The Twilight Saga

Author:  EMHW_Bear

Pairing: Jacob/Bella

Genre: AH, Romance, Angst, Tragedy, and Comfort

Rating: PG13

Beta by: Project Team Beta

Work In Progress

Featuring: Bella & Jacob, along with Seth, Leah, Jasper, Emmett, Edward, Alice, Rosalie & several of the cast  from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga.

When first love goes from wonderful to tragic, embodying every other emotion in between, it becomes nearly impossible to get over. Bella discovers just how difficult a love eternal can be. 

Jacob Black, an Olympic boxing hopeful, dreams to be great. Bella Swan, a lifetime romantic, dreams to be his.  After an unexpected tragedy occurs, everyone close to them is left pondering the outcome.  Starts at the awkward ages of preteens & follows through to young adulthood.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the  property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

                        This lovely Banner was created by Cat (Rhodes11) 

A/N First and foremost, I would like to give a special the staff of Project Team Beta for their help and fine tuning. This particular story was inspired by a friend of mine very much like my Jacob character. The situations are intended to be relatively relatable, true to life so to speak. The story is told mainly from Bella and Jacob's POV's, but other characters will share their POV's to shed light on the situations. Thank you for taking the time to read. Enjoy!                      

Tags: Bella, Boxing, Jacob, Seth, Tragedy

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Prologue

I gathered every bead and stone that lay scattered on the hardwood floor to restring them, acknowledging just how precious the anklet had become to me. I wore it every day. When I was all alone, I'd often discover it in my hand, held captive and thoroughly entranced in the memories it roused.

Who knew how many times I caught myself doing that?

It didn't hold any monetary value. The cost of it was cheap, if not entirely free. Sentimentally, however, it meant the world to me. I caressed my fingers over a shiny Labradorite gemstone. The way the light refracted from it caused a fluctuation of several different colors as ever-changing as the emotions that swirled within me whenever he entered my mind.

Slight variations in the gemstones' shapes and sizes made the anklet much more attractive. Unique in splendor, each and every precious piece united accordingly and brought an individual beauty to the delicate string of jewelry.

The dark green seed beads spaced between each stone greatly outnumbered the significant gems. They were far more petite than the polished rocks, plain and plentiful like the days we'd spent apart. The anklet wouldn't be the same without them.

I wondered how wide of a beaded space I should leave between the stones. I'd have to count each individual bead and divide them evenly, if I wanted it to be perfect.

Did it really need to be perfect, though? Life isn't perfect. That's what the anklet had become to me:  a representation, a reminder of certain events in my life. Special memories separated by large spaces of time. Wonderful moments I shared with him while we grew up. I relished them all, no matter how small or imperfect they may have been.

Lifting the first gemstone, I recalled the day we met as I carefully threaded it onto the strand of twined sinew.

Hired as the new Forks Sheriff, my father, Charles Swan, moved my mother, Renee, my two brothers, Emmett and Jasper, and me, Bella Swan, into a small white house on the outskirts of town the summer before I entered the seventh grade.

In the three short weeks we'd been there, I'd rearranged the smaller of the two upstairs bedrooms umpteenth times, trying to find some comfort and stability in our new home. I was determined to see the room as mine. Working to get it right, I hummed along with the radio music which had me in an upbeat mood.

A loud, unexpected knock at the front door excited me, and knowing Jasper and Emmett had ventured into town, I raced down the stairs to answer it, yelling, "I got it, Mom!"

"What?" she hollered. "Did you say something, hon?"

I swung open the door, and my knees turned to Jell-O. The cutest, most handsome boy I had ever seen in my entire life - a dark haired, dark eyed, bronze skinned angel - stood gloriously before my eyes, holding a football in his hand. I gulped.

"Is Emmett home?" he asked in a low, husky voice.

For some weird reason, my mouth disconnected from my brain, and nothing came out.

The boy smiled. His lips appeared a little chapped and cracking. Fit and built nicely for his age, his deep brown eyes sparkled. He gruffly cleared his throat and grinned with half his mouth. "Are you Emmett's sister?" he asked.

Completely unable to gather my wits about me, I nodded my head up and down. I could just about imagine how idiotic I must have appeared to him at the time.

"Well, ah... Is he here?"

"Oh...uh... Emmett, no he's not. He went into town to get some ice cream," I finally managed to stammer.

"Yeah, I saw him there. I thought he'd be home by now. When he gets back, tell him I stopped by to see if he wanted to play some football with me and some of my friends. I live a few blocks down the street," he said, turning and pointing in the direction of his house. "That-a-way."

He stepped backwards down one of the steps. "The name's Jacob, by the way." 

He smiled again, and my soul resonated with the most fantastic feeling, as if little bells had awakened my sleeping heart. I had never felt that way before. I thought I would die from pure happiness. It was love at first sight, I was certain.

After I closed the door, I sprinted up the stairs to look in the mirror. My thin white tank top had become full of dusty dirt and grime. I screamed out in horror. A snarly mess of tied up hair covered with icky lint nested atop my head, fit for a rat.

Ugly smudges of humidity and melted mascara - the only makeup I was allowed to wear at the time - darkened my eyes like a raccoon. I felt plain disgusting.

Just my luck. I met the boy of my dreams, and I looked awful. He would probably never, ever take another look in my direction again.

Eager to find out more about the boy who took my breath away, I sat on the porch and waited for Emmett and Jasper to get home.

As soon as they arrived, I mentioned - as casually as I was able - that somebody named Jacob came by, looking for Emmett to play football. I didn't notice Emmett's ripped and blood-speckled shirt right away.

"Shh," they said, putting their fingers to their lips. They motioned for me to follow them up the stairs.

As soon as their bedroom door was shut, Jasper blurted, "Emmett was in a fight."

"A fight!" I gasped in surprise.

"Sh-shut up, both of you. You're talking too loud; Mom will hear," Emmett scolded through gritted teeth. "Dad will have a heart attack if he finds out."

"A fight?" I whispered. "With who? Tell me what happened!"

The two of them anxiously started whispering at the same time. I couldn't catch a word either of them said.

"Shh... I'll tell it." Emmett glared, backhanding Jasper in the chest.

"Owee, that hurt," Jasper whimpered.

