The Twilight Saga

I've been working on this fan fiction for about a month I suppose and I've been posting it on Fan Fiction.Net. It's called The Twilight Saga - Solar Flare. It's basically the story of what would have happened if Jacob and Bella had kissed in New Moon without that phone call interrupting them. It's the story of what would happen if Jacob and Edward's roles were reversed. I've already got 3 chapters made and I'm working on chapter 4 now. I thought I might as well post them here as well.

 

The story begins right when they're about to kiss.

 

1. Promise

BELLA SWAN

"Bella," Jacob whispered.

I was frozen.

No! I hadn't made this decision yet. I didn't know if I could do this, and now I was out of time to think. But I would have been a fool if I thought rejecting him now would have no consequences.

Maybe it would feel nice. Maybe it wouldn't feel like a betrayal. True love was forever lost, so who was I betraying? Only myself.

Keeping his eyes on mine, Jacob began to bend his face toward me. The closer he got, the more unsure I became. Was I really going to do this? How badly would this end up? Would this end badly? He held my face still and closed his eyes as his lips met mine, my eyes shut as well, a little too tight.

As his mouth had discovered my passive resistance, he moved his right hand to the back of my head and his left gently around my waist, pulling me closer now. The closer I became, the more my lips would resist. I wasn't trying to pull away, but wouldn't respond back, I couldn't. Jacob could see this now, he started to rub the back of neck trying to get a response out of me; I just couldn't.

That's when Jacob stopped, his right hand slowly releasing my neck, his left unwrapping around my waist, and his lips fading away. I didn't need to look at Jacob to see the hurt, I could feel it, and his pain was my pain. Something in me broke free just then and I couldn't hold it back. My hands reacted before I could realize it, my left arm wrapping around his waist, my right hand grabbing the back of his head, pulling him closer to me now. Just as I could feel his pain, I could feel his joy now too. Jacob responded almost instantly; he wrapped his arms around me and began kissing me back, his warm lips gentle. I couldn't tell how long we were kissing, it felt like forever, and I didn't want it to stop.

That's when it hit me; I'd been wrong all this time, I'd been lying to myself. Jacob was more than just my friend, he was more than someone I could rely on to make me feel better. I knew I needed him more than I needed most people, but I had no idea just how much until now. I've never felt happier before, after being so abnormal for so long, it's like a breath of air after being underwater for hours. The hole in my chest is completely gone now, I didn't think it were possible, but Jacob cured everything. He is everything to me, I was in love with him. I'd loved him all this time, but I was too afraid to get it through my thick skull. I was too afraid of betrayal, too afraid of him. I wonder if I'll ever hear his voice again, not that it mattered anymore.

Suddenly I felt Jacob stiffen up, he jerked away from me and released his arms. I opened my eyes, ready to pull him back, but he was shaking again. The expression on his face was half angry and half horrified.

He jetted for the front door, grabbing the handle with a little too much force. I stumbled after him with my arm out in front of me.

"No!" I shouted. It was a reflex.

Jacob stopped then, releasing the handle. He looked at me distraught, still standing right next to the door. He took a quick glance at the door handle and back at me, like he was deciding something. I didn't want him to leave, now more than ever. Did he have to leave now? If he did leave, would I go with him? What about Alice?

Jacob turned his entire body in my direction. He slowly walked toward me, wrapped his one arm around my waist, and positioned himself in front of me, as if trying to protect me.

Protect me from what, was Victoria nearby? Did she get past Embry and Jared? Was she attracted her by Alice? That's when it hit me, Alice, of course. Alice came through the back door and walked gracefully into the kitchen, resting her arms onto the kitchen table. Jacob backed us away toward the sink, he was shaking again and his teeth were clenched. Alice's face did not look approving either.

"I see you two get along well," Alice judged, staring directly at Jacob.

I nodded gently, a little embarrassed. Jacob pulled me closer to him.

"Alice this is Jacob. Jacob, Alice," I said, blushing now.

Jacob stabbed me a disgusted look and growled. Alice rolled her eyes at me.

"Bella, I think it's time I left."

Jacob gave a brief sigh of relief, while still holding me tight.

"No!" I shouted. Jacob stabbed another look at me, a look of betrayal.

"Really though, Bella, I think it's time I left. If Edward finds out I'm here…" Alice explained, looking a bit nervous, "He can get really angry sometimes."

I flinched a little and Jacob growled again.

"Do you have to go now? Just a few more weeks, please?" I begged.

"I'm really sorry Bella, but it has to be tonight," She said, looking truly sorry.

"Tonight. Good," Jacob muttered under his breath. Alice seemed to hear that and glared at him again. She looked back at me, suddenly cheerful.

"How about we spend the entire day doing whatever you want together. We could drive around, catch a movie, go to the mall, I'll buy you whatever you want. We won't separate for a second," She said, smiling wide.

I nodded sadly. "Yeah, that sounds good."

"You don't look very happy."

"No, I am. Really."

Alice pouted. "It's the best I can do. All the clothes you want, on me."

Jacob's shaking began to increase, his teeth clenched, and his eyes shut tight. I embraced him, it was almost instinctual.

"Jake, please. Calm," I whispered.

"Right…calm," He whispered back, his body going stiff now with only his hands shaking.

"We can go as soon as you put the dog out," Alice said critically. Jacob began to shake again.

"Calm," I reminded. His shaking only slowed down this time. He released me and started to back away.

"Don't worry, leech. I was just going," He hissed. He looked at me, his expression broken, "Bye, Bella."

Jacob began to walk towards the front door. I wrapped me arms around him, trying to get him to stop. "No, please. Stay. Please," I begged.

Jacob turned to look at me. "Bella, I have to go. I was only supposed to come here and get information. I have to report back."

My face fell, of course he was right. He was a werewolf, she was a vampire, and Jacob had responsibilities. But I didn't want to let him go, it was either go with Jacob and abandon Alice or go with Alice and leave Jacob betrayed. Stupid conflict. Why couldn't they just get along?

"Can't you just tell Embry and Jared, and then come back?" I insisted.

Jacob made a disgusted sound. "I don't think so, Bella. Besides, we've been neglecting treaty lines enough as it is."

Alice sighed. "Well, I'm the only Cullen here. So I guess if I say it's okay for now, than there shouldn't be a problem. For now." She grumbled.

My face lit up giving Alice a look of thanks. Jacob looked at her half angry, half confused, and back at me.

"You seriously want me around her? Remember what I said earlier, Bella."

I hadn't forgotten. This could end badly, very badly. By the end of the day, both of them might end up… I couldn't even think about it. I'm not going to let my selfishness hurt them both. I had to choose.

Before I could say a thing, Jacob wiped a tear from my eye. I was crying, I hadn't realized. He stood there for a few seconds, once again distraught. He then grabbed my arms and freed himself from my embrace. He stomped out the front, slamming the door behind him. My legs started to shake.

Alice made her way next to me and put her arm around my shoulder. "Sorry." She mouthed the word.

I rested my cheek on her head trying to fight back the tears that were welling up. This was for the best, right? I can manage to be away from Jacob for today, couldn't I? Just then, Alice groaned and released her arm from around me, folding them over her chest.

"Great. Just wonderful," She said with heavy sarcasm.

"What? What's wrong?" I asked, my voice breaking.

"The dog's tagging along."

I gasped, my eyes widened at the thought. I then heard a shout coming from outside, followed by angry and irritated voices. Were they arguing? My eyes were locked on the front door now. After a minute, I heard the sound of an engine starting up, followed by the squeal of the tires driving off, all a little too quickly. My eyes were still locked onto the door, my heart was racing.

The door slowly opened and Jacob came through. He looked at me and smiled, I smiled back wiping the tears that had escaped my efforts. Jacob glared at Alice, eyes very distrustful. Alice stared back at him with the same eyes.

"You better watch yourself," Jacob warned.

"Oh please, I should be saying that to you." Alice turned toward me, changing her expression to cheerful again. "So, where to first?"

"Really, you should decide. I'm sure you have better ideas than me."

"Oh, but I'm doing this for you."

"I think your last day here," I grimaced at the words, "Should be exactly what you want."

"Hmm…" Alice looked far off in concentration. Jacob put his arm around me again and backed away from Alice.

"It's okay," I whispered to him.

"Don't wanna take any chances," He whispered back through his teeth.

Alice groaned loudly, suddenly very irritated. She glared at Jacob.

"This would be so much easier if I could see our plans and go by those." She put extra emphasis on 'see'.

Jacob raised one eyebrow in confusion, but his face quickly lightened into one of understanding. He laughed once mockingly. "What? The future to blurry for you?"

Alice's mouth fell open for a split second, she gave me an accusing look. I let my head fall, looking up at her with apologetic eyes.

Alice sighed. "Yes, because you're around."

Jacob's eyes widened in surprise. "You can't see the future when I'm around?" That's great!"

Alice let a growl escape her teeth. I changed the subject. "Why don't we go see a movie first? Sound like a plan?"

"Sure," Alice agreed, "As long as we take Carlisle's car."

"Deal."

Alice headed out the front door leaving it wide open. Jacob hesitated to move, I tried nudging him with my elbow, no effect. Alice came back into view, seeing her clearly through the open door, she gave Jacob a mocking smile.

"Scared?" She called back.

Jacob rolled his eyes, but it seemed to do the trick. Jacob kept his arm securely around me and headed out the door slowly. Alice had already gotten in the driver's seat and the car door to the backseats was already open. Alice must have guessed that we'd want to sit together. Jacob walked up to the car at the same pace and hesitantly got in with me alongside him. I closed the door.

"Ugh, it stinks," Jacob groaned silently.

Alice turned the keys in the ignition and drove off immediately. Alice drove fast, almost as fast as Edward did; to think that I was frightened by the speed of the motorcycles. Jacob was very restless the whole way. He fidgeted, shifting his body from side to side and re-adjusted his arm around me. This was ridiculous, the point of this was to have fun with Alice, have fun while she's still here. How are we suppose to have fun when she and Jacob will be at each other's throats the whole time, it defeats the purpose. Maybe this is what I deserve, for being so selfish.

We were almost there, took no time at all, Jacob groaned and started staring at the car floor. He then, to my surprise, started to laugh.

"I cannot believe I'm doing this," Jacob laughed at himself, "Not only am I tagging along for your girl time, but with a bloodsucker as well. I've really lost it."

I hung my head down, slightly turning to look at his face. I was about to apologize, but Alice caught me off guard.

"We're here!" Alice sang, "So, what're we going to see?"

My head snapped up at her voice, that was a good question. I suggested the movies, but had no idea what to go see. I just wanted to get out of the house before Alice and Jake killed each other. My past experiences going to the movies were not entirely pleasant ones, I hoped that this wouldn't be the worst.

Alice waited for my answer; I grimaced at having to be the one to decide. Jacob raised his head and sighed.

"I hear Tomorrow and Forever's pretty popular," He suggested, looking directly at me, ignoring Alice.

I nodded my head, eager to agree, I was up for anything. Then it came back to me, I remember I'd turned down this movie before, back when Mike asked me. It was back when I was too broken to handle a romance. How would I feel now? I truly believe that the hole in my chest is somewhat gone at least, plus I have Jacob and Alice, for the moment. Maybe it won't be so bad.

"Bella," Alice looked at me doubtfully, "Is that what you want?"

"Yeah, sure."

"All right."

Alice got out and opened the door on my side. She reached out and took my hand, a warm smile lit up her face. Jacob, with his arm still securely around my waist, pulled me back. Alice grabbed my hand again and yanked, while Jacob firmly resisted. It was a brief match of tug-of-war with me as the rope, both competitors glaring each other down.

"Jake!" I snapped at him.

Jacob grimaced but gave up, releasing me hesitantly. Alice yanked me from my seat, causing me to stumble, but she caught me before I could cause any damage to myself.

"Sorry," She apologized, "Forgot how fragile you were."

"You sound like Edward."

Jacob got out on his side and made his way next to me, Alice to my right and Jacob to my left. We headed toward the theater; Alice bought two tickets for herself and me, leaving Jacob to pay for his own.

There weren't that many people in the theater, I'm assuming everyone had seen the movie already. It had been out for a while, this might be it's last week in theaters. We sat down, Alice to my right and Jacob to my left like before. I kept my eyes on them both cautiously; they wouldn't fight in here would they?

Alice suddenly started giggling, I looked up at the screen and a man was coming up with every excuse in the book to keep from getting fired. I was so occupied with watching Alice and Jake that I hadn't realized that the movie started already, for who knows how long.

I actually began to watch now; the man that got fired meets a rich woman who enjoys working with children. They fall in love and the man begins to help out with the children too, while still jobless. The man is secretly involved in some shady business involving loans and dangerous favors. The woman finds out what he's up to and the man confesses all that he's done, which in turn gets the woman involved.

So far the movie was pretty good; I wasn't feeling any pain from what I've seen up until now. Unfortunately, I'd spoken too soon. The man felt terrible for burdening the woman in his problems and decides to leave her.

I winced at the words "I don't want you to come." The man had spoken the same words as his. My head sank, I didn't want to look up at the screen anymore, I felt tense.

Jacob saw this; he put his arm around my shoulder and leaned his head against mine. I rested my head on his shoulder and shifted closer to him. Normally, something like this would set me off. I could see myself breaking into tears, screaming, and running out of the theater after witnessing this. But Jacob made everything so much better, he was my own personal sun again, but something else radiated from him besides the usual happiness and comfort. Love.

I let out a deep sigh of relief and looked up at the screen. Apparently I had missed a lot; the man was already begging the woman to take him back, saying that they can work something out as long as they're together. The woman all too happily takes him back and they agree to start a new life together somewhere far away.

The credits started rolling and the lights came back on. Alice eagerly got up and started toward the exit, Jacob and I followed.

Back in the car, Alice started the engine immediately but left it in park for a few minutes.

"Mmm, cliché ending," Alice said, looking thoughtful. Jacob nodded his head, looking past Alice.

"Yeah," Jacob looked at me now, "It's better than that other movie you took me to, though."

He laughed and I joined in; comparing it to Tomorrow and Forever just makes Crosshairs seem even more ridiculous. Alice looked back at me, a wide smile across her face.

