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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26. Training (Part 2 of 2)

BELLA SWAN

I glanced at him for a moment and nodded. He was right and I didn't waste any time as I quickly made my way over to them. I was incredibly nervous, but my feet wouldn't stop or even slow down. I couldn't make out each wolf yet, but something in me drew me toward the pair of black eyes to the far right of where the center wolf stood. As I got closer, I was able to finally see who was who. Sam stood in the center with Paul and Jared at his flank. Seth stood in the back behind Jared with Leah positioned next to her brother. I hadn't gotten the chance to memorize Brady and Collin's coat, but they were easy to spot being the smallest ones way in the back. Quil and Embry stood next to each other right behind the wolf I was walking towards. Jacob.

They all turned their heads at me as I approached them. My heart raced at suddenly being the center of attention. I wasn't sure if they were just looking curiously or glaring. I lowered my head with a grimace, unable to look at them directly. I knew it was very possible that I'd be unwelcome in their group.

I heard a low bark from the wolf in front of me which made me jump. It was Jacob, his russet colored fur just as shaggy as ever. He leaned in to me and nudged my chin with his snout. A soft grumble came from his chest as he looked at me, his overall expression disapproving. I knew what he was saying. He didn't want me to look so sad.

"Sorry," I mumbled.

Jacob nodded once, and then suddenly his head snapped in Paul's direction. Jake's teeth were showing as he started growling at Paul while he growled back. I heard Leah direct a snarl at Jake as well and Seth forcefully bumped her side with an annoyed grunt. Seth and Leah glared at each other as Sam barked at Paul and Jake, making them focus and end their bickering. I wondered why Jake would suddenly get so angry at Paul, but it wasn't hard to figure out. As I glanced over at Edward further away, his dark, furious scowl and clenched fists pretty much confirmed it for me. Paul, and probably Leah as well, must've said something bad about me. Why else would Jacob and Edward be so pissed? They certainly were taking 'talking behind someone's back' to a new level.

Carlisle put his hand out at Edward in warning and turned his attention to Sam. He took a slow, deliberate step forward. It was a careful movement, designed to reassure.

"Welcome," he greeted.

"Thank you," Edward responded in a strange, flat tone after he took a deep breath to calm himself down. I quickly realized he was speaking for Sam. "We will watch and listen, but no more. That is the most we can ask of our self control."

"That is more than enough," Carlisle answered. "My son Jasper," he gestured at Jasper, standing tense and ready, "He has experience in this area. He will teach us how they fight and how they are to be defeated. I'm sure you can apply this to your own hunting style."

"They're different from you?" Edward asked for Sam.

Carlisle nodded. "They are all very new; only months old to this life. In a way, they are like children. They will have no skill or strategy, only brute strength. Tonight their numbers stand at twenty. Ten for us and ten for you, it shouldn't be difficult."

The wolves all muttered a low growl that sounded enthusiastic. I didn't exactly approve of their excitement. Who could be excited about going off and putting your life on the line? I let out a shaken sigh and Jacob quickly responded by rubbing his shaggy fur against my side. His warmth always calmed me down and this was no exception, especially since it was fairly cold outside.

"We are willing to take more than our share, if necessary," Edward translated for Sam, but was watching Jake and I carefully.

Carlisle smiled. "We'll see how it plays out."

"Do you know when and how they'll arrive?"

"They'll come across the mountains in four days, late in the morning. Alice will help us intercept their path from what she was able to see."

Sam nodded once as Edward translated. "Thank you for the information. We will watch."

With a sighing sound, the wolves all began sinking to the ground one at a time. Jacob lowered, lying comfortably on the ground as he stared up at me like he was waiting for something obvious. I smiled softly and sat down in the grass and dirt, adjusting myself to get more comfortable and curling into Jake's side. He made a low, soft grumble of what sounded like satisfaction.

Quil and Embry did the same, and by that I meant they both fought and pushed over who got to lie down on my other side. Quil ended up winning as he dropped down next to me, leaning against me with a grin. Jake rolled his large black eyes and I giggled softly.

"Thanks, Quil, but I think I'm warm enough," I said.

Quil coughed out a laugh while Embry looked over Quil's shoulder to smile at me. I wasn't sure if it was too early to say, but it seemed like Quil, Embry, and Jacob had forgiven me at least. There was still a lot I needed to clarify with Jake, but knowing that he didn't hate me at least was enough for now.

The Cullens were waiting for us to get settled and I noticed Edward watching me with a grimace, like he was watching something disgusting. I wasn't sure why.

It was quiet for a few seconds, and then Jasper took a step into the space between the vampires and werewolves. Jasper glanced warily at Edward, who nodded, and then Jasper turned his back to the pack. I could tell he was uncomfortable as he sighed deeply.

"Carlisle's right," Jasper said only to the Cullens, trying to ignore the wolves behind him. "They will fight like children. The two most important things to remember are, one, don't let them get their arms around you and, two, never go for the easy kill. They'll expect that. If you come at them from the side and keep moving, they'll be too confused to respond effectively. Emmett?"

Emmett grinned and stepped out into the space with Jasper.

"Now, Emmett is the best example of a newborn attack," Jasper said.

Emmett glared in annoyance. "Thanks, bro…"

Jasper chuckled. "What I mean is that Emmett relies on strength just like the newborns do. He's very straightforward when he attacks. Just go for the easy kill, Emmett."

Emmett smirked. "You're the boss."

Jacob and the rest of the pack were staring attentively, hardly moving.

Jasper backed up a little more as his body tensed. In the next second, Jasper disappeared. He was a blur as Emmett charged him like a bear, grinning and snarling. Emmett was amazingly fast, but Jasper was practically a ghost. Every time Emmett tried to grab Jasper, his hands would clench around nothing. Emmett suddenly froze when Jasper had him from behind, his teeth an inch from his neck.

"Crap…" Emmett growled.

A low rumble of appreciation resonated from the wolves' as they watched and I noticed Jacob was grinning.

"Again," Emmett insisted.

"It's my turn," Edward protested.

Emmett was about to argue, but Edward stared him down; he wasn't about to take no for an answer. Emmett groaned and reluctantly took his place in line as Edward stepped forward.

I cringed as I watched; Edward intent on Jasper, both of them glaring and feinting as Edward closed the distance between them. I knew Jasper wouldn't seriously hurt his brother, but I couldn't help the chills I felt just watching them eye each other, both their bodies crouched to launch at any moment. My heart raced at the idea that Edward could get injured. Jacob picked up on my anxiety as he glanced at me for a moment before rubbing his fur against my shoulder softly.

I jumped when Edward finally closed on Jasper. The fight was much more even than the other one. Jasper had the century of experience on him while Edward could read his moves and react to them properly. Edward was faster, but Jasper's moves seemed unfamiliar to him. They came at each other again and again, constantly growling instinctively, neither one able to gain the advantage. I couldn't really understand exactly what they were doing as they moved way too fast. Jacob watched the fight with a gleam in his eyes. He seemed a lot more interested in it than the one with Emmett. I wondered if it was because the fight was much less one sided or because Edward was the one fighting.

Eventually, Carlisle cleared his throat. Jasper and Edward both laughed and took a step back.

"Alright, back to work," Jasper said. "We'll call it a draw."

The rest of the Cullens went after Edward. They all took turns, first Carlisle, then Alice, Esme, Rosalie, and Emmett insisted on going again. Carlisle was very similar to Edward, though maybe not as fast. He and Jasper went at each other without any contact until Jasper eventually caught him, gripping his throat with both hands. Jasper still commended him though for lasting as long as he did

I was especially worried for Alice and Esme, but Alice proved I was worrying for nothing. At first it seemed like Alice was just standing there completely still as Jasper lunged and missed every time. It wasn't like Jasper to miss a motionless target, but that was because Alice wasn't motionless. I realized she was stepping out of the way the exact moment Jasper attacked where she was once standing. Jasper closed in and Alice was moving much faster. She spiraled, twisted, and curled like a dancer, avoiding Jasper's every attack. I blinked and suddenly Alice was perched on Jasper's back, her lips at his neck. She won.

Esme's was harder to watch. It was difficult to imagine, much less actually see such a sweet woman being pursued like an antelope trying to get away from a hunger lion. Jasper slowed down a bit to give her more instruction. She eventually caught on and became much more of a challenge for Jasper to get his hands on her.

Rosalie was very impressive like Alice. She weaved and twisted gracefully to dodge Jasper's attacks, but her movements suddenly became fierce and frightening when she was the one on the offensive. I noticed Embry was especially paying attention to this fight. All the wolves' heads turned toward Embry and they let out an irritated groan. Embry whined in response and I think I knew why. I couldn't help giggling at the thought of Rosalie's reaction if she knew a werewolf found her attractive.

After Emmett tried his luck at Jasper again, and failed, Jasper paired everyone off into groups of two. They rotated and switched out partners whenever there seemed to be a clear winner in each group.

It continued like this for a while and my eyes started getting heavier. It was reaching a full twenty-four hours since I slept last and I hadn't been sleeping too well lately anyway. I sighed and rested my head on Jacob's neck. My eyes closed immediately. Jacob's soft fur and warmth made it nearly impossible for me to stay awake as I relaxed into him.

