don't think I'll ever get it out of my head, though. I can still feel the fury, the blinding rage that had caused me to literally see red. Up until That Day, I'd thought that was just an expression. Let me assure you, it's not. It's very real. Red rage that washes over my vision before I explode. And that exploding thing? Yeah, that's not figurative either. At least not for me.

I can feel myself getting pissed off just thinking about it, so I try to redirect my thoughts. I think instead about the girl at my side - how nice she is, genuinely nice. How pretty she is. How sexy. How really, truly lovable she is. So why can't I love her?

I mean, she's beautiful. Much prettier than...well, you know. She has this incredible blond hair that is thick and soft and flows down her back like a yellow river. She has eyes of turquoise, big blue eyes like you see on movie stars. Full, pink, pouty lips. She's got a body that refuses to quit. Gorgeous melons, long silky legs, a perfect, heart-shaped ass designed to make a grown man cry. And she's so nice, it's almost criminal. Yet here I lay, next to her, thinking about someone else. What the hell is wrong with me?

I think about the day I met my beautiful blond bed-mate. It was at least two months after That Day - and I was still a shell. But she kept on trying, kept on pushing to get in. I still don't know what she saw in me that day, or what she sees in me now. Because to be honest? I'm still a shell.

But when we met, she was persistent. She came up to me at First Beach, looking like a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover model, and she said, "You look sad. How can a guy who looks like you be sad on a beautiful day like today?" That was her opening line. I couldn't even answer her, because I was pouty and gloomy and my mood sucked. I snorted in her direction. Anyone else would've gotten up and left, but not her. She stayed there, coaxing me to talk, plying me with smiles and copious amounts of beer from a cooler she was carrying, until I was pretty much a wreck. Then she escorted me home, helped me to bed, and began the kind of therapy she thought I needed. It helped a little, but not enough.

And that was the beginning of our 'relationship' if you want to call it that. She calls it that, but I don't consider what I have with her a 'relationship.' I think of it more like a convenience. A booty call. Granted, it's been a long booty call - she hasn't left my side for six months. But I think the last actual relationship I had was the last relationship I'll ever have.

It's comforting, I'll give her that. I like her, too. She's nice, like I said. Very sweet. She's a tiger in bed - she's three years older than me, so that might be a part of it. And we get along pretty well. I just need her to be...well, if I'm honest, I need her to be someone else.

The intermittent phone calls don't help one single bit. These middle-of-the-night shouts out for help and reassurance are like a baseball bat to the head. And the thing is, what is she doing it for? She doesn't want me; she made that perfectly clear. So what's with this bullshit 'I miss you' stuff?

But I can't bring myself to stop her, I can't block her number - she's like a drug to me. It's like I need her, even though she treats me like a doormat. All I really want in life is for her and me to be together. And that's impossible, so that's what I mean when I say my life is ended - over - done.

My companion is starting to stir. She stretches her long, creamy limbs and sighs sexily. "Hey, hot thing," she coos. "Whacha got planned for us today?"

I look over at this vision in my bed. This is something she asks on an almost daily basis. Mainly our days consist of a shower together, going off our separate ways to work and then her cooking me some kind of gourmet meal for dinner, followed by a night of mind blowing sex. Seriously, it's a daily occurrence. She can't get enough of me.

I feel guilty, looking at her happy face. She loves me; I know it. I can tell by the way she treats me, by the way she talks to me. She wants me to love her. Sometimes I catch her, a desolate look on her face, as if she's about to cry. I've never actually seen her cry, but she has come close a few times.

Most recently was only a couple of weeks ago. She told me that she loved me, and my answer of, "I know," wasn't what she expected or wanted. She turned away, her face changing to one of concentration. I'm assuming she was concentrating on keeping the tears back. Of course I ignored it, like the asshole I am - changing the subject to something trivial.

She doesn't know about my heartache, and I don't want her to. Knowing her, she'll try to 'fix' it. The last thing I need is someone else thinking about it all day. It's bad enough that I have to.

I'm feeling lonely and empty this morning after my midnight call, and I know what will make me feel a little better, make me forget for a few minutes. She'll be up for it, too - she always is. But it's gotten to the point where I'm starting to feel a little guilty afterward. She's doing it because she loves me, but I'm doing it for a physical release - and I'm pretending it's someone else in my mind the entire time. How fucked up is that?

I'm brought back to the present by her tongue on the side of my neck. But I don't think I can do it now. I pull away abruptly, saying, "Not today, hon. I'm already late." It's a lie and she knows it, but she lets it go. She knows there's something up, and she's learned not to push me when I'm in this kind of mood.

"Okay," she answers, hopping out of bed. Her ass sways enticingly as she sashays away from me toward the bathroom. She always sleeps buck naked. I'm a little more modest - I'm wearing a pair of boxers. I follow her. A hot shower with her is something I never want to give up - though I know I'll have to someday. She welcomes me into the bathroom with a smile, pulling open the shower curtain invitingly. The water is hot and steamy, the pressure just right, and her soft hands on my back, soaping me up, feel amazing. I let go. It feels great to think about something - someone - else for a change.

She turns me around and kisses me urgently, sucking me in like her life depends on it. And I can't help it - I'm a man, right? I kiss her right back, letting myself feel her body pressed against mine, warm and wet and hungry. It only takes a few minutes until she gets what she wants. I grab her by the thighs and slide her up until she's right where she needs to be, and she settles herself down onto my raging boner with a sigh of content. It's all over a few pumps later, because I don't have the energy to bother holding off. But she's able to finish as well, and we've just performed the definition of a quickie. As I lower her back to the porcelain floor of the tub, she lets out a little laugh. "Thanks, baby. I know you weren't in the mood."

"Yep," I answer, both acknowledging her thanks and agreeing with her. I finish my shower, feeling a tiny bit better, and try not to think of why I was feeling bad in the first place.

She gets out of the shower and wraps her fantastic bod in a towel, then turns to me. "Everything okay?" she asks, concerned.

I want to lash out at her. Can't she just leave it alone? I know she's trying to help, but seriously? Haven't I made it abundantly clear over the months that I don't want to 'talk about it?' I don't lose it with her though. I know she means well. Instead, I decide to go ahead tell her what's up. Maybe that will stop her from asking in the future.

"Got a phone call last night," I said.

She isn't aware of my obsession or of my past. I've told her nothing so far. So she reacts like anyone would. "From who?" she asks warily.

"My ex."

"Oh." There's a long pause while she rubs the towel around in her hair, trying hard to be nonchalant. "Your ex? Should I be worried?" She tries a smile and it breaks my heart. The amount of effort she's putting in to be casual is agonizing to me.

I look down at the tile floor, not returning her smile or reacting in any way. "Yeah," I say shortly, still looking down. I push past her to the hallway and go to my room to get dressed for work.