Chapter Eight

"When you walk my way, I feel the rush come over me

A sharp panic, panic

It's the things that you say that makes the rush come over me

It happens all the time

I never was too good at following rules

Nah, nah

I'm better just pretending I was the fool"

-Lessons in Love by Neon Trees

"Is my head supposed to feel this heavy?" I ask Embry, who is sitting beside me on the couch. I try to move my head to look at his face, but it's too hard to lift.

"That depends. Are you drunk?" He asks.

I struggle to keep my head upright and settle for a position half way between sitting up and lying down. "How do you know when you're drunk?"

Embry lifts himself from the couch, putting down his cup, and reaches for my hand. I take it reluctantly and he tugs, pulling me up out of my seat. Immediately I am overcome with a dizzying feeling. It's like my world is spinning, round and round—my own personal tilt-a-whirl ride at the carnival.

"Ugggh" I grumble. My head jerks back from of the weight and the dizzying feeling amplifies. "Put me back down."

Embry smiles softly. "Okay, I think it's safe to say you're drunk." He lowers me gently back on to the couch with a cautious hand on my waist.

I hold a hand to my forehead. "I didn't even have that much to drink. Did I?" I can hear my words slurring slightly as I talk. I put my palms against my cheeks. They're burning up. I can only imagine how red my face is. What would Jacob say if he could see me now?

"It doesn't matter. You're a lightweight, sweetie." Jessica coos, coming over to me—slightly unsteady, I might add—and runs a hand over my hair with a surprising maternal touch.

Embry nods with a laugh. "I'll get her some water." He takes the red cup out of my hand and leaves the room.

As soon as Embry is out of sight, Angela seems to reappear, having come out of hiding. When Jessica spots her, the sweet look she had used for me is gone. Her hand goes immediately to her hip—not a good sign—and her mouth opens, ready to scold her best friend.

"Angela! What the hell are you doing? Embry is over here, being totally sweet to poor drunk Bella, and you're off hiding in the corner."

"I'm sorry." Angela looks at the ground, ashamed but also frustrated. "I just can't talk to him. I don't know what to say to him. I just get lost in the beautiful amber of his eyes and all the words just float away." There is a big, goofy smile plastered on her face and I wonder how much she has had to drink.

"Buck up and talk to him!" Jessica barks. She has no sympathy in her voice. Her directions are firm and unforgiving.

"Easier said than done," Angela responds, "not everyone is as naturally outgoing as you, Jess."

"Yes, well alcohol helps." Jessica looks in her cup and then hands it to Angela, "Drink this. It's liquid courage." She smiles.

"Are you sure?" Angela asks, wary. "I've already had some to drink and I don't want to turn into a mumbling, slurring fool."

"Don't worry, Bella is hogging the spotlight for that already." Jessica jokes.

"Hey!" I yell half-heartedly in rebuttal.

I can see Embry's head bobbing through the crowd, far higher than everyone else's, as he makes his way over to us. As he walks, girls' eyes are glued to him. I see them rake their eyes slowly over his body. A blonde girl, wearing too much makeup, bites her lip as she watches Embry's backside.

"Ang, if you don't get up the courage to talk to him, one of those other girls will." I say, knowing full well that it's true. A catch like Embry can't stay single for long.

Angela looks up and her eyes follow what I've been watching. A cleavage-showing redhead pushes off the wall in hot pursuit of Embry. Her dress is laced up the front, with a single bow keeping it closed. All I can think is: easy access.

Angela, noticing the redhead, grabs the cup out of Jessica's hand and downs its contents in one fell swoop. She makes a sour face as she tilts her head forward, the cup empty. Apparently the alcohol doesn't sit well with her either.

The redhead isn't fast enough, though, and soon Embry has returned with a glass of ice water in his hand. Almost immediately Angela perks up.

"Hey, you're back." Embry says excitedly when he spots Angela. This catches her off guard.

"Yeah, just making the rounds. Saying hello to everyone." She responds cooly. She smiles and so does Embry but an awkward silence falls between them.

Jessica steps in, "Angela, did I mention how pretty you look tonight? Don't you think she looks pretty, Embry?"

I watch as his cheeks flush the slightest pink.

"Gorgeous." He nods.

Angela's face flushes. Her eyes drop to the ground and a slow smile spreads across her face.