"Shopping now?" Alice asked, delighted. I rolled my eyes.

"Of course, Alice."

"I'll make sure you have the most beautiful clothes in the store."

"Don't overdo it."

Alice pouted; she started driving straight for the mall which wasn't far from the movie theater at all. It took only two minutes to get there.

I told her not to overdo it, but in the end she ignored me. We went to every clothing store the mall had to offer, buying at least three things from each one. Every so often Alice would find something that she wanted for herself and get me the same one in my size. Jacob was enjoying the ordeal even less than I was; Alice was making him carry all the clothes. I could tell Jake was trying very hard not to lose his temper, I had to tell Alice to ease up a little. Alice was having the time of her life however, at least she was happy.

By the time we were done, it was dark out. The bright headlights of cars were passing by, avoiding people as they walked out of the mall and varies other stores around us.

"Well, I'd better get you home," Alice reminded.

I nodded slowly, knowing what will happen afterwards. The drive home felt longer, either Alice wasn't driving as fast as before or I was just trying to cling onto this moment for as long as I could.

Charlie wasn't there when we walked in. He must still be at the Clearwater's, probably doing whatever he can to help out. I felt bad that I wasn't there too, felt even worse that I was keeping Jacob away. I sat down on the sofa and Jacob joined me. Alice was arranging the clothes she bought in one pile and the clothes for me in another on the kitchen table. In a flash, she darted upstairs and my new clothes disappeared. The next second she was back, looking as cheerful as before.

"Hope you don't mind, but I'm sure you'll find your new beautiful clothes in perfect order," Alice said confidently.

"It's fine."

Alice started to stare off into the distance, her expression lost. Jacob shifted himself closer to me in a protective position. Alice let out a gasp, her cheerful expression didn't return.

"It's time for me to go."

I couldn't speak, I just let my head fall.

"I'm sorry Bella, but it's time. I can't stay any longer."

I just nodded. I was starting to feel the pain come back to me.

"Come on." Alice grabbed my hand and lifted me off the sofa. She led me outside to her car, Jacob followed quickly.

She let go of my hand to give me a hug. Her hard cold skin felt strangely soft and gentle when her arms wrapped around me. The wind blew her sweet clean scent toward me, I'd remember it for a while. I embraced her back, trying very hard to fight back tears. It seemed to last for a lifetime.

"Bye Bella," She said quietly in my ear, "I promise I'll be back."

"Promise?"

She nodded, "Promise."

Tags: alternate, bella, ending, fan, fiction, flare, jacob, saga, solar, twilight

Views: 2658

Replies to This Discussion

Thank you so very much JJ for informing!

23. Misery (Part 1 of 2)

BELLA SWAN

Nothing. Nothing inside, nothing outside, and nothing around me. That's how I was feeling, if you could say I was even feeling anything since nothing was there. My whole room was dark and gloomy, the only source of light being the faint rays of sun as they struggled to shine through my curtains. There was no noise; I couldn't even hear birds chirping outside. I wondered, if I closed my eyes, would this be what it's like when I'm dead? Unable to see, hear, or feel? I still had my mind, I could still think, but was there even a point to that anymore? If that was taken away too, would it make much of a difference? A part of me wished my mind actually would disappear so I wouldn't have to think about him, but the other part refused to forget. I knew that losing Jacob would hurt, but I wasn't expecting to feel this empty. In a way, the ability for me to think about him, his memory, it was the only bit of life still in me.

This wasn't exactly like when Edward left. I didn't feel like I was constantly suffering, it wasn't so much like torture not being with Jacob, but I wondered to myself if this new feeling was worse or not. Instead of torture, it felt like one quick kill. The moment he said the words "get away from me", it was like a bullet to the heart. A quick instance of sheer pain and then nothing. I couldn't remember anything that happened after that. I couldn't remember getting myself home, even though I obviously did, considering where I was now. It was like my body was in auto-pilot because my mind was completely detached. Now all it wanted to do was rest in peace, but I wouldn't let my mind do the same. I couldn't. I refused to forget, even if forgetting was probably best for me.

I had no idea what time it was, but I really didn't care. I didn't get any sleep last night, my mind was working too hard to rest. But either way, I still felt empty, like nothing, so was there really much of a point to sleep? If my body felt dead, then wouldn't that be its eternal rest anyway?

Suddenly, I started hearing something. To my surprise, my ears were actually picking up noise. Whatever it was, it sounded high-pitched and melodic. Pleasant to listen to, but honestly, it wouldn't have made a difference if the sound I heard were nails on a chalkboard. What my ears heard didn't matter, my body was dead after all.

"Bella…" the high-pitched feminine voice sighed, sounding disappointed.

Of course, I didn't respond, I couldn't. I tried not to think about who it might be either, since it didn't matter.

"Bella!" the voice exclaimed much louder, obviously trying harder to get my attention, "I know you're awake."

I wondered to myself if I should put my body in auto-pilot again. I could just have it interact with this person just a little bit; I didn't want to be too rude by completely ignoring her.

I heard the person sigh deeply, and all in one second, the thick sheets covering me from shoulder to toe were pulled away as one rather cold hand grabbed my shoulder and turned me over. I was now facing in the direction of my door but more importantly right into the golden eyes of Alice. Her expression was serious as she examined my wrinkled clothes from yesterday and my face which I'm sure looked horrible.

"Bella, what's wrong?" she asked with a frown.

My body on auto-pilot just shook her head. I wasn't ready to talk to anyone about it, nor did I think I could.

"Don't you-" she shook her head in imitation, "-me, Bella. I know something's wrong, it's written all over your face."

"Don't worry about it," I mumbled, actually managing to speak which surprised me.

"That's easier said than done, Bella. Besides, Charlie called me over specifically to check on you."

"Charlie?" I still couldn't remember what happened when I came home. Was Charlie here when I did?

She nodded. "He told me you came home yesterday and went straight to your room without saying anything. He said he tried talking to you, but you wouldn't answer him at all."

"Really?" It was crazy how I couldn't remember any of that, but as I thought about last night a little harder, I did remember hearing a constant knock at my door and a rough voice calling my name. Was that him?

"Yeah. He was really worried about you. He thought if he couldn't talk to you then maybe I could." She paused for a moment. "Well, actually he said he tried calling Jacob first, but no one answered. I guess I'm your plan B."

My body winced and gripped my blankets at the mention of Jacob and I really wished it hadn't. Alice caught my reaction and looked at me a little surprised as I couldn't keep the grimace off my face.

"What was that?" she asked.

I shook my head. "N-nothing. Sorry."

She eyed me suspiciously for a moment, obviously not buying my lie. "Come on, Bella."

I kept silent and tried to avoid eye contact, but Alice wouldn't let up on her stare. However, it didn't take her long to put two and two together.

"Is this about Jacob?" she asked.

I winced once again and tried covering it up by pulling the blankets over my face, but I wasn't fooling Alice.

"That's it, isn't it?"

"I can't talk about it," I muttered, and it was the truth. Not only did I not want to talk about it, I also just didn't think I could.

"Talking will make you feel better."

I shook my head. "No…"

She sighed. "I'm just going to guess then. Did he hurt you?"

"No." On the contrary, I was the one that hurt him.

"Did he leave you?"

My heart jumped and I cringed underneath the blankets. My mind began replaying the event along with what caused it in my head. The images were blurry in my mind, but clear enough. My body started curling up in reaction to the faint pain it brought. I thought I was supposed to be dead. Why was there more pain?

"Oh, Bella…" Alice sighed and pulled me up so she could hug me.

A slight whimper escaped me as Alice's arms wrapped around my shoulders. Normally I would hug her back, welcoming her comfort, but I didn't deserve it.

"That stupid mutt. He's an idiot ," she growled, her arms tightening around me a bit.

I shook my head frantically. "Alice, please. No. I'm the one at fault." I didn't think I could talk about this in even the slightest, but my instinct to protect Jacob just came out.

"How?" She paused for a moment. "Is it about the kiss?"

I cringed. "You know…?"

"Edward told me. Well, I kind of had to force it out of him when he came home looking like he murdered someone. But yes, I know."

Right then, I felt like I had lost my voice again. I was hurting both of them. Jacob, because I couldn't stop loving someone else. Edward, because although I still loved him, my heart ached for another too much for me to go back to him so easily.

"Bella?" Alice sighed, trying to get a response from me.

I didn't respond, not with a voice or even movement. My body seemed to shut off auto-pilot as it felt dead once again. Alice was basically hugging a lifeless corpse.

It was quiet for a minute before Alice finally let go of me and stood up, letting my body lay limp on the bed. I was hoping that meant she'd given up and was about to leave. I was only half right.

"Come on and get up, Bella. We're going back to my house," she said.

And suddenly, my body was back on auto-pilot. "Huh?"

"Well, not 'my' house, but you know what I mean." She smiled. "Come on, get dressed."

I grimaced. "Why?"

"Why? Because everyone will be there. You can't let a break up eat you up like this. You'll feel a lot better being around people that care about you."

I shook my head slowly. "I can't…"

She raised an eyebrow at me. "How come?"

"I don't deserve it."

"You don't deserve what? To feel better? That's ridiculous."

Not only that, but I didn't want anyone to see me in such a sorry state. It was bad enough that Alice was here feeling sorry for me; I didn't want six other vampires pitying me too.

Alice sighed deeply. "Bella, please don't make me literally drag you out of bed."

I could see in her eyes that she would really do it. She looked down at me seriously, like a parent about to count to three and their child would be in big trouble if they didn't do as they're told before then. Alice didn't seem like the type to be intimidating as small as she was, but her parental stare seemed to work as I let out a sigh and my body began sluggishly sliding off the bed and got onto its feet.

Alice smiled triumphantly. "Good. Now go wash up, missy. I'll get your clothes ready."

I just sighed and nodded as I slowly made my way to the bathroom. I followed my usual routine, but I was in no hurry at all to leave. I moved with no energy as I washed my body in the shower and used little pressure when brushing my teeth, prolonging the process of getting clean. As much as I didn't want to go, I figured that if I deserved anything, it was to feel uncomfortable. This would be my punishment and it could be a lot worse. I wrapped a towel around me as I walked back into my room. Alice stood at the foot of my bed, her arms crossed and looking at me like I was really late for some kind of appointment.

"Does it usually take you that long to wash up?" she asked.

"Sorry," I mumbled, though I was pretty sure I'd be moving at this pace all day.

She sighed. "Well anyway, your clothes are all set." She grinned and gestured to the ensemble lying neatly on my bed. "Hurry and get dressed, you're going to look great."

I grimaced at the selection of clothing on my bed. There was a rich purple blouse with capped sleeves and small ruffles around the arms and neck. There was a small matching purple belt meant to be tied around the stomach lying vertically parallel to the blouse. Along with it was what I could only describe as khaki pants, but much shinier than the usual kind. Of course Alice would pick out the most fashionable clothes in my selection, ones that she bought for me herself. I didn't feel like objecting though, it didn't really matter.

I unwrapped my towel and let it drop to the floor as I started getting dressed, starting with socks and working my way up. But like in the bathroom, I moved with no energy. I wasn't keeping track of how long it was taking me to get each piece of clothing on, but judging from Alice's sighs, I was guessing a while. By the time I'd just gotten my bra on, Alice couldn't wait any longer. In a flash, the blouse and belt that I still needed to put on vanished from my bed and I felt something move my arms around faster than I thought my arms could handle. Just like that, I was fully dressed. I looked at Alice beside me, wondering if she did that, but her grin answered that question for me.

"Almost done," she said.

"Almost?"

In a blur, she dashed into my bathroom and came back right where she was standing with a hairdryer and thin comb. She sat me down at the edge of the bed as she started combing and drying my hair out with her hands moving at the same blurring speed. I thought with her going so fast, my hair would feel like it was getting pulled out, but it surprisingly felt nice. Once she was done, she backed up to look at me and grinned.

"There, looking beautiful," she said cheerfully.

I definitely didn't feel beautiful, but I just nodded. Alice kept smiling as she took my hand and pulled me back onto my feet. I closed my door as she led me downstairs. Even though I was looking toward the ground as I walked, it was hard not to notice Charlie turn completely around on the couch as we came downstairs. He glanced at me and then looked at Alice with an anxious expression. They seemed to have a brief silent conversation as they exchanged nods and tilts of their heads toward me.

"Alright, you two have fun," Charlie said, almost sounding like a command.

Charlie's focus was mainly on me as he looked at me with worry clearly on his face. I tried my best to give him a reassuring smile, but his responding grimace told me I didn't do a great job.

Alice squeezed my hand and pulled me out the front door as Charlie waved at us 'goodbye'. She led me to her yellow Porsche and opened the passenger door for me as she got in the driver's side. Once I was sitting and buckled up, Alice wasted no time to pull out of the driveway and get onto the road. For the first half of the ride, Alice tried making conversation by telling me what she's been doing since I saw her last, which were mostly graduation party related. I still wasn't able to really talk, so I just nodded at the right times and gave quick, simple answers when she asked my opinion on what would make a good party. Eventually she realized she wasn't getting anywhere with me and gave up, being quiet for the rest of the ride. But it was only temporary; I knew she had other plans.

"Well, we're here," Alice announced cheerfully and quickly got out of the car.

I nodded and got out as sluggish as ever. Alice took my hand and pulled me toward the door as we both walked inside. It was surprisingly quiet with only the TV from the living room being heard. I thought that maybe everyone was out today, but I was quickly proven wrong. Once Alice led me to their large couch in the living room, I saw Esme standing at the doorway to the kitchen. She was holding what looked like soup in a bowl with two bread rolls one the plate underneath. She gave me a soft smile and came over to hand me the food.

"Here, honey. You should eat this," Esme said with a smile, although I could see the concern on her face.

The soup was smoked portabella mushroom with a heavy cream floating on top in an artistic swirl. It looked like the type of soup they'd served at the most expensive gourmet restaurant and it smelled delicious. My mind was telling me it was far too good for me to take, but I was really hungry and my body couldn't pass it up.

"Thank you," I said, setting the plate and bowl on my lap as I started eating.