"On our way home, we met up with two guys about my age. They started accusing Jasper of staring at 'em. No one was even looking at 'em either. They just wanted to fight," Emmett snarled. "We walked away, but they followed us. Then the kid with the biggest mouth knocked Jasper's ice cream cone out of his hand. I stepped in front of Jasper and pushed him away. He punched me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me. When I doubled over, he hit me in the face. The next thing I knew, we were rolling around on the ground fighting. I hit him in the nose as hard as I could, and his nose started bleeding. Then he got on top of me. I couldn't get him off. All I could do was cover up to protect my face."

"I tried to help," Jasper interjected and frowned. "But the other guy grabbed me. I couldn't get loose. That's when Jake and another kid came over."

"Jake pulled the guy off me," Emmett said, "Of course, the mouthy guy wasn't happy about it. Pretty soon, Jake and he were fighting. "

"You should have seen it, Bella," Jasper squealed excitedly. "It was just like a boxing match on TV."

"It really was." Emmett continued, "Jake ended up knocking the guy down. When he got back up, he started threatening all of us. But you could tell he didn't want to fight anymore. He knew he already lost."

"Who were those guys?"        

"A bad kid named Paul and his friend Jared. I guess they always do stuff like this. Jake said Paul's nothing but a bully. They have a boxing club in La Push, but they're not supposed to be fighting out of the gym. If their coach finds out, they'll be kicked off the team."

Emmett had finally gotten around to telling me about Jacob. His full name was Jacob Black, and he was thirteen, almost fourteen, like Emmett. He lived in La Push with his dad. Since his dad traveled a lot, he usually stayed in Forks with his Aunt Sue and Uncle Harry. The other kid was Jacob's cousin, Seth. He was the same age as Jasper, and he had a twin sister named Leah.

We later found out that Charlie knew Seth's dad, Harry Clearwater. Harry also worked at the police station as a dispatcher.

Jake and Seth introduced me to Leah a few days later, and the six of us became inseparable.

We did everything together. Whenever the sun shined, we hung out at the beach, the park, the swimming pool, hiked, had picnics, or rode bikes. When it poured rain, which was more often than not, we played board games, card games and video games, or simply watched TV.

By the end of the summer, we had become like a family. Leah was my best friend. The same went for Seth and Jasper, and Emmett and Jacob.

Everything was perfect, except I was secretly in love with Jacob Black, who unfortunately happened to be my brother's best friend. The more time I spent around Jacob, the more I fell in love with him.

He had this quality about him that made people look up to him, a natural born leader.

Jacob was a very talented boxer, the best on the team, as well as The Silver Glove State Champion in his weight class. His coach said he had enough potential to make boxing into a career.

Jacob boasted that someday he'd bring home an Olympic gold medal, then turn into a professional championship boxer. Even the older boys around the two communities showed him a lot of respect. He was awesome, he was beautiful, and I loved him. I planned on marrying him when I got older. All would be right with the world if he were mine.

Jacob treated me like a sister. In some ways, that was better than being treated like a girl. We could be "real" around each other - behave normally, instead of putting on an act. Well, that wasn't entirely true; I always acted as if I didn't like him. But that was different.

During the school year, Jacob remained in La Push and was rarely around on the weekdays. He stayed with the Clearwaters on most weekends, though, and I looked forward to every single one of them.

Jasper and Emmett joined Jacob's boxing club. They traveled to boxing matches with the team. The matches took place on Saturdays, unless it was a tournament, in which case it would be two days long, and they would be gone all weekend. I loved it when they didn't have to go to a match because then Jacob would come over.

I guarded my secret dearly, always careful not to show any unusual interest in Jacob. I was afraid if he found out I had a crush on him, he would stop talking to me or stop hanging out at our house altogether.

Emmett was "big brotherly" protective of me around boys. My dad told him it was his job as an older brother to keep the boys away from me. I think Dad was only kidding when he said it, but he forgot to tell Emmett, hence, Emmett took the job seriously.

Emmett decided I was too young for a boyfriend. Mind you, I wasn't very far behind him in age. He especially didn't like the idea of me liking one of his friends, which never happened until the moment I met Jacob.

My older brother's overprotective nature made him absolutely against the concept of Jake and me. He drew the line early on. I'm not sure if he came right out and told Jacob to stay away from me or merely implied it. All I knew was that Jacob was acutely aware of how his best friend felt. Emmett made it perfectly clear to me and Jacob both - one cold, wet November morning, the first winter we'd spent in Forks.

I threaded another glossy gemstone, and recognized that particular day was when our story truly began.

Aww poor Bella :( she's in love with Jake and he practically friend-zoned her. I wonder what will happen, now. 

Will she ever tell Jake how she feels? Will Emmett ever give her more freedom?

Mhh so many questions...I wonder :) It feels a bit odd, seeing Bella with two older brothers and not being the only child. Good odd though lol

I have just finished reading this and I found it to be a plausable start to a good story, It made me want to know more. The spark between Bella and Jacob, Emmett's rather overproctive attitude to Bella and the opposite sex.

It was nice to see Bella having both parents and not an only child, very different and the start to a good story.

Hi LR,

Thanks for taking a look at this. I was leery about joining the site and posting here because I've noted a lot of out dated discussions, but I decided to give it try anyway. And I'm eager to meet people.

I saw that you left a comment in the Jacob Black fan group for me.Yes, I grew up on a reservation sorta of like La Push but much bigger. Only the town that I grew up in was more like Forks. It was located on the Reservation but many non-natives lived on it too. Lots of Farmers because the Natives leased their land to the farmers to farm, and still do. They say write what you know, so what I have been writing about in the two fan fictions that I am posting is pretty much what I know. With the Red Moon Promise. I felt bad for the Natives so I had to make their story continue.

Anyway, its nice to meet you. Hope to hear from you some more! =)

Aww :( I really Hate Em at the moment. He's being way too overprotective towards Bella, he should allow her a bit more freedom like Jasper.

I wonder what will happen now since Jake lied about liking Bella and Bella thinks he doesn't like her in the way. Mhh...I wonder.

I love the start so far :)

Hi Infinite Love,

Thanks for the review. It was nice to hear from you. Jake really should have stepped up and told the truth. That one decision could come back to bite him. The entire group will spring forward in age a couple years next update and see if Emmett has grown out of his overprotectiveness. ;-)

Aww :( poor Jake and Bella-having to keep their feelings secret because of Emmett and Seth.

Mhh I had a feeling Seth liked her from the first chapter, kind of cute :). I am glad Emmett is starting to change a bit, now that he's bit older and knows Jake is a good guy...but still.