I felt Jake suddenly sit up a bit which woke me up from my brief nap. I rubbed my eyes and saw that Jasper had turned to face the wolves, his expression once again uncomfortable.

"We'll be doing this again tomorrow," Jasper announced. "Please feel free to observe again."

"Yes, we'll be here," Edward translated for Sam and then turn to his family. "The pack also wants to get familiar with our scents so there's no confusion during the battle. If we could stand completely still, it would be easier for them."

Carlisle nodded and turned to Sam. "Of course. Whatever you need."

The Cullens all stood side by side in a straight line, staring in the direction of the pack.

The wolves all began to rise to their feet. Jacob was last as he waited for me to stand first. I was a little unstable on my feet as I did, still feeling pretty sleepy. Jake remained close to my side so I'd have something to lean against. The pack made their way toward the Cullens with Sam in the lead. I decided to follow beside Jake, keeping my hand on his back to guide me since I was half-asleep.

As we came out of the trees, I noticed the deep darkness of the night was beginning to fade. The sun hadn't yet cleared the horizon, although it was brightening the clouds.

Sam approached Carlisle first and went down the line, sniffing each one of them and wincing slightly as he did. Everyone was pretty tense and that included the Cullens, except for maybe Emmett who seemed relaxed, grinning as each wolf got his scent. I stayed by Jake's side as he went down the line. Edward watched me carefully and Esme threw me a smile as we went by her. Jasper and Rosalie glanced at me questioningly, probably baffled that I could be so comfortable with such fierce, horse-sized wolves that stunk, to them at least. Emmett found it humorous though as he opened his mouth like he was about to say something sarcastic, but decided to keep it to himself. I heard Edward chuckle.

Once the pack was done, they all began backing away, not taking their eyes off the Cullens as they went. I swallowed nervously and wondered whether I should be going with them or not. However, Jacob wasn't moving. I decided that if he wasn't, then neither was I. Sam switched his focus to Jacob as he went. Jake looked back at him and nodded as Sam disappeared into the murky forest. The others followed, although Quil and Embry seemed to hesitate while Jacob stayed where he was beside me.

"So, what's your question?" Edward suddenly asked, positioning himself in front of Jake.

I looked at both of them confused. "What question?"

It was silent for a moment.

"I haven't figured that out just yet," Edward answered Jacob's thoughts.

Jake grumbled sullenly.

"No, I don't think that'll work. It's more complicated than that," Edward said. "I'll make sure it's safe, don't worry."

"What are you guys talking about?" I demanded.

Jacob groaned at Edward in what sounded like irritation. Edward just shrugged in response.

"Well, it's been my job for the past two days now," he said, his tone critical.

Now Jacob was growling, his muzzle pulled back to show his sharp teeth. I gasped and reflexively reached out to hold him back, although I was sure there was no way I could manage that. But before I could touch him, Jacob suddenly turned around and bolted for the trees. I flinched back in shock and watched as he disappeared.

"Jake, wait!" I shouted, but he was already gone. I could no longer see Quil or Embry either.

I turned back around to Edward, immediately angry. "What did you say to him? Why'd he leave?"

He held his hand out at me, open palmed. "Relax, he's coming back. He wants to talk for himself."

I turned back around and watched the trees anxiously. Every second felt like a minute as I stood there completely still, just waiting for one thing.

Eventually, he came, on two feet this time. He looked just as magnificent as ever. His russet skin glowed and there was a lot of it as his perfect, broad chest was bare, only wearing a pair of cut-off jeans which he usually brought with him when he planned to turn wolf. My heart beat faster as he approached us. Why did it feel so much like I hadn't seen him like this in months, when in reality it had only been two days?

Jacob made his way to us and stood by my side, glaring intensely at Edward.

"Tell me why it won't work," Jacob demanded.

Edward sighed. "Because she's been back and forth too much. She's left trails all over the place."

"Wait," I interrupted. "Are you guys talking about me?"

Jacob looked down at me and nodded. "I was wondering what to do with you during the fight and if he had any plans."

"What to do with me?"

"You can't stay in Forks, Bella," Edward explained. "They know where to look for you there. What if someone slipped by us? Jacob suggested keeping you in La Push, but you've spent so much time there that you probably left tons of scent trails. La Push might even be less safe for you than Forks."

"We're making Brady and Collin stay behind to protect the place," Jacob said.

"Do you honestly think two rookie werewolves would be enough to fight off an army?"

Jacob groaned. "Then what's your brilliant plan?"

"I told you, I haven't figured it out yet."

My stomach dropped at the thought of vampires raiding the town for me. "What about Charlie?" I gasped.

"He'll be with Billy," Jacob assured and wrapped an arm around me to rub my shoulder, instantly calming me down. "I doubt it'll take much to get him down there. They haven't had a Friday fishing trip in a while and there's a game on Saturday which I'm sure he'll want to see."

"But Edward said La Push isn't safe because of me being there so much."

"At least there he'll have protection."

"If Charlie's protected there, then why not me?"

"Charlie isn't their target," Edward said. "If they searched La Push and didn't find what they came for, they'd most likely leave quickly. If you were there however, I'm sure they'd stop at nothing to get to you, even if it meant through someone else."

I cringed and Jake rubbed my shoulder again. It took a little longer for me to calm down this time.

"But like I said, this is going to be easy. I doubt any of them will get by us anyway, but if they do, you have to be hard to find. Hiding you in the perfect spot is just me being overcautious, I suppose."

"The perfect spot, huh," Jacob muttered and thought for a brief moment. "What about the mountains or the trees. There are tons of options. Either of us could be there in a matter of minutes."

Edward shook his head. "Her scent's too strong, especially combined with mine. If I carried her there, it would leave a trail that-"

"Hold it!" Jacob interrupted and put his hand up to silence him. "Who said anything about you carrying her anywhere?"

Edward paused for a second, and then his eyes brightened. "Oh. That's not a bad idea. It's possible." He turned to his family. "Jasper!"

Jasper looked up curiously and walked over to us with Alice right behind him.

"What's going on?" Jasper asked.

I nodded. "I was about to ask the same thing."

"Okay, Jacob. Go," Edward instructed.

Jake nodded and turned to me. He kept his one arm around me as he reached down to lift me up under my legs. My heart skipped as I was suddenly in his arms.

"Wha…?" I gasped.

"We're going to see if I can confuse the scent enough to hide your trail," Jacob explained, looking at me.

"Oooh…" Jasper muttered to himself.

Edward nodded at Jasper. "Bella's scent is very potent for me. I think it'd be a fairer test if someone else did it."

Jacob turned away from them, facing the trees. "Ready, Bells?"

"Uh…" It was all I could say.

He grinned. "I'll take that as a yes."

Jacob darted into the woods and it became dark all around us. I instinctively wrapped my arms around his neck to hold on as he was running pretty fast. I knew he wouldn't drop me or anything though, especially with him holding me fairly tight and close to his chest. He then started jogging at an even pace and I was able to loosen up a little.

I looked up at him, his eyes distant as he faced straight ahead. Even though I knew running didn't make Jake tired, I could feel his heart beating unusually fast and the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed deeply. Something else was getting to him and I wondered if it was the same thing that made my heart race. I was still confused about us. Were we 'official' again? Did we ever break up in the first place? Was it right for me to be in such an intimate position with him? I hoped it was, although this could've just been business. However, Jacob wasn't being so distant with me since the party. To allow me to warm up with him in his wolf form and to wrap his arms around me like it was so natural; would he still do that if he was unsure? He was taking chances with me bit by bit, so why not I do the same?

I took a deep breath and tried not to think too much. I completely relaxed into him and rested my head on his shoulder; just letting myself do what came naturally toward him. Jacob glanced at me for a split second and I wondered if he was okay, but I urged myself not to think. Jacob slowed his jog down to a fast walk as he made his wide arc and was coming back to the clearing at a different direction from where we entered the forest; maybe a football field away. We were still in the trees though as he gradually slowed down his pace. I wasn't trying to think, but it seemed odd for him to slow down if this was just a simple test. Just then, I knew why. Jacob rested his head to the side, leaning it against mine and taking a deep sigh through his nose. His arms tightened, pressing me closer to him, and he was walking so slowly now that I could probably pass him easily if I were on my feet. I knew he didn't want the moment to end. Neither did I.

Eventually we did make it back to the clearing where Edward stood alone, looking a little irritated. Out of nowhere, Jasper and Alice stood behind Edward. Jacob took one more step forward and stopped about six feet away from Edward.

"What took you so long?" Edward asked with a groan.

Jacob rolled his eyes. "Shut up and tell us the results."

"As long as you don't touch anything, Bella, I can't possibly imagine anyone sticking their nose anywhere near that stench," Jasper explained with a grimace. "It was almost completely obscured."

"Definitely a success," Alice agreed.

"And it also gave me an idea."

"Clever," Edward complimented.

"What the hell are you guys talking about?" Jacob asked in annoyance.

Edward looked at me with a weak smile. "I know you wanted to help out, Bella. This is your chance. You're going to leave a false trail to the clearing. The newborns are hunting your scent and you can lead them exactly where we want them."

My eyes widened. "Really?"