"My tummy feels warm." I say.

The three of them look over at me. I didn't mean to break the silence, but I can see the look of relief on Angela's face. She clearly had no response for Embry's bold compliment.

"Okay Bella, I want you to drink this entire glass of water." Embry instructs me. "It's going to help sober you up a bit."

I grab the glass and gulp as much as I can.

"Good girl." Embry praises. "If you feel like you're going to be sick, let me know alright?"

I nod obediently and continue sipping on my own water.

"Ladies!" Quil stumbles our direction, holding a full cup of beer. The keg in the house has been replaced and Quil has clearly taken advantage. "Why aren't you dancing?"

"No one has asked me to dance." Jessica responds, raising her eyebrows at him—a silent challenge.

"Well," He makes a curtsy-type move and extends his hand to Jessica. "Let me be the first to formally invite you on to the dance floor."

Jessica giggles and takes his hand. "Why thank you."

Embry looks at Angela, "Are you up for it?" he asks her.

"Up for what?" She asks, completely unaware of Embry's proposal.

He laughs softly. "A dance."

A smile spreads across her face. "That would be nice."

I watch as all my friends make a beeline to join the other dancing party guests. Meanwhile, I sit alone with my glass of water, on an old, smelly couch.

"Bella, drop that water and come join us!" Jessica shouts from across the room. Quil has led her to the makeshift dance floor and is jumping up and down to the heavy bass in the music. He looks like a total goofball.

I take another big gulp of the water, hoping for the spinning to subside, put down the glass and walk over to my friends. I stumble only a few times and thankfully have some balance. Unfortunately my world is still spinning.

As I get closer I see that Embry is cautiously moving his body next to Angela as she sways to the beat of the latest pop song. There is space between them, but not much.

I finally reach the dance floor. It's really just a square section of the living room where all the furniture has been pushed to the sides. There is a table with an amateurish DJ table and speakers duct-taped to the floor.

Even if my head wasn't spinning and I was steadier on my feet, I would still have a hard time dancing. It's never been my forte. Especially here, where I look around and see people grinding on each other. How do you know which way to move? Which direction do you move your hips? How do they stay in sync? Where do girls learn to dance like this? Its times like these that I wish I had been more girly and social growing up. Surely you learned party etiquette from your girlfriends in middle school. Unfortunately I didn't.

Luckily, Jessica grabs my hand and pulls me towards her, so I don't have to worry about what to do next. She isn't dancing like the other girls, who are rubbing themselves up against the boys. Instead she sways back and forth and throws her hands up in the air during the chorus. I try and mimic her moves but she is twisting her head too much, letting her hair bounce around her, and when I try it just makes me dizzier.

Quil grabs my hands and helps me move in a way that doesn't make me feel dizzy. We establish what looks like a twist and shake routine.

"You've got some sweet moves, Swan." Quil comments.

I laugh. Never, will anyone say that I am a good dancer, so I know he's just trying to make me feel better.

"Oh my god!" I hear Jessica whisper, the shock evident in her voice. I look to her and follow her gaze. I see Angela tucked tightly against Embry, her arms around his neck and his lips planted firmly on hers.

Way to go, Angela!

oOo

"Spill the beans!" Jessica chanted.

Angela and Embry made out on the dance floor for several minutes before Quil interrupted, claiming he needed some fresh air. Embry had apologetically made his exit, and walked a very wobbly Quil outside. Jessica had snatched Angela's arm and mine and pulled us back to the couch I had been sitting on earlier.

"What is there to tell?" Angela says with the biggest smile on her face. Her feigned modesty is not lost on Jessica.

Jessica gives her a playful shove. "What? You don't kiss and tell?"

Angela sticks her tongue out at Jessica and then shakes her head.

Gone is the awful spinning feeling. Now I just feel warm and happy, carefree even.

"I love you guys," I say, grabbing Angela and Jessica and pulling them in for a hug, "Why don't we hang out more often?"

Jessica and Angela exchange a look. "Well, you're always with Edward. And we never thought in a million years that you'd come to a party with us." Jessica explains.

"Are you saying I can't have fun? I am so much fun," my words slur and slip out of my mouth.

"Yes, Bella you're a lot of fun. Especially when you're drunk." Angela laughs.