I wonder what will happen now, maybe Bella should surprise Jake by going where he is? Or something :) would be nice, to see a chapter about them two, without the others involved

Yeah, Jake and Bella are kind of like star crossed lovers and not without their share of dilemmas to overcome. The way it all plays out will be interesting but you'll get to know them and their personal issues well, before its all said and done. Thanks for the review =)

I just started reading your story and I really like it and can't wait to read your next update!

Thank you Kelly.

I was just checking in to the site to reply to you, and I accidentally deleted chapter 1. Now I have to delete 2 and 3 and re-post them or everything will be out of order. I wish there was a better way. Oh well, nothing I could do about it now. Anyway, I am glad you are enjoying. I've been afraid that I wasn't going to get any readers here for both of my stories, and thought that I might have to just take them down. It gets kind of discouraging when nobody reads, especially because of the amount of time I put in writing them. So I am super, super glad that you replied. I shall continue =)

Chapter 1

Bella

A couple months past my thirteenth birthday, I convinced my mom to let me wear more make-up. She taught me how to put it on just right, so it would accent my features without being too obvious. She told me that no daughter of hers would go around looking like a clown.

I was in my bedroom, fixing my hair and developing my new look to perfection. I had heard Emmett on the telephone, and I knew Jacob was on his way over. I wanted to see if Jake would notice anything different about me.

The roar of cycles buzzed a vibration through my windows; I rushed to get my hair up and out of my face, so I could saunter down to the living room before they left to wherever it was they were going.

A commotion of rattling wood, pounding feet, and squeaky floorboards announced Jacob's entry, and his and Seth's energy-laced voices sent me on my way. But just as I was shuffling down the steps, the door thudded closed. Sometimes, the boys went fishing, dirt biking, or simply disappeared for the remainder of the day. Fearing I had missed the opportunity to see him and to capture his attention, my face crumpled with disappointment. "Where are they going?" I loudly asked my mom as I trudged into the warm and cozy, coffee-scented living room.

"Just outside, I think. They're working on Emmett's dirt bike. It won't start or something," she answered, lifting my level of excitement to where it had previously been.

I ran into the kitchen to grab some sodas from the fridge for them. I was looking for an excuse to see Jacob. I forgot how early it was and how frigid the mornings could be during the winter months.

Like a dummy, I went speeding out the door with an armful of Cokes.

As soon as I set foot on the slick, salted porch, my right leg slipped out from under me. I flew off the cement and hit the soggy damp ground. The gritty soil, dead grass, and leaves splattered around me. The sodas bounced out of my arms and rolled into the driveway. Jacob rushed to my side. "Bella, are you all right?" he asked, grabbing my arms to lift me to my feet.

"I th-think so," I stammered.

Dirt covered my backside, my head, and the side of my face. Jacob reached out and wiped off my cheek. His hands were cold, but I felt my skin heat up where he had touched it. It was the first time I explored his eyes thoroughly. They were dreamy. His eyelashes seemed to flutter with a subtle hint of bashfulness as he held on to my gaze. His cheeks had a bit of a ruddy hue. I wasn't sure if it was a small blush or just color from the cold.

"Jeez, Bella, what's wrong with you?" Emmett yelled, shocking me out of a daze. Immersed in the connection, I had forgotten he and Seth were standing there.

Jake cleared his throat, and we turned to look at them. Fiery daggers were shooting at me from Emmett's blazing eyes, possibly shooting at Jacob, too. I wasn't certain. It happened so fast.

"Why do you have to be so clumsy all the time? What are you doing out here bothering us, anyway?" He scowled angrily.

"I thought you might be thirsty," I mumbled, looking down at the sodas.

"Are you crazy? It's freezing out here. What are you, an idiot?"

Emmett was always good-natured, comical, and fun to be around. His borderline cruel behavior took me completely by surprise. I felt myself get hot with embarrassment, a lump lodging in my throat. I couldn't say anything because if I did, they'd be able to hear the tears in my voice.

"I'll have one, I'm thirsty," Seth quietly said.

I turned from Emmett's angry face to Jacob's. His lips stretched into a thin, weak smile, and I could see the pity in his eyes. It was more humiliation than I could stand. I screamed at Emmett, "You're the idiot!"

I ran back inside the house and upstairs to my bedroom, slammed the door, and locked it.

Throwing myself on the bed, I started to cry from a mixture of anger and embarrassment. I never wanted to speak to Emmett again. And Jake could take that look of his and cram it. I didn't need him feeling sorry for me. I didn't care if I ever saw him again, either.

About twenty minutes later, I heard the door slam and Emmett holler, "Mom, what's to eat?"

The bikes roared to life again. I stood up and peered out the window. Jacob and Seth were straddling them. I wondered if Jake thought I was an idiot, too.

It seemed like he could hear my thoughts, because at that very moment, he looked up at my window. I almost tugged the curtain shut, but it was too late. He had already caught me, and he waved. Seth was looking up, as well. I smiled and waved back at the two of them, deciding Emmett was the one I was never going to forgive.

Charlie and Jasper came home shortly after, and breakfast was ready. My stomach was growling at the smell of buttery pancakes and sausage, but I was too mad to eat. Who cares if I starve? I wasn't planning on coming out of the room for as long as Emmett lived. I turned my stereo up to drown out the shouting of my name.

Soon enough, I heard a quiet tapping at my door. "Who is it?" I growled.

"It's Mom. Open the door, Bella."

Renee was not one to be ignored. I immediately jumped up to open the door. Lo and behold, standing in the hallway with her was none other than the evil dungeon master, Emmett. "I'm not talking to him, Mom," I said, spinning around and flopping myself on the bed.

Renee walked straight over to my stereo, turning it off. "Emmett has something he wants to say to you."

"No way. He made me look like a fool in front of his friends. I would never do that to him. I'm not talking to him for as long as we live."

"I didn't make a fool out of you. You made a fool out of yourself," he grumbled, narrowing his eyes.

"Get out of my room!" I barked at the top of my lungs.

"Now, Bella, he already told me what happened. He feels really bad about it, and he wants to apologize. Don't you, Emmett?" she stated, her glare saying, you better if you know what's good for you.

"Uh huh," he answered, scuffing his foot indiscreetly. He sat down at the foot of my bed.

"You don't have to talk, Bella, but you do have to listen." She turned around and walked back out the door, softly closing it behind her.

Renee believed that if someone was strong enough to say they were sorry, the rest of us should be strong enough to listen and even stronger to forgive.