Alice giggled. "Your stomach was growling the whole way here."

"We thought you might be hungry when you got here. How is it?" Esme asked.

"It's really good. Thanks," I said in the most sincere voice I could.

She smiled. "Don't thank me. Edward's the one who made it for you."

I froze and felt my heart beat faster at just the mention of him. A good mixture of fear and guilt washed over me as I thought about actually seeing him. How could I face him after what happened? The sadness of his that I only caught a glimpse of as he left my house two days ago, I didn't think I could handle seeing it in full force. Maybe I would get lucky and he'd just be angry and yell at me. I could handle that. I deserved it.

Alice frowned at my reaction and whispered something too quiet for me to make out. Esme nodded however and started rubbing my shoulder in comfort, looking at me sympathetically. I still wasn't ready to talk about anything so I used my food as a distraction, focusing on eating it slowly to pass as much time as I could.

"Hey, you brought her here," I heard Emmett's voice call out from a distance.

I looked up and he was standing right next to Esme with a grin. He obviously moved fast from wherever he was. I smiled at him weakly and he chuckled in return. Alice gave him an irritated look and Emmett's eyes widened like he just remembered something. His grin softened to a sympathetic smile as he focused on me.

"So, I heard you were feeling depressed," he said.

I grimaced. I wasn't sure if depressed was the word. Dead was still a much better way of describing how I felt. Even though I was moving and interacting, my body still felt more like a walking corpse. Still on auto-pilot while my mind watched from a distance.

Alice groaned. "Emmett…"

"What? It's true, right?" Emmett asked, looking back at me, "Wanna tell me what's bugging you?"

I shook my head and looked to the floor as I felt Esme rub my shoulder again. I still didn't think I could talk about it without completely breaking apart. I heard Alice whisper something else I couldn't make out and glanced up to see Emmett's eyes widen like he just figured something out.

"Oh, is that it?" Emmett chuckled, "Well then I can kick his ass for you if you want. That'll make you feel better."

"No!" I shouted, my instinct to protect Jacob coming out again.

"Emmett!" both Alice and Esme scolded.

"What?" Emmett asked with a grimace.

"You know that would violate the treaty anyway," a new voice suddenly came in.

I looked over to see it was Jasper, standing at the entryway between the living room and the area occupied by the front door and stairs. He looked at me and smiled, but I couldn't fake a smile in return this time. I let out a whimper as I tried to keep my mind from connecting with my body. I tried not to think too hard about him. I tried not to wonder what he was doing right now, wonder if he was still furious, or wonder if he'd ever want to see me.

"Well, I...I was joking. Jeez, come on guys," Emmett said with a smile, though he did look a little embarrassed, "Look, why don't we just have some fun? That'll help get your mind off things."

Alice smiled and nodded in agreement. "Does that sound good, Bella?"

I sighed and shrugged. To me it didn't really matter what we did. I would just go along with it, but nothing could make me feel less dead than I was.

"How about another chess tournament? And don't worry, I'll go easy on you, Bella," Emmett said and winked at me.

I tried again at giving him a smile, but judging from Emmett's chuckle, it didn't come out so well.

Esme went to get two chessboards with pieces for each and set them both up on opposite ends of the long two-foot tall table in front of the couch. I went up against Emmett while Alice and Jasper competed. Despite Esme cheering me on and Emmett claiming he'd go easy on me, I was destroyed nonetheless. Emmett wondered if I was even trying and I actually don't think I was, but it didn't really matter to me. Alice beat Jasper pretty easily thanks to her future sight and Emmett refused to face her next.

"Aw, come on," Alice said.

"No, you'll cheat like always," Emmett complained, "There's no point in playing you."

"Who knows, maybe something crazy will happen that I don't see."

"Yeah right…"

"Jazz was brave enough to face me." She turned to smile at Jasper and he smiled in return.

"Yeah, I don't know why he wasted his time."

"Whatever," she sighed and turned to smile at me, "What do you want to do now, Bella?"

I just shrugged; I really didn't care. The game of chess didn't cheer me up like they hoped and I didn't think anything else they had in mind would either.

Alice frowned. "Oh, there's got to be something you want to do."

"Not really," I muttered.

"Are you sure, hon-" Esme began to say, but suddenly stopped, "Oh…"

I turned to look at her. "Huh?"

"He's back," Alice said.

"Who?" I looked at Alice confused. If a 'he' was returning, it could either be Carlisle or…

"So, you did bring her over," a familiar velvety smooth voice rang across the room.

I gasped and looked up to see him standing at the entryway like Jasper was. His eyes were on me, his face full of concern. I felt my heart racing and my breathing became heavy as I looked at him, but I couldn't keep my eyes away.

Alice smiled. "I wouldn't just leave her at home the way she is."

"How are you feeling?" he asked, still looking at me.

My voice was lost, I couldn't speak. I was trying desperately to keep the memories from filling my mind, but I couldn't fight them back. The time we spent in our meadow, the tree climbing, the kiss, seeing our possible future, admitting that I still loved him; it was all replaying in my mind in perfect detail. I begged for the memories to stop there, but next came the drive over to Jacob's, our motorcycle ride, him saving me from the crash, me telling him the truth, and him telling me to…

"Jeez, she looks like she's about to faint," Emmett commented, "Way to go, Edward."

Edward's face scrunched up in what seemed like guilt; one thing I didn't want to see him feeling.

"Bella?" Alice whispered, rubbing my shoulder.

I still couldn't speak. My mind was so dangerously close to connecting with my body. I knew what would happen if it did and I could not let it happen in front of everyone.

Edward came closer, taking Esme's spot beside me, but not touching me like she was. "Emmett, could you go get Bella some water."

"Oh. Sure, sure," Emmett said with a nod.

It was funny how something so simple could be the breaking point. One phrase that reminded me of "him" would push me over. Sure, sure. In that moment, my mind came back home. I crumpled to the floor, curling into myself as the sorrow overwhelmed me. I couldn't stop it now. The memories I shared with Jacob were rapidly playing in my mind and fading away just as fast. I couldn't hear anything through my hysterical sobbing and my vision was blurred by the tears so I couldn't see what was going on either. I wondered if they were just watching my breakdown. This was exactly what I didn't want to happen, but it was too late now. I was alive again, but I wish I were still dead. I felt someone lift me off the floor as I continued to cry, followed by a cold embrace. I was curious to know who it was, though I already had an idea, but I wasn't anywhere near finished. I wasn't sure how much time passed before I finally started to calm down for the time being.

23. Misery (Part 2 of 2)

BELLA SWAN

It was quiet. Not I, the person holding me, or the people in the room made a sound. I slowly wiped the tears from my eyes before opening them to see that the room was empty. I was surprised at how much effort it took for me to open my eyes as they felt very heavy. I didn't think letting it all out like that would tire me out so much, but I was feeling exhausted. I assumed my body wanted to make up for the lack of sleep I got last night.

I turned my head to look up at the person holding me. I must have looked like a mess based on his responsive grimace.

"Bella?" Edward whispered.

"I'm sorry," I murmured, my voice broken.

"Don't apologize. None of this is your fault."

I shook my head. "That's a lie."

"How?"

I frowned and looked him in the eye. "How much do you know?"

"Well…" He paused for a moment. "I know that something happened yesterday to make you so upset. I knew that the moment Charlie called."

I nodded slowly, keeping my eyes on his.

"I also have a strong feeling that Jacob is the cause of it." He looked at my face to check my response.

I immediately cringed and felt more tears try to break free. Edward's arms tightened around me as he rubbed my shoulders. Unlike before, I welcomed his comfort. Even though I still felt like I didn't deserve it, I couldn't help myself around him.

"Please, tell me what happened," he whispered.

I was surprised at just how much Edward could change things for me. The whole day, I felt like it was physically impossible for me to talk about the "incident", but now, more than ever, I felt like letting it out. I already cried a river, what more was there to lose?

"Yesterday…" I took a deep breath, "I told Jacob what happened with us."

"You mean, about the kiss?"

I grimaced and nodded slowly. "Yes."

"I'm guessing he didn't take it so well."

"He thought I still loved you." I sighed. "Which is true."

"What did he do? Did he lose his temper? Did he hurt you at all?"

"No!" I grimaced. "I mean, he didn't turn into a wolf and maul me, if that's what you were thinking."

His face scrunched up in guilt; that probably was what he was thinking. "Then what did he do?"

I whimpered as I remembered it. "He did get angry. He told me to go away and he ran off. I haven't heard from him since then. Charlie tried calling, but no one answered, which is unlike him."

"Well it has only been a day. You should give him more time."

"But not a single day has passed without me hearing from him at least once. He always answers a call from my house phone unless he's on patrol, but today is one of his free days."

"So, do you think you two…" He hesitated to say the next part, cautious of my response. "Broke up?"

I felt my stomach twist and before I knew it, the tears were flowing down my face again. Edward rubbed my shoulder and pulled me closer to him where my head could rest on his chest. I looked up at him to see a mixture of emotions on his face. Guilt, sadness, frustration.

"This is all my fault," he said, "If I didn't make you kiss me…"

I shook my head. "No, Edward, I don't blame you. I was in love with you the whole time, I just didn't want to face the truth. I'm the one who can't love just one person. This is my fault." I took a shaky breath. "And it's not Jacob's fault either. He deserves someone who can love him and only him. I know that if the situation was revered, if Jacob was in love with another girl, it would drive me crazy too."

"Do you think you'll be okay without him?"

I felt my stomach twist again and I cringed as a pain I wasn't familiar with ravaged me on the inside. Edward frowned at my reaction and wrapped both his arms tightly around me. I wondered if that feeling of being dead was my body preventing me from feeling this pain. As Edward held me, I felt the intensity of it cool down a little, but I could still feel it. It wouldn't go away completely, unless I "died" again.

In a weak voice, I finally answered his question. "No."

He grimaced. "I'm really surprised you could feel this strongly for someone so quickly." He sighed deeply. "You know you have me, right? Is there anything I can do to make you happy again?"

"I don't know," I said in a whisper, answering honestly.

It was silent for a full minute, so much so that I thought I could hear my own heart racing. I feared that I hurt him again. There used to be a time when Edward could make anything better for me. I could only imagine how much it hurt for him knowing that, although I still loved him, that wasn't the case anymore.

"Well then, you two need to make up," he finally said.

I looked at him with wide eyes. "What?"

"If he's the one thing that will make you happy, then yes."

I grimaced. "I don't think it's that simple."

"Bella, try putting yourself in Jacob's position. You said that if Jacob loved someone else it would drive you crazy, but would you break up with him because of it?"

I cringed and felt the pain hit me at the thought. "I guess if I was a normal person, yes. But I'm not. I love him too much to let him go. I would at least try and understand what it meant for us."

"And you don't think Jacob would do the same?"

"Maybe…"

"Maybe? Bella, you of all people should know. If he loves you as much as you love him, would he really just get rid of you like that?"

I thought about it for a moment and that's when it hit me. "No. No, he wouldn't."

Edward smiled and nodded. "Exactly. Bella, Jacob is a werewolf. Of course he'd lose his temper after hearing something like that. But I doubt he wouldn't want anything to do with you anymore because of it. On the occasions when I was able to read into his mind, I could tell just how much he loved you. Letting you go was the furthest thing from his mind."

"Edward's right," Alice's voice suddenly came in.

I looked over to see her already sitting down on the other side of the couch. Edward looked at her in slight annoyance before his face lit up for a split second, like he just had an 'a-ha' moment.

"Alice," I greeted, "Where did you go before?"

"Edward told everyone he wanted to talk to you alone when you started crying," she said.

"And I still sort of do," Edward muttered.

"But I've got something to say."

He sighed. "Go ahead."

Alice smiled and turned her attention at me. "I tried looking into your future, Bella, but I couldn't see anything. Everything was pitch-black, just like usual."

I gasped and my mouth hung open for a moment. "Are you sure?"

She nodded. "Positive."

I was silent. As my mind processed this information, I could feel something warm begin to blossom within me. Hope. It felt so foreign as my body was nothing but gloom prior to this moment. I wasn't sure what to do with it; embrace it or let it go in fear that it may end up false. I knew what my future being unreadable to her meant. Alice couldn't see the future of werewolves, and since my future revolved around them, she couldn't see mine either. If she still couldn't see my future, even now, then could my life with Jacob still be happening? It was either that or I was going to be with another werewolf, which I doubted.

Edward let his arms unwrap from around me and shifted me over so that I sat next to him rather than in his lap. He looked me in the eye and gave me a cheerful smile, beautiful and sincere.

"See, Bella. If you love him this much, you can't just let it end so easily. You need to do a little fighting yourself," he said.

"So, you don't think it's over? We still have a chance…" I grimaced and looked at Edward, "Even though I also love someone else?"

He frowned for a moment, knowing who that someone else was, but his frown dissolved into a soft smile surprisingly quickly. "Bella, you may not be able to love just one person, but you can make a choice. And it looks like your choice is obvious."

He was right, definitely right. The more I thought about it, the more ashamed of myself I felt. This time, not ashamed because I upset Jacob, but ashamed because of how much doubt I had. Why was I asking Edward these questions? Why did he need to tell me this anyway? I should've known myself. I knew Jacob more than anyone, but I was too busy being miserable to think clearly. I bet if Jacob saw me earlier today, he'd be pissed; pissed that I was acting like such a drama queen and pissed that I would dismiss our relationship before even talking. And even if Jacob really didn't want to be with me anymore, I still couldn't give up on us so easily. That was one thing Jacob taught me himself through the time we'd been together. Persistence.

I got up from the couch, but my legs felt weak and unsteady. Although I was still feeling tired, I wasn't going to let that stop me. I looked out the window to see that the sun had just set. Today wasn't one of Jacob's patrol days, so there was a chance he was still at home.

"Is it okay if I used your phone?" I asked, looking at both Edward and Alice.

"Of course," Edward said and nodded at Alice.

In a blur, Alice raced to the phone and brought the wireless receiver to me. I quickly dialed Jacob's phone number and waited anxiously for someone to answer, but there was no response. I called six more times, but still no one answered the phone. Admittedly, I was really worried about his refusal to answer. Maybe he really was trying to avoid me. But even so, I still wasn't ready to give up.