"The only problem is I can't see whether this'll work or not," Alice mentioned. "I see them coming, but when they get to a certain point, my vision disappears. I'm assuming that's when they pick up your scent, Bella."

"However, I don't see any negative consequences to this idea as long as we know the trail. It's definitely worth a shot. Will you do it, Bella?" Edward asked, even though it wasn't necessary.

"Of course I will," I answered enthusiastically. It wasn't exactly helping to fight, but it was something. Improving their chances of winning. Lessening their chances of…dying.

"Not a chance!" Edward shouted, suddenly angry.

I gasped and my arms naturally tightened around Jacob who was still holding me. I was confused for a moment, thinking he changed his mind, but he was looking at Jasper.

"I know, I know," Jasper said quickly. "It was just a thought."

"What's a thought?"Alice, Jacob, and I all said at the same time. The three of us looked at each other with furrowed brows, not expecting that.

Jacob snickered. "Nice…"

"I wasn't really considering it actually," Jasper tried to explain. "I just thought that if Bella was actually there in the clearing, it would drive the newborns insane. They wouldn't be able to concentrate on anything but her. It would make picking them off really easy…"

Edward continued to glare at Jasper and Jacob was eyeing him as well in disgust, the smile left behind by his snicker completely gone. His teeth were clenched and he almost growled. Alice frowned at Jasper and stepped on his foot.

"Of course it's too dangerous. It was just a random thought," Jasper said, avoiding eye contact as his face scrunched up uncomfortably. However, the look in his eyes told me he still seemed wishful of the idea.

"Jasper…" Edward said in warning.

"Right…" Jasper grimaced and took Alice's hand as they started back toward the others.

Edward sighed deeply and turned his attention to us. His expression seemed unusual, like he was trying too hard to keep a straight face.

"You know, the scent trail test ended a while ago," he said in a flat voice.

Jacob nodded with a smirk. "I know."

I was still securely in Jacob's arms and I hadn't thought about how this looked to others. My face turned red and I debated with myself on whether I should ask Jake to put me down, although I really didn't want him to.

Edward sighed. "Anyway, back to business. I know you'll be busy, so I can bring her here to lay out the false trail. Then you meet us afterward and carry her to this place I know. It's completely out of the way; I seriously doubt anyone would bother going there."

"And then what? Leave her with a cell phone?" Jacob asked critically.

"Do you have a better idea?"

Jacob grinned. "As a matter of fact, I do."

"Oh. Again, dog, not bad."

"What would you do without me?" Jacob smirked.

"What idea?" I asked, looking back and forth between them.

Jacob smiled at me. "I'm thinking Seth could stay with you. We were trying to talk him out of fighting with us since he's still pretty new, but he's been resisting. He really wants to help out. So I think this is the perfect job for him. A cell phone."

I raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Cell phone…?"

"As long as Seth's a wolf, we can communicate with him. Plus, he can keep you safe more than a real cell phone ever could. Not to mention you won't be so lonely this way either. I trust you still understand 'wolfanese'?" he teased.

I giggled at his made up word. "Yeah, I'm pretty fluent." It was mostly a joke, but I remembered the times where I was able to understand what Jacob's wolf was saying based on body language alone. "Are you sure Seth will be okay with this job?"

"Well, it's no brawl, but I think he will be. Seth really likes you, and it's admittedly more exciting than Collin and Brady's job. They definitely got the short end of the stick. Just staying at home…boring."

I could definitely relate to Seth on wanting to help so badly. At least I wasn't the only one being held back.

Edward scowled and mumbled so softly I could barely hear. "I'm glad some of you dogslike her."

Jacob let out a frustrated sigh. "Paul has a bad temper and Leah's always been a harpy, so…"

It looked like I was right. I'd never really established a good relationship with Leah as almost everyone kept away from her, but I thought that Paul and I at least had a friendship going. It didn't feel good knowing he was angry at me, but I certainly couldn't blame him.

"So distance isn't a problem?" Edward asked, wanting to change the subject.

Jake shook his head. "Nope."

"Three hundred miles. That's pretty impressive."

"It's the farthest we've gone to experiment. Still clear as a bell."

Edward nodded. "This will work. I think everything is just about set. Tomorrow night, we'll be practicing some more which you're free to observe. We'll be hunting on Wednesday to make sure our strength is at its max when it's time to fight. On Thursday, I'll bring Bella here to lay out the false trail and you take her to the spot I've chosen. And finally, on Friday morning…"

Jacob grinned with excitement. "Yes!"

I cringed. Hearing the whole schedule laid out like that made me truly realize how soon this would all be happening. It wasn't as soon as their old plan to leave in two days, but still much too soon for me. Then again, I wouldn't want them to ever leave. I still couldn't believe how they could be excited about this.

"Are you taking her home?" Edward asked

Jacob looked at me with a smile. "Ready to go?"

I met his gaze, his deep black eyes distracting. It took me a moment to answer. "Yeah…"

"Awesome. Let's go."

"I'll see you tomorrow, Bella," Edward said quickly before Jacob turned away.

I looked over Jacob's shoulder at Edward and smiled. "Right, tomorrow."

Jacob was very eager to get away from the vampires as he immediately dashed toward the black forest. I held on tight, watching Edward get further and further away until the mass of trees blocked him from view. I faced forward in the direction Jake was running when he started to slow down gradually. Out of nowhere, two gigantic, shadowy forms jumped out in front of us. I gasped and my arms tightened around Jake, but he seemed completely relaxed. As my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I let out a sigh of relief when I saw it was just Embry and Quil.

"You guys are still here?" Jacob asked.

They both nodded their big, furry heads in response.

"Did Sam tell you to stay? Y'know, I can handle a vampire myself."

Quil and Embry glanced at each other and shrugged. Their eyes flashed back and forth between me and Jake.

"I'm taking Bella home. I'll be there soon."

That seemed to be all they needed as they nodded and turned to sprint away.

Jacob finally set me back on my feet. I pouted and held onto his arm, still wanting some kind of physical contact. He patted my back with a chuckle, glancing at a large tree about twenty feet away.

"Sam wanted me back immediately after I asked my questions because we're gonna be practicing all day today," Jacob proclaimed. "I need to hurry and get back, so it'd be faster if I was a wolf."

I nodded slowly. "You don't mind me riding on you?"

"Of course not. Why?" He looked at me confused.

I blushed and shook my head. "Just curious."

Jake shrugged and started toward the large tree. It may have been because I was pretty exhausted and wasn't thinking too clearly, but for some reason I felt like riding on a wolf's back was something only couples did, not that I've seen Emily or Kim ever doing the same. I could've been completely wrong.

It didn't take Jacob long at all to come back out as his huge, russet-colored wolf. A black leather strap tied his cut-off jeans to his right hind leg, secured with a metal buckle. He came over to me and lowered to the ground so I could climb on easily. I sighed in content as I got on, wrapping my arms around his neck. His soft, warm fur felt so nice I probably would've fallen asleep instantly if Jacob stood still, but he quickly launched once I was on. My eyes were closed, but mainly because it was hard keeping them open when Jake ran this fast. The wind blew my hair back and pushed against my skin. I could feel Jake's body rumble underneath me as he breathed even and steady.

I whimpered softly when he slowed down to a trot. I knew we were getting close to my house now. He'd drop me off, leave, and I wouldn't see him until much later tonight. Did the pack really have to practice all day long? Couldn't they take breaks? Although, if they needed that much practice to survive the battle, then I guess I was all for it.

Jacob came to a complete stop and grunted. I opened my eyes to see that we were a good distance away from my backyard so Jake was still covered by the trees. He crouched down again to let me off, looking back at me when I hesitated. I sighed, slowly getting off of him as we both rose to our feet. He was facing me now, both of us gazing at each other. It took me a bit more effort to see him as my eyes fought to stay open. He took a step forward and let out a concerned whine.

"I'll be okay. I think I can make it to my bed," I insisted. "I don't want Sam to get mad at you for being late or anything."

He shrugged, not seeming too worried about that.

I reached out and rubbed his neck softly. "You should go. You don't want to hold everyone up."

Jacob nodded and quickly leaned in to touch his snout against my cheek. I flinched, slightly surprised by the gesture as Jacob grinned. He backed away and dashed off into the woods, still covered in darkness. I watched as he ran further in until the shadows enveloped him.

Very Good!  I wish you could write faster though! :)

Yeah, I know :( Sorry for the delay. This was supposed to come out in July, but real life issues caused delays. But, this is probably the biggest chapter I've written so far, so there's that. The next chapter I'll try to get out around the August 15th area and the one after I'll try for the end of the month. 

It's all good. I just have too much free time at work! LOL.

27. Going Up

BELLA SWAN

The past two days have been either too short or too long. After Jacob dropped me off at my house, I managed to drag myself to my room just in time to collapse on my bed rather than the hard floor. When I woke up, it was well past noon. If I hadn't already graduated, there'd probably be just about an hour left of classes by the time I woke up. However, the only thing on my mind was what the wolf pack and Cullens could be doing right then.

I was pretty surprised to come downstairs and see Alice casually chatting with Charlie. She apparently had made arrangements for us to go shopping in Olympia this Friday, the day of the fight. I was also going to be with her for the few days leading up to it as the rest of the Cullens would be hiking and she didn't want to be left all alone. Of course, all of this was just to give me an alibi for the fight. Charlie would wonder why I wasn't home or even in La Push.