I lean my head against Angela's shoulder. "You two are, like, my very bestest friends."

"Aw, thanks Bella. We were beginning to think the Cullen's had adopted you. You and Alice have been attached at the hip lately." Jessica points out.

I wag my hand at her. "Not really. I've been spending lots of time in La Push." When I say La Push, it comes out as a jumbled mess of sounds. "Speaking of La Push," I poke Angela in her side and she squeals. "How was the kiss?" I attempt to wiggle my eyebrows at her but I'm sure I'm just making a silly face.

Angela thinks about this for a moment and then lets out everything she's been holding back, "Amazing! He is such a good kisser!"

"How did it happen? One minute we're all dancing and the next you two are sucking face." Jessica mimics a kissing face and we both laugh.

"I don't know we were just talking and dancing and the next thing I know, he just leans down and kisses me." Angela bites her lip as she talks. "It felt so…natural! Like his lips were meant for mine and he knew exactly what to do."

It is the same way with Jacob. It must be a Quileute thing.

"What?!" Jessica turns her head sharply to look at me. I pick my head up off of Angela's shoulder and look at the two of them. They are wearing matching expressions: wide eyes and expectant pursed lips.

Did I just say that out loud?

"What do you mean 'it's the same with Jacob'? Have you kissed him?" Jessica's eyes grow even wider.

Yes, I did say that out loud. Stupid drunk Bella, with no filter.

She leans in closer and whispers, "You can tell us. I swear I won't go blabbing to Edward or anything."

Angela leans in closer, too, waiting for me to spill the beans.

Why does everyone want me to confide in them tonight? I suppose this whole thing is my fault—for starting this thing with Jacob.

"Um, I…" I start, the decision to tell them not made yet. But my silence must give me away because Jessica's eyes look like they are going to pop out of her head.

"You did!" Jessica shouts, but upon seeing some heads turn towards us with curiosity she lowers her voice back down to a whisper. "I can't believe you kissed Jacob Black!"

"I never said that I did." I say, looking away from them.

"Your face kind of gives it away." Angela adds, "As soon as Jessica said Jacob's name, you smiled."

"I did not!" I say defensively.

Jessica and Angela exchange another look and start laughing.

"What's so funny?" A familiar voice asks.

I look up to find none other than Jacob Black, looking down at me.

Oh, no.

Angela has a look of shock on her face.

Jessica tries to whisper discretely to Angela, "Speak of the devil" but I know Jacob can hear her. A small smile appears on his face.

Great, now he knows for sure who we were talking about.

I shoot Jessica a death glare, and her jaw snaps shut. "Nothing. Nothing is funny." I tell him. "What are you doing here?" I try to sound casual but it's not working.

He grins, "Embry called me. Said you were pretty drunk and that you'd need a ride home."

He reaches out his hand to me and I take it. Instantly, a spike of warmth shoots up my arm and through my body. What was that?

"I am not drunk." I say, wobbling slightly when he pulls me to my feet. He looks at me pointedly. "That doesn't prove anything. You know how unsteady I can be. I'm a 'walking, talking hazard' remember?"

"You're agreeing with me? You must be under the influence." He says with a smile.

"I did have a teensy bit to drink," I measure with my thumb and forefinger.

"She's hammered." Jessica whispers to Jake.

"I can see that." Jake snorts.

"You didn't need to come and rescue me." I retort.

"Really?" He lets go of my hands and I stumble backwards. He doesn't let me fall though, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me back to him.

"Okay, maybe a little bit." I sigh. "But I was doing fine before you got here. I was having a good time, hanging out with my gurlz!" I hear Jess stifle a laugh behind me. "And besides, Embry was taking very good care of me." I shrug out of his arms and lean back on the arm of the couch.

Jake gives me a look that tells me he is not pleased with my behavior.

What? Just because he shows up here, like a knight in shining armor to rescue my poor drunk self, doesn't mean I am going to fawn over him. Especially not in front of my friends. It's bad enough that I let it slip that Jacob and I have kissed. They don't need to know that it didn't stop with a kiss.

I add, while crossing my arms tightly over my chest, "I'm a big girl. I'm perfectly capable of getting another ride home."

Jakes expression turns sour.