"I need to see him," I said and looked at both of them, "Can one of you take me home? I know you can't cross the reservation line, so I'll drive there myself."

"Sure, I'll do it. No problem," Edward said, quickly getting up.

Alice giggled. "You're really eager, Edward."

Edward rolled his eyes and focused back on me, smiling as he took my hand. I smiled back as best I could as I followed him out to the car. I looked back at the house to see not just Alice, but Esme, Emmett, and Jasper standing at the door and waving goodbye at us. I wondered if they'd been listening to Edward and I talk the whole time.

Edward opened the passenger door of his Volvo for me to get in and quickly went over to his side. As quickly as we left the house, he started up the engine and rocketed down the road at his usual dangerous speed. Usually I'd be very alert when moving this fast, but I was still feeling very exhausted, my eyelids as heavy as dumbbells.

"By the way, you look very beautiful today," Edward said with a wide smile, looking at my hair and clothes.

I sighed. "Yeah, that's Alice's fault."

"So then I guess it's your fault for looking beautiful every other day?"

I rolled my eyes. "If you say so. Oh yeah, that soup was delicious." I gave him a soft smile. "Thank you."

He smiled back, turning to look at the road. "You're very welcome. I had a feeling Alice would bring you over, because I think she wanted us to talk. When Charlie called and told us he had tried Jacob first, we were both almost certain of what happened."

I nodded slowly. "Alice knew about…" I grimaced. "You know?"

"I told her, reluctantly of course." He sighed. "I told her about the kiss, about how you felt, and about you worrying how Jacob would react." A smile that almost looked like a grimace formed across his face. "She called me an idiot, and I couldn't agree more."

"Edward, you're not an idiot."

He shook his head, not seeming to agree as his smile disappeared and he turned to look at me. "Bella, I'm sorry. I didn't understand how or why you could love someone like him so strongly and easily, so I thought you weren't being sincere with yourself. But now I know I was wrong. I won't lie and say I understand your love for him, because I still don't, but I do know that you do and that's what's important."

I sighed. "Edward, it's okay. I forgive you, honestly I do." I placed my hand over his that was resting next to the gear shift. "Besides, you were right about one thing. I do love you."

He nodded slowly. "But not enough to come back."

I winced softly as I couldn't bring myself to say either 'yes' or 'no'. "If only polygamy wasn't so looked down upon, then our problems would be solved." I figured a joke would be easier, hoping it would make him smile as well.

"I hope that was a joke," he said, looking at me seriously and not smiling at all.

My face turned red as I looked away awkwardly. "I-it was."

We sat there in silence for a minute as we got closer to home. I was starting to recognize houses and batches of trees that we always passed when we were only a few minutes away.

"Bella," Edward said, breaking the silence, "There is one thing I do worry about with you and him though."

I sighed. "I know, you think he'll lose his temper and hurt me. Edward, I know he'd never do that just like I know you'd never bite me."

"It's not that."

"Oh, it isn't? Then what?"

"Imprinting." He said the word clearly, his expression very serious.

I gasped and looked at him shocked, the very word causing me to gulp deeply. "You know about that?"

"It was on Jacob's mind a lot when I was around him. He seems to worry about it, and for good reason."

I was surprised that Jacob would still be thinking about imprinting. "He shouldn't have anything to worry about."

He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "Why's that? You know what it'll mean if he imprints, right?"

"Yes, but he isn't going to imprint," I said confidently.

"How do you know that?"

"Alice. Remember her saying my future was un-seeable to her? It's because my future revolves around Jacob, and Alice can't see me if it is. She said that if there was a chance that Jake and I might not stay together, she'd at least be able to see that if not my whole future. But she can't see a thing, which could only mean we will stay together."

I expected Edward's face to light up in the same way it did when Alice came in with her good news, but he just looked at me with apology on his face. I felt my heart start beating faster. Why wasn't he looking happy or understanding?

"Bella, I don't think Alice's visions work that way," he explained, "It's true that certain futures are more set in stone than others. It's because of the person's strong desire to want it and Alice can see how everything will fall into place. However, she can't see anything sudden or unexpected. If you were to suddenly change your mind about being with Jacob, Alice wouldn't be able to predict that until after you make the decision. When I left you-" he grimaced as he thought about it, "-It was a sudden decision on my part, one that Alice didn't expect. But when I came back and wanted you again, Alice didn't see our future fall back into place because you were with Jacob."

I nodded slowly and I could feel sweat forming around my forehead, my heart racing even faster as he explained.

He sighed. "I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm pretty sure imprinting would fall under the category of 'sudden and unexpected'. Alice wouldn't be able to see it coming."

I froze. My heart wouldn't let up its speed run, causing my breathing to become deep and heavy. I could feel that familiar fear building up in me again. I couldn't believe this. All this time, Jake and I had been living under false security that he'd never imprint and we'd always be together. I wanted to believe that Edward was lying for whatever reason, but I had to admit what he said made sense and Alice never was told what imprinting was. So if I did go back to Jacob, would we just be living with that fear once again? I wondered, should I really be fighting to win Jacob back if I might end up losing him anyway? But I realized, that was the keyword. Might.

Edward put his free hand around me and rubbed my shoulder comfortingly. "I'm sorry."

I looked at him and shook my head. "No, it's okay. I don't care about imprinting."

His eyes widened. "You don't?"

"Well, I won't say it doesn't scare me, but I'm not going to let it control me. Jacob is just too important. I won't let something that may or may not happen scare me away from him." I paused for a moment as I remembered the night at the bonfire. "In fact, the very first werewolf lived three lifetimes without imprinting. There's no guarantee."

Edward looked back onto the road as he began pulling into my driveway, but he looked like he was thinking about what I said. He parked the car and sat there in silence for a moment before giving me that crooked smile of his.

I smiled back widely. "Alice is already blind to my future. Why would I mess that up?"

He chuckled. "I'll let Alice know you feel that way."

"Tell her I'm sorry."

"Will do." He unlocked the doors. I expected him to rush out and open my door for me before I got the chance, but he just sat there. His smile gradually got smaller until it looked like something was upsetting him.

"What's wrong?" I asked concerned.

"I just wanted to let you know, no matter what future you'll have, I'll always be here for you whenever you need me," he said, looking straight ahead instead of at me.

He didn't need to tell me that, I already knew. I unbuckled my seatbelt and leaned over to kiss him softly on the side of his lips.

"Thank you," I whispered.

He smiled again and suddenly disappeared. I flinched back in shock before I heard my door open up and turned to see Edward there, reaching out to me. I took his hand and got out pretty sluggishly, stumbling as I did. Edward held me steady on my feet and looked at me concerned.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

I nodded slowly. "Yeah, just tired I guess."

"Are you sure you should be driving if you're this tired?"

"Don't worry, I'll be fine," I said with a yawn, cursing under my breath that that had to slip out.

He sighed and kept me held up as he led me to the front door. He made sure I could stand on my own before giving me a hug.

"I'll see you tomorrow," he said.

"Tomorrow?" I asked a little confused.

"Graduation, remember?"

I gasped. "Oh, that's right."

He chuckled and shook his head at me for being so forgetful. "Alice will probably be over in the morning to help you get ready."

"Oh joy…"

He laughed and gave me one more squeeze before pulling away to walk back to his car. We both waved goodbye and I kept my eyes on him as he pull out onto the road and went on his way. Unlike last time, he didn't look like he was in pain, thankfully.

I went inside and saw Charlie in the same spot he was when Alice and I had left earlier, only this time he had pizza in front of him. His head snapped in my direction as I walked in, still feeling exhausted. I was trying for my room, but ended up dropping onto the couch next to Charlie, needing to rest for a moment.

"You're home," Charlie stated.

I yawned and nodded slowly. "Yep."

"And you're talking to me."

I grimaced, feeling guilty. "Yeah, sorry. I'm feeling better now. I promise."

"Do I want to know what was wrong?"

"Just know that I'm going to make it better."

"Well, alright." He took a bite out of his pizza. "By the way, Jacob called today."

I gasped and turned to look directly at him. "What?"

"Um, yeah…" He seemed surprised at my reaction. "It was a few hours ago. He asked for you of course, but I told him you were with the Cullens. He didn't say anything after that, just sort of hung up. Kind of weird."

I cringed as I imagined what Jacob might think of that. "I need to see him."

"Right now?"

I nodded. "Yes, right now." I started to get up, but didn't get very far as I dropped back onto the couch and my eyes went along with me.

"Honey, you don't look like you're ready to go anywhere."

"No. I am ready," I said with a yawn, trying to keep my eyes open.

"Ready for bed, maybe," he mumbled with his mouth full after taking another bite of his pizza.

"No…not yet."

He sighed. "How about I drive you there in about fifteen minutes, after this is over?" He was watching some comedic news show that just came back from a commercial break.

I yawned and nodded in agreement. Admittedly, I wasn't in any condition to drive myself. I'd never fallen asleep at the wheel before, but there was a good chance tonight may have been the first time if I went by myself.

I fought to keep my eyes open as I waited on Charlie and his show to be over. I was really anxious to see Jacob and tell him how important he was, how much he meant to me, how much I wanted him, and how much I was willing to fight. The first thing I needed to fight though was my exhaustion. Luckily, those fifteen minutes seemed to go by pretty quickly, in fact, everything did. Before I knew it, I was already in Charlie's car on our way over to Jacob's house. With newly found energy, I ran over to his door and knocked frantically. The door opened and there he was, his beautiful black eyes looking at me in surprise, his hair hanging loosely just past his chin, and his russet skin that gleamed faintly from the lamp light inside the house. I told him everything and watched his face gradually light up until he smiled my favorite smile of his. I was then being spun around in his tight embrace, both of us laughing until we were silenced with a kiss. However, that was about the moment I realized it was a dream.

Author's Note: Okay, I seriously need to apologize for the HUGE 2 month delay. First of all, this chapter was kind of a pain to write because of how overly depressed Bella was being and that's hard for me to write. Second, I was dealing with finals for my last semester at college. April was pretty much preparing for finals and May was settling back at home and finishing this thing. But the good news is, I'm back home for the summer and I'll have a lot more time to write. :D So expect a new chapter around the beginning of June and another before the month ends.

ASDFGHJKL; that was really good! Can't wait for the next chapter! Let's just hope the delay won't be 2 months. Again.

omg! im so glad ur back! i cant wait for the next chapter... that last paragraph KILLED ME: "i realized it was a dream"  omg! she has to get back together with jacob!!!!

Wow. I love your story! I can't believe that you've been writing this for more or less two years now! That is so amazing! How many chapters are there by the way? I hope you can update very soon. You are talented. xoxo

24. Revelation

BELLA SWAN

I woke up to a similar sight as yesterday; my dark and gloomy room, very little sunlight shining through the curtains, and absolutely no noise. The only difference was that this time I didn't feel dead. I was alive, with the determination to see Jacob again giving me that strength. It could've already happened by now, but I couldn't win the fight against my exhaustion from last night. I sat up in my bed slowly, feeling heaviness in my chest as I remembered the dream I had that I desperately wished were true. I must've fallen asleep on the couch and instead of waking me up, Charlie must have just taken me to my room. I'd have a few choice words for him about that decision later.

I looked at my clock and saw I had about an hour and a half before the big ceremony at school. Today was graduation, the big day, and yet it wasn't a big deal to me. It just felt like an annoying wall in my way of getting back to Jacob. I was far too concerned about trying to fix things with him to really care about this huge step into the real world. I wondered if I should just skip graduation and drive straight to La Push, but I knew no one would allow me to escape, especially Alice.

I jumped when I heard a sudden knock at my door and knew it was Alice when the door swung open before I could say 'come in'.

"What are you doing still in bed?" Alice demanded, "Come on, get up, you'll be late."

I yawned, still not having much motivation. "I'll just put my gown over this and we can go." My clothes from yesterday were still on thankfully. I cringed at the thought of Charlie changing me into my usual nightwear.

She looked at me like I was crazy. "Uh, no, no way! We want you to actually look nice, Bella. It's graduation."

"I know, I know."

"Then get up and go wash. I'll get your clothes ready."

I sighed. "Again?"

"Yes, again."

I sighed and did as she asked, figuring the sooner we got this over with the better. Alice was already in my closet and looking through my clean clothes all hung up as I walked out to get myself washed up. I didn't move as slowly as yesterday and Alice wasn't tapping her foot impatiently once I came back to the room. She smiled and gestured toward her selection on the bed, this time with a beautiful blue velvet blouse and khaki skirt. Surprisingly, it wasn't as flashy as what she made me wear yesterday, but still not something I'd usually pick on my own.

"What do you think?" Alice asked cheerfully.

I gave her a soft smile. "It's a nice choice."

"Oh my god, Bella Swan approves?" She let out an exaggerated gasp.

I rolled my eyes. "Well, it's not exactly my style, but close enough. I know that I'd have chosen my red blouse…" I sighed and muttered. "If only that thieving vampire hadn't taken it."

Alice grimaced, the reminder seeming to bother her more than I thought. "I'm sorry about that, Bella."

"Alice, it's not your fault."

She sat down at the foot of my bed and sighed. "If I was able to see the vampire coming, we could've prevented it in the first place."

"Didn't you say you couldn't look out for a total stranger in your visions? Plus, I'm invisible to you so you couldn't have seen it coming through me either. Both sides were blocked."

"I don't think that's quite it, Bella."

"What do you mean?" I sat down at the edge of my bed, looking at her directly.

"It's not just the intruder I've had problems with, but the newborn vampires in Seattle too. And unlike the intruder, I knew about the newborns, but I'm still having problems seeing the whole picture."

I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion. "Problems? How?"

"I can see that they're in Seattle, but I can't see why? Why would someone be building an army of newborns there? I know there's a reason, I can feel it, but I just can't see it. I know a bunch of newborns couldn't have just decided to gather up in Seattle. There's a reason, I know it."

My eyes widened at the word 'army'. "You think someone's building an army of vampires?"

She nodded. "Most likely. Do you remember the story Jasper told you about his experience in that kind of army?"

