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

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I finally got the chance to read it! It was reaaaaally good; as if I need to say that.
I love the part where Bella stabs Jake (that sounds really werid), it was so funny, it really described their relationship; clumsy, funny and romantic. 
Oh hey! Didn't recognize you for a second, fallen angel. ;) Glad you liked this chapter. Yeah, I'd say Bella accidentally stabbing Jake was my favorite part. :P It's funny because in the actual book, Edward thought Bella stabbed him when she didn't, but in here she did. :P

17. Kidnapped (Part 1 of 2)

BELLA SWAN

Jacob held my hand securely as we walked up the steep hill, just in case I fell. It was a wise decision because I did fall, many times, but Jake always caught me before I hit the ground. The walk was pretty familiar to me. It brought back a certain memory that I was having trouble deciding was bad or good. It was easy to say that the memory was bad, I did almost drown, and over a guy that I wasn't even with no less. But in a way, it was also good. I knew that our first kiss was what made me realize how much I did love Jake, but I also knew that I loved him before that. I didn't want to think that something as simple as him saving my life was what got me to fall for him; I knew that wasn't true. There was a lot more to Jacob than just that. Still, it was a memory that stuck in my mind. Even now, the image of Jacob holding me, warming me, and that feeling of safety, it overshadowed anything else that happened that day.

"Whoa," Jacob suddenly said as I tripped without even noticing and he caught me once again in his arms.

I grimaced and shook my head at how clumsy I was being, even more so than usual. "Sorry."

"What are you thinking so hard about anyway?"

"Um…just this place."

"What about it?"

I didn't answer right away, trying to properly say it without sounding blunt. I didn't have to though, as Jacob made a face that told me he knew what I meant.

"Oh…" he muttered low. It was clear on Jake's face that he'd leaned toward that memory being a bad one, which was understandable.

"Exactly where are we setting up the bonfire?"

"Right at the top." He sighed as he set me back on my feet and continued walking with me. "It's not the same ledge that we jump from and we won't be right by the edge. But if you want to set up somewhere else…"

"No, it's fine," I assured him, "I don't plan on jumping off anymore cliffs. Although, I have been stumbling a lot today."

It was supposed to be a joke, but Jake's expression told me he didn't appreciate it too much. My face turned apologetic in reaction, which he sighed and shook his head at.

"Want me to just carry you?" he offered.

I groaned. "No…"

"Are you sure, because I do think it would go faster."

"Aren't we almost there anyway?"

He looked ahead for a second where the trees began opening up and the ground that was once dirt, twigs, and leaves fanned out into the stone precipice. There were several large boulders positioned in a curve that seemed to separate the rocky terrain from everything else.

"Yep, that's it," he confirmed as he led me through what was left of the dirt path.

As soon as we got there, I could immediately tell that it wasn't the same cliff top that I had jumped from. The area was much wider and seemed somewhat reserved. The boulders looked like chairs the way they were set around the open surface that I assumed was where the fire would be set up. Jacob took my hand as we walked closer to the cliff's edge, close enough to see out into the ocean, but not enough for me to possibly trip over the ledge and kill myself.

"You can see everything from here," Jacob said with a hint of admiration.

"Wow…"

I leaned my head into his side as I took in the scenery. It was like something you'd see on a postcard. The ocean was calm as the waves made slow lazy laps back and forth along the shoreline. The sky was so clear and blue, creating a contrast with thin layers of wispy clouds hovering over the dark green forest. I surprised me to think that we'd been living in something so breathtaking all this time.

"La Push is beautiful," I sighed.

He nodded eagerly. "It really is."

"I'm surprised you've never taken me here before."

"Well, forgive me if you being in a place that's higher than twenty feet makes me nervous."

I rolled my eyes. "Then why bring me along?"

"Because this is an important event that I don't want you to miss. It wouldn't be complete or any fun without you."

"That's nice to know, I guess."

"Wanna sit down?"

"Please. My feet are killing me."

He smiled and led me over to one of the boulders set around us. It had a pretty smooth surface and was high enough that my feet dangled over the side while Jacob's could manage touching the ground.

"It's not a couch, but good enough, right?" he asked.

"Mmhmm…"

I put my arms around his waist and leaned back into his side as I continued admiring the scenery. I felt him rest his cheek on top of my head and his hand gently rubbed my shoulder. With a sigh of contentment, I took in his warmth and got lost in the moment. It felt like another date with him until I remembered that more people were supposed to join us.

"Aren't Quil and Embry supposed to meet us here?" I asked.

"Yeah. They should be here by now."

"Maybe if I had a cell phone, we could call them."

His face lit up as if a light bulb turned on in his head. "My howl is like a cell phone. Want me to give that a try?"

"Be my guest."

I unwrapped myself from around him as he got to his feet and turned in the direction of the trees. "Be right back."

I nodded as he made his way behind a thick oak tree. I wondered to myself if I should've been watching while he changed or turn my head. It didn't make too big of a difference anyway, since I could barely see him behind the tree he chose. It didn't take long before he walked out on all fours and quickly let out a low howl that got higher in pitch until he cut it off after five seconds. He stood there silently for a moment until his head perked up as if he heard a noise. I looked around to see if anyone was coming, but didn't see nor hear anything. He started to make low grumbling noises and short barks toward nothing in particular until he looked at me with a wolf-like grin. I looked back at him confused before he dashed behind the oak tree again. I kept my eyes in his direction and waited for him to emerge again. It didn't take long though, as he came out fully clothed and made his way beside me.

"So, what's up?" I asked.

"They said they're on their way. Jared's coming too."

"Oh, really? He wanted to come?"

"Sort of. Apparently he was with Kim who was taking forever to pick out something to wear to the bonfire. He couldn't tell her himself how bored he was, but Kim could see it. She told him to go have fun."

"That's nice of her."

"I don't get imprinted couples sometimes." He paused and made a grimace, as if he didn't mean for that to come out. I stayed attentive though, wanting him to continue his statement. "I mean…even though Jared was bored, I could still tell that he wouldn't mind as long as he was around Kim. It makes sense because I always got the feeling that their imprint's presence made them happy. Then she tells him to go have fun without her, and he suddenly wants nothing more than to do that."

I tilted my head to the side. "Is it possible to be bored and happy at the same time?"

He shrugged. "I guess anything's possible with your imprint. Maybe happiness is always included in the package."

I knew where this was headed and I cringed at the thoughts that were slowly going through my head about imprinting, mainly me keeping him from his "happiness". But from what Alice told me, Jacob most likely wouldn't find his; she might not even exist. What did that mean, that he wasn't meant to be happy?

"You're my happiness, Bella," he exclaimed suddenly, as if he read my mind. He sat back down, wrapping his arms around me, and I couldn't help doing the same. "You always have been."

I smiled. "So, if I ever dragged you along for a shopping spree, you'd be happy?"

He perked his lips thoughtfully for a second. "Well, I know that you'd never do that to me, so I don't have to worry about that."

I chuckled. "You're right."

"JAKE! JAKE!" yelled a voice deep into the trees behind us.

I jumped in alarm and Jacob got back on his feet, his head darting towards the direction of the voice; confused, but alert.

"Jake, are you there? I'm coming!" the voice yelled again in worry.

Jacob's eyes widened in recognition. "Seth?"

"Yeah, it's me! I'm almost there, don't worry!" the voice of Seth called back, getting closer.

Much sooner than I expected, Seth came into view as he raced up the hill, heading straight toward us at an impressive speed. At first I could only see his head over the hill's horizon, but as he got closer, his whole body could be seen. My eyes were focused on how fast his feet moved for a moment until I realized that his legs were bare, along with the rest of his body. Though I was seeing him in 'all his glory', it took my brain a second to react. My face turned completely red as I gasped in panic and quickly covered my eyes. I heard a gasp from Seth's direction as well and the clomping of his feet suddenly came to a halt.

"Seth, what the hell?" I heard Jacob shout in annoyance.

"B-but…I thought you…" Seth half-answered meekly.

"You thought what?"

"I…I thought you were in trouble."

"In trouble?"

"Y-yeah. I heard you howl and I thought it might have been an emergency. But when I phased to see what it was, I couldn't hear you. I thought…maybe a vampire got you and forced you back into human form…or something."

"Seth, that wasn't an urgent howl."

"It wasn't?"

"No. If you couldn't hear me, then you must've phased pretty late. And why the hell didn't you bring clothes with you?"

He was silent for a second before answering. "I kind of ripped the ones I had on when I phased. I thought you were in trouble and I was late…so I kind of panicked. I ran towards the howl as fast as I could in my wolf form, but phased back because I thought you'd respond to my voice."

"Seth, don't you think it would've been a better idea to get Sam first, if there really was a vampire here?"

"I…didn't think about that."

"And if there was a vampire, wouldn't it have been safer to stay a wolf and just sniff me out?"

"I didn't think about that either…" I could hear the embarrassment in Seth's voice.

Jacob groaned. "Rookie…"

It was silent for a minute and I wondered if Seth may have left, since werewolves tend to move around without making noise sometimes. I peeked through my fingers slightly and I could see Seth behind the same tree Jake went to, his head poking out the side with an embarrassed look that matched his tone of voice.

"I'm sorry," Seth muttered, "I'll go away now."

Jacob sighed. "No, you might as well stay. You'll be coming back here in about two hours anyway."

"Really? I can?"

"Yeah. Just, please phase and howl for someone to bring you pants or something."

"R-right…"

I kept my eyes closed until Jacob patted me on the shoulder, telling me it was okay to look. Still standing a good distance away from us was a tall, gangly wolf with sandy colored fur. Even as a wolf, I could tell his expression was awkward as he'd glance at me with his head down. I gave him a reassuring smile to let him know that everything was okay and I could tell he smiled back. Seth howled in the same way Jacob did and remained in his spot, communicating with the others I assumed.

Ten minutes passed relatively silent with Jacob keeping me warm from every chilled breeze that would pass by and Seth sitting against the thick oak tree. Seth's head suddenly perked up as laughter could be heard from the same direction Seth came from. I could tell that it was more than one person making the noise, but couldn't judge how many. I didn't have to think for too long as Quil, Embry, Jared, and Paul came into view, all eyes on Seth with humorous expressions.

"Seth, Seth, Seth," Jared teased as he shook his head, "Still learning I see."

"I think he really did pick up Bella's scent and just wanted her to see his goods, that's all," Paul laughed.

Seth whimpered in response, keeping his head down.

"Hey, leave him alone," I defended, stepping forward a bit, "He was just worried about Jake."

Jacob glanced at me for a second and nodded. "Sure shows how much he cares about his brothers. I didn't see you guys come running."

Paul rolled his eyes. "Because we know when something's an emergency."

Embry erased the amused grin on his face and went over to Seth. His head was still down, but Embry patted him on the back and smiled sincerely, though I wasn't sure if Seth could see it.

"It's all good, man," Embry assured him, "Here, I brought your clothes."

In Embry's left hand were some folded shorts and a black tank top that everyone else was also wearing. Seth looked up at him, giving a thankful nod, before taking the clothes into his mouth and going behind the oak tree once more. He came out quickly, fully dressed and on two legs. They were all formed in a horizontal line facing us. I wasn't sure if Seth meant to do it, but he connected with them perfectly as he jogged out from behind the tree. Seth looked like he truly belonged and I think he noticed as a cheerful grin stretched across his face. I couldn't help but smile too.

"Well this is more people than I expected. Who invited Paul anyway?" Jacob asked in slight annoyance.

Paul raised a brow in offense. "What? I'm not allowed to hang out with you guys?"

"Really, it was just supposed to be me, Bella, Quil, and Embry."

Jared shrugged. "Things change."

Jacob looked at Jared accusingly. "Let me guess. You invited him."

"He invited himself actually," Quil corrected as he walked over to us, smiling at me and nodding his head in greeting.

"Hey guys, I'm right here…" Paul said, waving his hand in the air.

"We can get more wood for the bonfire this way," I reasoned and smiled back at Quil.

"Oh, that's what we're doing?" Seth asked.

Embry grinned and turned toward Jacob. "And a race with him afterwards."

Jacob's eyebrows raised in slight surprise. "A race? That's what you wanted to do up here?"

"Yep, a downhill race."

"Booo," Paul complained.

Embry looked at Paul annoyed. "What?"

"We all know Jake will win. It'll be boring."

"Hey, I've gotten faster, y'know."

"I bet you couldn't even beat me. I should race Jake."

Jacob snickered. "That wouldn't even be a challenge."

"What if we all raced together? It doesn't have to be one-on-one," Seth suggested.