"From whom? Your boyfriend?" Jake raises his eyebrows at me, "Do you really think he'd approve of your drunkenness? Think he'd drive his fancy car out here and pick you up from a house party?"

"I don't need his permission, Jake. I can do whatever I want." I snap. "And for that matter, I don't need you commenting on my life choices either."

"I didn't say anything. I was just trying to help you out. Be a good friend." His emphasis on the word 'friend' is clear.

Jessica and Angela are dead silent behind me. The tension between me and Jake is almost palpable. Although the silence behind me is distracting, it's not enough to take my mind off the fact that Jake is burning holes through me with his ice cold stare. I know I can't look him in the eye so I settle for staring at his arms. They're tan and muscular under his dark gray t-shirt and I find my cheeks getting hotter the longer I stare.

A weird animal-call type sound pulls my attention away from Jacob's arms and towards his two best friends making their way through the crowds of people.

"Jake! When did you get here?" Quil cheers, slapping him on the shoulder. Embry approaches shortly after.

"Took me a bit longer than I expected. I was all the way over at First Beach." He tells them.

"What were you doing at First Beach?" Quil asks, confused.

"I was waiting for someone." He says each word cautiously.

I can feel his eyes on me but I refuse to look at him. Is he mad that I didn't meet him?

"But she never showed up." He sounds angry but underneath I detect a hint of sadness.

"Hot date?" Quil asks, wiggling his eyebrows.

"You're dating someone?" Embry asks, surprise evident in his voice. He sneaks a look at me, but I refuse to look at him either.

"We're not dating..." Jake smirks. He trails off, his tone riddled with implications of something dirty.

Jessica scoffs and whispers to me—as if I haven't been in on the school gossip—"Everyone knows First Beach is the most popular weeknight hookup spot." Her tone is slightly judgmental, although she's been known to brag about her first time "parking" down on the rez.

Quil chuckles and punches Jake on the shoulder.

I want out of this situation and out of this conversation. Even though I know Jake is talking about me, it feels wrong to hear it as if he's talking about another girl. Especially with Quil giving him a congratulatory punch on the shoulder, like he's just won some bro award for getting into a girl's pants.

Strange. He's making me jealous of myself.

Jake is putting on a front, letting Quil think he was bringing some skanky girl down to the beach to hook up; but, in reality he is just describing our current situation. Wasn't I supposed to meet him at the beach so we could "finish what we started"? That sounds like an invitation to hook up if I ever heard one.

Before it didn't seem so bad, at least not until I was on the outside, listening to Jake explain our tryst. It makes it seem so dirty and wrong.

Please somebody save me!

"I love this song!" Jessica squeals when the song shifts to a pop song I faintly recognize.

"Me too!" Angela says.

Even though I dread getting back out on the dancefloor, I need to escape from Jacob. His eyes are still on me; his lazer beam gaze is melting me from the inside out.

This is my chance.

"Let's dance!" I say, grabbing Jessica's arm. Embry reaches sweetly for Angela's hand and pulls her up from the couch as well.

Jessica is dancing before we even get to where the other people are dancing. Whilst holding her hand I feel much more steady than I did the first time, my dancing skills however have not improved. She pulls me with her as she swings around and sways her hips. I'm trying my best to keep up with her but I'm worried I look silly next to her. Also, with Jake still watching me I'm being extra careful to remain somewhat graceful.

Jack, the party host and star of the football team, approaches Jessica and she nearly faints with excitement.

"Wanna dance?" Jack asks her.

She simply nods her head, too happy to form words. She'd been waiting all night for this guy to talk to her and she's finally got her chance. I am happy for her, truly, but as she steps away to dance with him, I feel myself stumbling over my own feet. Without her there to mirror and keep me steady, I am a stumbling disaster. Not to mention, the shoes Jessica let me borrow are now giving me blisters.

The next step I take, I feel a sudden popping along my ankle. A burning heat spreads out from the pop and I know I've opened up a blister. I am about to leave the dance floor when I feel two warm arms circle around my waist and pull me close. My spine lines up with the hard plains of abs. I lean my head back and it rests on a rock-hard chest. His scent swirls around me and makes me dizzy but in the best way. Pine trees, rain, moss, motor oil, and sea salt. Jacob.

He lowers his head until his lips are next to my ear, "Dance with me."

"With all these people around?" I ask, whispering back to him.