Emmett and I sat in silence for about three long minutes before he finally spoke. "I'm sorry, Bella," he sputtered as if he was trying to force air through a tiny straw. "Jake's my friend and ... Do you like him or what?"

"No," I shot back sharply. "And what if I did? So what? What's it to you?

"You can't."

"Why? What's the big deal, anyway? He's a good guy. He's your best friend, isn't he?"

"It's because he is my best friend that I don't want you to go out with him. I know things about him because of that. Things that make me think it's not such a good idea."

"Like what kinds of things?"

"I don't know... guy things." He paused, not wanting to explain at first, but then continued. "Like what he thinks about some girls and stuff. The way he talksnot that I'm any better. What kinds of magazines he looks at. Well, we both do, but that's not the point, Bella. He goes out with a lot of girls and doesn't really like any of 'em. Plus, he's ... let's just say, he knows what he's doing when it comes to girls. I don't want you to end up getting hurt or violated."

I rolled my eyes as I laid there looking up at the ceiling.

"Besides, he doesn't like you."

"You asked him?" I screeched, sitting up. "You had no right."

"Yes, I did, and I had every right," he fired back. "I didn't like the way he looked at you today. I wanted to make sure he knew that if he ever got any funny ideas, we wouldn't be friends anymore. He doesn't like me checking Leah out."

"You check Leah out?"

"I told you. It's a guy thing. Anyway, he said he only thinks of you as my younger sister, and you're not even his type."

"He has a type?" He had a type already. That was a stunner. "Well, I never said I liked him. I just said what if I did. But I don't, so you can stop worrying about it."

"I'm sorry I yelled at you in front of them today. I promise I'll never do that again. Do you forgive me?"

"I suppose," I replied, faking a smile. I was still hurt and angry with him.

He stood up happily. "You know you're my favorite sister." He grinned and walked out the door.

"I'm your only sister," I mumbled as he shut it.

I wasn't in the mood to come out of my room to eat just yet. I laid on my bed thinking about what Emmett had told me.

On the plus side, I knew that Jake gave me a look. On the other side, I didn't know if it was an "appropriate" look. I was aware Emmett was only watching out for me, and that he must have had a good reason for feeling the way he did. I couldn't help but consider just what kind of guy Jake really was.

Normal, I supposed, if he was just like Emmett. I sighed. No matter what anyone said, I would always be in love with Jacob Black.

There was another knock at the door, and Jasper walked in. "So, I heard Emmett psycho'd over nothin' this morning, huh?" He sat down on the exact same spot of the bed that Emmett had left and grunted, "The big psycho."

"Did he tell you about it or did Mom?"

"Neither. I just got off the phone with Seth. He asked if you were okay. He said Emmett freaked out for no reason, and you were pretty upset. He said he felt sorry for you, and so did Jake."

"Yeah, Emmett got this crazy idea that I liked Jacob or something. He gave me the ‘big brother lecture' about how Jake's not good for me, and he doesn't want me to get hurt."

"That's dumb. I don't know what the problem is. My friends tell me how hot you are all the time. I wouldn't mind if you wanted to go out with one of them." He clenched both of his fists and hopped up, into his boxing stance. "Of course, I could knock any one of them out if they ever crossed the line. They all know it, too."

"All your friends are nerds, Jazz. What do they know about crossing lines?"

"True that." He chuckled. "Anyway, Seth and Leah are on their way over. Jake got their ATV running, so we can all go riding today."

Although Emmett was hilarious, Jasper was the one who always made me feel better. He always seemed to know exactly what I needed to hear.


Jacob

Yep! Some loony juice was definitely in the water at the Swan residence.

The house practically shook from the hard bang of the door when Bella ran back inside. But Emmett's craziness didn't stop there. "What's going on with you and my sister, Jake?" His eyes were screaming murder, and if I didn't know him better, I would have sworn he wanted to fight me.

"What?" I blurted, shocked at the accusation. "What the hell, Emmett?"

I couldn't for the life of me figure out why he was going off all of a sudden. One minute, we were laughing and joking, same old, same old. And the next minute, I felt like I was being ripped into.

"I saw that look you gave her."

"What look? You mean the one where I was relieved she wasn't actually hurt? She could have hit her head on the cement. People die that way." My blood started boiling. "And you did a lousy job scraping the ice off the steps. Someone could get hurt!"

I'm sure my words sunk in because his mad-as-hell expression faded, and he took a few deep breaths. "You're right, man. I'm sorry."

Pissed off, I stalked back over to the dirt bike. We both yanked the jammed plate off, exposing the battery, trying to ignore the heavy tension that gathered around us like a cloud of flammable fumes.

Emmett sighed heavily, and I wondered if he was about to light a match. He looked me square in the eyes and asked, "Jake, I just want to know one thing. Do you like her?"

Maybe I do, I wanted to say.

The unrestrained glower on Emmett's face told me he was insanely serious, and that wasn't what he wanted to hear. "Of course not, she's your little sister. She's not even my type. Does she look like the kind of girls I go out with?"

That was both the truth and a lie. She wasn't the typical kind of girl that usually caught my attention. She was too thin, pale, and mousy-looking. However, the honest to goodness truth was I could totally see myself with her. She caught my attention the very first time I'd knocked on their door looking for Emmett. She answered the door so innocent and sweet.

After a moment of scrutinizing me like he was trying to probe deep into my soul, he appeared satisfied with my answer and said, "She's never had a boyfriend before. You've been out with all kinds of girls."

I knew exactly what he was getting at. That was my fault. I let Emmett think I was way more experienced than I actually was. I didn't know why, but we guys tended to lay it on a little thick at times. I never saw the harm in it before, but now I was wishing I hadn't insinuated as much as I did all the time.

Emmett bragged about his deeds just as much as any of us did. I never believed him. I didn't know why he believed me. "I know what you're trying to say, Emmett, because I could sure do without you checking Leah out all the time," I snapped.

I only said that to get the focus off of me - just to give him a taste of his own medicine. I never saw him check Leah out. Then again, I had never paid attention before.

I must have hit the nail on the head, though, because he didn't deny it. Instead, after his shocked eyes went back into his head, he cracked a big grin. "Fair enough; she'll remain off-limits to me, too."

That statement said it all. Bella was off-limits to me. I decided I could live with that ... for now. She did seem a little bit young for me, even though it was only by a year or so.

Besides, Emmett was my boy, and I loved hanging out with him and his family.