"Nah, I'm lazy today," Quil claimed and pretended to yawn.

"Oh yeah, which is why you came all the way up here in the first place," Jared said sarcastically, rolling his eyes, "You just know you'll lose."

"Yeppers, and I'm admitting it right now."

"Just be glad Leah's not here. She'd embarrass us all," Embry reminded.

"Hey yeah! Jake, I'm not as annoying as Leah, right?" Paul asked eagerly.

Jacob put a finger to his lip and his expression became very thoughtful, almost exaggerated. "Hmmmmm…"

Paul's eyes narrowed angrily. "Oh, come on."

Jake sighed. "I guess not."

Paul smiled with a sense of accomplishment, his anger completely gone, while everyone else looked like they agreed. Seth made a slight grimace, obviously not too comfortable with everyone's dislike of his sister, though he didn't look like he would say anything to defend her. I didn't know if it was because he just didn't want to speak up or because there wasn't much to defend.

"So, are we going to go get some wood now?" Seth asked, eager to change the subject.

Jacob nodded. "Yeah, let's go."

Jake took my hand as he led the way back into the woods with the others following, spread evenly apart. Quil pointed out a spot a little ways east where numerous fallen branches and small twigs lay. We made our way there and Jacob let my hand go to collect whatever he could find. I did the same and remained close to him as I picked up a bunch of sticks ranging in length and thickness from ones the size of my finger to some as long as Jake's arm. The other's also collected a lot and ended up making a competition out of it to see who could get the biggest ones. Paul didn't even settle for sticks on the ground and broke off a bunch of huge branches from various trees, determined to have the largest batch. A lot of the smaller twigs were ignored because of this. I kind of felt sorry for them, which was odd considering we were collecting them to be burned, unless wooden objects welcomed that fate.

Once we had as much as we could carry, everyone headed back to the meeting spot. They all took turns placing their finds in one pile.

"So, I win, right?" Paul said confidently.

"I dunno. Isn't breaking branches off of trees cheating?" Quil asked.

"There were no rules."

"How big should the fire be anyway?" Jared asked.

"I'd say nothing that goes over our heads," Jacob answered.

"What?" Paul exclaimed in surprise, "Man, we got all this wood. We might as well make the fire as big as it can get."

"Well, we don't want to start a forest fire or anything like that," I reasoned.

Paul rolled his eyes. "We know how to control a fire. And even if Smokey the Bear gets on our case, we'll just push him off this cliff." He pointed his thumb toward the edge. "And unlike Bella, Smokey doesn't have a lovesick werewolf to save him."

Jacob glared at Paul for that comment, though it didn't bother me too much.

"Very funny…" I responded.

Paul chuckled innocently. "What?"

"Speaking of lovesick, how're you handling that one girl, Paul?" Embry asked with a smirk.

Paul's expression suddenly became uncomfortable. "What one girl? Be more specific."

"You know, the one you said you might actually stick with."

"I say that about a lot of girls. You know I'm never serious about it."

"But with this girl, you really were serious. We heard it in your head, Paul," Quil added.

"Whatever. Life goes on," Paul tried saying indifferently, though indicating that things didn't work out too well, "I'll just get myself a new one. No biggie."

"Oh, that's real nice, Paul," I commented with clear sarcasm.

It never sat right with me that Paul could just go from girl to girl so easily like he did. Jake had told me stories of how sometimes he'd look for one night stands, while other times he'd meet a girl and in one day they'd already be a couple; one that lasts a week tops. Paul always acted like it was no big deal and that it was the lifestyle he was fond of, but sometimes I could tell that he wanted something more deep down. The hard mask that he wore would slip every so often. It reminded me of Jacob a little.

Paul shrugged. "Well, it's summer, school's out, and the picking's good. Sorry if you find that offensive."

"Oh that's right. School is already out for you guys," I remembered, ignoring Paul's attitude.

Jacob nodded. "Yep. Tonight will be a ceremonial bonfire slash 'school's out' celebration."

"Lucky you. I've still got finals to deal with."

"Hey Bella, any single girls at your school you know of?" Paul asked nonchalantly.

I raised a brow at him. "You'd really go for senior girls?"

"Of course. Why not?"

"Aren't they a little out of your league?"

"I dunno. It's working out for Jake pretty well."

Jacob made a face like he was ignoring Paul, though Jake clearly heard what he said. I didn't say anything else; he did have a point there.

"Really, getting girls is easy. Doesn't matter what grade they're in," Paul continued.

"Jeez, listen to you, Mr. Playa," Quil chuckled as Paul smiled proudly.

"You used to think the same way, Quil. 'Used to' being the key words," Embry added.

Quil groaned. "I still do…sometimes."

"Liar!" Embry shouted, jabbing a finger at him.

Jacob started laughing and I looked at him a bit confused.

"What are they talking about?" I asked.

"Embry thinks Quil's enthusiasm toward girls has changed since he imprinted. And I have to agree," Jacob answered.

"It hasn't changed," Quil defended, though his tone was weak.

"Liar!" Jacob and Embry both shouted together.

Jared chuckled. "Seriously, Quil, who are you kidding? I know the feeling, dude."

Quil threw his hands up and sighed heavily, giving up the argument. It did make me wonder how drastically imprinting could change someone. Obviously, they'd devote most of their attention to their imprint, but would it affect their personality in other ways too. I knew my mind would automatically think about how Jacob could change if it ever happened to him, even though I was sure it wouldn't. I tried to shake that thought away and ended up shifting it toward Paul. Paul focusing on one woman for his whole life would be something to see.

"But I don't know, Paul. A senior would be a challenge at least," Embry said.

Paul smirked as his eyes focused on me. "I disagree. I think it'll be pretty easy."

17. Kidnapped (Part 2 of 2)

BELLA SWAN

Paul kept his eyes locked on me, narrowing them like a lion targeting its prey. I was starting to feel uncomfortable and instinctively stepped back toward Jacob. Suddenly, I felt something make contact with the back of my knees and my feet were swept off the ground. I gasped when I thought I would fall, but felt warm arms catch me before I hit the ground. My eyes were closed the whole time, but I assumed it was Jacob who caught me. I was quickly proven wrong the moment I opened my eyes and looked up to see Paul with a big grin on his face.

"See, that was easy," Paul exclaimed.

"I will kill you," Jacob growled, glaring at Paul.

"Oh, oh, are we playing that game?" Quil asked in excitement.

Paul nodded. "Yep."

"No!" Jacob countered.

"What is going on?" I shouted, completely bewildered.

"Oh come on, Jake, it'll be fun," Quil said, putting his arm on Jake's shoulder to calm him down.

"No, it won't," Jacob yelled.

"Aw, don't be a hypocrite. You had fun the last time. You just don't like that it's Bella this time around."

"Damn right I don't."

"What?" I shouted again.

"Paul, hurry up and run while you can," Jared warned.

Paul nodded, holding me securely to him, and dashed into the woods at a pretty impressive speed before I had the chance to protest. He weaved through trees and never ran in a straight line as he made his way steadily downhill. I was already confused and started to get dizzy, but even if I felt fine, I still would have had no idea where we were because of his erratic running pattern.

"Paul, put me down right now," I demanded.

"No, no, not yet," Paul insisted.

"Not yet? What the hell are you doing? What is going on?"

"Jeez, Bella, it's just a game. We played it with Emily one time, only Quil was the kidnapper."

My eyes widened. "Kidnapper?"

"Yep. This is the result of what happens when werewolves get bored. Still better than a race we all know the outcome to though."

"You're kidnapping me?" I raised my voice.

"Whoa, easy. But yeah, more or less, I am. And they're gonna come and rescue you, if they can."

"I'm sure they will. And I'm sure Jacob will kick your ass. I did not sign up for this game."

He laughed loudly for a moment, but quickly stopped and calmed himself to a chuckle, like laughing was a bad idea. "Emily didn't sign up for it either, but she kind of had fun. As for Jacob kicking my ass, I'd like to see him try. Besides, he's gotta give the others a chance at me anyway. It's one of the rules."

"There are rules to this stupid game?"

He nodded. "Rule number one would be to stay human and not rely on your wolf. Although, since I'm out numbered, I get a pass on that rule."

"Isn't that dangerous for them?"

"I'm not gonna kill them or anything. Besides, it's kind of a last resort kind of thing. See, they all get a turn at trying to pin me to the floor. If I lose, then it's wolf time and I get another chance."

"Oh, that's very fair." I made my sarcasm clear.

"Hey, you'd be surprised what can be done as a group. They probably won't be able to pin my wolf, but they sure got Quil last time."

"And where was I when this happened last time?"

"Hanging out with leeches." His tone was not approving.

I scowled at him, but he just shrugged in response. I found it very ironic that just a few hours ago, I was talking to Jake about how I didn't want to feel like a damsel in distress, yet here I was being kidnapped by a "friend" no less.

"Hold on tight," Paul warned as he increased his speed.

As much as I didn't want to touch Paul anymore than I already was, I didn't feel very secure in his arms. Even though he was holding me tight enough not to drop me, it still felt like I could slip with each step he took. For my own safety, I did as he said and wrapped my arms around his shoulders before he jumped off a ledge I didn't see coming. I yelp as I didn't know how long of a drop it'd be, but thankfully it was only a few feet. Paul grinned as he stopped to look around the area. There was nothing but trees and broken branches as far as I could see; we were nowhere near the dirt path Jake and I originally took up here.

I struggled in his arms as we were a little too close for my tastes; I knew I couldn't break out of his grip. I then remembered what Jake said about me being strong because of the support I had from supernatural creatures and how it was like I commanded an army. I also remembered his comment about how any other girl would be freaked out by something like this. For me, it was just another day with my crazy werewolves. I guessed to command a supernatural army, you'd need a strong mind.

"Paul Lahote, you put me down this instant," I demanded as sternly as I could.

His eyes widened as he looked at me, surprised by my tone. I maintained myself as I glared at him severely, not letting up a bit until he did as I said.

"O-okay. But only because this is a good place to stop and hide," Paul said calmly as he set me on my feet. I wondered if he really meant that or if I actually intimidated him. For my own self-esteem, I believed the latter.

I sighed and put my hands in my pockets as I leaned against the closest tree by us. Paul folded his arms and positioned himself in front of me as if he was guarding his treasure, grinning evilly like a generic villain you see on TV.

"And now we wait for their arrival. If they can't find us in twenty minutes, I win by default," Paul explained.

"You're lucky I don't know where I am or I'd just leave."

"Well that's no fun."

I groaned. "I'm already not having fun. How is this fun for me anyway?"

"You'll get to watch us fight. That's fun, right?"

"I don't think 'fun' is the word for that."

Five minutes passed in silence as we waited for the others to find us. Paul would rock back and forth on the heels of his feet as he'd look around and listen for any sign of them approaching.

"So…how's life?" he asked, turning his head around to look at me.

I shrugged. "Okay, I guess, if you don't mind being targeted by a vampire I mean."

He laughed, but stopped himself again, lowering to a chuckle. "Just the usual stuff in the life of Bella Swan."

"Yep, just the usual."

"I wish that redhead would quit running away and fight. What's the point of coming here if you're just gonna head right back out?" He paused for a second. "Then again, if we killed her too quickly, then we'd have nothing left to do."

"She might not be the only thing you have to worry about. Just yesterday, another vampire actually came into my house."

His eyes widened in shocked. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up. Another vampire?"

I nodded. "It came into my room when I was with the Cullens. Jacob couldn't recognize the scent and neither could the Cullens, but Jake said he'd talk with Sam about a new strategy."

He was silent for a second as he processed the new information. "Dude, vampires are just on your ass. They won't leave you alone."

"Tell me about it."

"You must be scared."

"A little, but I'm more scared for you guys. You have to fight them."

He sighed. "Bella, we're big scary werewolves designed to kill vampires. You're a vulnerable teen girl."

"Don't remind me."

"Now I almost feel bad for kidnapping you."

"Good. You should."

"Almost, Bella, almost."

I sighed. "So, how's life with you. Who's this girl?"

He groaned. "Just a girl."

I raised a brow at him. "Just a girl? Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"If it's just a girl, then why do you sound annoyed?"

"I don't sound annoyed," he yelled, getting angry.

I flinched and looked to my feet. "Sorry."

He was silent for a minute until he let out a sigh. "It's cool, sorry for yelling." He paused for a moment. "It's just, when I am interested in sticking with a girl, I'm usually the one who decides if it's working out or not. And of course, it usually doesn't, so I break it off."

I looked back up at him. "Mmhmm."

"This was the first time that…she broke it off."