That night, the Cullens continued their practicing. Jacob, Quil and Embry were there as well, but the rest of the pack was missing. I figured they only really needed one wolf to observe and they could pass it on through their connected minds; Quil and Embry were probably there for back up. They stayed wolves the whole time, but I didn't mind. Quil was watching the Cullens fight with excitement. It was clear we wanted to join, but we all knew that would've been a bad idea. Embry was still focusing more so on Rosalie than the others, which Jacob and Quil ragged on him about, making annoyed grunts and shoving him. Quil and Embry got into a light scuffle about the whole thing, which greatly distracted Edward, awarding him a good punch in the jaw from Jasper during their match. He was obviously worried about me being so close to fighting werewolves, but I knew they wouldn't hurt me, nor would Jacob allow that. They were just rough housing to me; nothing unusual.

After the Cullens finished practicing, this time I joined them as they went home. Thanks to Alice, I was to be with her at the Cullen house for two days plus a trip to Olympia, at least that's what Charlie was supposed to think. I explained to Jacob and it tore me apart having to say goodbye to him.

I spent the night at the Cullens' house; the first time I'd done that in a long time. Alice didn't allow me to sleep in this time, waking me up around nine with breakfast waiting for me downstairs, thanks to Edward. This was the day they needed to hunt and energize themselves for the fight. Edward really didn't want to leave me all alone in the house, but I insisted on them going and promised I'd be fine. It turned out to be a pretty bad idea. The house felt eerily quiet, much more like a crypt than it ever would with the vampires actually present. I found myself looking over my shoulder constantly, thinking that any moment someone would sneak up from behind and grab me. Aside from feeling uneasy, overall, I was just bored. There was really nothing to do without the Cullens besides watch TV, which gave the house some noise and made it slightly less creepy.

The whole time, I was debating with myself on whether I should go out and walk to the mall, just to give myself something to do. I just didn't know when exactly the Cullens would be back and I didn't want them to come home while I was gone and worry them. I really wished I could just spend the day with Jacob and the pack. Charlie was supposed to believe I was at the Cullens' house, but I didn't necessarily have to be here. Charlie wasn't supposed to be down at La Push until Thursday, so it would've worked out. The only problem was that they were once again practicing all day for the fight. From reading Jacob's mind, Edward told me Sam was being very strict on having zero distractions during practice, which I apparently qualified as. Sam allowed me to be around while the wolves sparred with each other before. I would always sit back and watch, making little to no noise. Why was I a distraction now? The more I thought about what I could be doing, the more frustrated I became that time couldn't move faster. It was seriously the longest day of my life.

Eventually, the boredom made me drowsy as the energy that allowed me to sit up on the couch slowly drained. Sleeping would definitely make time move faster for me, but being alone already frightened me. I was at least aware of my surroundings, but sleeping would take that away too. That anxiety kept me awake, but it couldn't for very long. My boredom was just far too powerful.

I closed my eyes and I was suddenly in La Push. I could see Emily's house in the distance and Brady and Collin both came out of nowhere, standing in front of me with smiles on their faces. They led me to the front of the house where the rest of the pack stood with welcoming grins. Sam stood with Emily, Jared with Kim, Quil giving Claire a piggyback ride while Embry watched in annoyance, Paul laughing off to the side, and Seth standing with Leah who was the only one not smiling; which I was perfectly fine with, because it felt normal. And then there was Jacob, coming out of the front door and smiling my favorite smile. He rushed over to me and I closed the distance as I threw my arms around his neck, pressing my lips to his.

"Are you awake now?" the voice of Edward called to me.

I awoke with a groan, looking around the familiar living room through squinted eyes. I was lying on the couch with my head resting on a pillow that I didn't remember being there, same for the soft blankets that covered me from shoulder to toe. Edward was sitting on the far end of the couch, allowing me to stretch my legs. A soft whimper escaped me as I reflected on yet another dream that I wished were real.

Edward frowned. "What's wrong?"

I shook my head. "Just a dream, don't worry about it." I looked out the window, noticing that it was much lighter outside than I remembered. "What time is it?"

"Seven in the morning," Edward answered.

"Really?" I rubbed my eyes and sat up to look at him. "Did I sleep for that long?"

"For as long as I've been here. I was nervous about you being here alone, so I came home early to check on you around nine at night. You were fast asleep on the couch and I didn't want to disturb you."

"Wow…"

"You have been pretty tired lately. At least you're well rested and waking up in the morning today." He smiled.

"What is today?

His expression became more serious. "Thursday."

"Thursday…what?"

"We'll be setting the false trail and bringing you to this special hiding spot I know."

I nodded, confirming it to myself. "When?"

"Probably this afternoon when the others get back."

I tilted my head to the side. "They aren't here?"

"No. I came home early to check on you. They're still out hunting."

"Wait, did you get enough blood if you left before everyone else?"

"I think I'll be fine."

I frowned. "You think?"

He glanced at me and sighed. "I know I'll be fine."

"You better…"

If anything ever happened to Edward, I didn't think I'd ever be able to forgive myself or him for that matter.

"Come on, I made breakfast for you," he said with a smile, holding his hand out to me.

I smiled back and took his hand. "You knew exactly when I was going to wake up, didn't you?"

"I had a hunch." He smirked and led me to the kitchen.

Breakfast was great. It always amazed me how great of a cook Edward was despite him being unable to taste any of it. I decided to give him a test and see how well he could prepare chicken penne with alfredo sauce. The only catch was that he couldn't look at any recipe. The chicken ended up a little undercooked and the alfredo sauce lacked flavor, which Edward apologized profusely about. I just laughed to let him know everything was okay and told him what he could do next time to make it better. It was nice to know there was at least one thing I was better than him at.

The rest of the Cullens got home around noon, bringing about a new business-like feel to the atmosphere and pulling me back into the seriousness of our situation.

Alice had a change of clothes for me and I was thankful that for once she didn't go for anything stylish. Instead, she had me put on a plain dark blue sweatshirt and a jacket to match.

"Why the warm clothing?" I asked.

"Well, I think you'll need to pack for cold weather," she explained, making a face at the uncertain word. "I can't see exactly where Edward's having you go because you'll be with that dog, but there's a storm that seems particularly bad in that area."

My eyes widened. "Snow? Seriously? It's June!"

She gave me a look of sympathy and patted my shoulder. "Yeah, but we've got plenty of camping gear for you. Edward's packing right now."

I sighed. "I was hoping this 'hiding place' would be, like, a cabin or something."

Alice rolled her eyes. "Any spot with civilization wouldn't be the safest choice."

"Yeah, I understand."

We went back downstairs as Edward was packing. He had a down sleeping bag, a small tent, and several packets of dehydrated food, stuffing them all in a large backpack.

Alice seemed to wander off as I went to stand beside Edward. Once he was done packing, he handed me his phone out of the blue.

"You should probably call Jacob and tell him we'll be ready for him in about an hour. He should know where to meet us," Edward said.

I nodded and quickly dialed the number, eager to hear his voice.

"Hello?" Billy answered after the second ring.

I frowned for a moment, but kept my voice even and normal. "Hi, Billy, it's Bella. I just wanted to know if I could speak to Jake."

"Oh, sorry Bella, Jake's not in right now. Did you need to tell him something?"

"Oh…" I cleared my throat to hide the disappointment in my tone. "Just that we'll be ready for him to meet us in about an hour."

"Alright, got it. He's probably with the others at Emily's, so I'll give them a call. And don't worry about Charlie, Bella. I've got my part in this under control."

"Yeah, I know Charlie will be fine."

"I wish I could be with the rest of them tomorrow." Billy chuckled regretfully. "Being an old man is a hardship, Bella."

I nodded, even though he couldn't see. He was just like the others. They all wanted to fight so badly. I wondered if it was just a guy thing, but I couldn't forget about Leah. Plus, I wasn't entirely different. If I had the power to be out there and help protect everyone, I would.

"Have fun with Charlie," I said.

"Good luck, Bella," he answered. "And…tell the, um, Cullens I wish them luck as well."

"Oh. Sure, I will," I promised before hanging up. It was certainly a surprising gesture.

"That was generous of him," Edward noted, overhearing the conversation

I nodded and handed him his phone back. "Is everything packed and ready?"

"Yes. We can leave anytime you're ready."

"Alright then, let's go." I grabbed his hand, eagerly pulling him to the door.

Edward carried me in his arms, taking a long detour to the clearing to make sure my scent was nowhere near the trail Jacob would hide later. I knew he couldn't carry me on his back with that bulky backpack taking up the space, but the way he held me brought back memories of him taking me to our meadow, more vividly, just last week. It was a memory both blissful and a nightmare at the same time. The fact that I liked being held so intimately by him scared me. The fact that I didn't want him to put me down scared me. The fact that I couldn't stop loving him scared me. But still, I never once forgot about Jacob. There was never even a single moment where Edward was more important to me than him; not since we've been together at least. Even now, though I loved the smooth, cold arms that held me securely to his chest, I still yearned for a different pair.

Edward finally stopped at the farthest end of the clearing and set me on my feet, my arms clinging to him for a moment.