My parents were divorced. My sisters had moved to California with my mom. I stayed behind with Dad because someone needed to take care of him. He sort of lost it when Mom left, and he started drinking a lot. I spent quite a bit of time with my Aunt Sue and Uncle Harry because of that. Still, a functional family was a rare commodity around La Push.

The Swans were like no other family I had ever known. They did all kinds of family things together. Little things that made an impression on me - like turning the television off during dinner, just so everyone would pay attention to one another for at least an hour out of the day. That was new to me. I was used to sitting in the living room in front of the television when I ate. Sometimes, Billy was there, but most times he wasn't.

Charlie and Renee treated me, Leah, and Seth just like their own kids. Harry and Sue loved Emmett, Jasper, and Bella just the same.

I didn't see a reason to make an enemy out of Emmett when Bella had never shown an interest in me in the first place. Sure, we may have shared a moment, but I wasn't certain it was anything more than that.


Seth

We were trying to remove the side plate that covered the battery. All of a sudden, Jake was picking Bella up from the ground. My eyes centered on her face. I felt like someone had cracked me over the head with a crowbar. I could swear I even heard music in the background.

The stars were shining from her eyes as she meekly lifted up her head. Her cheeks were rose red, and they matched her soft red lips perfectly. Bella Swan was beautiful. I couldn't take my eyes off her.

By the time I realized what was going on, Emmett was being spastic about some Cokes she brought outside for us. With the way he was going on, you'd have thought she destroyed his favorite football.

Bella frowned. Half of me wanted to hug her. The other half of me wanted to hook him. "I'll have one. I'm thirsty," was all I could think of to say.

I didn't think she heard me. She started screaming at Emmett and glaring at Jake. Jake appeared surprised, and Emmett looked madder, if that were possible. I didn't think either of them saw how hurt she was before she ran back inside and slammed the door.

Then they got into this stupid conversation about Jake liking Bella. Which I knew wasn't true. At least, I hoped it wasn't true. I tensed for a second and waited for Jake to confirm my thoughts. Once he admitted he didn't like her, I zoned back out. All I could think about was how sad she was, standing there with a head full of matted leaves. I hoped she was okay.

The two of them finally settled down and got back to work on the dirt bike, talking and acting as if nothing happened. It was almost as if the whole first fifteen or twenty minutes of our visit never occurred.

Jake said that he needed to replace the spark plug wires on Emmett's bike. They had somehow rubbed against the exhaust pipe and melted clean through. He thought we had some stray wires in all the junk lying around our garage, so he and I headed home to find some.

I think we needed a break from all of Emmett's drama, anyway.

As we revved our motors, I saw Jake turn to glance up at Bella's window. She was standing by it, as pretty as ever. We both waved at her. She smiled and waved back before closing the curtains.

I got to thinking about what Emmett had said to Jake. I saw that look you gave her. I considered if it was true. I didn't see how Jake had looked at Bella - his back was toward me - and I was too busy staring at her. When we stopped inside the garage, I asked, "Did you really mean what you said to Emmett about Bella?"

Jake's eyebrow rose. "You mean when I said I didn't like her? Sure I did."

"Good," I said straight out, startling myself because I only meant to think it.

Jake grinned. "So, I'm not the guy Emmett should be worrying about, huh?"

I always could tell him anything. We couldn't have been closer had we been born brothers. "You think that went for me, too, Jake?"

"Nah... but keep it under wraps for now. It's not really up to Emmett, anyway. It's up to Bella." He scowled. "At least it should be. Don't you think?"

"Yeah, but in the meantime, I better try to get a feel for what Jasper might think about it. I really don't think he'd mind. He's mellower than Emmett."

"Just don't go spreading any rumors about yourself and other girls to him. Trust me. It's a lesson I learned the hard way," Jake warned, elbowing me in the shoulder as if I was supposed to know what he meant by that.

I would have asked, but he said, "Tell you what, I'll get your ATV going, and you can take her for a ride. I bet she could use a little cheering up. Take Leah along with you, and no one will think anything of it."

I did exactly that.

Chapter 2

Bella

Gawking at myself in the full-length mirror, I struggled with my hair as I got ready to go to the movies with Leah.

Seemed like I blinked, and it was my third summer in Forks, more like the end of summer now. When school started, I would be a freshman in high school. We were all more mature. Girls, guys, and dating entered the picture, and Leah and I began spending less time doing things with the boys.

Everything was changingapart from the way I felt about Jacob. I was truly blinded by him. Meaning, every other guy in the vicinity of Jake remained nameless, faceless blurs in my mind.

Leah couldn't understand it. She was constantly trying to get me to go out with someone, mainly because Jacob went out with other girls. She used that argument on me all the time.

I heard about the different girls that he was interested in, or that were interested in him. Emmett made sure of that. I was forever pretending not to care, which wasn't always easy. Occasionally, I found myself really disgusted with Jacob about a story I’d heard, especially when it involved someone I knew.

I could never stay mad at him for long though. His brilliant sunny smile permeated through me every time he flared it in my direction. Besides, it wasn't as if we were dating. It wasn't as if we had ever dated. He hadn't the slightest inclination of my feelings for him. Why wouldn't he go out with other girls?

I had to be content with knowing he was around me more than he was around any other femaleswith the exception of Leah, of course.

Up until the last few weeks, I had always been able to see him, spend time with him, even if it wasn't the kind of time I wished I could spend with him.

I brushed through my disobedient hair feeling discouraged and spiritless. Having another bad hair day wasn't helping the matter. You would think I'd have gotten used to them. Bad hair days happened a lot in one of the rainiest places in the continental US.

Summer had gone by way too fast this time. All season long, I dreaded the very mention of fall, September, or the turning of the leaves. When school resumed, Jacob would be going away. Jacob would be going away next week to be precise.

He was set to attend Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon. Chemawa was a boarding school ranging from ninth to twelfth grade. Its student body was made up of Native American kids from all over the country. They lived there all year long, coming home only during Christmas and summer vacations.

It was much larger than the high school in La Push, and offered a wider variety of extracurricular activities, as well as a stellar athletic program. After giving La Push High School a year, Jacob decided it wasn’t for him, and he chose Chemawa for the boxing opportunities it provided.

Everyone acted as if it was nothing. Lots of kids from La Push went to Chemawa, including Jacob's older sisters who were going to be seniors in the upcoming year. Which I'm sure was another one of his deciding factors.

Jacob hardly came around anymore, a consequence of Emmett's love life.