"Yeah." It was hard to forget a story like that. To think that two armies of vampires could clash and make such a commotion that the Volturi would have to stop them, it made sense that Edward wondered why they haven't stepped in yet. "You think it's the same thing?"

"The army, yes. The reason, no clue. It couldn't be to fight off any rivals because they don't have any. They've already got the city and there aren't any other vampires in the area."

I gulped hard when I thought of the possibility. "Except for you guys."

She stopped to think for a moment. "You think they're preparing to fight us? I don't even think they know we exist yet, Bella."

"You are the only other vampires to be an option."

"Yeah, that's true." She sighed. "But still, how would they know us?"

I thought for a moment. "Maybe someone told them about you guys; someone you've met who doesn't like-" At that very moment, it all clicked. As I put together one missing piece of the puzzle, it all made sense.

"Doesn't like what?" she asked, looking at me confused.

I was frozen. Everything was starting to make sense now, but this very possible reality was terrifying. My body suddenly felt cold and I could feel my breathing accelerate into hyperventilation.

"Hey, Bella!" Alice called out to me, grabbing my shoulder and rubbing my back frantically to get me to calm down. "Take it easy, take deep breaths."

I tried doing as she asked, slowing down my breathing until I was able to speak in a shaky voice. "Alice!"

"What is it, Bella?"

"They're connected. It's all connected!" I almost shrieked.

"What's all connected? Calm down and speak slowly."

I took a few deep, but unsteady breaths before I explained. "Who could have told these newborns about you guys? It's someone who knows you and doesn't like you. Who else could that be other than…Victoria?"

Alice's eyes widened when she heard the name. "Oh."

"And they're not after you guys, they're after me. You said you couldn't see the intruder in my bedroom because the vampire came for me, and you couldn't have seen that coming because any future involving me is blind to you since I started seeing Jacob. You also said that you couldn't see the reason behind the army in Seattle. Well, if their reason is blind to you as well, what else could it be than to come after me?" The fear was starting to really show in my voice as I started talking faster with no control over it. "And what other reason would they have to come after me than because Victoria commanded them to?"

Alice froze in shock just like I did, only much closer to a statue than I could ever manage. She was like that for a minute before responding.

"That does make sense," she said, her tone non-changing and almost robotic, "I haven't seen any activity from her lately. It could be because she's been hiding behind this army and letting them prepare. And if she had told them about you, I definitely wouldn't have seen that."

I nodded slowly with a grimace. "The intruder must be part of the army too, that's the only thing that makes sense. He or she may have come to find me as some kind of test and was able to slip by because they knew you guys wouldn't see a complete stranger."

"They also got your blouse. It's possible they used that to get your scent so it'd be easier to find you."

I cringed and started to tremble. "Y-yeah, that too…"

"Although newborns are typically vicious, they are pretty easy to manipulate since they're so new to the vampire life and would seek guidance." She nodded to herself. "I can sort of see Victoria pulling this off if she was this desperate to get past us and those werewolves too."

As the fear overwhelmed me, tears began to stream down my face beyond my control.

"Alice…" I whimpered.

She frowned and pulled me into a hug, rubbing my back in comfort.

"Bella, you're going to be fine," she assured, "We're not going to let anything happen to you. Victoria can bring as many newborns as she wants, we'll fight back."

"Noo…" I pleaded weakly. It wasn't just my life I was worried for, but theirs as well. Now I knew for a fact that one way or another, the people I loved would have to deal with an army of deadly vampires. There was no way of avoiding it now. I remembered when I first heard about these newborns and Alice said it wasn't their problem. Now it is, or at least Alice was determined to make it that way.

There was a sudden knock at the door which made me jump, almost knocking the clothes Alice prepared for me off the bed.

"Hey, are you girls ready yet?" Charlie asked loudly from the other side of the door, his tone edgy.

I cleared my throat, trying not to let weepiness sound in my voice. "Not yet. I'm almost ready." Obviously a lie considering I was still in my towel.

He was silent for a moment. "Are you okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine."

"You sound like you're crying."

"I'm fine!" I shouted hoarsely.

It was silent again before Alice broke the awkward tension. "She's just a little nervous and emotional about graduating."

"Huh…alright. Just hurry up, okay? We're gonna be late," he announced before stomping back downstairs.

Alice turned directly toward me and grabbed my shoulders, looking me straight in the eye.

"Bella, right now let's just focus on graduation," she commanded, "We'll worry about the other stuff later, okay?"

I shook my head frantically. "How can I focus on graduating when I know that Victoria's gathered an entire army to come and kill me?"

"Just focus on the here and now. We don't know when this will happen; we'll worry about it later."

I took a deep unsteady breath and nodded slowly. Alice got up and went outside my door to let me get dressed in privacy, although I could tell she'd come back in and dress me herself if I took too long. My mind was a million miles away as I got dressed. I could've worn my skirt for a hat and wouldn't have noticed. How was I going to tell Edward about this? He would need to know eventually, but I had a feeling he'd go berserk if he did. Just the thought of Jacob hurting me in the slightest put him on edge; this was far worse. And Jacob, what would he do if he found out? I wondered if I should even try fixing things with him if my life was in this much danger. It'd be easier for him knowing that I died as his ex-girlfriend that got what was coming to her after breaking his heart.

Once I got my clothes on with everything miraculously being in the right place, I quickly grabbed my yellow polyester graduation gown and cap from my rocking chair in the corner. Alice was waiting for me right outside when I came out.

"You look great," she said with a soft smile as we went downstairs.

I sighed. "If you say so."

Charlie was waiting for us downstairs by the open front door, all dressed up in a black suit and yellow tie that I knew he hated. Charlie hated special events just about as much as I did and I knew dressing up was one of the reasons why.

"You look very nice," he said as we walked up to him.

Alice smirked at me. "Told ya."

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Thanks."

"We'd better get going if we don't wanna be late for the ceremony," Charlie said and glanced outside for a second, "And your brother's looking a bit impatient out there, Alice."

"Brother?" I asked a bit surprised and turned to Alice, "I didn't know you came here with someone."

Alice made a slight grimace at the corner of her mouth. "Yeah, Edward drove us over here."

"Edward?" I gasped.

I stepped toward the frame of the front door and looked outside to see Edward sitting in the driver's seat of his silver Volvo, right behind Charlie's Cruiser parked in the driveway. The look on Edward's face was…frightening. He was staring straight ahead with huge eyes, yet still piercing like daggers. His entire body was completely still and his face sharp and edged like a rock while his hand gripped the steering wheel so hard it had crushed into his palm. He looked like he was ready to kill someone and had his victim looked on sight, but he wasn't looking at anything. I watched him in panic as I wondered what could have made him this way.

"You're right Charlie, we should hurry," Alice agreed, her face suddenly hardening too as she looked at Edward, quickly brushing past me to walk to his car.

"Alice, wait!" I called to her, reaching my arm out to stop her.

Her head snapped back to look at me, wondering what I had to say, but I could tell she wanted it to be quick.

"Does he know?" I whispered, knowing she could hear me.

The hard expression on her face didn't change as she just nodded before turning back to walk toward Edward's car again.

I cringed. Of course, of course he knew. If he was outside in his car the whole time, he could have easily overheard our conversation upstairs or even read it from Alice's mind. I knew that Edward would've had to know eventually, but I had no idea it'd be this soon. I was worried about his reaction, and judging from how he looked right now, I wasn't exaggerating too much when I thought he might go berserk.

Alice got in quickly and put her hand on Edward's shoulder. Edward looked at Alice with clenched teeth, looking more enraged than he did before while Alice stared him down in warning. I completely tensed up watching them, worried that Edward might hurt Alice or worse. Edward was actually reminding me of Jacob, both of them having the potential to lose it if they got too mad. I wondered if it'd be a good idea to go to Edward and try to soothe him like I always used to for Jacob; wrap my arms around him, hold him as tight as I could, pleading for him to be calm. I almost did just that before I saw Edward begin to calm down on his own as Alice said something to him, though her lips moved way too fast for me to read. However, I was able to make out one thing as she said it just slow enough – 'Don't do anything stupid.'

"Are they gonna be okay?" Charlie asked, sounding genuinely worried.

"I hope so," I muttered.

"Well, like she said, we better hurry. Come on."

I nodded and followed him to his car. By the time I got in, Edward and Alice had already pulled out of the driveway and drove off toward the school. We weren't too far behind as we quickly got onto the street and followed them. I seriously could not get my mind off of the newborn army. What if they showed up for me at the graduation itself? Would they know not to let humans see them if they were inexperienced? Would Alice be able to see them coming with their intensions being blocked off to her?

"You know, I'm a bit surprised Jacob isn't coming with us," Charlie mentioned.

My eyes widened at his name, the only thing that could capture my attention.

"I expected him to be the one knocking at our door and helping you get dressed instead of Alice." He paused for a moment. "Not that I would let him anywhere near your room while you're dressing that is. Not on my watch."

"Oh, well he told me he was really busy today and wouldn't be able to make it," I lied.

He raised an eyebrow. "Too busy for your graduation?"

"I told him it was okay and I'd tell him all about it. He doesn't have to be there. I'd rather he didn't see me trip over my gown when I get on stage anyway."

"Hmm…" He looked at me suspiciously for a moment before turning back to look at the road. "If you say so."

I sighed, relieved that he bought it, but I could tell he had a feeling something was up. Jacob and I used to be together all the time, every chance we got. I could understand if Charlie found it strange that there'd be an exception on such a big occasion.

"That's why I wanted to see him so badly last night, so we could do something together before the next day," I explained, then turned to glare at him, "But instead, you just let me fall asleep."

His face scrunched up in guilt. "You needed to sleep, honey. You looked completely out of it."

"I could've managed if you had just woke me up."

"Somehow I doubt that."

I frowned at him. "I'm serious."

"We're here," he announced immediately, quick to change the subject.

I sighed and let it go as we both got out of the car. I could see Edward and Alice two cars to the right of where we parked. Edward looked at me with worry clear on his face before he suddenly gave me a smile that honestly looked forced. I smiled back awkwardly, knowing we both didn't have much to smile about.

"You excited, Bella?" Charlie asked.

"Not really," I admitted.

"Come on, Bella, this is a big deal. You're graduating high school, going off into the real world. There's college, living on your own…you're not my little girl anymore." He choked up a little at the end.

I sighed. "Dad, please don't start crying."

"Crying? I am far from that," he grumbled. "By the way, you've kept me pretty far out of the loop regarding college. I trust you know what you're doing."

"Don't worry, I've got it planned out."

I'd decided that while Jacob was still in high school, I'd take classes at a university much closer to home, and Seattle University worked just fine. Of course, I'd made this decision before I knew how serious the vampire problem in Seattle was, back when I assumed it would just blow over. At least now I knew things over there could end as long as they got what they wanted. If that happened, I wouldn't even have to worry about college or anything anymore.

Edward and Alice started walking toward the back door of the gym and I gave Charlie a quick hug before following them while he went to the main entrance with the rest of the parents.

There was a bunch of chatter and moving around as Ms. Cope and Mr. Varner tried getting everyone lined up in alphabetic order. Mike came from behind me and patted me on my shoulder with a smile. I gave a weak smile back and it looked like he was about to say something until he was interrupted.

"Bella, over here!" the familiar voice of Jessica called to me at the back of the line with a big grin on her face.

"Mr. Newton, get in line," Mr. Varner ordered.

Mike groaned. "I'll talk to you later then."

He went to go stand with the other N's and I could already see Edward and Alice standing up front with their gowns on.

"Bella!" Jessica called again.

I walked down the line to stand behind Jessica. I was a little curious why she was suddenly so friendly to me again since she kind of left our little friend circle a while ago. I could see Angela five people back watching us with the same curiosity.

Jessica started babbling something about the first time we met which was honestly going in one ear and out the other for me. It wasn't until the last few lines when I started picking up stuff.

"…Y'know? I mean, it's like we just met and now it's gonna be over. We're graduating together, can you believe it?" she gushed.

"Um, no, I can't," I mumbled.

"This is all just so amazing. We were friends just like that the first time we met, and now we're going off to college. I'll be in California and I'm gonna miss you so much! Promise me you'll keep in touch! I'm sooo glad you're having a party tonight. It's perfect, because we really haven't spent much time together lately and now we're all leaving."

She kept going on and on as I tried to at least appear like I was paying attention with smiles and nods of the head. I was pretty sure the sudden return of our friendship was due to graduation nostalgia and gratitude for the party invite, even though that was all Alice. Still, it was nice to know things could end on a good note with her. I wasn't sure if she'd be one of my high school friends that I'd keep in touch with years from now; maybe during special occasions or something, but not really on Angela, Mike, or Ben's level.

I shrugged on my gown as Eric, the valedictorian, made his mostly generic speech about commencement meaning a new beginning and whatnot. I could hear everyone in the audience force a laugh at his lame jokes thrown in so the speech wasn't completely boring, but it didn't make a difference to me. Everything went so quickly it was like I'd pressed fast forward. Eric sped through his speech around the end and Principal Greene was already calling names one after the other with hardly any pause in between.

Ms. Cope scrambled to give the principal the right diplomas to hand out as the students began their march. Alice danced gracefully across the stage to receive hers and Edward followed after. Any anger or worry that was on his face before had been completely erased as he took his diploma with a brilliant smile which he also displayed for the crowd.

I heard Mr. Greene call my name and I rose from my chair, walking out on stage to grab my diploma. Usually, all applause were saved for when every student received their diploma, but of course there were always a few families that broke that rule to cheer for their child. I could hear cheering come from the back of the gym and I hadn't really expected Charlie to be one of those parents to break the rule. I looked out in the direction of the hooting and I completely froze in astonishment at what I saw. Charlie wasn't the only one cheering, but to his right stood Embry, Quil, and I could see the top of Billy's head right next to the elbow of…Jacob. My eyes felt like they'd pop as I stared at him with my mouth hung open, probably making myself look like an idiot. I couldn't believe my eyes. After what happened, I didn't think he'd want to see me unless I was the one to go to him and beg for forgiveness. But there he was, shining a big, beautiful grin at me with eyes filled with joy and pride directed toward me. He was proud of me. Despite everything, he was happy to see me graduate.