"Alright, just walk north for a ways, touching as much as you can. It shouldn't take us too long to intersect the path where Alice's vision disappeared," Edward instructed.

"Okay. And north is…?"

He snickered and pointed out the right direction.

I walked slowly, trailing my fingers over anything close enough; the rough tree bark, wet ferns, mossy rocks. It was pretty cold for June, especially when the wind whipped through the open spaces in the trees, giving me goose bumps. However, the sky was pretty clear, even sunny. There was a faint yellow shine that struggled to break through the mass of branches and leaves. Maybe Alice would be wrong about the weather. After all, if I was going to be there, wouldn't her vision just end?

"Am I doing this right?" I asked.

Edward nodded. "Perfectly."

"What if I-" I ran my fingers through my hair and caught a few loose strands, draping them over a couple of rocks, "-did this? Would that help?"

"Yes, it would make the scent stronger. But you don't need to pull out your hair."

I giggled softly. "I've got a few to spare."

We continued forward with Edward following a few yards behind me. I kept touching anything reachable and made sure to watch my feet for once. I didn't want to let any tripping slow me down.

"How far are we now?" I called.

"Not too far now."

"Time-wise?"

"I'd say about ten minutes."

I grimaced. "How long have we been out here?" I paused. "Wait, no, how long has it been since I called Billy? An hour?"

"More like twenty five minutes."

"That's it?"

"Yes." He was silent for a moment. "You're eager to see him."

I sighed. "Yeah. I don't know if he'll be there early or not."

"If he's not, we'll wait of course."

"But the wait might kill me." I frowned.

"We could always just call him when we get there and tell him to come as fast as possible."

I looked back at him. "And how fast is that?"

"You tell me." He smirked. "Maybe a few minutes if he can reach my speed. Has he ever gone that fast when you take him for a ride?"

"Oh yeah." I nodded enthusiastically. "Sometimes even faster."

Edward grimaced, his overall expression becoming concerned. I hadn't thought about that comment taking a jab to his pride. It probably didn't feel so good hearing that a werewolf was faster than him, although I was sure that Edward held back just a little when he carried me.

"Interesting…" he muttered; I could barely hear him.

It took me a while to reach the spot where Alice's vision disappeared. Unconsciously, I moved much slower, probably to give Jacob more time to make it to the clearing by the time we arrived, but Edward never got impatient with my pace.

Once we were almost to the clearing, however, I sped up. There was no point in stalling now as I was much more anxious to see if he was actually there. I was moving too quickly to watch my feet anymore. I wasn't sure what I tripped over, but I was about to collide head first into the closest tree in front of me. I caught myself before I could do any serious damage, but a small branch snapped off under my left hand and dug into my palm.

I cussed out loud, gripping my hand.

"Are you alright?" Edward asked with deep concern, rushing over to me.

I hissed at the pain. "I'm fine. Don't get too close, I'm bleeding."

He ignored me and held the underside of my hand gently, looking at my palm.

"I've got a first aid kit," he said and pulled off his backpack. "I had a feeling I'd need it."

"Edward, it's not that bad. I can take care of it. I don't want to make you uncomfortable."

"I feel fine, Bella. Here, let me clean it."

"Wait, I have another idea."

"Huh?"

Without looking at the blood, I pressed my hand against a rock within my reach.

"Whoa. What are you doing?"

"My job." I started for the clearing again, pressing my palm against anything within reach and ignoring the stinging pain it brought. "I bet this'll really get them going."

Edward sighed. "Don't you think you're overdoing it?"

"I wanna do a good job, since no one will let me do anything else."

"Fair enough, I suppose."

We finally broke through the last of the trees as the grey sky opened up to us.

"The newborns are going to be frantic," he said.

I turned around to look at him. "So, I did a good job?"

He nodded. "Yes, very good. Now let me see your hand, you've gotten the cut dirty."

I looked at him a little doubtful as I slowly held my hand out to him.

"Are you sure you're okay with this?"

He took my hand and smiled as he examined it. "Yes, this doesn't bother me anymore."

I watched him carefully as he cleaned my cut and smoothed a bandage across my palm. He seemed alright. The same small smile stayed on his lips and he breathed evenly. It wasn't like the times where he'd stiffen up and stop himself from breathing.

"Why doesn't it bother you?" I asked.

"I got over it."

I raised an eyebrow at him. "You can do that?"

"Apparently, yes." He paused for a moment, pursing his lips. "The moment I received that call from Rosalie that you were dead, I experienced pain unlike anything before. Even though it was only for a moment until I called you myself, it was enough. Now my entire being shies away from anything that could cause that kind of pain again."

"Oh…wow." It was all I could think of saying.

The wind whipped across the clearing that caused me to shiver despite having a rather thick sweatshirt on. The grey clouds off in the distance and chilling wind made me worry that Alice's weather prediction might be right after all.

Edward pulled out my winter coat and held it out for me to put on. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder as we made our way to the other side of the clearing.

"Even when away from him, the things you picked up from that dog still slip out," Edward suddenly muttered with a sigh.

"What're you talking about?"

"You're language, Bella."

I rolled my eyes. "Where is he, anyway? Where are we meeting him?"

"Right here." He suddenly took his arm from around me.

I whimpered softly and looked around the clearing frantically when I didn't immediately see him. Although we were still over twenty minutes shy of an hour, I was hoping he'd already be here.

"Call him," I demanded, my tone unintentionally forceful.

"No need," he assured and nodded toward the trees in front of us.

My eyes darted straight ahead as Jacob stepped warily from the shadows. My heart skipped a beat the moment I saw him. His arms were folded over his bare chest, clutching a jacket in one hand. Jacob's face was void of expression as Edward started walking closer, giving me a good push to get me going.

"Hello, Jacob," Edward greeted.

Jacob nodded once in response then got down to business. "Where do I take her?"

Edward pulled out a map from the side pocket of his backpack, handing it to Jake as he unfolded it.

"We are here," Edward explained and pointed it out on the map, Jacob recoiling instinctively from his hand, but paying attention, "and you're taking her here, about nine miles." Edward traced the path with his finger.

Jacob nodded. "Okay."

"When you're about a mile away, you should cross my path and it'll lead you right in. I'll be taking a longer route."

"Okay."

"Any questions?"

Jacob glared. "No, I got it."

"Good. I'll see you in a few hours," Edward said, keeping his tone polite. He turned to me and smiled softly. "See you then."

I smiled back until he bolted in the opposite direction, disappearing into the trees.

There was nowhere else to look now but at the werewolf in front of me. Jacob folded the map back up and stuffed it in his back pocket. He shrugged into his jacket and took three large steps closer. His expression was a mixture of curiosity and confusion as he looked at me. I hadn't moved a muscle.

This was the moment I'd been waiting for. It was just us now. There was nothing to get in our way for at least a few hours as Edward said. Despite the looming terror of newborn vampires coming our way, I felt like this was finally our time.

"Um…what's up, Bella?" he greeted with an awkward grin.

I didn't respond verbally. I suddenly felt this uncontrollable urge to hold him. To make up for something lost in the days we've been apart. Like a magnet, my body pulled to him as I took one long stride and wrapped my arms around him in a tight embrace. Locked in place, I had no plans on letting go anytime soon as I buried my face in his bare chest, suddenly feeling my eyes fill with tears.

Jacob flinched slightly, my brash show of affection taking him by surprise. He stood there for a few seconds with his arms at his sides, but I didn't let go; if anything, I held him tighter. Seconds passed by in silence until I felt his warm arms slowly wrap around me, pressing me even closer to him than I already was. He rubbed my back comfortingly as the tears in my eyes finally spilled over.

We stood there like that for an immeasurable amount of time. It'd been so long since I felt like this, where time seemed to stand still and nothing really mattered but us. Thinking rationally, this probably wasn't the best time to feel this way, but I couldn't stop it now. For all I knew, the hours could've already passed and we'd have been standing here the whole time.

We were finally pulled out of our little bubble when a harshly freezing gust of wind tore through the clearing, causing us both to tense up.

Jacob stepped back and put his hands on my shoulders, smiling down at me.

"Ready to go?" he asked cheerfully.

I smiled softly and nodded. "Yep, I'm ready."

Jacob wrapped his arm around me before bending down to lift me from the back of my knees, holding me close just like when we practiced the day of instruction.

He wasted no time and started running through the trees as I held on tight with my arms around his shoulders. His breathing was even despite not slowing down even a bit, keeping a steady pace as he jogged swiftly, avoiding any trees and ferns that got in his way. He kept straight through the pathless woods, but I noticed the terrain begin climbing steeper and steeper. Jacob leapt from rock to rock, still not slowing down and keeping a perfect balance. Sometimes it amazed me just how much Jacob could do as a human alone. He and the rest of the pack were like perfect human soldiers. Everything about them was taken to the peak of what was humanly possible; maybe even a few steps over that limit. I remembered Quil talking about a superhero like that once, but I couldn't remember the name.

"So, what have you been up to these past few days?" Jacob asked, breaking the silence.

I shrugged. "A whole lot of nothing."

"Really? That sounds exciting," he chuckled.

"Yeah, you should've seen me yesterday. I was glued to the couch and staring at the TV for hours, and yet I still have no idea what I watched. Most riveting day of my life."