His arms circle tighter around my waist. I don't know if it's the alcohol talking but it feels so good to have him this close to me.

I look to my friends but they are far more occupied with dancing than keeping tabs on us. Still, he pulls me backwards to a dark corner of the dance floor with his arms wrapped securely around me—a way of shrouding me from curious eyes.

When he and I are far enough away from our friends, he pulls me flush against him and starts to sway his hips to the music.

"I can't dance." I admit. "I don't know how."

"I can show you." He whispers.

"But, Jake…"

"Trust me." He says, his voice making shivers run down my spine. I want to be stubborn and say "no", but it's impossible when he is making me feel this good.

I find myself following his motions, leaning on him as we both follow the beats of the song. For once I don't feel clumsy. With his arms around me I feel sturdy and strong.

Jake, from what I can tell, is an excellent dancer. The song playing is slow and seductive and the way he is moving behind me is rhythmic and enticing. With every step it feels like he is pulling me in closer. The confidence he is giving off is beyond sexy and the way he is holding me makes me never want to leave the dancefloor.

"You didn't come to meet me." He whispers huskily in my ear, a twang of anger in his voice.

I was hoping we could avoid this conversation…

"I waited for two hours, but you never showed up." His hands are on my hips now, his fingers gripping at the exposed skin between my shirt and jeans. He starts to turn my hips more sharply to the beat, causing more friction between us.

He moves his head to the other side of my neck and whispers, "Why didn't you meet me?"

What do I tell him?

"Did you not enjoy what we did earlier?" He asks, manipulating my hips exactly the way he wants them moving.

"I did." I say cautiously, trying not to encourage him too much. That doesn't stop him though. He pushes his hips into my back and I can feel how much he is enjoying our bodies rubbing together.

One of his hands snakes up underneath my shirt, and caresses the bare skin of my stomach. As his hand creeps up further, I feel his thumb tickle the underside of my breast. "Bells." He sighs, huskily.

I turn around in his arms and look him in the eye. "I'm sorry I didn't meet you at First Beach." I say, running my hands along his chest. "Are you mad at me?"

"I could never be mad at you, Bells. Especially when you look like this," his eyes rake over my outfit, "and when you're moving against me like that." I can see now that his eyes look heavy, lidded, and dark. The way he is looking at me is awakening something deep inside that I cannot explain. It's a primal feeling.

"But I did wait for you, a very long time…" He nuzzles my neck. His hands slide down from under my shirt. One rests firmly on my hip, the other caresses my lower back. Slowly, his hand on my back dips lower, grazing my back side.

Each brush of his finger sends tingles through my body. I can feel my conscience slipping away.

I look up into his eyes and whisper seductively, "I want to make it up to you."

Where did that come from?

Maybe Jessica was right about the alcohol being liquid courage. With it coursing through my veins I feel freer, less constricted by these lies I've been telling everyone. With Jacob's arms around me, I feel stronger and more powerful. Capable. Confident. Sexy.

I wrap my arms around his neck and pull his face down toward me. "How do I make it up to you, Jake?"

He looks at me, his eyes even darker than before, and flashes me his signature grin. "Let's get out of here."

Jake is pulling me out of the house and to his car before I can even nod in agreement. He whisks me away to his car, which is parked far from the others. When we get closer, he slows down his pace, interlocking his fingers with mine. He turns me to face him so that I am walking backwards, looking down at me with a fierce expression, one I can only describe as hungry.

He slows to a walk, each step slower than the previous. With each stride he is pushing me where he wants me to go. He slows down even more, his steps becoming more sluggish as we reach our destination. I feel the cold metal against my back as Jake takes one final step and our bodies are flush against one another. He has me pinned; his car behind me and his hard, warm body in front of me.

Jacob's arm comes up by my head and the other cups my cheek gently. His lips come down to meet mine, softly pressing against them. It's not long before his grip on me grows stronger as he holds me to him, his kisses becoming more desperate. I notice my body arching into his as he leans down to kiss me.

He drops his arm to my waist and lowers it until he is caressing my thigh. His finger move roughly against the fabric of the jeans, pulling and clawing at the fabric that separates his fingers from my bare skin.

A new haze is settling over me. Gone is the dizziness and it's replaced with a feverish longing for what inevitably comes next.