I noticed Embry and Quil snicker a bit as both Jake and Charlie grimaced awkwardly for some reason. Jacob made a spinning motion with his finger and mouthed something at me that I could somehow make out from all the way on stage.

"Bella. Around. Turn around," Jacob mouthed.

"Um, Miss Swan?" Mr. Greene called from behind me.

I gasped and turned around to face him, my face turning completely red. Mr. Greene was then able to hand me my diploma now that he had my attention.

"Congratulations, Miss Swan," he mumbled with a sheepish smile.

"Thanks," I muttered back.

I went to stand next to Jessica with all the other graduates. I saw she was all red around the eyes and heard her sniffling as I stood next to her. Mr. Greene said something I didn't hear and everyone around me shouted and screamed, letting their yellow caps rain down on the floor.

I was, however, not connected to any of this. My attention was aimed only on Jacob. I stared directly at him in the crowd in awe, still astounded that he came. Jake sat back casually in his seat, one arm hanging over the back of his chair. He wore a white button down shirt and black dress pants. His black hair hung freely down to chin length with a few locks sticking out in different directions. His deep black eyes seemed hypnotizing even from how far away he sat, but it may have been partly because he was staring back at me just as I was him. It was like there was a chain that connected us together while everything else around us disappeared. The only thing that mattered in that moment was what that chain connected me to.

The chain wasn't too strong though, as I noticed Billy pat Jacob on the shoulder to get his attention. It took Jake a minute to actually break from the chain and notice him. Billy whispered something in Jake's ear and he grimaced in response. He sighed and glanced at me one last time, his expression troubled, before slowly standing up and grabbing the back of Billy's wheelchair. I saw Embry and Quil get up as well as the three of them started walking toward the exit through an open space where Billy could be easily wheeled out.

"No!" I gasped as my hand reflexively stuck out at them.

"Oh, Bella!" Jessica blubbered suddenly and threw her arms around my neck, bringing me back to reality. "I can't believe we're done."

"Huh?" I said a little dazed as I looked around me, seeing students throwing their hands in the air, cheering, and giving each other hugs. "Oh, r-right. I can't believe it's over…"

Jessica wiped a few tears from her eyes and sniffled. "Promise me we'll keep in touch."

I grimaced, not completely sure if I could keep that promise. "Right. It's been a good two years, Jess."

"It has," she sighed and dropped her arms before squealing, "Lauren!"

She waved her hand and started pushing through the crowd to get to Lauren as families began coming forward, pressing us tighter together. I craned my neck up over the mass of people, frantically searching to see if Jacob was still here. I could see Angela and Ben with their families, Mike talking to Tyler and Eric, Charlie searching the crowd to most likely find me, but no Jacob. Did they already leave? Why were they in such a hurry? My opportunity to talk to him left as suddenly as it came. I should've just ran into the crowd and begged to speak to him before he left; who cares if I'd have made a scene.

"Are you okay?" Edward whispered, coming from behind me and wrapping his arm around my shoulder.

I glanced at him and shook my head. "No…"

His face hardened. "I know. We're in a terrible situation, but I promise you I won't let anything happen to you. If that means giving my own life, I'd be more than willing."

My eyes widened at his words. "What?" It took me a moment to realize he was talking about the newborns. "Oh, Edward, no. That won't happen."

"Jeez, Edward. It's graduation, think about something else," Alice demanded, walking up to my other side.

"That's easier said than done," Edward mumbled.

"Bella!" I heard Charlie yell as he pushed his way past the families crowded around us.

I smiled weakly and waved at him, hoping that maybe Jacob might possibly be with him, but I was only kidding myself. As tall as Jake was, he'd be the first person I notice, not Charlie.

"Congratulations, baby!" He grinned and wrapped his arms around me as Edward shifted to the side.

"Thanks," I muttered, hugging him back.

"Oh, congratulations to you two as well," he said to Edward and Alice, although he was mainly focusing on Alice.

"Thank you," they both said at the same time.

Charlie pulled back to smile at me, but kept his hands on my shoulders. "Were you surprised to see Jacob and Billy and…the other two?"

"Oh…" I frowned. "Yeah, I was…"

"Yeah, I could tell." He grimaced awkwardly.

"Where did they go? Did they already leave?"

"You told me Jacob was busy today, so they said they needed to leave early because they promised to help Sue Clearwater move a few things around in her house and they wanted to get an early start. It's good that they're helping her out, and it was really nice of them to make time to come see you graduate."

"Yeah, I didn't think they'd come at all," I sighed. But since they did come, I really wished they stayed for just a little longer.

"So, where do you want to go for dinner? You can have anything you want."

"Does anything I want include just cooking something at home?"

"No, it does not."

I rolled my eyes. "Of course."

"How about the Lodge." He smiled eagerly.

I wasn't a big fan of the Lodge, but I didn't think I'd be eating much anyway. "Sure, sounds great."

Charlie grinned wide and looked over at Edward and Alice. "Do you guys want to come?" His eager expression suddenly became awkward when his eyes landed on Edward specifically, looking like he regretted asking. Charlie was completely fine with Alice, but still hadn't forgiven Edward for the whole break up.

"Oh, that's okay," Alice said, "I've got to prepare for the graduation party tonight."

"Ah, I see. That's fine." Charlie nodded, not seeming disappointed at all; relieved, actually.

"And Edward will also be helping." She turned and looked up at Edward. "Right?"

"Uhhh…" Edward murmured, avoiding eye contact with her.

She raised an eyebrow at him and nudged his arm. "Right?"

He sighed. "Yeah, yeah."

"Good." Alice smiled and grabbed his arm as she pulled him away. "Let's go."

I watched them walk away into the mini-sea of students and their families.

"I'll drop you off at the party right after dinner," Charlie said.

"Um, yeah…no rush," I muttered with little enthusiasm.

He chuckled. "As thrilled for a party as ever?"

I rolled my eyes. "Let's just go eat."

Author's Note: Sorry this one took longer than I thought. Despite having summer off, I've still been busy with job hunting and dealing with the family. Buuuut, the next chapter I expect to be fairly easy to write and fairly short. So...I'm pushing for it to be out by July 1st. Look forward to it.

25. Party

BELLA SWAN

The Lodge was crowded and dinner dragged. I picked at my burger as Charlie was busy socializing with Tyler Crowley's parents at the back of his seat, slowly eating his own prime rib. There were a lot of parents here from the graduation as it was the only place close to a formal restaurant in town, although I found it overpriced and tacky myself. I just sat there, staring at the hands of the restaurant's old clock that I mentally begged to move faster, hoping that maybe the late hours would give Charlie a hint that we should leave.

Although I was dying to leave, I still wasn't exactly looking forward to this party. I knew that Alice would probably force me to socialize with people, but I would much rather just talk to her, Edward, and the rest of the family, because I knew we definitely had something to discuss. By now, I was sure they all knew about what I figured out this morning. I was dying to know what they had planned. Would there really be a fight, when would it be, and how could I help? All of this was happening because of me. I couldn't just sit by and let others fight my battles, even though everyone was telling me to. It wouldn't feel right. I had to help somehow.

Charlie finally got his check and put a tip on the table. I sighed in relief and quickly stood up, pushing my chair in after me.

"Well, someone's ready to go," Charlie noted and got up himself.

"I just want to help Alice set up," I insisted.

"I thought you didn't really want to go."

"It's just setting things up, not the actual party. When people start showing up, then I can probably hide in the back or something." I said it, but I knew it wasn't likely to happen.

He shook his head. "Just try and enjoy yourself."

I shrugged and walked toward the exit as Charlie turned back around to say goodbye to everyone. I leaned against the passenger door of his cruiser outside, waiting impatiently for what seemed like ten minutes until he finally came out and unlocked the doors. I got in quickly and Charlie could see I was more than ready to leave so he wasted no time to pull out onto the road.

"So, how're ya feeling?" he asked as we drove along the highway. "It's been a big day for you."

I shrugged. "Alright, I guess."

"Just alright?"

"Yeah. No complaints, I'm just waiting for this night to be over."

"I know you're not looking forward to the party, but you're not excited at all about graduating?"

"Maybe it hasn't hit me just yet."

He nodded. "It's a really big step in your life. In fact, I wish I could've given you something more than just dinner. Sorry."

"Don't be silly, Dad."

"No, really. I feel like I don't always do everything for you that I should."

"Dad, you do a fantastic job, I mean it." I sighed, trying to find the right words as it wasn't easy expressing feelings with Charlie. "I'm actually really glad I came to live with you. It was the best decision I ever made and I don't plan on leaving you anytime soon."

A smile briefly stretched across his face as he glanced at me for a second, before focusing back on the road.

"Well, you did graduate. You gotta leave sometime," he chuckled.

I smirked. "Already trying to get rid of me, huh?"

He laughed. "I don't think I'd ever want you completely gone." He smiled for a moment, but frowned as we got closer to our destination. "Now if this party gets too wild…"

"Dad, don't worry about it," I assured, cutting him off, "Carlisle and Esme will be there, and you could come too if you're that worried."

He grimaced. "That's alright. I'm sure they'll keep things under control."

Charlie squinted through the windshield, looking into the night. He looked like he was having trouble finding the turnoff in this darkness and I wondered if everyone else would too. I smiled at the thought that maybe everyone would get lost and turn back, but unfortunately the blackness was cut off just up ahead. There were trees wrapped in white Christmas lights that flickered on and off on both sides of the Cullens' drive. I grimaced as we saw more trees lit up every twenty feet of the way there, for three miles.

"Wow!" Charlie exclaimed, "This is pretty impressive."

I sighed. "That's Alice for you."

"Welp, have fun kid." He smiled at me as he stopped outside the house.

"Are you sure you don't want to come in?"

"Very sure."

I looked at the big white house and sighed as I got out. I watched Charlie drive away before walking up to the door.

Before I could lift my hand even an inch to knock, the door swung open with Alice on the other side with a huge grin.

"Come on in," she said cheerfully and took my hand, pulling me inside.

My mouth dropped when I saw what Alice had done with the place. She pretty much turned the whole house into a nightclub. Pulsing lights of red, blue, green, and purple shined throughout the foyer where there was a big open space that acted as the dance floor. Huge speakers and an expensive looking sound system were set up by the stairs with a towering stack of CDs by the upper left speaker. Furniture was rearranged in the living room to allow people to sit in circles with a small coffee table in the middle of each. I wouldn't have been surprised if there was a bar in the kitchen, but I wasn't going to check.

Alice giggled when she noticed my shocked expression. "What do you think?"

"It's completely ridiculous," I exclaimed.

She laughed. "I'll take that as a compliment."

"Not exactly."

I sighed and shook my head, taking my eyes off the over the top decorations to look at what Alice was wearing. She was wearing a sequined black tank top and red leather pants. I looked at my own outfit with a slight grimace.

"Am I underdressed?" I asked, finding the question kind of ironic considering she picked my clothes out for me.

"Mm, it'll do."

"I think you look perfect," Edward's voice came from behind me.

I turned around and smiled at him as he returned with his own beautiful crooked smile. He was wearing a simple light blue button down shirt and black dress pants. He looked pretty calm, which was a huge change from earlier today. I wasn't sure if it was because they had some kind of plan for the whole newborn problem or if he was just putting on a smile for me. I wondered if now was the best time to ask.

"Oh, Edward, I wanted your opinion on the music," Alice said and went over to the huge stack of CDs. "Should we give them familiar and comforting? Or…" She pointed to a different stack, "Should we educate their taste in music?"

"As much as I'd prefer to 'educate them', I doubt they'd stay very long if we did," Edward answered.

My eyes widened and I nodded my head enthusiastically. "That's a great idea. Educate them."

Alice frowned at me as I really didn't hide the fact that I'd prefer this party to be as short as possible. I groaned as she put the classical CDs in a box to the side.

I looked around and saw that everything seemed to be already set up; I probably wouldn't have been able to keep up with Alice anyway. I noticed Jasper pacing back and forth along the banister upstairs that connected with the stairway. He looked completely on edge, like he was bracing himself for some kind of crisis. I glanced at Edward and cringed when I saw that he was suddenly tense again, just like this morning. I knew that this had nothing with the party.

"Does he know?" I asked, unable to ignore this any longer.

Edward nodded slowly. "Yes. We all do."

Alice glared at us, obviously not wanting me to think about this now, but I couldn't help it.

"What are we going to do? Is there a plan or something?" I tried to keep my breathing even and calm.

He put his arm around me to rub my shoulder. "Jasper's still thinking, but he and Carlisle don't like how the numbers stand."

I gulped hard. "How…do the number's stand? Do you know how many there are?"

"Alice says more than twenty."

I grimaced, but nodded. Twenty wasn't exactly the number I thought of for an 'army', but it still didn't change the fact that they were outnumbered.

"Alice is also worried that she won't be able to see when they'll be coming, because…" His face squirmed uncomfortably like he was in pain. He turned his head slightly away from me before he continued in a lower voice, "Because they'll be coming for you, and she can't see any future events related to you."

"Oh my god…"

He was silent for a moment, still rubbing my shoulder to keep me calm before he spoke again.

"That's why we've made up our minds to go and attack them ourselves two days from now," he announced.

I gasped. "Two days?"

"Yes. Although we're outnumbered, they're still young and inexperienced unlike us, but-" He stopped himself right there and cringed, looking like he wished he had stopped sooner.

I shifted myself around to his front, looking into his eyes. "But what?"

Before he could say anything, although it didn't look like we would anyway, the chime of the doorbell rang across the room.

"First guests!" Alice cheered as she turned the music up and danced to the door.

Edward sighed in relief and gave me an apologetic look before putting on his best smile for the guests. I cursed the horrible timing under my breath and scowled at him, but his back was already turned so he couldn't see.

All of my friends seemed to arrive all at the same time, probably too nervous to come to the reclusive Cullen house by themselves. Jessica came in first with Mike right behind her. Next came Tyler, Conner, Austin, Lee, Samantha, and even Lauren trailed in last, her eyes critical as she looked around the room. All of them looked around either overwhelmed or thoroughly impressed at everything Alice had set up. The doorbell rang again and I answered it this time, letting in Angela, Ben, Eric, and Katie. I left the door open as more of our senior class was arriving sooner than I'd thought.