"Wow, fun." He smirked. "At least you had the chance to even be lazy."

"Was Sam working you guys hard?"

He sighed deeply. "Non-stop training all day long."

"Not even one break?"

"Well, I guess I take that back. Each of us got two half an hour breaks and we could rest a bit when Sam or someone else was giving individual instruction, but we had to pay attention which took brain work."

"Sounds tough."

Jacob nodded in agreement. "Yeah, but it's necessary. We're definitely ready for tomorrow."

I grimaced, still against them fighting.

He looked at me disapprovingly. "Oh, don't look like that, Bella. We gotta do what we gotta do."

"No, you don't 'gotta' do anything."

"Uh…yes, we do. It's our job to protect this place from vampires or anything harmful to our people. We're made for this, Bella. Besides, your bloodsuckers said themselves that this would be really difficult without our help."

"Well, it's too late to stop it now…" I mumbled and hung my head down, watching his feet as he continued going up the steep, rocky path. I quickly realized we were going up a mountain and it was gradually getting colder. "Could you stay out of the fight at least?" I lifted my head back up to look at him.

"No way!" Jacob exclaimed immediately.

I frowned. "Why not?"

"I spent two days training hours and hours for this. I am not letting all that time go to waste. Plus, I've been itching to kill a vampire for a while now. Tomorrow I get to go at ten of them and maybe more." He grinned, not making any effort to hide his excitement.

"Can't you think of anything other than fighting? How do you think I'll feel waiting wherever you're taking me and wondering if you got hurt or…killed?" The last word came out in a whimper.

Jacob glanced at my face and sighed. "Bella, I'll be fine. Like I said, I've been practicing, well, forced to practice non-stop."

"Yeah, but not on actual vampires."

"We've killed one before without practice. Again, we're made for this, it just comes naturally to us." He sighed. "Besides, I couldn't sit out even if I wanted to. Sam's calling the shots and he wants me out there. I'm part of the main offensive, right in the front row."

I cringed. Knowing that did not make things easier. "Well, you can tell Sam I have a serious problem with his plan."

He shrugged. "I could, but honestly I doubt Sam would care what you think."

I was silent for about a mile up. I was looking at his swift moving feet again, unable to keep the frown off my face.

"I'm sorry," Jacob said with a grimace. "That sounded way more harsh than I wanted it to. I understand that you're worried."

I sighed. "Does Sam hate me now?"

"What? No, he doesn't hate you. Why would you think that?"

"Well, he didn't want me around you guys during your practicing."

His eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "I said we'd be busy, but I never said you couldn't come."

"Yeah, but Sam did."

"And how do you know that? I don't think you ever talked to him since…well, a while."

"Edward told me." I tapped my temple twice. "Mind reader."

"Damn leech," he muttered under his breath with a groan.

I frowned at him critically. "Jake…"

His face suddenly fell. I noticed he had slowed down a bit too, something obviously distracting him.

"Jake?"

"I was kind of hoping you'd show up anyway," he sighed. "Like, not even call and ask, just show up. That way, you're already there and I wouldn't let Sam just kick you out of La Push. But he had to tell you."

"He was just informing me."

"Well, he's very selective about what he shares."

I tried to veer the subject away from Edward. "Why was Sam so against me being there while you practiced? Am I that much of a distraction?"

Jacob groaned. "He thinks so…"

"Sam let me watch you guys fight before though..." I frowned as the gloom hit me. "But I understand why. He's mad at me, right? He probably thinks I'm a traitor and that I'm going back to the vampires."

Jacob's face matched mine, staying silent; he definitely wasn't disagreeing. He looked off in thought, his head pointing in the direction where the trees completely cleared out and the forest below us could be seen, stretching out to the horizon.

"I'm not, by the way," I made clear. "I don't want anything to change and I'm not leaving anyone. But they can all be pissed at me for hurting you. That's a good enough reason alone." The frown didn't leave my face.

"I wanted to talk to you about that," he said softly.

I swallowed thickly and nodded. "Right…"

Jacob look off like he was thinking again, slowing his pace down even more, though still jogging at a fair speed that would normally tire an average person out after fifteen minutes or so.

"Well, from what I got at that party you loved so much," he began, smirking for a second before being serious again, "I thought you broke up with me, while you thought I broke up with you. So…who did what?"

"It sounds like neither of us did anything."

"So then, we're still together?"

"Depends…" I felt my heart beat faster. "Do you still want me?"

He looked me right in the eyes. "Do you still want me?"

I sighed and nodded. "Yes."

"And you don't want…him?"

I grimaced, suddenly feeling like there was extra weight on my chest. "It's not that I don't want him. I can't. I can't have the best of both worlds, I need to let go of something."

"Why let go of him and not me?"

"Because you're too important."

"I guess I can take that." He nodded slowly and frowned. "Bella, I'm sorry. When you said that you still loved him and…kissed him," he made a disgusted face at the last part, "I thought that was it. I just assumed you were going back to him. I've seen how much you pined over him before we got together. I thought unless you no longer loved him, I didn't stand a chance. When I went home and saw you weren't there, and then called the next day to hear you were with the Cullens, I thought I was done."

I winced, feeling that stab in my chest again from hurting him. "I'm sorry. Going to the Cullen house definitely wasn't my idea. I would've just stayed at home, lying in bed and feeling miserable, but Alice pretty much abducted me."

"Not that I'd ever want you to feel miserable, but at least you could've gotten my call if you stayed home." He groaned. "Parasite…"

I raised an eyebrow. "That parasite is also the reason why we're so prepared for the fight tomorrow."

"Right…" He shrugged, not having anything to counter that fact.

"As for not staying…" I paused for a moment to take a breath, the pain in my chest not going away, "I thought you didn't want me anymore. You were so angry when I told you what happened with Edward, and you told me to get away from you." I cringed at the memory.

His eyes widened. "Oh. Bella, no, I didn't mean it like that. Yes, I was angry, very angry. I was losing control of myself and I told you to get away from me because I didn't want you to get hurt when I phased. I didn't mean for good."

"Really? But it's understandable. How could you want a girl who loves someone else as well?"

"You're choosing me. That's good enough."

"Are you sure?"

He finally gave me a genuine smile after frowning so much. "Yes, I'm sure."

I smiled back softly, staring into his beautiful black eyes. Time started to feel meaningless again as our faces slowly moved toward each other. Our lips were only inches apart and I wasn't even sure if Jacob was still jogging at that point.

Jacob suddenly wrinkled his nose in disgust and pulled back. I looked at him surprised and a little offended.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I can smell him," he explained. "We're not far now."

I sighed in relief, glad it wasn't me.

Jacob picked up the pace, running at the same speed he started and breathing with every stride.

"We gotta hurry up and get you under shelter. Y'know, before that hits," Jacob said and looked up at the sky.

A thick wall of black cloud was racing in from the west, bringing darkness to the forest beneath it.

"Whoa," I muttered. "This is going to suck."

"No doubt about that, but it does bring good news. Originally, I was gonna stay with you until Seth arrived. However, with the storm, I might just stay overnight and be your personal heater. Then I'll be leaving in the morning." He grinned.

"That is good news," I agreed, smiling weakly. "But I wish you could stay longer. What if I get cold in the morning and during the fight too?"

"Then I guess Seth'll have to do."

"You don't mind me snuggling up with Seth?"

He smirked. "Not really, because he knows I can and will kick his ass if he tries anything."

"Not that we would. He's a good kid."

Jacob nodded and looked like he was about to say something, but a fierce, icy cold wind interrupted him, blowing through the trees around us. The sharp sound of wood cracking echoed off the mountain. I scowled at the unwelcome white specks that fluttered past us. Jacob was in a full sprint now, his arms tightening and pulling me closer as I curled more into his chest, needing his warmth.

Just a few minutes later, he darted around to the left side of the white, rocky mountain peak as a little tent came into view. I could see Edward pacing back and forth until Jacob's feet stomping against the rocks and twigs caught his attention.

"Bella!" Edward called, running over in a blur to meet us half way.

Jacob cringed at his arrival and kept me held securely to his chest, which didn't seem to bother Edward much.

"Excellent, that was much faster than I expected," Edward said very sincerely. "You should get her inside quickly, the storm is moving fast."

"Ya don't say…" Jacob responded sarcastically and glanced at the small tent in back of Edward. "Is that tent secure?"

Edward nodded. "Yes, I all but welded it to the ground."

"Good."

Jacob looked up at the sky, now completely black as the storm caught up to us. He glanced at me and rushed for the tent, trying to beat the snow swirling down at us.

Author's Note: Sorry for the delay, but the next chapter should actually be out in a few days, before the end of the month. So look forward to that. :)

28. Why Are You Talking To Me?

JACOB BLACK

"You can leave now," I said loudly and irritated. Obviously he wasn't getting the hints I was dropping.

"I think I'll stay a little longer," Edward said, trying to act all polite. "I don't want her to be left alone since Seth isn't here yet."

"Yeah, that's not necessary. I'm staying with her overnight."

He shrugged. "I'd still feel better making sure Seth gets here."

"You have got to be kidding me!" I growled.