"Oooh." I nodded in understanding.

"Happened right after the last day of school." He chuckled without humor. "You know how I have a temper. As soon as she said the words, I knew I was gonna phase. I got myself the hell out of there."

"Good. I'm glad you didn't kill her."

He rolled his eyes. "Thanks."

I smiled. "I'm sure the right girl is out there for you somewhere. Someone who can handle your hot-headedness."

"Let's not get too carried away. But until then, I'll continue sampling."

"Nice," I said with sarcasm.

"I hear them. The princess is over yonder," the voice of Quil shouted from over the ledge we jumped from.

"Oh. Here they come," Paul said in excitement.

As soon as he said it, Jacob, Quil, Embry, Jared, and Seth all jumped down to us in perfect sync with each other, forming the same horizontal line as before. Paul put his evil grin back on as Jacob glared at him, clearly just as annoyed by this game as I was.

"Fear not, fair maiden, for we are here to your rescue," Embry announced in a valiant tone.

I groaned. "Shut up."

He raised a brow at me in exaggerated offense. "Oh, well then never mind, we'll be leaving now."

"Stay," Jacob instructed.

Paul chuckled. "So, who's first?"

"Let me just pin you so we can get this over with," Jake said confidently, cracking his knuckles.

Before Jacob could step forward though, Seth began walking toward us, his expression completely calm.

Jake shrugged. "Or Seth could give it a shot."

"Yeah, go for it, Seth," Quil cheered.

Paul positioned himself in a defensive stance as Seth made his way over to us. He grinned in anticipation for a moment until Seth completely walked passed him and continued toward me, leaving Paul with a face so perplexed that I couldn't help but giggle at.

"I'm here to rescue you, I guess," Seth said with a smile, holding his hand out to me.

"Dude. Seth. Cheating," Paul complained.

Seth looked back at him confused. "There's rules? I thought we were just supposed to rescue Bella."

"Jake, did you explain to him the rules?"

Jake shook his head. "No, because I didn't even wanna play this. Seth, by all means, rescue Bella."

"No. Seth, you gotta pin me first," Paul demanded.

Seth looked at me apologetically as he decided in his head to play by the rules. I smiled weakly in response as he backed up and faced Paul. Paul went back to his defensive stance and Seth mimicked him, both ready for their little match. They eyed each other for a moment, trying to find some kind of opening. Seth was the smallest one out of the group, though still taller than me. I didn't want to think that his size would cause him to lose, but looking at them now, Seth did seem like the underdog.

Without much warning, Seth ducked down and swept his leg underneath Paul's foot to trip him up. Paul stumbled to keep his balance, but Seth took the opportunity to push against his chest and shoulder to the ground. Paul growled and slipped out from underneath him as Seth began stumbling to get to his feet, not expecting Paul to escape so soon. Paul lunged, catching Seth around the waist and jerked down hard sideways, pulling Seth back to the ground heavily. Paul held onto Seth's torso tighter and wrapped his long legs around Seth's lower body to keep him still as Seth struggled to get free from Paul's steel trap-like grip. Seth groaned and kept still, giving up. Paul grinned triumphantly and released Seth as they both got to their feet. Jacob sighed and waved his hand over for Seth to come back.

"That was a good try," Jacob complimented as Seth made his way over to them with a defeated expression.

Quil and Embry patted Seth on the shoulder while Jared began stepping forward.

"My turn," Jared announced.

"You better win," Jacob said.

"I don't plan on losing to Paul of all people."

Paul gave Jared a dirty look as he got back into his defensive position. Jared looked at Paul calmly, standing in front of him with his arms at his side, completely unguarded.

"What are you doing? You're totally defenseless. Oh I get it, you think you can beat me without needing to defend yourself. Stop being so damn cocky," Paul growled angrily.

"Easy, that's not it," Jared reasoned, holding his hand out to Paul, "I'm joining the dark side."

"What?" everyone shouted at once, including myself.

Paul stared at him in confusion, but Jared kept a sincere smile to let him know it wasn't a trick.

"My man!" Paul cheered with a grin, shaking Jared's hand vigorously, "Welcome to the dark side!"

I closed my mouth as I realized it was hanging open at what happened. I was already confused by the silly game and joining sides really didn't help me to understand it any more. Jacob, Quil, Embry, and Seth all exchanged glances toward each other just as clueless as me. It was nice to know I wasn't alone there.

"You freaking traitor!" Quil shouted.

"Jared, you're on my kill list!" Jacob warned.

"Hey, don't blame Jared for being smart and joining the winning team," Paul taunted.

"The side of champions," Jared added.

"Traitor," I muttered to Jared, which he just shrugged with an innocent grin in response to.

"So wait, we have to fight two wolves now?" Embry asked.

Paul chuckled. "Yep. Side of champions. Remember that."

"Oh that's really fair. How are we supposed to pin down two wolves?"

"This calls for a rule change. No wolves on either side," Quil suggested.

"What? Then how is that fair for us? You've got four people," Paul complained.

"Afraid you'll lose?" Jacob asked with a smirk.

"You're only saying that because you know you're at an advantage. One of you guys has to join us."

"What if we don't want to?" Seth countered.

"Well that's just too bad, and for saying that, you're one of us now Seth."

"What? No."

"Paul, just to let you know, you are more annoying than Leah right now," Jacob said.

Paul made a face like he was deeply insulted. "Oh come on."

They continued bickering and suggesting rules, neither side agreeing on anything. I wasn't sure if this was a good thing, but I was actually starting to find enjoyment in all of this. There was just something about watching them like this that I found so entertaining; I couldn't help giggling to myself as I watched them. With the responsibility they all had of protecting the reservation and being on alert for vampires, sometimes one forgets that they're not strictly guardians. As I watched them bicker, laugh, and joke around, it made me remember what they really are deep down; stupid teenage boys. Stupid teenage boys that can manage to balance the safety of their people and still goof around. And I guessed I loved them for that.

"What are you guys doing?" a deep voice suddenly came from the west of us.

Everyone looked toward where the voice came from and there stood Sam, wearing the same black tank top that everyone else wore. He looked at us with the same clueless expression that we all had on at least once today.

"Oh, Sam, perfect timing. Join us," Paul called, waving him over.

"Join what?" Sam asked, walking toward us, "What's going on?"

Jacob sighed. "We're playing that game with the kidnapping."

Sam groaned. "Oh god…"

"Yeah, now I know how you felt."

"Since when were there teams?"

Jared raised his hand proudly. "I came up with that."

"Come on, Sam. We only have two people to their four," Paul encouraged, "Join the side of…non-virgins."

Jared burst into laughter and Paul joined in as everyone on the other side flinched at the remark simultaneously, grimacing as if they had a bad taste in their mouth, especially Seth. Jacob's expression changed into one of apology as he glanced over at me briefly and I blushed to a slight red.

"Not for lack of trying…" Quil muttered.

"Well, you're definitely not trying anymore," Embry whispered, followed by a groan from Quil.

Sam shook his head and sighed. "How about I remain neutral and watch."

"Aw come on, Sam. Join us," Jared encouraged.

"Neutral."

"Screw everything. Here I come, Bella," Jacob shouted as he started dashing toward me.

"Thank you!" I cheered, holding my arms out to him.

"Oh no you don't, Black," Paul shouted and zipped in front of Jacob, grabbing onto his shoulders and pushing him back.

"Jake, I'll help," Seth volunteered as he ran over to me.

Jared stepped in front of me with his arms spread apart, blocking Seth from me. Jared smirked in confidence as Seth looked around him for an opening to get me.

"Umm…" Seth mumbled, thinking of what to do.

"Your move," Jared said.

As I looked at Jared's open arms, an idea struck me. I immediately acted on it as I reached out and tickled underneath Jared's arms from behind. He flinched and instinctively put his arms down to lock me out, but I continued letting my fingers do their job.

"Oh my god, stop!" Jared laughed, causing giggles of my own.

As Jared squirmed out of place, Seth took the opportunity to grab me by the waist and pull me away. I stumbled trying to keep up with his fast pace as we ran back to the other side, where I belonged.

"Wooo, that was awesome," Quil cheered and Embry applauded us, putting huge grins on both of our faces.

"That was stupid. Who said the princess could fight back?" Jared complained

I stuck my tongue out. "There's no rule against it."

"Hey," Paul grunted, still struggling to push Jacob to the ground as Jacob pushed back, "Seth wasn't supposed to just take her anyway."

"Kind of how you weren't supposed to in the beginning?" Jacob groaned, slowly pushing Paul further back.

"Hey, it's not my fault you can't protect your girl."

I could tell that hit a nerve in Jacob. His eyes narrowed to a glare and in a flash his fist flew straight into Paul's jaw. I gasped as Paul flew a few feet before hitting the ground hard with dust clouds hovering above where he landed.

"Jacob!" I scolded.

Jake's eyes darted toward me, his face scrunched up in guilt. "Well…there's no rule against punching either."

Embry grimaced. "Yeah, but you punched Paul."

"Oh boy, here we go," Quil sighed.

Paul immediately got back on his feet. His whole body was shaking violently as he clenched his teeth and glared intensely at Jacob with eyes as sharp as daggers.

"Paul!" Sam warned, but it was too late.

Paul's clothes ripped to shreds as he exploded into his giant dark silver wolf. He growled fiercely which seemed to set off something in Jacob as he followed suit. In an instant, Jake was on all fours in a defensive stance and growled right back with his clothes in pieces on the dirt floor.

"Stop!" Sam ordered as the two began to charge at each other, bearing their teeth.

They came to a halt just inches away from each other, still growling. Without really thinking about it, I ran over to Jacob and wrapped my arms around his neck, rubbing his fur vigorously to calm him down. I didn't regret the decision though, as Jake slowly stopped growling and leaned into me. What surprised me was Paul calming down too, though he still glared at me, annoyed that I was delaying their brawl further. I maintained my composure and tried not to be intimidated by the giant wolf staring me in the eye as I reached out with one hand to rub his head.

"You both need to calm down," I said.

"Whoa! Bella tamed the beasts," Embry exclaimed, impressed.

"And stopped the fight. Boring…" Quil complained.

"I stopped the fight," Sam corrected, "Bella…helped."

Paul huffed and shook my hand off as he backed away. Without warning, he leaned back on his hind legs as his fur retracted and body molded back into the shape of a human. I immediately hid my face into Jake's fur as I didn't want to see two naked wolf men in one day.

"He almost broke my jaw. I deserve to at least hit him back," Paul groaned.

"Two wrongs don't make a right," I said, my voice muffled into Jake.

"Well I personally disagree."

"We should be heading back anyway. They others will be arriving soon," Sam announced.

"Oh well. There's always next time to piss off Paul," Jared teased.

Paul growled low and I could hear a clutter of loud footsteps that gradually got lower, along with fading voices. Jacob made a brief grunt and nudged my side, causing me to remove my face from his fur. As I looked around, I saw that everyone else was already gone.

"We should head back too, right?" I asked, though I knew the answer.

He nodded and crouched down for me to get on his back. I got on and wrapped my arms securely around his neck as he lifted back up, ready to launch.

Author's Note: *sigh* Okay, so college is really kicking my ass when it comes to having time to write. Weekdays are nearly impossible, so that only leaves the weekends, when I always underestimate just how long it'll take to write something. So any way, I apologize for not having any updates during October. I'm still trying for two chapters per month, but don't be too disappointed if I can only manage one. There will definitely be at least one update during the month of November (this one doesn't count), but I'll try for two.

On another note, The Twilight Saga: Solar Flare is now one year old today. Happy Anniversary! :D

I'm glad you like it! And more will come...slowly...but Solar Flare's far from over.

Have not been here in awhile. I've been reading, I just never commented.XD

I still love the story though. Keep writing!

Thanx for keeping up with the story, and I will keep writing...even if it is slow -_-;

18. Looks Like Seth Isn't The Baby Anymore

JACOB BLACK

With the sun finally set, the sky now pitch black with one shining moon, and the blazing fire in front of us, it was more than safe to say that the party had begun.

Everyone was here, all sitting in a circle around the huge bonfire that ended up being taller than us with all the wood we provided. The fire crackled and sparks would blow out as a misty cloud of gray smoke hovered above us. Emily really outdid herself with the food, there was a huge selection and Bella helped set them out. On some fold-out tables she had hot dogs, hamburgers, mashed potatoes, muffins, grilled chicken, marshmallows, potato chips, and a wide selection of soda. Kim commented on how there was enough food here to "feed a school cafeteria full of kids" and that there was no way we could eat it all, but we gladly proved her wrong.