It didn't take long for the entire first floor of the house to fill up with the whole senior class. People danced and swayed to the infectious music Alice selected, the food was quickly disappearing, and everyone seemed to be having fun mingling and mostly talking about their high school experience. I was one of the 'minglers', though not by choice as everyone wanted to talk to me. Although this was supposed to be the Cullens' graduation party just as much as mine, I seemed to be the target of everyone's congratulations and thanks. It might've been because the Cullens' didn't exactly look approachable under the pulsing party lights, despite their perfect human charade. I wondered if Alice did this on purpose, forcing me to be the center of attention. If this was her plan, it worked like a charm as I couldn't find any way to escape this crowd. This party had turned out exactly how I feared it would. It seemed to be a massive success overall, but a disaster for me.

I couldn't name a person that I hadn't talked to once. Edward made it a bit easier, helping move conversations along and transitioning to the next group of people who wanted to talk without making an awkward exit. It was thanks to him that I was able to get some food and drinks since I couldn't figure out how to sneak away. It was either he bring them to me or I go the night hungry. I ended up with Jessica much longer than I was with anyone else at the party as she babbled on and on, not giving me much of a chance to respond to what she was saying, which was a good thing since I wasn't paying attention.

Edward had smoothly snuck away about ten minutes into Jessica's chatter, whispering to me that he'd bring me back another drink. I stood with Jessica at the corner of the living room as she went on, nodding at the appropriate moments. I was mainly looking at the crowd though; some standing around with drinks, some dancing, and some sitting and talking. I started looking for Edward as it'd been a few minutes since he left to get me a drink. It usually didn't take him that long and I knew he wouldn't have forgotten. That's when I realized, I couldn't spot any of the Cullens anymore, not just Edward. They stood out pretty easily with their skin reacting oddly to the pulsing party lights throughout the house, so why were they suddenly so hard to find now? Did they leave? That would explain why Edward didn't come back, but where did they disappear to?

"…So I'm thinking of majoring in that. Do ya think that sounds like a good position for me?" Jessica asked about something I wasn't paying attention to.

I nodded. "Um, yeah, do whatever feels right. But uh, could you excuse me for a minute, Jess?"

"Oh, sure…"

She looked kind of disappointed to see me leave, but I wasn't worried about that. I made my way through the closely packed bodies, awkwardly squeezing my way through the dancers and getting shoved around a bit to search out the Cullens. The only problem was, I was searching blindly. I didn't know where they had gone to. I assumed some place where they could be alone, but the entire first floor was packed with people. I wondered if they went upstairs, but the stairway was blocked off by the obnoxiously huge speakers blaring noise that most of my classmates would consider music.

Although I didn't know where I was supposed to go, my body seemed to move toward the kitchen automatically. I hadn't been in there yet and maybe there weren't as many people crowding that area as I thought. But before I could make my way too close to the kitchen door, I heard my name.

"Hey, Bella!"

I immediately stopped at the familiar voice. I was hoping it would be Edward or any of the Cullens to let me know everything was alright, but what I got was completely unexpected as I turned around to see the tallest person in the crowd waving at me. He came along with two other giants that looked incredibly tense and edgy, their eyes flickering around the room like they'd walked into a haunted crypt. Once our eyes met, he started making his way toward me, swiftly weaving through the partiers far better than I could despite him being so tall. I just stood there frozen, my heart racing as I anticipated his arrival.

Once he was right in front of me, we didn't speak, just stared. There was so much going on in my mind, so many questions I had, but I couldn't find my voice. Wasn't this the chance I had been waiting for? I would've preferred we were alone, but I couldn't be picky. I had to take what I could get.

"Um…friendly reception they got here," Jacob finally spoke, looking around the room with his nose wrinkled up.

I nodded, still staring at him and trying to find the words I needed to speak.

He looked around the room, his eyes shifty and cautious, and then suddenly grabbed my arm. I gasped softly at his familiar warm touch as he pulled me away from the crowd toward one of the few secluded shadowy corners close to the kitchen door. The other two, Quil and Embry, watched each other's backs as they tried blending in with the crowd and danced over to us…literally. They stood on either side of Jacob, smiling at me.

"Hey, Bella," they both greeted at once.

"Hey…" I mumbled, managing to say that at least before my eyes focused on Jake.

Jacob stared back at me like before, his hand sliding down my arm where he had grabbed until he held my own hand. The gesture was surprising. I expected him to be mad at me, but instead, all I could see in his eyes were longing.

"Aren't you gonna say something?" Embry asked and nudged Jacob for encouragement.

Jake's eyes widened in realization, but kept his focus on me. "Hey, Bella…"

Quil and Embry smacked their palms against their foreheads at the same time, both groaning.

"Hey, Jake…" I responded in almost a whisper, then managed to ask one question on my mind. "W-why are you here?"

He frowned. "You invited me, remember?"

"Oh, right." I blushed, but still kept my eyes on him. "I just didn't think you'd actually come."

"I came to see you."

I was silent for a moment. "You did…?"

Embry chuckled. "Of course. Why else, to party with vampires? Hell no."

Jake nodded. "Right. I wanted to talk to you."

My heart sped up. I had wanted to talk to Jacob and this seemed to be my chance, but I didn't think he'd want to talk to me. What did he have to say?

Jacob took a deep breath. "Bella, I'm sorry. For whatever I did…or whatever I didn't do, I'm sorry."

My eyes widen in shock. "You're sorry?"

"Yeah…" He grimaced and nodded slowly. "You're feelings for him. I didn't know they were that strong, and I was hoping I could help you forget." He frowned and looked down for a moment, but quickly corrected himself, looking back at me. "But I guess I couldn't. And I feel like I wasn't…or that I couldn't…"

He groaned in frustration, having trouble finding the right words.

Quil sighed. "Basically, Jake's saying he must've been a pretty bad boyfriend if you're still in love with a bloodsucker."

"Or the leech's got some kind of creepy spell on you," Embry added.

Jacob let out a quick growl and they both flinched back a little.

"Jeez. Just trying to help," Embry muttered under his breath.

Jacob sighed and suddenly took both of my hands, pulling me closer to him. I looked at him surprised, but more so from the gloom clearly displayed in his deep black eyes.

"Bella, I know you love him, but you also love me. I guess don't really know how much anymore, and this might sound crazy asking, but please don't give up on me just yet. I want to make you happy and keep you safe. Whatever it is you want from me, you can have. I'll do whatever I can to give it to you. Just…please."

I was speechless. I looked at him in astonishment and wondered if I was right to be surprised or not. I'd hoped that Jacob wouldn't give up on me, even though I loved someone else as I loved him. I would've been happy to know that he would love me enough to take me back, but him being the one to apologize never crossed my mind. Should it have?

It was silent as Jacob examined my expression, awaiting my reaction.

"Bella…?" he whispered.

I shook my head slowly. "Jacob, I don't understand. I hurt you. I thought you wanted this to end. I thought you broke up with me."

He jolted back, like my words caught him off guard. "What? No. You left my house and went to be with the Cullens. I thought you broke up with me…to go back to him."

I shook my head again. "No…"

We were silent again, both of us blinking our eyes in confusion. My head was overflowing with so many questions; I didn't know where to begin.

"Wooow. Good going, guys," Quil commented and slow-clapped.

Embry groaned in irritation. "Jeez, Jake, way to overreact."

Confusion was still plastered on Jacob's face as he opened his mouth like he was about to say something. Suddenly, he tensed up. His eyes were no longer on me, but he now glared over my head with clenched teeth. Quil and Embry looked in the same direction, their eyes piercing and hands balled into fists.

Startled by the sudden mood change, I turned around to see what had them so worked up. There stood Edward, his body just as stiff and eyes like daggers as they all glowered at each other, bracing themselves.

"No. Please, don't do this here," I begged, looking between the two sides.

They didn't move. The tension was ridiculously thick and they hadn't even said a word to each other.

"Bella," Edward finally spoke, "We need to speak with you."

"We?" I asked, turning to raise my eyebrows at him.

"Um, excuse me, but we were talking here," Jacob said, his voice low and rough.

Edward narrowed his eyes. "Yes, and now it's my turn, if you'd be so kind."

"Guess what. I'm not."

Edward smirked for a split second and then looked at me. "Bella, please come with me."

"Did you hear what I just said?" Jacob growled.

Edward glared. "Yes, you can continue later. This is important."

"What's important?" I asked him, a little annoyed by their attitudes.

He looked at me, his face a bit calmer as he put an arm around my waist to turn me away from Jake.

"I'll tell you when we're with the others," he whispered.

Like a bolt of lightning, Jacob's hand struck the arm Edward had at my waist, his hand gripping on like he planned to break it off. His face was terrifying as he growled while Quil and Embry echoed the noise. Edward instantly reacted with a hiss, his dagger-like teeth clearly visible.

"Get your hand off me!" Edward snapped.

"Keep your hands off her!" Jacob growled.

"Stop!" I shouted, probably turning a few heads in the crowd, but I couldn't see them. I was thankful Quil and Embry's huge bodies were there to block this scene off from the partiers in the room, though probably not intentional.

I shifted away from Edward's arm and stood beside Jake, turning to scowl at Edward.

"Tell me what's going on or I'm not coming," I threatened.

Edward grimaced. "I will tell you. You just need to-"

"No!" I cut him off and crossed my arms over my chest. "Tell me right now."

I noticed Jacob glance at me surprised, a smile creeping onto his face for a second before he tried to hide it by glaring back at Edward, his hands at his side now.

Edward was silent for a moment, his eyes flickering back and forth between Jake and me.

He sighed. "Okay. Alice just saw something."

My eyes widened. "She did?"

"Alice? The psychic? Saw what?" Jacob asked.

I gulped quietly, my hands gripping onto my suddenly trembling arms. I already knew what it had to be.

"She saw the newborns. They're coming here very soon," Edward announced.

Very good story!!!! I am totally hooked. Too bad you can't speed write. This is just as bad as waiting for November to get here for Breaking Dawn Part 2!!!!

Cliffhangeeeeer! Can't wait to see what will happen next!

great update!  can't wait to see how this goes!  please update again soon!

26. Training (Part 1 of 2)

BELLA SWAN

I sat in one of the perfectly aligned kitchen stools by the counter. My whole body trembled as I listened anxiously to the Cullens go over what they knew and what it meant. Everyone's disheartened expressions drained all the color from my face like a virus. My heart raced and stomach lurched at the feeling of hopelessness that filled the kitchen; all while the wolves stood by my side with confusion clear on their faces, trying to keep up with what the Cullens were talking about.

"Alice, didn't you say you wouldn't be able to see them coming?" Rosalie asked.

"That's what I thought," Alice clarified. "All I see is that they're coming. I don't see the reason why, but we already know it. The fact that their motivation is invisible to me can only mean one thing."

Edward hissed through clenched teeth. "I also wonder if they'll bother sparing anyone or anything when they search."

Emmett nodded. "That's true. We're not dealing with a tracker or anything like that. They might turn the whole town upside-down to look for her."

"No!" I gasped.

Jacob shifted his confused eyes at me. "No, what?"

I wasn't able to answer just yet. I needed to keep listening.

"If they make it into Forks, we'll have a real problem," Esme noted

Jasper's expression was disapproving as he glanced at Jake, Embry, and Quil. It was obvious he didn't want to discuss this with werewolves in the room, but he still had things to say. "We can't let them come that far. There aren't enough of us to protect the town."

"I know," Alice said, her face suddenly desolate, "But it doesn't matter where we stop them. There still won't be enough of us and they'll still come here to search."

"Then I'll go meet them!" I managed to shout, though my voice was strained. "If they find what they're looking for, then maybe they'll go away and won't hurt anyone else."

"Absolutely not!" Edward growled.

"Hold it!" Jacob bellowed, turning all heads toward him. "What's coming? Protect the town from what? What are you guys talking about?"

Quil and Embry nodded simultaneously, their expressions just as concerned.

Edward sighed deeply and turned his gaze at Jake. "Our kind. Newborn vampires."

Jake's eyes widened in shock. "You mean the same ones on the news?"

Edward nodded. "The very same."

"Why?"

"They're coming for Bella."

Jacob froze as terror flashed across his face before it quickly turned to anger. A low growl resonated in his chest, Quil and Embry echoing the noise.

"Again, why?" Jacob asked, his tone forceful.

"We believe Victoria might be behind it," Carlisle stepped in to explain. "This could be her way of getting past us. We don't know for sure, but it's the only logical answer."

Jacob nodded slowly. "From what I heard, there are too many for you?"

Jasper glared. "We have a few advantages, dog. It'll be an even fight."

"And you didn't tell us about this, why?" Jacob growled.

Edward grimaced. "Well for one, we had just learned about it fifteen minutes ago."

"But were you ever going totell us?" Quil asked with one eyebrow raised.

"Oh!" Alice gasped as her expression suddenly shifted. All despair was wiped clean from her features as her face glowed with elation. The change was so drastic, it scared me. "Excellent! I can't see anything now, but I'll take it."

"This is our job more so than yours, y'know," Jacob said with a smirk.

Edward let out a deep sigh. "I wouldn't go that far, but we do need the help. We won't be picky."

I was frozen as my eyes shifted back and forth between Jake and the Cullens. It took me a while before I finally realized what they were saying.

"Oh no…" I muttered in a hoarse voice as my body trembled.

Jacob looked down at me and put an arm around my shoulder. "Bella, you didn't honestly think we'd stay out of this, did you?"

"Yes, I did. Jacob, please, no," I begged as tears began welling up in my eyes.

Jake grimaced, a familiar response to whenever he saw me upset, but he didn't look like he was about to give in. "Bella, a bunch of bloodsuckers are coming after you. To kill you. There's no way in hell I'm just going to sit back and do nothing when you're in so much danger."

"But you could get killed."

"Bella," Alice interrupted, "Separately we all could get killed. But together…"

"It'll be no problem," Jacob finished her sentence with a smirk.

I shook my head. "No. Why can't I just give them what they want?"