One day, while we were all at the beach, Emmett met a girl named Rosalie. She was from Olympia, Washington and was staying with her grandparents over the summer. He ended up spending a lot of time with her. You could say she was his first "serious" girlfriend.

I already ached for Jacob, and he wasn't even gone yet. Every new sunrise burned a little more. I was becoming more sorrowful by the day.

"Bella, I'm here!" Leah's voice echoed from the living room.

"I'll be right down!" I gave up on my hair, clasped my lucky anklet on, and dashed down the stairs.

We were just about to leave when Jacob stopped by looking for Emmett. As usual, Emmett was somewhere with Rosalie.

"Must be love," Jake grumbled crankily. "Tell him I stopped by again."

Jacob's demeanor was dull and his lips tight. He was bummed too. It must have been in the air. "What about Jasper and Seth, do you guys know where they are?"

"I think they went diving," Leah said.

"Maybe I'll go look for 'em."

When he walked out the door, I anxiously grabbed Leah's shoulder and pleaded, "Ask him to come with us."

Her face crumpled with aggravation. "No, you do it if you want him to come."

"You know I can't do that." I peeped out the window, and Jake was already on the sidewalk. "Come on Leah. He's leaving next week. I won't see him for four months."

"I'll do anything for you." I joined the palms of my hands together in prayer position. "Hurry! Before it's too late."

Leah didn't mind that I had feelings for Jacob as long as I kept her completely out of it, a principle of hers I never truly understood.

"You're just lucky I'm gonna miss him too," She groaned, unenthusiastically running out the door after him. As the door closed, I thought I heard her say, "he's gonna kill me."

I didn't know what she meant, and I told myself to make sure to ask her about it later. I gave her a couple of minutes before I followed.

The moment I stepped outside my eyes bumped into Jacob's. I stopped short for the brief second that my heart stalled and my tummy stumbled. The peculiar expression he was wearing quickly enveloped me.

"What?" I asked him. Throwing a questioning glance toward Leah, hoping she didn't say something she wasn't supposed to say.

"Nothing … Are you sure you don't have any idea where Emmett is?"

"Nope. Sorry."

"Well, I guess I'm driving then," he smiled.

Going to the movies together wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Some variation of the six of us always did it. This, however, was something different. The heady yet, antsy tension I sensed from Jacob was more unusual than anything I'd ever observed before. He was uncommonly quiet on the way to the theater. I found it difficult to carry on a normal conversation with him.

Oddly, Leah was doing enough talking for the both of us. "It's probably gonna be too crowded today. We should just do something else. I bet Seth and Jasper are having fun. Maybe we should just go find them?"

"I didn't drive over here for nothing, Leah."

"We're already here. We might as well go in," I said, glaring at her. She pretended not to notice.

We followed Jacob into the dimly lit theater filled with quiet and lively chatter. When we found seats, he stepped aside and guided Leah to go before him, giving me a wry grin. I smiled, skipping inside. For the first time, it seemed as if Jacob might have liked me as well. Butterflies bloomed in the center of my stomach, and my heart began to pulse excitedly.

I shivered at the wispy but glorious skin contact as his hand touched mine, causing me to slip into a surreal, ecstatic fog.


Jacob

Bella looked eye-catchingly beautiful when she strolled out the door. She was only wearing a t-shirt, faded calf-length jeans, and flip-flops with a thin woven chain draped around her petite ankle. But she was everything to look at.

The little crush I had developed on her had magnified tenfoldever since that day she slipped off the porch. Though she was the forbidden fruit, I felt certain it wasn't only because she was off-limits to me. Just a flip of her hair, a friendly little smile, an innocent tilt of her head produced emotions in me I couldn’t ignore. It was safe to say, I had it bad. Sometimes when we hung out, I paid attention to her while she did the simplest of things, like: read a book, rinse the dishes, or brush her hair. It didn't matter what she did, she always looked hot doing it.

I wanted to go out with Bella so much it was ridiculous. At the same time, I wasn't sure if "she and I" was such a great idea.

I knew Emmett’s stand on the matter. No guy in his right mind would want someone trying to mess with his little sister and do what we guys were always trying to do, least of all his best friend.

Bella was different, special. You could see it just the way she carried herself. Any guy would have his work cut out for him if he tried, and I supposed she’d also be quite a conquest at the same time. Butwhile I don’t’ deny she affected me like thatwith the way I cared about her, I could never mistreat her. Girls like Bella were few and far between. She was too good for the jokes around Forks and La Push, and she was probably even too good for me.

Emmett was right to keep the losers away. He didn’t have to verbally threaten anyone. A stern glare along with his sheer size was enough deterrence. I doubted Bella was aware half the guys around town were scared of her jovial but short tempered, bear of a brother, and me being his good buddy, well that was a no brainer.

Seth was another problem. He had a little crush of his own on Bella and I couldn't blame him. Especially if he saw her the way I did. I should have spoken the truth to him way back in the beginning when he had first asked. But no! I let Seth believe I was rooting for him. Hell, I practically encouraged my younger cousin, time after time.

When push came to shove, I had to accept Leah’s movie invitation. Emmett wasn’t going to be there for once. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that.

On the way to the theater, I started to talk myself into believing that Seth's crush was just a mild case of puppy love, a tiny little thing that didn't really matter. As for Emmett, I told myself that I'd cross that bridge when I came to it.

Before we even parked, I had made up my mind. I was going to try to get with Bella. We found seats midway down the aisle. I tugged Leah in front of me, and waited for Bella to follow her.

Bella smiled at me, her eyes bright with anticipation, or so I’d thought. But I wished I knew for sure.

Lacking in confidence or not, I could be bold when I wanted to. Soon as the lights turned out, I brushed my hand up against hers, and waited to see if she'd move it away from me. A receptive touch of her soft and dainty fingers, finding their way around my pinky, kicked me into high gear. I smiled, and I quickly followed up by wrapping my hand around hers, and leaning closer to her as I breathed in the smell of her shampoo.

"Hey, what are you doing?" A low guttural voice erupted from behind us. Emmett. It was the most irritating sound of my life. I don't remember ever feeling so aggravated by the sound of someone's voice.        

Bella sucked in a short shallow breath, reflexively jerking her hand away. She and I twisted toward each other at the same time, looking over our shoulders. Emmett and Rosalie were sitting down.

He had frustratingly appeared right out of thin air and sat directly behind us. Talk about timing!