"You gonna eat that hot dog?" Paul asked me, looking at the last piece of meat available that I had spitted on a straightened wire hanger.

I twisted it around in front of the fire as it cooked, my eyes shifting between the roasting meat and Paul, perking my lips in an unnecessarily deep thought.

"Hmm…I guess," I said slowly, "I'm so full I could puke, but I think I can force this down. I won't enjoy it at all though." I sighed sadly.

I knew that would annoy him, which was what I was going for, but he immediately glared at me with his hands balled up into fists like he was ready to take me down.

"Jeez," I laughed, "Kidding, Paul, here."

I tossed the skewer across to him at my left, which he caught with no problem. In one bite he took off half of it and the other half was gone with his second bite.

"Thanks, man," Paul said with his mouth full, "Oh, and we're cool about the whole kidnapping your girlfriend thing, right?"

I groaned, but nodded my head. "Sure, sure."

Bella was still being kidnapped though, only Paul wasn't the culprit this time. Kim had taken Bella to sit with her not long after she got here. She said she wanted to talk with her about something privately, just like the first time they met. Jared sat next to me, anxiously waiting for their conversation to be over so he could wrap his arms around Kim, and I felt the same for Bella. They sat directly across from us and it was hard to see them with the towering inferno blocking our view. With all the other conversations going on as well, it wasn't too easy listening in on them either. I could try and eavesdrop the best I could if I wanted to, which I did, but I knew that Bella probably wouldn't want that.

They'd been talking for a while and I was getting more and more curious. I tried distracting myself with whatever the others were doing. Billy was sitting in his wheelchair with the other adults, Sue Clearwater on his left and Old Quil Ateara on his right. The young Quil was going on and on about how much he missed Claire and how excited he was that school was out for the summer and they could see each other more often. Embry just listened to him babble, looking bored out of his mind, until he was done and they could talk about other girls. Quil wasn't as enthusiastic about that subject as he used to be. Sam sat with Emily, where they would stare into each other's eyes and talk easily about different things. Though, as I watched them more, I realized that they used their mouths for kissing more so than having words come out.

Leah was sitting on the ground with Seth and away from Sam and Emily. Her eyes were focused on the fire, though she'd sometimes glance quickly at Sam. She only did it three times though, as she unfortunately looked when Sam's lips connected with Emily's on her third glance. She kept her eyes locked on the fire now, her expression displaying the sadness she was trying to hide. It was times like this where I my conscience would allow me to feel badly for Leah, having to be closer than she'd like to the couple kissing and having a great time, like Leah wasn't even around. But then the next day, she's acting like the usual bitter harpy that she is, antagonizing everyone at any chance she got, and my sympathy for her disappeared.

It looked like the girls were finally done talking as both Bella and Kim made their way over to Jared and me. I smiled at her and patted the spot next to me on the big rock for her to sit down. She hopped on and scooted closer to me, leaning her head on my shoulder, as I wrapped my arm around her to keep her nice and warm.

"So, what were you girls chatting about over there?" I asked her, "Must've been pretty juicy to talk about so long."

Bella made an awkward face and began to blush as it looked like she was having some kind of inner debate on whether to tell me.

"Nothing really," she answered, but I knew it was a lie.

I raised a brow at her. "Bella, I know it wasn't 'nothing'."

She glanced over at Kim, who was already in a deep make-out session with Jared, like no one else was around to see them. Get a room, seriously.

Bella sighed, but kept looking at Kim like she was waiting for some kind of response. Kim opened one eye to look at Bella, as if she heard her mental plea for help, but just shrugged as her answer. Bella scowled at her, but she just giggled and went back to kissing Jared.

Bella sighed. "How about I tell you later?"

"And when's later? Later tonight? Tomorrow? Next week?"

"Not sure yet."

I groaned. "Come on, Bells."

"So, when's story time anyway?" She said it all too eagerly, quick to change the subject.

I sighed. "Should be starting pretty soon."

I knew that Billy heard that and I looked over at him for confirmation. He nodded his head and the atmosphere suddenly changed. Without needing to say a thing, everyone began to give Billy their full attention. Paul, Embry, and Quil sat up straight, ending their conversation about girls at school. Jared and Kim came out of make-out mode and Jared held her close to him as they focused on the elders. Emily got out a notebook and pen, probably ready to jot down any information she may have missed the last time she heard these legends. Seth leaned in toward the elders eagerly while Leah closed her eyes in concentration. Sam shifted himself so that he was facing the same direction as Billy and Old Quil, appearing as one of the elders himself.

Bella noticed the change as it became abruptly quiet, with only the crackling of the lively flames in front of us being heard. She leaned in a bit toward the elders as Billy cleared his throat and began. He spoke in a deep, rich voice, being heard clearly over the fire.

"The Quileutes have been a small people from the beginning. And we are a small people still, but we have never disappeared. This is because there has always been magic in our blood. It wasn't always the magic of shape-shifting; that came later. First, we were spirit warriors."

And with that, the stories of our origin were told. Billy told of the spirit warriors and how they protected our people from enemy tribes. He told of the great Taha Aki and his struggles, which put an end to the spirit warriors, but brought forth the wolves we shifted into today. Old Quil eventually picked up the story on the vampires' arrival into our history. He told of the wolves fighting to protect their people from the Cold Ones, the Third Wife's sacrifice, and the eventual treaty with the Cullens.

Bella was completely lost in the stories and her eyes would widen occasionally. I was curious on how she'd react to parts involving vampires. I wondered if it would be hard for her to listen to, considering they were the bad guys in these tales, and in general for that matter. She seemed to take it pretty well though. There'd be a gasp here and there and she'd squeeze a little closer into my side, but I certainly didn't mind that. It was a lot more entertaining watching Bella than listening to the stories, considering I'd already heard them a bunch of times before.

As the tales ended and the magic around the slowly dying fire began to fade away, everyone went back to their casual conversations, though Bella's mind seemed to be off somewhere. Quil and Embry were talking about what they were going to do over the summer and Paul crudely mentioned picking up whatever hot chick he saw, which once again brought back the girl discussion. Jared and Kim were not making out, thank God, but going over the stories they just heard, and Jared answered any questions Kim had. Seth listened to Quil and Embry's conversation in amusement while Leah kept silent to herself. Emily checked her notes with Sam, and Billy talked with Old Quil about sports while Sue kept an eye on her kids.

"Wow," Bella suddenly said, turning to look at me, "All of that's true?"

I nodded. "Yep, apparently. Sound far-fetched?"

"No, nothing sounds unbelievable to me anymore."

"Really now? What about space aliens?"

She rolled her eyes. "Come on, Earth can't be the only place in the universe with life on it."

"Valid point." I tapped my finger at my lip, thinking. "Witches?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Talking trees?"

"Wouldn't surprise me."

"Flying pigs?"

"I think that would tie in with the witches."

I raised an eyebrow. "How?"

"You know, casting a spell that would make pigs fly."

I chuckled. "Sure, sure. Sounds like a useful spell."

We talked like that for a while, coming up with things to do if I was a wizard and she was a witch. We tried avoiding the obvious Harry Potter jokes, but Quil was listening in and just had to mention fighting off Lord Voldemort. Probably the most obvious joke you could make.

It was getting to be a little past midnight and everyone was still pretty lively. The fire had lived a good life, but with nothing left to burn, it was finally done. With no fire, it was significantly darker around our circle, but the moon certainly helped.

"So, any plans for the summer?" Bella asked with a yawn.

"Not sure. It's kind of hard to judge with everything that's going on," I responded.

She grimaced. "You mean with…Victoria and the mystery vampire?"

I sighed and nodded. "Yeah. My options would definitely be more open with them out of the way."

"Have you told Sam about my intruder?"

"Yeah, while you were helping Emily with the food. We'll be outside your house tonight."

I saw some guilt spread across her face as she looked at me. "You'll keep yourself safe, right?"

"Of course I will, Bella." I rubbed her shoulders comfortingly. "But it's your safety I worry about the most."

Before Bella could respond, a long and distant howl echoed through the night air. Everyone's heads perked up and all was silent. I looked around our circle to see if anyone was missing. The first thing that came to my mind was that maybe someone had stepped away and I didn't notice, but no, they were all here. Sam, Embry, Quil, Paul, Jared, Seth, Leah; everyone was here and accounted for. So then who made that howl, that all too familiar howl of panic?

Everyone looked at each other in confusion until we heard another distant howl, different from the last, but still sounding terrified. It was then that I realized they were two separate voices and the rest of the pack knew this too. Sam immediately got to his feet and everyone else followed his lead. We all knew what this meant, and it was crazy.

"Let's go," Sam ordered, "We must hurry."

The whole pack nodded in agreement, while Bella seemed to be the only one confused. Of course.

"I'll take everyone else back to my house," Emily offered.

Billy nodded and looked at Sam. "Make sure to bring them there and anyone else who may have seen."

"Understood," Sam acknowledged.

Jared walked Kim over to Emily, who was now standing by Sue, Billy, and Old Quil. She looked at him worried, but Jared smiled reassuringly.

"We'll be fine. You stay with Emily, okay?" Jared said.

Kim smiled back. "Okay."

"Alright," Sam said in a loud voice, stepping away from the circle, "Let's go."

"Wait!" Bella exclaimed, holding her hand out as the pack started following Sam. She turned to me and took both my hands, squeezing them anxiously, as she looked up at me in a slight panic. "What's going on?"

I sighed and leaned in to whisper to her. "I think we have some new recruits."

Her eyes widened. "New recruits? Like, more werewolves?"

"Most likely."

Her mouth hung open for a moment until she asked eagerly. "Can I come?"

I knew she was going to ask that, it was so Bella.

I groaned and replied calmly. "No, you can't."

Of course, her face fell in disappointment. "Why not?"

"Bells, we're gonna be moving fast. Way too fast for you to hang on to if you were riding me."

"But…" She paused, trying to think of some other way, but she knew I was right.

"Bella, we really don't have time to argue." I looked at everyone else, their eyes on us and expressions impatient. I knew we were holding them up. Hell, the pack was already changing out of their clothes and tying them to their legs as they phased. Sam's giant canine eyes locked on me. I sighed. "Please, just stay with Emily, okay? I'll tell you everything when we get back. You'll probably get to see the new wolves too."

She was still working through her head with ideas to come along, but apparently none of them seemed to work in her favor. She sighed. "Okay."

I smiled. "Good."

She smiled back weakly, still kind of disappointed, so I took the moment to kiss her lips softly. She kissed back a bit deeper and as much as I wanted to just stand here, kissing her for who cares how long, I knew I had to go.

I pulled back and gave her another smile as I made my way toward the others. "I'll be back, Bells."

She just nodded and stood in the same spot, watching as I left. Once Sam saw me heading toward him, he began running further into the woods and the rest followed. With two scared and confused werewolves out there, I didn't have time to change out of my clothes. I shredded what I had on as my wolf broke free and immediately ran through the trees at full speed. Sam focused on listening to the newbies' voices and through their eyes to pinpoint where they were. It wasn't difficult at all, it'd be more difficult trying not to find them.

This is so messed up! one voice shouted.

I'm dreaming! This is a dream! yelled the other voice.

Hm, they sound pretty young, Sam noted.

Even younger than Seth, I'd say, Jared added.

Really? You think? Seth said in excitement, which he quickly tried to hide.

It had always annoyed Seth how everyone viewed him as the weakest link because of his age. He wanted everyone to see how useful he could be, always being the first to volunteer for anything Sam asked, usually patrol related.

If they're younger and obviously less experienced, then maybe I'll look better in comparison. Oh, or maybe I could teach them some stuff. I could be their mentor or something, Seth thought to himself, though we all heard him.

Where are these voices coming from? one of the newbies' thought in panic.

Brady, I thought I could only hear you, which is freaky enough! the other shouted.

Brady. Can't say that I know a Brady from anywhere, but that's one name down.

Both of you remain calm and stay where you are, Sam commanded.

Who are you? What is going on? the voice of Brady asked frantically.

Ugh! I hate this stupid dream! Wake up, dammit! the other voice complained.

As I listened to the mystery voice, I felt as if I'd heard it somewhere before. It sounded kind of familiar, but it couldn't have been someone I'd seen recently, or else I'd recognize it easily. I should've been able to see enough into these new wolves' minds to get some detail on who they were, but their minds were so full of panic that they couldn't think straight.

Listen, this is not a dream, Sam informed, We will be there shortly to explain.

Hey, why not explain some along the way, Jared suggested.