Jacob growled. "Because that wouldn't solve anything."

"It would. They'd go away and no one would get hurt."

"What about you? Are you thinking about yourself at all?"

"All of this is happening because of me. You said you can't just sit back and do nothing. Well, I can't either, especially since this is all my fault."

"No, Bella!" Edward exclaimed.

I turned my attention to him as he stepped closer to us. Jake's armed tightened around me, but Edward paid it no mind. Edward's eyes were strictly on me.

"Bella, this is not your fault. It's mine. None of this would be happening if I'd been more careful to keep you away from other vampires. James saw you because of me. He went after you because he saw how much you meant to me. Because I killed him, Victoria wants revenge on me, by taking away someone I love just like I did to her. You did nothing, Bella. This is my battle."

I stared speechless. I rattled through my brain to find the words I needed to say, but came up blank.

"Well, can't argue with that," Embry agreed.

Jacob nodded and narrowed his eyes at Edward, his expression very critical, but I could tell he appreciated that Edward was owning up to his mistakes.

"This is my battle to fight, but I know I wouldn't be able to do it alone," Edward continued. "That's why my family will be helping me, and now, I'm asking for your assistance." He gestured at each werewolf. "Will you help me?"

Jacob snorted. "Yeah, but we're not helping you. If they mess with Bella, they mess with us."

"Right," Quil and Embry both said enthusiastically.

Edward nodded. "That's fine."

"I hate this," I muttered through clenched teeth.

Quil chuckled. "So, how many are we talkin' here?"

"It changes," Alice answered. "The last time I checked, it was twenty-one."

"That doesn't sound so bad," Jacob said.

"Still, you dogs will need instruction. We were planning a strategic meeting tonight. If you want to fight with us, you'd be wise to come," Jasper announced.

The wolves all stared at Jasper in annoyance, not liking his superior tone.

"This will be odd," Jasper said thoughtfully, ignoring their stares. "I never considered working together. Standing guard outside a house is one thing, but this is a whole other level."

"No doubt about that," Jacob agreed. "We've got to get back to Sam. What time tonight?"

"How's three o'clock sound?"

"Fine. Where?"

"About ten miles due north of the Hoh Forest ranger station. Come from the west and you should be able to follow our scent in."

"Got it. We'll be there."

Quil and Embry both got up quickly, seeming eager to either set things in motion for the fight or just wanting to get away from the vampires as fast as they could. Jacob was a bit more hesitant as his eyes flickered between me and Edward, frowning.

"I'll…leave you to your party. Talk to you later, okay," Jacob said to me in a somber tone. He patted my shoulder and turned his head toward Edward. "You'll take her home, right?"

Edward nodded. "Of course."

"Wait," I blurted out and grabbed Jake's arm. "Why can't I come with you?"

I noticed Edward grimace at my question. Jake looked like he was about to say something, but wasn't fast enough as Alice cut in.

"Because you still have a party to finish," Alice said cheerfully.

Unbelievable. I couldn't fathom how a party could demand so much attention over killer vampires coming to town, or why Alice seemed so happy.

"Don't you think we should maybe end the party a little early under the circumstances?" I asked, trying to remain calm.

She smiled. "On the contrary. I think our new plan is more of a reason to celebrate."

My mouth fell open as I looked at her in astonishment. Even more shocking was that no one else seemed to disagree with her. In fact, I seemed to be the only one in the room still worried. All the doubt and stress that filled the room moments ago was gone. Jacob's solution had them all so relaxed, almost euphoric.

"If she wants to come with us, she can," Jacob said, glaring at Alice.

Alice scowled back at him before turning to me. "Please, Bella. Just see this party through and I promise I won't throw another one for you again."

I groaned. "Alice…"

Alice's smile was gone now, and in its place was a depressing, pleading frown. I still couldn't believe she could think about a party at a time like this, but I could tell this did mean a lot to her. She put a lot of effort into this party and she did throw it mainly for me. Although I didn't like it, this was probably my last chance to really spend some time with my classmates before life took us all in different directions. Could I really just walk out on that?

"Jake, are we leaving or what?" Quil asked, his finger tapping against the door impatiently.

"Yeah," Jake answered and looked down at me. "So, are you coming?"

I grimaced, unable to meet his eyes. "I think I'm going to stay for the party."

"But you hate parties."

"Well, it is my party."

I didn't have to look directly at his eyes to see his disappointment. I cringed as I felt a sharp pain in my chest; a natural reaction for me whenever I saw Jacob upset. I hated this. Here I was, trapped between two sides, both of which I loved so much.

"Okay, I get it," Jacob said in a low, defeated tone. "Have fun with your other friends."

He got up from the stool next to mine and started toward the door where Embry and Quil were.

"Oh, Jake, wait," I pleaded with my hand out to him, although I honestly didn't know what I would say to fix the 'two sides' problem.

Jacob didn't answer though. The three of them all too eagerly bolted out the kitchen door. I had lost him again.

The Cullens all began walking back out to the party once they were sure the wolves were out of the house. Alice gave me a 'thank you' hug as she passed by and went out with Jasper. Esme kissed my forehead, promising everything would be alright. Emmett walked out with Rosalie, laughing boisterously and commenting on how I can't be the only one who gets to fight with werewolves. Carlisle stayed behind for a few minutes, having a silent conversation with Edward before walking out a second way on the other side of the kitchen. Edward stayed with me as I wasn't ready to move just yet.

"That was really nice of you. You didn't have to stay for Alice's sake," Edward said, sitting in the same spot Jacob was.

I sighed. "That's easy for you to say. She wasn't staring at you with puppy-dog eyes."

He chuckled lightly. "True, but I know how important Jacob is to you."

I grimaced; the reminder bringing back that sharp pain in my chest as I remembered Jacob's face.

"I just want this party to hurry up and be done with so I can at least see him later tonight," I said.

He furrowed his eyebrows. "You're not coming with us, are you?"

"Um…yeah, of course I am. Why?"

"Bella, you already look worn out and it's going to be late."

I rolled my eyes. "You honestly think I could sleep?"

"This is an experiment, more or less. I'm not sure if it'll be possible for us to…cooperate. I don't want you in the middle of that."

My eyes narrowed. "Oh yeah, the stress of wondering whether or not you guys killed each other will definitely lull me to sleep."

He sighed. "I just don't want you getting hurt if things heat up."

"Well I don't want any of you getting hurt either. You're making this your mission to stop a whole army of vampires, but do you know how painful it'll be for me just sitting back and wondering if any of you make it back alive? The stress alone could kill me. The least you could do is include me in some way."

He was silent for about a full minute. I really did feel tired and wondered if I could manage to mingle with partiers any longer, but I definitely couldn't sleep. If anything, seeing this instruction of theirs would at least put my mind at ease knowing what happened.

Edward got up and took my hand. "Come on, I think you should be with your classmates a little longer."

I nodded and followed him out the kitchen door. He still hadn't answered me, but I would just ask him again when the party was over.

The rest of the party was basically a repeat of what I did earlier. Edward guided me around the room as I ended up talking with every one of my classmates a second time. It was mostly trivial chatter that I wouldn't be able to remember for the life of me. Not everything people said went in one ear and out the other though.

Angela was going to Washington State University with Ben and they both planned on working as much as they could for the summer before it was time for them to go. Angela still promised to make time for us to hang out at least once before she left and Ben mentioned he'd probably be with her when she did.

Mike didn't have any college plans yet for reasons he was apparently too embarrassed to tell, but he was going to be working a lot during the summer too at his family's store. He offered, no, practically begged me to take my position back. I didn't say no, but just that I'd think about it. Extra money would be good, although I was already set for college if I decided to go.

Jessica once again reminded me that she'd be going to school in California and how she was so excited, but also sad to leave everything behind. I eventually gave in and agreed to keep in touch through email. If I wasn't quick to respond to her, I could always blame it on my dinosaur of a computer.

Once the party was finally over, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. I was more than ready to leave. It wasn't just for the meeting that was half an hour away, but I just couldn't be in that party atmosphere any longer, even though everyone had left.

"Edward, I'm ready. Can you take me home?" I asked.

"Of course," he said, taking my hand as he led me to the door. "So you're going home to sleep after all?"

"What? No, I just need to check in with Charlie and change my clothes."

His face fell in disappointment. "Oh…"

I ignored his reaction and just walked with him outside to his Volvo. The ride home was mostly quiet, which gave me time to think. I still didn't like this at all. People that I loved were going to get hurt because of me. Edward said that this was his battle and I wasn't at fault, but none of this would be happening if I had just taken Edward's advice way back when I first met him. Stay away. If I'd known, I wouldn't have stayed away for my own safety, but for his, his family, and of course Jacob's.

The fact that they were going into a life threatening battle and I couldn't do anything to help drove me crazy. Part of me still wished someone would turn me into a vampire just so I could help fight. But I knew I couldn't do that; not anymore. I knew it meant that I would lose Jacob, which was completely out of the question, as long as he still wanted me. It'd be so much easier if I could somehow become a werewolf. Could I have faint Quileute blood in me that I wasn't aware of? Most likely not, but I could always dream.

"Bella, are you alright?" Edward asked, picking up on my anxiety.

I sighed. "Not really. People I love are going to be fighting vicious vampires."

He looked at me seriously and put his hand on my shoulder. "Listen to me, Bella. This is going to be easy. The newborns will be completely taken by surprise. They'll have no idea that werewolves even exist. I've seen the way the newborns act in a group through Jasper's memory. I believe the wolves' hunting techniques will work flawlessly against them. And with them divided and confused, there won't be enough for the rest of us to do." He shrugged. "Someone might even have to sit out."

"That easy, huh?" I mumbled and looked out the front window to see we were pulling into the driveway right behind Charlie's car.

He nodded. "You'll see. Don't worry."

"No promises…" I groaned and got out.

I tiptoed inside and saw Charlie fast asleep on the couch in the living room. He was snoring so loudly he could rival the sound of a chainsaw.

"Dad! Dad, wake up!" I shouted, shaking his shoulder vigorously.

He grumbled and kept his eyes closed, not fully awake yet.

"I'm home now. You're going to hurt your back sleeping like that. C'mon, let's go upstairs."

His eyes were still closed, but I managed to get him off the couch. I helped him upstairs to his bed where he collapsed and immediately went back to sleep. He wouldn't be looking for me anytime soon.

I went into my room and jumped when I saw Edward sitting in my rocking chair.

"You startled me," I gasped.

He raised an eyebrow. "That didn't used to before."

I shrugged. "It's been a while, I guess.

"It has…"

He was completely still as he looked off like he was distracted by something I couldn't see. I grabbed some jeans and a flannel shirt as I went into the bathroom to change. Edward still hadn't moved an inch when I came back and hung up the outfit Alice gave me in my closet.

"Are you okay?" I asked him.

He suddenly turned his head at me like I startled him too. "Yeah, I'm fine. Are you ready?"

"Um, yeah." I was a little nervous that there might be danger or something, but he seemed okay now so I shrugged it off.

He got up and opened my window. I was confused why at first, but it made sense once he threw me over his back and held onto my legs.

"Whoa," I gasped. "We're not taking your car?"

He shook his head. "No need."

Edward jumped out the window and I held on tight as he raced through the dark forest. The feeling of the wind blowing past at this particular speed brought back memories of when it used to be just us. I smiled, thinking back to when he showed me the meadow for the first time. I remembered how dizzy I always got, but I felt fine with the speed now. A small part of me felt really happy, for the moment.

When we got to the big open field, the rest of the Cullens were there, talking casually and relaxed. Edward let me down and we walked toward them. It may have been because it was so dark, but it took me a minute to realize we were in the baseball clearing. It was the same place where that evening with the Cullens was interrupted by James and his coven. I shuddered at the memory.

I was surprised when I noticed Alice didn't look as optimistic as the others. After everything she said about celebrating a few hours ago, I figured she'd practically be jumping for joy.

"Is Alice okay?" I asked Edward.

Edward chuckled. "The werewolves are on their way, so she can't see anything. She doesn't like being so blind."

My heart skipped a beat. "All of them…?"

"Yes. Three wolves were hard enough for her, but now there'll be ten blocking her vision."

Alice heard Edward and stuck her tongue out at him.

Emmett laughed, which echoed through the wide field. "Hey Bella, is Edward gonna let you practice too?"

Edward groaned. "Shut up. Don't give her any ideas."

"Too late, I already thought of that a while ago," I said.

Edward looked at me disapprovingly, but I just shrugged in response.

"When will our guests being arriving?" Carlisle asked Edward.

Edward concentrated for a moment. "About another minute, but I'll have to translate. They don't trust us enough to be in their human forms."

Carlisle nodded. "They're coming, that's all that matters."

My heart beat faster as the seconds passed by. I realized that I was really anxious to see them. It seemed like Quil and Embry weren't too upset with me, but what about the others? Would they be mad at me for hurting Jake? Would they even know?

"Hey Edward, how'd you know there were ten of them?" I asked curiously.

"Jacob often forgets that I can read his mind. His two friends had forgotten too," he answered and suddenly chuckled. "One of them…" He paused for a moment. "Embry, I believe, was having some guilty thoughts about Rosalie. He hated himself for finding her beautiful, but he couldn't help it."

I giggled. "He really is becoming like Quil, or maybe Paul."

"Huh?" He looked at me confused.

"Um, you wouldn't get it."

Edward suddenly stiffened, his eyes beaming.

"Here they come. Prepare yourselves," he warned.

The Cullens' spread out in a loose line with Jasper and Emmett at the spear point. They all looked into the trees with wide eyes, shocked at what they saw. All I could see was darkness.

"Damn…" Emmet muttered. "Have you ever seen anything like it?"

"What? Where are they, I can't see," I whispered.

I strained to spot the wolves in the shadows, until finally I was able to see the gleam of their eyes; all ten pairs of them. Their eyes were all I could see however as the rest of their bodies were invisible in the darkness. I frantically tried to make out which wolf was which, but they were too far away.

Edward turned his head to look at me and nudged my shoulder.

"Go to them. I know you want to," he said.

RSS

© 2014   Created by Hachette Book Group.

Report an Issue | Guidelines  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service