Pressing my clenched fists against my lap, I tensely forced them down my thighs. "Hey, what's up," I whispered, trying like hell to hide my irritation. "I went by your house to see you, but you weren't home. I decided to come with these two."

“Yeah, I’ve been really busy." He tilted his head toward Rosalie and grinned.

“I can see that,” I said, smiling and greeting Rosalie with a nod of my chin. 

I never saw that look on Emmett before. He had to be in love. Good for him. You didn't see me trying to keep him from the girl he loved.

Emmett turned to Bella. "Did we miss much?"

"Just the previews," she whispered.

"Sh-," hushed some nearby people.

When Emmett dropped back into his seat, Bella and I glanced at each other. Her eyes were wide and she was biting her lip, nervously shook-up. A light slapping sound resonated against the thin carpeted flooring. I saw Leah reach out and put her hand on Bella's jittery knee.

The day Emmett blew-up at us popped into my head. I knew that I didn't care if Emmett was behind us. I was prepared to deal with it. I figured he'd be mad for a little while, but if he was really my friend he'd come around.

Bella's who I worried about. I wasn't sure if she minded that he was sitting there. I wasn't sure how much his thoughts about "us" mattered to her. I lobbed that around in my head for a little bit, then quickly got sick of worrying about it.

Quietly, I took hold of her hand again, hoping she wouldn't pull it away from me. She didn't. She moved closer and held on to me, tightly. So tightly, my palm started to sweat, but oh well!

For the rest of the movie, I fought the urge to put my arm around her and maybe even kiss her. My time was running out in Forks. I didn’t know if I’d get another opportunity, and Emmett sitting behind us made me angry as hell.

That was when my mind began to sway. I started to wonder how mad Emmett would be if I kissed her, and ended up thinking about how upset Seth would be when he heard about it. He was practically my little brother and he trusted me.

By the end of the movie, I was feeling like maybe the time wasn't right for us. I was going away next week. Anything could happen while I was gone. It occurred to me, someone else could be with her by the time I came home. Long distance relationships didn't last. Quil and Embry's girlfriends found other guys almost as soon as they left, although, they claimed it happened the other way around. Maybe it did, either way it wouldn't be good. In fact, I remembered saying to them, "Why in the hell would you want to have a girlfriend that you can't be with?" I couldn't see the point in that.

Everything that made sense to me earlier, suddenly didn't feel right. I didn't know what to do.

Emmett insisted I hang out with him, Rosalie, and Bella for the rest of the evening.

Making the choice to hold off on asking Bella outuntil I had more time to spend with herleft me feeling guilty at the end of the night.

She was floating around her house like a butterfly. I decided that it was better if I didn't see her again. I was bound to do something stupid; like put all my cards on the table, and ask her to wait for me. What if she'd said no? Or worse, what if she'd said yes and then didn’t?

I stayed in La Push right up until the day before I left. It turned out that that was the something stupid I did. The next time I saw her she was pissed and she had every reason to be.


Emmett

The movie was already in progress when we walked in, and the theater was packed. We slowly made our way down the dark aisle, trying to find two good open seats when I picked out Jake.

It was one of his last weekends home. I had forgotten I made plans to hang out with him that afternoon. What a friend, huh? I decided the least I could do was go sit near him. I placed my hand on Rosalie's lower back to guide her to the empty seats behind Jacob. I knew I was being a terrible friend. On the other hand, considering her flirtatiously fluttering lashes and the enticing gather of Rosalie’s ruby lips as our eyes met, she was well worth my undivided attention.

Jake was sitting with some girls. I didn't realize it was Bella and Leah until we got close. Before sitting down, I made an unsuccessful attempt to startle him. I really just wanted to get his attention to let him know I was there, brush over the fact that he had been the last person on my mind. 

I didn't think anything of him sitting beside Bella. Everything appeared normal ... at first.

As the movie played on, I noticed Bella was sitting extra close to Jake. A while back that would have thrown me into a fury.

I always halfway knew she had a thing for Jacob and I didn't mind. Not when I thought Jake had one for her. I pretty much told him to stay away from her. I didn't use those exact words, but I know he got my meaning.

Did I blow it out of proportion? Yep. I'll say this though, my reaction made perfect sense to me at the time.

We traveled out of town for boxing matches on plenty of occasions. Jake was a talented fighter. He always won and that made him popular with girls. Me, I lost sometimes, but I'm a hell of a good-looking guy.

We were barely fourteen back then, and girls were always chasing us around. It wasn't just the girls our age either. We liked the older girls better, and we made-out with more than a few of them anytime and every time we got the chance. I knew how Jake was with girls.

Bella was naïve. I worried she'd end up getting hurt. I thought it was my responsibility to look after her.

I used to see guys cheat on their girlfriends all the time at away matches. I never understood why girls wanted to act like they were married when they were just going out with a guy. Most of the guys I knew didn’t take having a steady girlfriend that serious. I didn't want that happening to Bella. To be honest, I wouldn't have let her go out with any one of those guys.

Jake and I thought it was better not to have any girlfriends. Why would we want one? Why would any guy our age want a girlfriend when there were so many other hot girls out there?

My whole outlook changed when I met Rosalie. Once I met her, she was the only girl I wanted to see. She pretty much owned me. I grew up a lot since that cold winter day when I acted like a prick to my sister and to my best friend.

I sat behind Jacob and Bella, observing the way their shoulders were leaning toward one another. They appeared to be a typical couple on a date. I began thinking about it, realizing that Jake didn't go out with anybody all summer long, as far as I knew anyway.

As for Bella, she never went out with anyone ever. I figured, what the hell live and let live, right?

I decided Bella was old enough to take care of herself. Jake was a great guy, a great friend, the best. If anyone was going to be with Bella, it may as well be him.

Every now and then, Bella would turn around to look at me. I pretended not to notice anything. When I stood up to get popcorn, I was positive they were holding hands.

After the movie ended, I waited to hear the news that they were dating. But neither she nor Jake ever mentioned anything about it to me. After a few days went by I began to think I imagined the whole holding hands scene. I thought it best not to bring it up, thinking they might get the wrong idea and assume it mattered to me. I decided to mind my own business from that point on. I never thought to let them know about it though.


Bella

Jake came over to say goodbye. I couldn't bring myself to look at him.

I had assumed the time we’d shared together at the movie was just the beginning for us, and the rest of the evening was wonderful too. But when he didn’t call or come around after that, I was devastated, especially because we’d held hands.