And just like that, Jared went over every detail he had about what we were in his mind. The others echoed this information in their own way, recalling some of their experiences so far. Images were flying through our mind link, like we were sending them through e-mail, all forwarded to the new wolves. I could see us as a pack, both human and wolves. There were the vampires we'd encountered and fought. A portrait of the people we were protecting. A pretty dark and creepy image of the Cullens; courtesy of Leah. And all the imprinters had shown images of their soul mates, whether intentional or not.

What? No, shut up, this isn't real! Brady shouted at us.

It will become clearer once we actually meet face-to-face, Sam assured.

Was that Jacob? What was he doing in those pictures? the other voice asked.

Wait, you know who I am? I asked back.

Suddenly, I started seeing images of the last time me and my cousin Collin last hung out. It had to have been about a year ago, a little before I met Bella at the beach that one day. Collin was admiring the fact that I started building the Rabbit and asked me if he could drive it when I was done, even though he was way too young to drive and still is. And the mystery was solved.

Collin? Collin Littlesea? I thought in astonishment.

Jacob, is that really you? Collin exclaimed.

Whoa, that totally is Collin. What are the odds? Quil thought, slightly amused.

Jacob, what is going on? Really.

Calm down, man. Everything you saw was true. I know it's scary, but things are gonna be okay, I assured him, using a slow and soothing tone to keep him together.

Embry chuckled. Well, as 'okay' as werewolves can get I guess.

We're really werewolves? Brady asked, the panic returning to him, This is impossible!

You both need to trust us. Show us where you're located, Sam commanded.

They were both still pretty freaked, but with knowing someone familiar was a part of this whole thing, Collin was able to calm down and focus on his surroundings a little better. The once blurry picture of two wolves in a dark background was clearing up. I could see dozens of trees scattered about and hear the faint sound of rushing water. One tree in particular had a long and narrow cavity right down the middle starting at its trunk. It almost looked like an entrance to a cave, if someone could fit in there.

I know exactly where that is, Paul thought, I patrol around that area a lot.

With as fast as we were running, we were already nearing the edge of La Push. We had actually passed them by and had to turn back around to get to them. Collin and Brady remained where they were, which made our job much easier, and it didn't take too long getting to them now that we knew where they were. Once we were just a few yards away, we slowed down to a trot as we approached them.

There, in a small clearing surrounded by trees, were two pretty tiny looking wolfs both crouched down in a defensive position. They were still much larger than average wolves, though I'd bet Bella could climb on their backs without them needing to lower themselves. One had dark, ashy-brown fur that sort of looked gray. The other had reddish-brown fur with his face, legs, and tail being a darker shade. I wondered which one was Collin, but I didn't need to for long. As soon as he heard his name from my mind, the reddish-brown wolf looked toward me, his expression shocked at what he was seeing.

Is this still a dream? Brady asked.

This isn't a damn dream, Leah snapped, I wish it were.

This can't be really happening. It can't. This is crazy, Collin thought to himself, his crouched legs starting to shake.

Collin, get a grip, I advised, I know this is crazy, but it's real.

I could hear Collin whimper. But Jake…

Collin, do you remember my dad telling stories about our tribe's history? Remember the legends on werewolves?

He went over what he remembered. Yeah, but they're just stupid stories, right?

I shook my head. Look around you, Collin.

He whimpered again. Yeah…I can see.

What I really found crazy was that this was still happening. Right after we get done hearing the legends, two new wolves appeared. And did it have to be Collin? Did they have to be so young? He was only thirteen and I assumed Brady was too. I didn't even know it was possible to phase at that age.

Can you two tell me how this happened? Sam asked, What do you remember? Were you feeling angry? What do your parents know?

Ah! So many questions, Brady complained.

Leah growled. Quit acting like babies and answer!

Embry bumped her side. Ease up, Leah. They're scared. They just turned into giant wolves.

Leah groaned as we waited patiently for one of them to organize their thoughts well enough for us to understand; well, some more patient than others.

Um… Brady began, I invited Collin over to play some video games, but our TV wasn't working. Mom was trying to fix it, but she said she might have to order a new one. Collin got upset, like, really upset about it. So I thought that maybe we could go outside for some fresh air to calm him down. We had a race along the river and I won. Collin got super pissed and called me a cheater.

Because you cheated, Collin interrupted.

Brady growled. I did not cheat.

Yes, you did.

No, I didn't. I didn't even touch you.

Focus, Sam ordered.

Their heads perked up at Sam and they immediately stopped their arguing. They seemed to already realize that Sam was the authority of our group. He didn't use his alpha voice to make them obey, but they followed his command nonetheless; which I personally found odd.

Sorry, Brady continued, Anyway, Collin got pissed and yelled at me. Then I got angry too and yelled back until we started fighting each other. It was really brief, because when Collin tried to punch me, his fist turned into a paw. It freaked me the hell out and I thought he was gonna kill me, but I managed to avoid his claws by ducking to the ground. But I couldn't get up because my body was shaking. And then Collin howled and I howled and everything was red and I didn't know what was going on and…it was just…

Sam nodded. It's okay, I understand. No one else knows about this, correct?

No, but my mom's probably waiting for us to get back.

Well…that's a problem, Quil thought.

Should we tell his mom? I mean, if we just took them, wouldn't that be kidnapping? Jared asked.

What? Brady and Collin both barked.

Easy, we're not kidnapping you…well, not exactly, I added.

Paul chuckled. No, we're just taking you back to Emily's place for a few days without telling your parents.

Jared grumbled. Not helping…

If it is necessary, then we may have to inform her, Sam noted.

And hopefully, that's not necessary, Embry thought.

Embry had to open his big mouth…or mind. At that moment, we heard a female voice calling about four hundred yards away.

"Brady! Brady, Collin, come back inside!" the woman yelled. We could hear her footsteps as she gradually walked deeper into the trees.

Aw crap… Embry mentally groaned.

Brady jumped at the sound of his mother's voice, hearing her from such a far distance. What do I do? She can't see me like this!

Jacob, you take Brady and Collin back. I'll speak with Brady's mother, Sam volunteered.

Brady yelped. What? Seriously?

Oh man. Good luck, Sam, Jared thought.

Sam grumbled. With any luck, she'll respond to me easy enough to let me explain. Many people on the reservation know of me.

Yeah, everyone knows how awesome Sam is, Seth agreed.

Leah huffed as I saw her turn away from everyone, her thoughts expressing how much she disagreed on that statement.

I'll follow you, Jake, Collin thought to me.

I nodded. Good.

As I saw Sam start walking ahead of us in the direction Brady's mom was still calling out, I wondered how we'd break the news to Collin's parents. I remember them not liking it too much when Billy brought up the old legends whenever they'd visit us.

No! Collin exclaimed as he barked loudly, echoing through the trees.

All eyes were on him now.

What do you mean, no? I asked.

Don't tell my parents!

Umm…

They would…no…no, don't!

I looked over at Sam to get his input and he nodded, telling me it was okay. We would try to keep the secret a secret as much as we could. Anyone outside of family was out of the question, which was what made Bella knowing such an issue at first. Good thing she's family now.

Fine, we can discuss it later, let's just go, I thought to them.

Collin nodded in agreement while Brady looked more hesitant. Sam stood where he was, waiting for us to leave before he went to confront Brady's mom.

Come on guys. We promise to help you through this, Seth assured, trying to sound like some sort of leader.

Collin nudged Brady and started walking toward us. Brady grumbled and followed close behind him, though he was still pretty cautious about this whole thing.

There's still an eighty-percent chance that this is a dream, Brady thought to himself.

I mentally groaned. Whatever, dude, let's just go.

Paul led the way, since he knew the perfect path to take back to Emily's. We all ran at a steady pace, trying not to go too fast since we had new wolves on our hands. Jared and Embry stayed close by them, just in case Brady or Collin got any sudden ideas to make a run for it. They were getting more nervous the closer we got to our destination.

Well, this sure turned into an interesting night, Quil commented.

You got that right, Embry agreed, I guess we'll have to arrange another bonfire, huh?

Are we stuck like this for good? Collin asked, his thoughts filled with worry.

I shook my head. No, that's one thing we're going to help you with.

Becoming human again? Brady asked in excitement.

I looked back at them and grinned. Exactly.

Author's Note: *sigh* I missed November, yadda yadda, college, yadda yadda, I'm so sorry, yadda yadda. Anyway, with Christmas break coming soon, that should allow me much more time to write. I expect a new chapter to get out before December ends, but you guys know me, no promises... -_-; *sigh*

New reader n I love it update soon plzs

19. Breathe (Part 1 of 2)

BELLA SWAN

"So, you ready for finals?" Mike asked with a sigh.

I closed my locker after putting everything but my history book away. I turned around to look at him, his face displaying the same irritation that his tone translated into.

I shrugged. "I think so."

"Exactly. We're just going over stuff we already know. How come we can't just take the finals now and get out of school a few days early?"

"I guess some students need extra days to review. Not all of us are geniuses."

He groaned. "I should just skip Tuesday and Wednesday."

"Well, don't get too lazy and forget the material."

"I won't. They hammered the stuff into my brain so much that studying might cause more damage." He paused as something caught his eye. "Hey, are you going to that?"

He pointed at a large yellow poster on the wall and I groaned as I saw the words "Senior Graduation Party" written in sharp black marker along with the date and location written below.

"Yes, more like forced to go," I sighed.

"I don't think they've ever thrown a party before. No one's ever been to their house…well, except for you."

"That would be the only time I wouldn't want to go."

"How come?"

"Because Bella doesn't know how to have fun," Alice's voice suddenly rang from across the hall.

I turned my head to see Alice skipping her way over to us along with Edward who walked in a casual manner. She smirked at me teasingly and I rolled my eyes while Mike seemed to step away as they both came to my side.

"I have my own definition of 'fun'," I said.

"Whatever. You're going to love the party, Bella. I just know it," Alice sang, giving a cheerful grin.

"And everyone's invited to this thing?" Mike asked.

She nodded. "Yep, the whole senior class."

"Wow…"

He seemed to go off in thought for a second and I heard Edward chuckle lightly beside me, I assumed at whatever was going through Mike's head.

"Well, I guess I'll see you guys on the final days," Mike announced to us, though he was focusing on me.

"So you really are going to skip the next two days," I asked.

"Yeah…unless you wanted to hang out or something," he suggested in a hopeful tone, "I could come for that or just meet somewhere after school."

Edward rolled his eyes. "Bella will be pretty busy those days as well."

Mike glanced at Edward in annoyance for second, but went back to focusing on me. "You'll be busy?"

Edward looked at me out the corner of his eyes, telling me that I should agree. I nodded, even though I was going to refuse anyway.

"Yeah, sorry. I already made plans and it wouldn't hurt to do some extra studying."

"Oh, alright then…" Mike said. He was obviously disappointed, though he tried to hide it with a smile. "I'll see you later, Bella."

As he walked away toward the main exit along with the other crowd of students leaving school, I heard a high-pitched ringing come from Edward's pocket. He quickly got out his cell phone and put it to his ear to talk.

"Yes?" he answered as he waited for whoever was calling's response.

As he listened, his expression hardened. I saw Alice make a slight grimace as I could tell she was listening to the call as well. Most of the students in the hall were already gone and the silence kind of got to me as my heart started beating a little faster. I was anxiously waiting for Edward to speak again so I'd know that everything was alright.

"No, she hasn't," he finally said, "I know…I'm not sure, neither is she…what did he suggest…?"

There was another pause, though this time not as long. Edward groaned and then began talking so fast and quiet that I couldn't make out what he was saying to save my life. Even though I didn't know what he was saying, he clearly didn't look too happy.

"Alright, we'll talk more when we get home," he said with a sigh, "See ya."

He closed his phone and put it back in his pocket swiftly. Alice looked at him and they both seemed to have a wordless conversation with each other. Edward however couldn't ignore my concerned stare for much longer and suddenly looked at me with a smirk.

"I guess Mike still hasn't given up yet, huh."

I furrowed my brows in confusion. "What? Given up on what?"

He shook his head, feigning disappointment. "Given up on you."

"On me?" I was still a little confused. Was that related to what he was talking about on the phone? "He should have. He should know better."

"Apparently he doesn't. 'Hanging out'-" He made air quotes with his fingers. "-was just an invitation to a date."

I shook my head in real disappointment. "He should know better by now. Jake would rip him to shreds."

"I'm sure he would…" He then muttered something that I couldn't make out.

"So, you're not going to tell her?" Alice asked.

Edward turned to glare at her, but she just crossed her arms over her chest unconcerned. My eyes shifted between them as I wondered if they were having another silent conversation.