"Jake, stop," Bella commanded from inside the tent, along with the shuffling of her sleeping bag as she got settled. "Edward can stay if he wants."

"What? Why?"

"Why not?"

I groaned. "Well, shouldn't he be preparing with the other blo-" I cut myself off and took a deep breath, "With his family?"

"We'll be ready in the morning," Edward explained. "For now, I'm pretty much free."

I muttered curses under my breath. Wasn't the reason he needed to leave obvious? I haven't been able to spend some alone time with Bella in days. I thought that this could be it. Just me and her, until Seth arrived at least, but I knew he'd give us some privacy. But now I had to deal with the leech too? I was hoping Bella could see why he had to go without saying it out loud, but she actually wants him to stay? As happy as I was that Bella seemed to be picking me over him, it still irked the hell out of me that she still had feelings for him. If she didn't, it probably wouldn't be so hard for her to tell him to get the hell out of here.

"Speaking of Seth, could you check to see where he is right now?" Edward asked, apparently hearing my thoughts.

"Are you giving me orders?" I growled.

He kept his tone polite. "I'm just asking."

I had to admit, it was a good idea. I turned away from him without a word and walked into the dark trees, slightly blurred from the flurry of snow coming down. I changed out of my parka and jean shorts quickly, watching as the snowflakes instantly melted once they touched my skin. I smirked, feeling especially glad and impressed that my body could stand a snow storm like this, but I needed to be hotter if I wanted to become a wolf.

I focused on the heat and let it over take me as I phased, furry and standing on all fours now.

Hey, I called out. Is anyone there?

Jake, good to hear from you, Sam answered. Did everything go well?

Yeah, I carried Bella up to the mountains and the bloodsucker set up a tent for her.

Good. Now stay with her until Seth arrives, and then come back.

Actually, I was hoping I could stay with her overnight and meet you guys at the clearing in the morning. Is that okay?

Hmm… It didn't take him long to think about it. That should be fine, as long as you actually show up.

Come on, Sam. There's no way I'm missing this.

Hey guys, I'm ready! Seth suddenly came in, his thoughts cheerful and full of excitement.

Jeez, calm down, I coughed a chuckle.

Seth laughed too, but turned silent in concentration as I showed him where I was and the route I took to get there.

Ya got that? I asked.

Got it, Seth confirmed. I'm on my way.

I could see Seth dart into the trees from the backyard of his house. I hoped he'd get here quick. The sooner he arrived, the sooner Edward would leave.

The leech's still there? Sam asked.

I groaned. Yeah.

Why?

The hell if I know, I sighed. I think he just thrives on annoying me.

Watch yourself, Jacob.

Yeah, I know.

Sam's thoughts went completely quiet and I knew he phased out. It was just me and Seth now, his mind focused on getting to his destination. Everyone else must've been resting up for the fight tomorrow. We all knew when the vampires were coming, so there was no sense in wasting time with our usual nighttime patrols.

I turned to walk back toward the tent as the barrage of snowflakes incredibly got even thicker. They came down in such huge clumps that they managed to stick to my fur for a few seconds before melting and being replaced with even more snow. I had to shake the snow off occasionally if I didn't want to end up a snowman; or snowwolf.

Edward was still there, standing in the exact spot he was before. I decided to stay a wolf so I could keep an eye on Seth's progress and maybe it would discourage the leech from getting any closer. If he was gonna stay, he'd better stay far away. Unfortunately, my wolf form didn't seem to bother him much at all.

He suddenly turned his head toward me and looked me straight in the eye, triggering my instinct to growl back defensively.

"Jacob, I wanted to talk to you," he announced. "Follow me."

I didn't move. Whatever he had to say, I did not want to hear it.

He started walking away from the tent by about twelve yards and turned around to see I wasn't following him. The bloodsucker just smirked and shrugged.

"I'm sure you can still hear me, so that's fine," he said.

I grumbled and was thinking of just walking away, far away enough where he couldn't bother me, but there was no way I'd leave Bella in a tent alone; especially not with him around.

I turned my whole body toward him, hoping that whatever it was he had to say, he'd make it quick.

"I'm not going to ask for your forgiveness, Jacob, but I apologize," Edward said quickly, like he was in a hurry for some reason.

I looked at him suspiciously. Apologize for what?

"For everything I've done to inconvenience you and Bella."

Inconvenience, I grumbled. Sure, that's one way of putting it.

"I've made mistakes, and I've learned from them. I promise I won't make them again."

And why the hell should I believe that? You've already broken your share of promises.

What was I doing? I didn't want to talk to him, and yet I didn't have much of a choice now. I could still hear him loud and clear even though he was too far away for a normal person to hear with him speaking in such a low voice. And since I decided to stay a wolf, I couldn't give him the silent treatment either. I could just phase back into my human form, but I was admittedly curious how he was going to explain himself.

Edward sighed. "I know, and I'm sorry about that, but this time I truly mean it."

Is that seriously the best you can do? I grunted.

"Would you like me to say more?"

Yes, please enlighten me on why I should trust you now when you didn't deserve it before. Why did you even come back if you left to 'protect' Bella?

"Because she was in danger, for one," he immediately began, like he was in a hurry again. "I received a call from Rosalie that Bella had jumped from a cliff and drowned. In that moment, I felt my whole world fall apart. I didn't want to accept it though, so I called Bella's house to make sure. When I heard her voice, I felt relief unlike anything before, but I was also enraged at Rosalie. If Alice hadn't arrived to where Rose was staying before I did, I might have torn her apart."

I've got no problem with that, I thought to myself.

He ignored the comment and continued. "Alice explained to me that she told Rosalie about her false vision and Alice had just found out Bella was still alive when she went back to Forks. She told me the reason was because of werewolves and also that Victoria was pursuing Bella. I thought that if Bella wasn't dead, she would be soon if I didn't hurry and go back to her."

I nodded. Okay. Now how about when you actually came back? You said you'd just be there for support in catching the redhead. You promised to stay away from Bella. What happened there?

"I was watching Bella during school. The whole time, she would always look behind herself or around the corner for any sign of me or Alice. It really stung seeing her so hurt and avoiding her became increasingly more difficult."

Couldn't you just ignore it and think of something else?

I saw him raise an eyebrow. "Jacob, put yourself in my situation. If you upset Bella and had to see her like that every day, could you honestly just ignore it?"

I winced. For a moment, the image of Bella's face when I told her I couldn't be friends with her anymore flashed in my head. Seeing that heartbroken expression just once was enough for me to bend the rules and find a way for us to be together again.

"See what I mean?" Edward said with a slight smirk.

Just keep going, I groaned.

He nodded and continued. "When Alice started being around Bella again, I feared that it might set you off. I was afraid you'd attack her and it would break the treaty. I was even afraid that you might hurt Bella."

I growled. I would never…

"Yes, I know that now. You were much more controlled than I gave you credit for. I must commend you for that."

Whatever…

It annoyed me how much he underestimated us, but I couldn't be too mad. I was honestly surprised Bella could be around the Cullens for so long without getting bit.

"So, once I knew you were controlled enough, I decided to be a friend to her again," he explained.

I growled. A friend, huh? Well there goes another lie right there. If you just wanted to protect her and be her friend, then why the hell did you kiss her? I was just letting off steam at this point. I spent the whole weekend thinking I lost her to you and the rest of this week completely unsure of where we stood. Everything I was afraid would happen, happened. You came back, you wouldn't stay away from her, and you tried to steal her away. Worst of all, you wouldn't have just taken her away from me, but her entire life by changing her into a bloodsucking monster like you.

"I would never do that," he defended.

Liar!

"I'm serious, Jacob. That's the last thing I want for her. I want her to live a long, fulfilling life just as much as you do."

You're not making any sense. If that's true, then why go after her?

He sighed. "When Bella was around me, I could tell she still had feelings for me. She would gravitate to me and look at me with the same eyes I remembered when we were together. I thought that deep down she still loved me and wanted me, but was staying with you because she felt obligated to. After all, you were there for her when I wasn't, it makes perfect sense."

My muzzle pulled back to show the sharp teeth they covered. I snarled and felt the sudden urge to rip his head off. I heard Seth echoing my aggressive sounds as he continued making his way toward us. I'd almost forgotten I was still connected to him and he could hear just about everything I could.

This leech seriously thought Bella stayed with me because she felt obligated? Just the idea of it made me shake with anger.

"Easy, Jacob," he warned. "I was wrong and I'm getting to that part."

You'd better be…

"I thought she still loved me much more than you, but was trying to hold herself back for your sake. If I could get her to see that, then I believed she'd choose the one that would make her happiest; which, I thought, was me at the time."

You know what you are, right? Do you really think that's what's best for her?

He shook his head. "No. In many ways, you are much better suited for her than I. However, I didn't want her to have any regrets. I love her and I want her to be as happy as possible, and if that was with me, then so be it."

Oh, please, I scoffed. You just wanted her for yourself. Tell the truth.

"Jacob, if that were true, I'd probably be in that tent right now."

I growled and I heard Seth growl with me once again.

Like I'd let that happen, I thought.

He shrugged. "Anyway, I was right that she still loved me, but wrong that it meant she'd choose me. Instead it just made a big mess."