I wasn't going to let him know I cared about that though. I thought perhaps holding hands was only holding hands to him, nothing more. If he wanted to act like it was nothing then so would I. Acting was something I was good at where he was concerned.

Although his disappearance hurt tremendously, it was nothing like the pain I felt from knowing I wasn't going to be able to see him anymore. I had looked forward to Jacob Black every single day for the past two years. That was the true reason I wouldn't let myself face him.

I was afraid that if I did. He would be able to see how much I cared about him. How much I was going to miss him. How much I wanted to cry. In all reality, I was afraid I would cry and everyone else would see it too.

I tried to keep my head down, pretending to be reading a magazine while I listened to the conversation.

Everyone wondered about the school, the campus life, the rules, and the ways to keep in touch. As for me, I wondered if he would find a serious girlfriend while he was away and if he’d fall in love like Emmett did. Would he turn to someone when he got lonesome for home?

They sat around the kitchen table chatting happily; they were unaware that, for me, it was the end of the world.

Jake told us cell phone use had been abused. The administration determined phones had become too hard to monitor so there was a new policy. Students could take them but had to turn them in and check them out during specific calling hours. "Embry took one last year and said it became too much of a hassle to even use it. I'll try to call you guys when I can though," Jake said.

"Oh, Jake will be back before we know it," Renee assured us, then suggested, "you could always write to each other."

Emmett and Jake smirked making not faces at one another.

Renee caught it. "Why? Am I missing something? What's wrong with writing to each other?"

"Writing's for wusses," Emmett said, "girls and wusses."

"Is that some kind of weird rule I don't know about? Boys can't write to boys. That's a stupid rule," Renee said. "Can they at least write to girls?"

"Why would we want to? That's what emails and texts are for," Emmett replied.

"Emails!" Renee repeated. She said it as if a light bulb had just lit up in her head. "I forgot about those."

"It's the same with computers," Jake mentioned, "too hard to monitor who kids are chatting with. They have a computer lab and we could take laptops, but they're only supposed to be used for schoolwork. So they say. I think we can email. Quil says they get around some of the rules all the time."

"Sounds like it sucks," Jasper said.

Jake shrugged. "Must not, everyone always wants to go back."

"I can see why," Emmett remarked, "all those girls and no parents. I can pretty much guess what rules they're getting around."

"Emmett!" Renee scolded with a raspy voice. She changed her voice back to normal, saying, "well there it is. Jake will call and email when he can. And like I said, you can always keep in touch the old fashioned way, huh, Jake?"

"How many girls did you promise that to?" Emmett gibed.

"Ah…I'm really not pen-pal material. I uh… didn't promise anyone anything," Jake stated flatly.

His eyes met mine just as he said it. What's that supposed to mean? I wasn't going to wait around to find out. I stood up, clenching the magazine tight, and casually strolled out the back door to be alone. Sadness, anger, and confusion all coiled up together inside of my heart and my mind. I dragged a lawn chair to the corner nook behind the house to hide from the world.

I wasn't out there very long when the sound of Jacob's husky voice interrupted my useless reading. "So Bella…"

I lifted my head hardening my expression to hide the melancholy I was determined not to reveal.

"Umm…I'm taking off now."

The thick awkward tension that I feared would surface after the movie was as uncomfortable as I'd imagined it to be. What was I supposed to say and do? I didn't know if I should hug him goodbye or not. If it were Emmett, Jasper, or Seth leaving, I'd most certainly give them a hug. It was remarkable to me how much confusion and change a couple hours of handholding could bring. I hesitantly rose to my feet. "Okay…Have a safe trip and I hope you like your new school."

He took a fast, lengthy stride toward me. "Look, Bella, I'm really sorry that I couldn't come over. I should have. I wish I did."

Hearing him say he was sorry and wished he had come to see me brought me a swell of happy relief. I hadn't realized how much I needed to hear those words until the very moment he said them.

"That's okay. I’m sure you had a good reason."

He glanced to the side and gulped. "I did have a reason." He pushed his fingers through his hair apprehensively before turning back to me.

Whatever it was, I knew he was struggling with telling me about it. I hated to see him like that. "I told you it's all right. Just forget about it," I reassured, giving him a warm smile.

He sighed deeply, loosening his posture a little. "Okay. I'll see you on Christmas vacation." He attempted to grin, and awkwardly slumped a little to hug me.

I reached my arms around his neck and hugged him back, feeling his lips press against my cheek beside my ear. He had kissed me sweetly.

The nice startling surprise instantly warmed me deep within, filling me with a joyful and comforting excitement. My lips unguardedly spread across my face giving him a generous, unreserved smile. Although I had considered myself quite the actress in Jacob's presence, I had to admit that my transparency could be just as evident given the right circumstances. And an unexpected kiss from Jacob was definitely the right circumstance.

I was sure he enjoyed my reaction, because he returned a smile just as revealing as mine. He kissed me one more time on the top of my head, said goodbye again, then left.

I felt gleeful for the first several minutes afterwards. That quickly changed to miserable once I realized he was really gone.

Later, up in my bedroomwindow blinds shadowing the daylightthe beautiful but sad sounds of Chopin's Raindrop (my latest classical find) spoke notes of sorrow and loneliness to my young heart, as I lay atop my sage-colored comforter, sharing hopelessness with the melody.

Somehow mothers always seem to know what was going on and nothing ever got by Renee. The mild squeak of the opening door barely registered, calling attention to the soft sound of my mom’s steps entering the room. She sat down on my bed gently, and ran caring fingers through my hair just like she had when I was a little girl. "I bet you'll miss him even more than Emmett will," she said.

I knew she was only trying to make me feel better, but I didn't want talk to her about Jacob. I didn't want to talk to anyone about him. It was always easier keeping it to my secret. I nodded my head up and down anyway.

"He'll be back before you know it," she soothed, wiping away a stray tear from the corner of my eye. I didn't answer. Like I said, you could always email him or write to him."

Irritated by her suggestion, I rolled my eyes. "You heard what he said. I don't think he wants to write to anyone."

"Something tells me that he wasn't talking about you, Bella. I bet he'd write back if you sent him a letter."

"I couldn't do that. I wouldn't want to bother him and make him feel like he has to respond to me. He's not pen-pal material remember?"

Renee wouldn't give up. "I'm going to get the address from Sue anyway. His email address too."

A few days later, she gave me his addresses. I chose not write to him in fear of the possible rejection.

 A/N In keeping with the tradition of SM, Chemawa is a real Native American Boarding School located in Oregon.

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