"Tell me what?" I asked Edward.

He shook his head, though his eyes were still on Alice. "It's nothing, Bella."

"Nothing…?" I didn't believe that for a second. "Wait, what were you talking about on the phone. It sounded serious."

He didn't say anything; he just kept glaring at Alice while she maintained her composure easily.

"Was it really about Mike?"

Alice sighed. "Of course not."

"Then what?"

They continued staring at each other and I was growing more and more impatient.

"And can we make it quick? Jake is waiting for me outside."

"Well," Alice said to Edward, "Either you tell her or I do."

"Alice…" Edward said in warning.

"Tell me what?" I asked anxiously.

She finally turned her head toward me. "About what's been going on in Seattle."

"Alice…!" Edward warned again.

My eyes widened. "Seattle? What about Seattle?" I turned toward Edward. "Edward, what's she talking about?"

He groaned and suddenly grabbed my hand as he pulled me into an empty class room. Alice followed as we stopped at the far corner of the room away from the door. Edward let go of my hand and stepped back a bit while Alice held my history book for me and sat down at one of the desks. I looked at them both, waiting for one of them to speak.

Edward sighed deeply before he began. "The vampire situation in Seattle has gotten very serious. The number of deaths and missing people is increasing fast and everyone is noticing. It's all over TV and made front page in the newspaper. We're definitely dealing with a very large group of newborns who are out of control."

I gulped and nodded my head slowly.

"Things can't continue like this. We need to do something about it very soon…and we will."

"Wait," I said, "You mean…you guys are going to fight them?"

He nodded slowly. "That's the plan."

I shuddered. "No…"

I knew that they were thinking about checking it out if things got worse, but I thought it would blow over. Even if they were to go, I didn't think that they'd actually have to fight. It seemed obvious to me now, but I hadn't realized how big of a deal it could be.

"We'd made up our minds to go," he continued, "But we wanted to wait until we saw a clear outcome from Alice or at least more details. However…"

Alice sighed in frustration. "I can't see anything and I have no idea why."

He nodded. "I did have a theory. I was thinking it could be because we were waiting for Alice to see something before we actually went, but because we wouldn't go until she actually did see something, she couldn't see us going. However, we'd recently decided to go in blind and even then…"

"I still can't see anything," she finished for him.

"This is crazy," I exhaled as I realized I wasn't breathing, "First there's Victoria, then the stranger in my room, and now you have to fight a group of vampires? The first two were scary enough; you're putting yourself in so much danger." I tried to breathe steadily as Edward put his hand on my shoulder comfortingly. "Didn't you say it wasn't your problem? Can't someone else do this?"

"It's true that this is definitely something the Volturi should be taking care of, but for whatever reason, they haven't done anything yet. Carlisle finds this very strange," Edward clarified.

"It really can't look good for the Volturi if a local coven had to go and do their job for them," Alice commented.

"That's true and we don't want to risk drawing unnecessary attention, but we can't let this continue. At this rate, the newborns could branch out to other locations, possibly Forks. If they were to find us, then I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted to take out the competition. We need to stop them now before they get larger."

"The Volturi wouldn't let things get that out of hand, would they?"

He shrugged. "They haven't done anything so far, who knows. And if the Volturi decide to pay us a visit about the situation, then so be it. It shouldn't be a problem."

"Um…Bella, you should breathe," Alice cautioned.

I gasped as I realized I wasn't breathing again. Edward rubbed my back as I exhaled in heavy gusts. I didn't know exactly who the Volturi were, only that they were the law of the vampire world and they shouldn't be messed with. Did I have to worry about them coming here as well? So much was happening all at once. So many things would endanger the lives of my family; both of them.

Edward glared at Alice again. "Do you see now why I didn't want to tell her?"

"She still deserves to be informed," she said, "How would you feel if a bunch of people you cared about just disappeared one day and you had no idea why?"

I felt my heart drop and shivered at the thought of the Cullens disappearing and not coming back. Edward felt my panic and held me to him with one arm. I rested my head on his chest as I tried to calm my racing heart.

Alice grimaced like she regretted what she said and got up from her seat to stand next to me and Edward. "Not that that's going to happen. We'll be fine, Bella."

"How are you so sure?" I asked in a shaking voice.

"We're a strong family, Bella. You know Jasper's an expert on newborns, he'll know what to do. We should be okay, even without the Denali's help."

"Alice…" Edward growled.

She frowned. "Was I not supposed to say that either?"

I turned to look at Alice confused. "The Denali?"

"Sorry, I'm not sure if I should say anymore." She raised a brow at Edward, indicating that it was his call.

I looked up at him as well. "Edward…"

He groaned. "You know I've told you about the Denali coven before. They're like our extended family and we're very close. We asked them recently if they could help us, but they declined."

"What? Why?"

"Laurent…" He paused for a moment to check my reaction to his name. I nodded before he continued. "He stayed with the Denali for a while. During that time, he and Irina built a pretty strong relationship. The Denali eventually found out about his death and Irina has wanted to avenge him for a while. They had agreed to fight with us if it would allow them to kill the ones that killed Laurent."

"No!" I shouted.

Edward and Alice both darted their heads toward the door and looked as if they were listening to make sure no one heard my outburst. I grimaced and covered my mouth until they both turned back to me once the coast was clear.

"Of course we told them 'no'," he continued, "And Irina wasn't too happy about that. She believed we preferred the werewolves over them and thought we were traitors. She talked the others out of helping us fight."

Things were just getting worse and worse, I couldn't believe this. Now there was a vampire named Irina who wanted to kill the pack?

"Bella, I can guarantee you that the Denali won't attack your wolves," he assured, like he could actually read my mind, "A bit of a family feud I guess, but they wouldn't do anything they knew we were completely against."

I tried to breathe steadily, but I couldn't hide how shook up I was. "W-when are you guys leaving…?"

"Probably sometime after graduation," Alice answered.

I cringed. "This is all too much…." I looked back up at Edward. "Were you ever going to tell me?"

He shook his head. "I knew you'd react this way. Besides, it doesn't concern you."

"How does it not concern me?"

"Unlike Victoria and possibly the stranger in your room, these vampires aren't targeting you or anyone in particular. They're just a menace that we can't allow to get any bigger. It's not something you need to know."

"But you're putting yourself in danger. Why shouldn't I know this?"

"You're overreacting. Have you forgotten how strong we are, Bella?"

I groaned. "You sound like Emmett. They're strong too and you said they come in numbers."

"I'm not going to get myself killed, if you're so worried about that. Do you really think I'm stupid enough to allow that to happen?"

I grimaced. "I don't know…"

"I'm not. You're worrying for nothing."

"I still want to know these things though."

"I'm not your boyfriend, Bella!" he suddenly shouted in a piercing tone, "I don't need to tell you every damn thing that goes on in my life."

I recoiled away from him, feeling his words do their job and cut at me. I looked at him shocked for a moment until I felt my anger build and finally break free.

"You're right!" I shouted back, "He's waiting for me outside."

I shoved Edward out of the way, though I ended up moving myself more than I did him. I kept my head forward and didn't look back as I made my way towards the main exit. As I walked outside, I noticed that there were still a fair number of students talking casually in the parking lot. Jacob was standing next to his motorcycle parked in the spot I usually parked my truck. Ever since Alice started driving me to school, I hadn't been using it much.

I walked over to Jacob and he grinned as he saw me coming. I smiled back and opened my arms for a hug which he happily provided.

"Hey, Bells," he greeted, giving me a quick kiss on the forehead, "Took you long enough to get out here."

I sighed. "Yeah, I know. Sorry."

"You don't look so good." He raised my head up by the chin to examine my face.

"Gee, thanks. Every girl wants to hear that."

I shrugged out of his embrace and quickly hopped onto the back of his bike, eager to leave.

"Bella, you always look beautiful," he said as he got on after me, "But I can tell something's up."

"Observant as always…" I sighed and wrapped my arms tightly around his waist as he revved the engine.

"Are you gonna tell me?"

"I guess I should. You deserve to know."

"Hell yeah I do." He grinned and took off, jetting out the parking lot and onto the long road to La Push. "Know what, by the way?"

I sighed deeply before explaining, unintentionally mimicking Edward. "The last time you came with me to the Cullens' house, do you remember them talking about vampires in Seattle?"

"Yeah, it's all over the news. People think it's some kind of serial killer. What about it?"

"Well…" I took a deep breath. "The Cullens are going to…stop them."

He looked back at me for a second to check my expression. "Okay, well that's good."

I shook my head. "No. No, it's not."

He sighed. "I know, I know, you're worried about them, right?"

"Is that bad?"

"No, but come on. At least they're doing something useful."

"Oh, and looking out for Victoria and mystery vampire isn't useful enough?"

He turned to look at me again so I could see him roll his eyes. "Those are things that we could handle on our own. Killing a bunch of bloodsuckers in a not so familiar environment, with a bunch of people around to see us without the luxury of hiding in the trees…not so much. It's good that they're doing it. They can blend in better."

"I still wish they wouldn't go."

"Would you rather a pack of wolves go?"

"No!" I held him tighter. "I don't want anyone to go."

"So you're cool with parasites sucking the life out of Seattle?"

I groaned. "No. They don't have to go. They could wait just a little longer. There's still the Volturi."

He looked at me confused. "The Vol-whaty?"

"Edward told me that they're a coven of vampires that maintain order. If something, somewhere gets out of hand, they put a stop to it. But things are pretty bad in Seattle and the Cullens are surprised they haven't stepped in yet."

"Vampires not doing their job. What else is new?"

I gave him a quick jab with my elbow. "Jake…"

He shrugged. "I'm sure the Cullens know what they're doing."

I nodded slowly. "Yeah…I hope so."

I rested my head on his back the rest of the way there. The trees that passed by were familiar, but in a different way. I knew we weren't going to Jacob's house, which did make sense with what happened Saturday night.

"How are Brady and Collin doing?" I asked as Jacob came to a stop outside of Emily's house.

"Still wolves," he sighed.

"So they haven't managed to turn into humans yet?"

"Not yet, but we've been working with them almost twenty-four seven. We only stop if we have to patrol or guard your house at night. It's been pretty busy."

I nodded as I got off the bike. "And Collin's parents?"

"He still doesn't want them to know. They really don't like those legends and hate how people like my dad take them so seriously. Collin's afraid that if they find out it's true and he's proof of it, they'll freak out and disown him or something."

"What? Would they really do that?"

"I don't know, but Collin doesn't want to find out. I gotta say, we were pretty lucky that Brady's mom took the news so well…or at least well enough. She only fainted one time when she saw him. I consider that a success."

I giggled and took his hand as we walked to the front door. "Are Collin's parents really okay with him being gone for a few days? What did Sam end up telling them?"

"You mean 'what did Ms. Fuller end up telling them?'" He smirked as he corrected me. "You can tell that Collin and Brady are best friends, right?"

I smiled. "Oh yeah." That was the first thing I picked up the moment I saw them. Even as wolves, it was easy to see. They always stuck close together and they talked to each other a lot, even though I couldn't understand what they were saying. Yesterday they had a wrestling match to test their new wolf strength and they reminded me of two puppies playing with each other. It was pretty cute.

"Well their parents are good friends too. Brady's mom told Collin's parents that he was staying at their place for a few days. That's all they needed to know, they didn't ask why." He chuckled.

"That is lucky."

"You're telling me."

He opened the door and we both stepped inside. Emily smiled at us as we walked in and Embry could be seen around the corner, sitting on the couch in the living room. There was a large tray of chocolate chip cookies on the counter, although they were a little more than half way gone.

"Hey Emily," Jacob greeted, "And hey cookies. Don't mind if I do."

Emily giggled as Jake ran over to grab four cookies. "Nice to see you too, Jake." She looked at me and smiled. "And you too, Bella."

I smiled back and went over to give her a hug. Jake handed me two cookies, but I just took one and let him have the other.

"What? You're not gonna say hi to me?" Embry complained from the couch, his mouth full from a cookie he was eating.

Jacob chuckled teasingly. "Nope."

"Hi Embry," I called out.

"See, Bella's a lot nicer," Embry said as he walked up to us and rolled his eyes at Jake, "Thanks 'friend'."

Jake smirked and patted his shoulder. "Anytime, buddy."

As Jacob took his hand away, my eyes widened when I saw Embry's shoulder. He had a thick pink scar that stretched out to the end of his neck. In some areas I could see that it was starting to redden, matching the color of his skin more.

"Whoa, what happened there?" Jacob asked.

Embry groaned. "Leah."

"Ah, I see." He nodded to himself. "What'd you do to piss her off this time?"

"Well…I was just trying to-"

"He imagined Leah naked," Emily said for him.

Embry gave Emily an annoyed stare. "I was getting to that part."

"That's basically it, right?" She giggled and shook her head.

I crossed my arms and glared at Embry, trying to send guilt his way. It worked as he grimaced and Jake chuckled lightly.

"Hey, I didn't do it on purpose, but of course Leah didn't care," he explained, "Sam was showing Brady and Collin how to phase back into humans a few times and me and Seth did the same thing. Brady made a comment about seeing us naked being a normal thing and Collin wondered if Leah also applied to that. So…"

Jake nodded. "I understand."

Embry sighed deeply and scratched his shoulder. "The image just came to my mind and Leah bit me. Can't say Seth or Sam appreciated it, but Collin sure did."

"He did?"

"Oh yeah. He was mentally drooling." He laughed. "Brady enjoyed the view too, but Collin…man." He paused for a moment. "Actually, why the hell didn't she bite him instead?"

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the thought that imagining the wrong thing could happen so easily for them. I couldn't help glancing at Jake, wondering what he's seen or thought.

"He's young and new at the werewolf thing. Give him a break," Jacob said.

Embry rolled his eyes. "Right, you get bitten in the shoulder and see if you still think that."

Jake shrugged. "By the way, where is everyone?"

"Leah ran off, she said she wanted to be alone." He looked out the window. "Sam and Seth are further into the woods helping Brady and Collin out. The others are patrolling." He turned back to Jacob. "Sam was waiting for you actually. He thought it would especially help Collin if you were there to support him, since he's your cousin."

Jake nodded. "Right. I'll be right there. You coming too?"

"Nah, they don't really need me now that you're here. I just came here for a cookie break after the whole Leah thing. I think I'll go patrol with the others now."

"Alright, have fun."

"Psh! Unless the redhead actually shows up, that's not likely." He chuckled and waved at us as he ran out the door.

Emily chuckled quietly and went upstairs, while something that I couldn't make out by its smell cooked in the oven. Jacob took both my hands into his and looked at me apologetically.

"Sorry, Bells. Depending on how Collin and Brady do today, I might not have time to do something fun with you. It's been a busy couple of days."

I squeezed his hands softly and smiled. "It's fine, Jake, I know you have responsibilities. Besides, I don't mind watching you."

"You don't think it'll be boring?"

"As long as I'm with you, no."

He grinned. "Hopefully I'm entertaining enough for you."

"You always are."

He let go one hand to open the door as he led me outside. I stuck close to his side, walking away from Emily's house and further into the trees. It was a pretty clear day out, which was rare around here, but I always enjoyed it. Once we were far enough that Emily's house was out of view from behind, Jacob stopped and took his hand away. I looked at him wondering what was up as he looked at what appeared to be a clearing.

"They're just up ahead," he said and focused back on me, "I should probably change now."

"Oh, alright. Do you want me to hold your clothes?"

"Yeah, thanks. Sure beats tying them to my leg."

He turned and started walking towards a thick tree covered in moss, obviously to change his clothes behind. Wouldn't it have been easier to just take his clothes off here and hand them to me? Did he not want me to see him naked? I could always just close my eyes.

"Hey, Jake," I called as the thought hit me.

He stopped and turned around to look at me. "Yeah?"

"Um…Embry said that he imagined Leah naked. Was it just his imagination or has he really seen her?"

"Well, yeah, he's seen her."

"How?"

His expression turned uncomfortable. "When you're in a pack phasing in and out of your wolf form a lot, it's bound to happen." He started looking up at the tree branches, avoiding eye contact with me. I could tell he knew what I was going to ask next.

"So…have you seen her?"

He grimaced and kept his eyes on the trees. "Yeah…we all have."

I nodded slowly and sighed. I should've known that and deep down I really did; I just hoped my logical assumption was wrong.

"It's nothing really, Bella," he continued, "It's not like we want to see her naked, it just happens sometimes like it does to the rest of us." He shrugged and looked back at me. "I mean sure, the guys that aren't already attached get some enjoyment out of what they see, but that usually leads to an immediate ass kicking."

"So, is she easy to think about? Embry slipped with just a mention of it."

"I guess. She's a royal pain, but it's not like she isn't worth thinking about if there were no consequences. Paul and Embry do sometimes and I guess Collin will be too. Quil used to a lot before he imprinted."

"And…what about you?" I hesitated to ask.

He sighed and shook his head. "No, Bella." He smiled. "I'd much rather think about you."

I frowned. "You've thought about me? While they were looking?"

He grimaced and his eyes started wondering off again. "Um…"

"Have you?" I stepped closer to him, trying to read his face.

He glanced at me for a split second before his expression turned guilty. "Yeah."

I gasped. "Jacob!"

"It wasn't on purpose, I swear." He looked at me, pleading for forgiveness. "I think about you a lot, I can't help it. It's not always in that way, but…I mean, if I see your 'you know' for the first time, it's gonna be hard to keep my mind off of."

I blushed deeply and my arms reflexively crossed over my chest to cover them. I cringed to know that the whole pack saw what Jacob and I had been doing, or at least tried to do. I wondered if any moment we shared, just the two of us, was ever private.

"Bella, I'm sorry. I hate it too." He put his hands on my shoulders gently. "We've all slipped and thought of things we never wanted to share. I can't tell you how many times I've had to see Jared and Kim or Sam and Emily getting it on. Then there's Paul with the latest girl he managed to take home, though I think he was kind of proud to show that. And sometimes Leah would accidently think about Sam when they were together. Oh man, that was really awkward. Seth was horrified."

"Okay, I get it." I stopped him. I wondered if Emily and Kim knew this too. Was it just something that I had to accept, being a wolf girl and all? I sighed. "Sometimes I wish you were still human."

His face fell as his eyes looked to the ground. "Me too."

My eyes widened when I realized what I said, and seeing Jacob's saddened expression upset me just as much. I wrapped my arms tightly around him, feeling the need to comfort and undo my own mistake.

"I didn't mean it like that. I wouldn't want to change you or anything. I'm happy with the way you are."

"You really mean that or are you just saying what I want to hear?"

"I mean it. I love you just the way you are. Remember?"

He smiled my favorite smile, knowing that he said the same thing to me before. "Yeah, I remember."

I couldn't help smiling back as he leaned in to kiss me softly. It was brief, but just as nice as ever.

His head perked up as he heard a noise in the distance that I couldn't hear. He turned back toward the thick tree with moss and swiftly ran behind it. In less than a minute, he came out on all fours with his folded clothes in his mouth and shoes placed at the side of the tree. I walked over to grab his shoes and took his clothes from him, holding them in one arm. We continued walking toward the clearing like we were before. Jacob kept his pace slow enough for me to easily keep up.

19. Breathe (Part 2 of 2)

BELLA SWAN

We made it to a wide clearing that slanted inward almost like a bowl. In the center, I could see Brady and Collin standing next to each other as wolves. Their canine expressions seemed to display discomfort and it made sense when I saw what they were staring at. I gasped when I saw Sam's non-furry self begin to stand up after being hunched over from just phasing. Of course he wasn't wearing anything and as he turned toward us after hearing our arrival I could see him grimace; he obviously picked the wrong time to phase. Jacob grumbled in annoyance and I hid my face in his fur before I could see any more.

Sam cleared his throat, hearing a bit of embarrassment in it. "Alright, that's enough demonstrations for today. You two have got this, you're very close. Keep trying."

I heard them grunt in response along with the shuffling of paws on the ground. I felt something nudge my shoulder twice and I removed my face from Jake's fur to see what it was. Seth was right beside me with a wolf grin, nudging my shoulder again in greeting. I smiled at him and lightly rubbed his snout. He looked like he was about to do something else as he opened his mouth with his tongue hanging out, but he suddenly stopped when Jake looked at him. Seth turned his head to the side and whined but Jake coughed out a laugh, causing Seth to laugh as well. I wished I could understand whatever joke they made, if it was even a joke.

Seth turned to focus on Brady and Collin as Jake did the same. I followed their gaze cautiously and sighed in relief when I saw Sam was close by them, now wearing a pair of shorts.

"Collin, you first," Sam instructed.

Collin nodded and looked over at Jacob. Jake grumbled at him with a straight face like he was sharing words of encouragement before Collin stepped away from Brady and Sam, needing the space. I watched curiously as it became completely silent. Collin stared at the grass for about three minutes like he was concentrating really hard. Slowly, his body began to shake and he tried holding back a growl. He steadily lifted up on his hind legs as they trembled to keep him balanced. His balance didn't last long though. He collapsed back onto the ground and his shaking became more violent as he let out several loud growls. He curled into himself and closed his eyes until the shaking stopped. Once he calmed down, he opened his eyes and whimpered in disappointment when he saw he was still a wolf.

"That was a good try, but remember your transformation doesn't have to be perfect. You don't need to stand up, as long as you become human again," Sam said and gestured toward Jacob, "He's able to because he's skilled in that area. You two are still new."

Collin nodded and stepped back as Brady took his place, it being his turn. Things continued like that for an hour and a half. Brady and Collin would take turns trying to phase. Their bodies would shake as they tried to concentrate on controlling it so they would mold into their human selves. They would then shake out of control and end up trying to keep their current shape in order to stop the shaking. At this point, they were both getting frustrated.

"Alright, maybe we should take a break for now and try again later," Sam advised, "You'll need to be calm and able to concentrate on what you want in order to do this."

Brady and Collin both looked at each other for a moment and then back at Sam to shake their heads. They were annoyed that they still hadn't managed to be human yet, but they didn't look like they wanted to quit.

Sam looked at them surprised. "Are you two sure? Remember you need to be calm."

They nodded and both looked to the ground in concentration. They'd always tried phasing individually, but it looked like they were both going to try together. Sam watched carefully as they began to tremble again. They shook for a few minutes but never to the point where they seemed out of control, though not completely in control either. They eventually stopped shaking and it looked like they couldn't manage phasing again as they crouched to the ground, both looking upset. However, I gasped when I noticed Collin's tail begin to shrink. Brady was changing as well, his fur started to retract and nose sank in. I looked on in amazement as both their bodies slowly molded into that of a human. One had naturally dark tan skin, brown eyes, and black hair that came down to chin length and spread outward like a wave; Brady. The other had russet skin like Jacob, brown eyes, and black hair that stuck to his head rather than flow freely to look like it was cut short; Collin. They both looked much older than thirteen, much like everyone else in the pack looked older than they really were.

"Yes!" Collin shouted in excitement as he jumped to his feet and threw his hands in the air.

"Finally, oh my god!" Brady cheered and got to his feet as well, running around happily on two feet.

Once again, I was staring at two naked werewolves, so I hid my face back into Jacob's fur. Then the thought hit me. Why was it that, at this point, the only male in the pack who I hadn't seen naked was Jacob, the one person I should be allowed to see? Shouldn't it have been the opposite? I never wanted to see the others like that, yet it kept happening. And even though I'd spent so much more time with Jacob, nothing's ever happened. Why?

I heard Seth howl in celebration of Brady and Collin turning back into their human selves and Jacob laughed beside me.

"Excellent, you two surprised me," Sam complimented.

"Yeah, I'm not furry anymore! Not furry anymore!" Collin cheered.

Brady laughed. "Dude, have you always been that tall?"

"No, have you?"

"Man, look at us. This is one hell of a gro-" Something cut him off. "Ow! OW! Oh god, my arm's cramped up!"

Collin laughed. "Pansy. I feel fine."

"Oh, well why don't you move then and see what happens?" He still sounded like he was in pain.

"Fine." Collin paused. "See, nothing…OUCH!"

"Yeah, that's what I thought."

"Your muscles will be very tense for a while. Your bodies are still adjusting to phasing in and out of your wolf forms. With time and practice, it'll become much easier and less painful," Sam informed.

Collin chuckled. "Hey Brady, we have muscles. When did that happen?"

"I don't know about you, but I've always had mine," Brady teased.

"Wow, I didn't know flab was another word for muscle."

"Oh, shut up. By the way, Sam, how do we turn back into wolves when we want to?"

"Brady, why would you ask that? It was hard enough becoming human again. What if we just got lucky? What if we go wolf and never go back?"

"Both are things that you both will need to practice," Sam said, "But it's much easier to go into your wolf form, that's for sure. Remember what I told you guys, always keep your cool. Watch your temper."

"Yes, sir," Brady and Collin said at once.

"You guys will do fine, I know it," Seth encouraged, his voice taking me by surprise. I thought he was a wolf at the moment.

"For now, you two deserve a break. Let's head back to the house," Sam directed.

"Yes, sir," they said again. There was a great sense of loyalty in their tones.

I kept my face hidden in Jacob's fur as I heard the others walk away. The groaning from Brady and Collin, I assumed from still being soar, gradually got more distant until it was completely quiet. I felt Jacob nudge my side and I stepped back to look at him. He gave me a wolf grin and gently rubbed against my shoulder. I smiled back and gave him a quick hug around the neck before handing him his clothes that were still neatly folded. He took them into his mouth and I set his shoes on the ground as he looked around for a tree to change behind, one that was wide enough to cover him. Once he found a good one, he glanced at me for a moment to tell me he'd be right back.

"Wait, Jake," I suddenly blurted out.

He turned his head to the side, wondering what I needed to say.

I blushed deeply, knowing what I was about to say. My eyes started to wonder and avoid contact with his like he was doing earlier. I looked to the ground, hoping that would help make things easier, but I could see Jacob trying to keep up with my face.

"Um…" I hesitated for a moment, but took a deep breath and just said it. "It's okay to change in front of me. You don't have to go behind a tree every time if changing where you are is easier."

I saw his already huge black eyes widen in shock. He almost dropped the clothes he was holding in his mouth as it popped open.

I blushed even deeper. "If you're afraid of offending me or making me uncomfortable, don't be. I'm fine."

He was quiet for a moment. He looked like he was thinking really hard about it.

"Unless you are uncomfortable changing in front of me, then that's different. If you're not comfortable with it, that's fine. You don't have to do anything you don't want to."

I never thought I'd be saying that to Jacob, but I hadn't imagined that he'd be the uncomfortable one. Maybe I should have. Was he actually apprehensive about that sort of thing? I knew that if the tables were turned, I would be.

I didn't need to think for long though as Jacob let his clothes drop to the ground and he suddenly lifted up on his hind legs. I looked in shock as his huge russet colored wolf shrank and molded into the shape of a human in less than a second. My jaw dropped.

There he was, all of him standing right in front of me. He glanced at himself then back at me, smiling nervously at how much I was staring.

"Bella, you should probably breathe," he reminded.

I tried to breathe again, but he honestly took my breath away, as corny as that sounded. He was beautiful. I wasn't sure how much of a difference taking away shorts would make, since I'd seen him from the waist up many times, but it did.

His russet skin seemed to glow from the subtle sunlight that shone through the trees. The tight muscles on his shoulders trailed to his bulking biceps and strong arms. However they were no distraction from his perfectly shaped chest and tightened abs. The curves around his strong waistline led me to take in his thick thighs and toned legs that certainly made me believe he could run as fast as he could. I almost felt like I would pass out as I took in a certain part of him in the front that definitely didn't disappoint.

"Uh…Bella, that's kinda creepy," he said as I continued gazing at him. He grimaced like he felt self-conscious about how much I was staring, but I honestly didn't think I could keep my eyes away.

He kept his eyes on me almost cautiously as he picked up his clothes to put them on. I almost told him to stop, but he just held them in his hand as he stared back at me, looking sort of freaked out. I found myself slowly moving closer to him and he seemed to freeze.

"Bella…?" he said like he was calling out to me, trying to snap me out of whatever spell he had me on.

I didn't respond. I just kept making my way over to him until I was able to touch him. I placed my hand on his shoulder and looked up to gaze into his eyes.

"You know, you're looking like a real creeper right now," he whispered.

"Shut up," I whispered back.

I reached up to the back of his neck and pulled him down to press my lips to his. Our lips moved together in perfect synchronization as he wrapped his arms tightly around my waist. I completely melted into his warmth as I held onto him with one hand while my other touched and explored his body. I ran my fingers across his shoulder and down his arm until I made it to his chest. My heart was racing as I slowly moved down his side and lightly rubbed his hips.

I felt something poke my thigh and Jacob suddenly pulled back with a grimace as his face seemed to redden more than it already was. I looked at him confused until I glanced down to see what poked me.

"Sorry…" he mumbled, his expression completely embarrassed

I shook my head. "No, no, it's okay."

I started to lift up my shirt, but he grabbed my arm to stop me.

"Whoa, whoa, Bella. Hold on," he cautioned.

I frowned. "Why?"

"Everyone's expecting us back at Emily's house. They'd probably wonder where we went and start looking."

"But…" I racked my brain for ways this could work.

"And they're fast, Bella. Do you want to get interrupted again?"

I sighed. "No."

"Right. Remember when we said we'd wait until the time was right?"

"The time isn't right now?"

He shrugged. "I dunno. I'm not feeling it."

"I am."

"No, you're just 'excited'." He chuckled. "I don't think that counts. I'd say we were both pretty 'excited' the first two times and that didn't work out."

He was right. Even though I wanted him badly, I knew that something didn't feel quite right. I couldn't really explain it and I doubt Jake could either, but I felt like there was something missing.

"We'll just have to wait for that sign I was talking about."

I smiled. "Should I make a sign and paint the word 'NOW' on it?"

He laughed. "No, that'd be cheating."

He kissed me briefly before stepping back to put his clothes back on. I sighed sadly as more and more of him got covered. He put his shoes on and smiled apologetically as he took my hand to walk back to the house.

"So, does this mean I get to see you naked now?" he asked hopefully.

"Will you be thinking about it when you're a wolf?"

His expression turned guilty. "I'd try not to, but probably."

"Then no."

"Aw, come on. If you were a wolf, I know you'd still be thinking about what you just saw."

"No I wouldn't." I lied.

"Oh, please. You should've seen the way you were looking at me."

"Was it really that creepy?"

"Let's just say that if I didn't like it, you'd be arrested."

"Whatever." I jabbed him in the side and he laughed.

The rest of my time with Jacob for the day was busy, but I enjoyed it. Brady and Collin rested on the couch and floor all day, letting their bodies rest. They had thankfully gotten some clothes on them before we got there. Not only were they tired, but also hungry and feeding two hungry werewolves was no easy task. Jake and I volunteered to help Emily cook, which was mainly hamburgers and seasoned potatoes. Brady and Collin were like two black holes, they never got full. I completely lost count on how many burgers Jake made alone, not counting the ones I prepared. The potatoes took longer to make, so they ate more burgers than potatoes, though they enjoyed both a lot.

With all the cooking and walking around, I was pretty tired when it was time to go home. Miraculously, there were still a few burgers left as Brady and Collin fell asleep before they could finish the rest. I figured it'd be easier to take some home for Charlie rather than cook a new dinner, so I did that. I was all cooked out. Jacob drove me home and kissed me goodnight before he left for his own house. Charlie was happy to see the burgers and I let him have at them as I went upstairs to get some sleep. I was so tired I barely managed to get my pajamas on. I quickly turned the light off and plopped onto my bed, not bothering to pull the covers over me.

I wasn't aware of how long I slept, but I knew it was a pleasant sleep until the images started coming to me. It'd been a while since I had a bad dream, but this one was terrifying in a different way. I was looking out over a never ending ocean, though the water was as murky as a swamp. I couldn't keep my eyes off of it as I could see human figures begin to come out of the water and slowly make their way towards me. There were a lot of them and they were pitched black, even though the sun was shining brightly. The only color they showed were from their bright red eyes that shined like search lights. Suddenly, all of the Cullens were in front of me in defensive positions, hissing and glaring at the dark figures in the water. I yelled at them to stop, but I was too late as they each lunged for the water. As soon as they touched the dark figures with piercing red eyes, they all completely broke apart. Carlisle, Esme, Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper, Alice; their shattered remains sunk into the ocean.

I looked around for Edward as I didn't see him run out to fight. I called his name, begging for him to answer me, wherever he was. In an instant, one of the dark figures lunged for me and grabbed my arms. I screamed and tried to break free, but I lost my will to fight once I saw the figure's face. He looked just like Edward. The rest of his body was still completely black, but his face was one hundred percent Edward. He whispered softly in my ear "You will be mine" before his face began to change shape. His hair grew longer and became much redder in color, his facial features softened to a great degree, and I completely froze as I looked into the eyes of Victoria, her teeth just inches from my neck.

"Bella, Bella," a velvety smooth voice called out to me.

The image of Victoria and the entire scenery faded away. I was staring up at Edward once again. I wasn't ready to trust anything as I tried to get away from him, but he stopped me with one hand on my shoulder.

"Bella, it's okay. Calm down," Edward assured.

My heart was pounding and I tried to regain control of my breathing. I took in my surroundings as I realized I was in my room and lying on my bed the same way I remembered going to sleep. Edward was crouched down at my bed's side, staring at me in worry.

"Edward," I said breathlessly.

He smiled. "Yeah, it's me."

"What happened?"

"I was standing guard outside when I heard you whimpering. I figured you were just having an unpleasant dream and it would pass. But then you started screaming and I could hear you flailing about in your sleep, I couldn't ignore that. Charlie was out like a light, so I came to check on you."

"A dream? But I…" I was still out of it. I wasn't sure what to believe just yet. "Where is everyone? You and the others, I thought you…oh god!"

He rubbed my shoulder comfortingly. "Jasper and Emmett are outside standing guard. Everyone else is at home."

"Jacob. Where's Jacob?"

"Jacob is patrolling. Everything's alright, Bella. It was just a bad dream, whatever it was."

My heart was still doing laps as I tried to believe this was all real. "Everything's not alright."

"Why?"

"Because you're still going to…" I stopped when I felt tears build up.

"Going to what?"

I immediately wrapped my arms tightly around him with no true plans on letting go. He looked at me surprised for a moment, but his arms soon found their way around me as well.

"Was the dream that bad?" he asked.

"It's not just the dream," I admitted, "You're still going to fight the newborns, aren't you?"

He nodded. "Yes. I see you're still worried about that."

I held back my tears and rested my head on his chest. I heard laughter coming from outside, who I could only assume to be from Emmett.

"Bella, I understand your concern, but you really have nothing to worry about. None of us have any plans on dying, or whatever it is vampires do."

I cringed at the mention of it and he held me a bit closer, rubbing my back gently.

"If even one of us gets hurt, we would retreat and repair the damage before anything else could happen. We're not going to charge head first into a horde of newborns. If that was our plan, then you could be worried." He smiled at me sincerely. "But I guarantee you we're smarter than that, most of us at least. I'm not entirely sure about Emmett."

"Oh, ha ha!" I heard Emmett call out, followed by Jasper's laughter.

I tried to smile, but couldn't get it to come out right. As much as Edward said that he and his family would be okay, the worry wouldn't leave me. And dreams like the one I had definitely were not helping. I just held him tighter. Even though I tried to believe as hard as I could that nothing would happen to him, that I would still see him again, I couldn't help holding him like this was our final moment. It made even less sense considering there was still about two weeks left at minimum before they left, but my arms wouldn't budge.

Half my body was hanging over the bed, so Edward sat on the edge to make things easier for me. I was still a bit uncomfortable though with my arms around him, so I shifted my body to lie back onto the bed and ended up taking him with me, both our heads on the same pillow. It reminded me a lot of how things used to be with us.

"Bella, I'm sorry," he said in a soft voice.

"Sorry?"

"Yes, about this afternoon. I shouldn't have said that. It was rude and completely uncalled for." He paused for a second. "And you're right. You do deserve to know this kind of thing."

"Oh. Edward, it's okay, I forgive you."

"Thank you. I still can't believe those words came out of my mouth and were directed at you no less. I'm ashamed."

"Edward, I said I forgive you. Stop worrying about it. Isn't that what you keep telling me?"

"Yes, you're right." He chuckled lightly. "So, are you okay? Do you think you can go back to sleep?"

I grimaced and shivered to think that my nightmare might continue if I went back to sleep. "I don't know just yet."

"I can stay here as long as you'd like if it helps."

I smiled. "Thanks."

"After all, what better way to protect you from strange vampires than already having you in my arms?" He smirked.

"True."

I realized that we were a little too close than necessary and I would eventually have to kick him out of my room, but I wasn't too concerned about when that would happen. I relaxed and closed my eyes, although I wasn't falling asleep so easily. We stayed like that for a while until I finally started to get sleepy again.

"Bella?" he whispered.

"Hm?"

He was silent for a moment. "Nothing…"

Author's Note: Happy Late New Year everyone. What's my New Years resolution? Get these chapters out sooner...seriously. -_-; Also, I did have some help from my female friends with the whole "Bella Ogles Jake" scene, so I'd like to thank them.

great chapter!!!! omg you write so well, i LOVE reading your story!!!!!!!

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