You got that right…

"I was really surprised that she still wanted you. The two of you had been together for only two months, I didn't think the love you had could be so strong. But it was. When I realized that, I had no further questions. If you're what she wants, then that's fine."

I was still really suspicious of him. It was hard to believe that he'd let her go so easily if he really loved her as much as he claimed.

"Sometimes, if you really love someone, you'll let them go," he said.

I groaned, but I had to agree. As much as it would hurt like hell, I knew that I'd let Bella go if she could really be happier with someone else; just as long as it wasn't a vampire.

"I can understand that," he said.

My mind was quiet for a moment, watching Seth continue his trek up the mountain. He was pretty close now, which meant Edward would leave. But, even though I hated myself for it, I didn't want him to go just yet. I had more questions.

Lemme ask you something, I thought to him. If you weren't going to change Bella into a vampire, then how would it have worked?

"Just like any other couple," he explained. "We'd be together for as long as she lived."

But that's the thing. Bella's so freaked out about aging. She'll grow older and you'll stay the same. She'd hate that.

He nodded. "You're probably right. That can't really be helped."

I don't age either right now, but I can if I can just figure it out. I wasn't really trying to tell him that, but I thought it anyway.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

I mean, if I can learn how to stop phasing, then I'll age again. That way, Bella won't be alone. We can grow old together.

"Another reason why you're much more suited for her."

My eyes widened in surprise for a split second. Um…thanks?

"No problem."

I grunted and turned my head away. I didn't want to be friendly with this guy at all.

That's not the only reason, y'know. There are a few other things I can do with her that I know you can't. Well, not without killing her at least, I jeered, my mouth pulled back to show my teeth, not aggressively, but as a grin.

He glared back at me. For the first time, he actually looked pretty annoyed.

"I know," he groaned.

So, what about that, huh? If Bella did pick you, and you didn't change her, how would the whole sexual thing work?

"I don't know. I would love Bella with all my heart, but sex would be far too dangerous."

I nodded. Right. Not sure if Bella could handle a sexless life style.

I wasn't trying to, but I started thinking about the times Bella and I tried 'going there'. Even though we kept getting interrupted, each moment was still pretty special. I felt more connected to her than ever before. She was beautiful beyond words and her breasts felt amazing. So soft, like the perfect pillow. And I knew I wasn't the only one into it. The way Bella stared at me in the forest when I was naked like a total horn dog told me she definitely couldn't handle no sex at all.

Wow… Seth thought in admiration, watching the images of Bella I was accidentally projecting into his mind.

I shook my head. Watch it, Clearwater. She's mine.

I know, I know…

I glanced at Edward and the expression on his face was what I could only describe as awe and disgust somehow mixed into one. I laughed hard, which came out as a coughing bark. Edward rolled his eyes.

Sorry, I thought in false sympathy. Just saying, I've got you beat there.

"Perhaps…" he muttered and then went quiet for a moment, his lips pursed in thought. "Although, a lot can be done with someone's fingers. I suppose if Bella was okay with that, then it might-"

Shut up! I cut him off with a growl. Shut the hell up! I do not want to picture that crap.

"How do you think I feel? You paint a very vivid picture which I'm forced to look at."

I grumbled. No one told you to. Stay out of my head.

"Easier said than done. Your thoughts are pretty loud; it's like your shouting them at me."

Well, if you have nothing else to say, I'll try to keep it down. Seth's almost here anyway.

Seth was just a mile away. I could see him taking the same path, weaving through the trees completely blanketed in snow. He was moving too fast for the icy flakes to pile up on him and it suddenly reminded me I hadn't been moving in a while. I looked at my fur to see that I was now a white wolf like the ones you see in the Canadian arctic. I groaned and shook the snow off, bringing my russet-brown fur back into sight.

Edward wasn't saying anything so I assumed he was done. I turned toward the tent and was about to pull back on my hind legs and phase. I would have phased right then and there if I hadn't stopped to wonder if I cared that a vampire would see me naked.

"Jacob, I do have one more thing to add," Edward announced.

Just as he spoke, Seth emerged from the pitched black trees, standing on a rocky ledge just behind Bella's tent as the thick curtain of snow finally got a chance to drape over him.

Sorry, looks like your time's up, I thought to Edward, keeping my eyes on the tent.

"It's just one thing, a closing remark," he insisted.

I groaned. Whatever…

"Thank you," he said and took a few steps closer before talking again. "I know about imprinting, Jacob."

I suddenly froze, and it definitely wasn't from the snow. That word still hit a nerve in me. A reflexive growl resonated from my chest. How the hell did he know about imprinting anyway?

"You don't exactly keep your thoughts private," he said, answering my question.

Like I have a choice, I grumbled. What about imprinting?

"I'm not going to lie to you, Jacob. I will leave you and Bella alone as far as your relationship goes. If she wants you and she's happy with you, then I'll stay out of it. However, I will be waiting in the wings. If the day comes where you imprint and leave her, I'll be there for her."

Seth began echoing my growl, glaring at Edward. It's not like I didn't expect this from him, but it still pissed me off. Why couldn't he just find some other bloodsucker and leave Bella alone?

"I've lived for over a hundred years and never found my perfect match until I met Bella," he said in a somber tone. "I had the perfect girl and I messed it up. I'll never find anyone like her again, so the best I can do is wait and hope. I'm just being honest."

Well, you don't have to worry about that, bloodsucker, I thought to him smugly. I know I'm not gonna imprint.

His eyes widened in surprise. "Really? I thought imprinting was unpredictable. How do you know this?"

Your psychic sister, I explained. She said something about looking into Bella's future and not being able to see anything. Apparently she can't see me, and because Bella's future revolves around me, she can't see Bella either. If I was gonna imprint, she'd be able to see Bella then, right?

"Um…" he muttered, and I did not like the sound of it. "It doesn't quite work like that, Jacob."

My eyes narrowed at him. What do you mean?

"Alice can see futures based on people's decisions," he explained. "Bella's chosen to be with you, so Alice will see…well, not see her future with you. If anything unexpected were to happen, she wouldn't catch it. From my understanding of imprinting, I'm pretty sure it goes under the category of something unexpected."

I made a huge nervous gulp. My heart was suddenly beating much faster.

So…if I did imprint, then Alice would see Bella again? I asked.

He nodded. "Exactly. From there, Alice would be able to see Bella's future based on her current situation.

Then…I could still imprint?

"Sounds like it, yes."

Leave it to this guy to bring the bad news. I really hoped he was lying. Maybe he was just saying this to make me worry and consider giving Bella up. Well it wasn't going to work.

"I'm not lying, Jacob. Really," he assured.

Even if you aren't, this doesn't change anything, I growled. I'm not going to worry about it anymore.

"How come?"

I clenched my teeth, feeling really annoyed. Did he want me to worry? I wasn't going to fall for his mind games.

"I'm just curious."

I groaned. Because, I don't want to live in fear, especially fear of something that might never even happen. Imprinting is supposed to be rare after all. According to our legends, Taha Aki, the very first werewolf, lived three lifetimes and never imprinted.

Seth started going over the stories told at the bonfire in his head. He remembered just about every detail, even more than me.

"It was different back then though, right?" Edward asked. "There were fewer werewolves in a pack than there is today, and from what I've read through your connected minds, three werewolves have already imprinted."

Yes, that's true, I sighed, but I tried not to let it get to me. I did not want to go back in that state of fear and uncertainty again. I still don't care though.

"Do you care about what imprinting means? Your imprint is supposed to be your perfect match, the one person that's made for you in every way. But apparently that's not Bella. Doesn't that bother you?"

Shut the hell up! I snarled. He really was trying to fill my head with doubts.

"I'm just trying to understand."

Well then, understand this. I don't believe any of that crap, so it doesn't bother me one bit. Imprinting is just Cupid messing with people in my eyes. You meet some random girl on the street and suddenly she means the world to you. How the hell is that true love?

Right, Seth agreed in the back of his mind.

"Yes, but love does work in different ways," Edward commented.

Really now? I challenged. Say you've got the love between two people who've known each other for months or even years, sticking by each other through good times and bad, and learning more and more together with every passing day. Then the guy suddenly finds his imprint and throws all of that away for this girl he just met and probably doesn't even know her damn name yet. Are you really going to say that that's true love and the 'right' way for us?

Seth winced and images of Leah sulking in her bedroom with the lights off appeared in my mind. The whole Sam, Emily, and Leah situation was definitely a prime example of what I was talking about.

I personally think the whole thing is messed up, I continued, and at this point I realized I was just venting. Someone could justify imprinting by saying it's what will make werewolves happy, happier than they could ever be before. But it's not real happiness; it's our genes forcing us to be happy. If some werewolf naturally built up a strong relationship with someone, strong enough to start a family with, then imprinted and left his family behind; how could he possibly feel happy about that? The magic of imprinting just makes him not care because he's way too happy with the new girl he just met.

The whole topic was really making me angry. Just thinking about how screwed up imprinting could be made me shake. Sure, it could be pretty convenient for someone who wasn't too good with the ladies, but that's about it. In Jared's case, there was nothing wrong with how he imprinted. He was just a single boy who met a single girl and now they're together forever. But the fact that imprinting was so unconditionally forced made it seem so much more like a curse in my eyes.

Not a day went by without Leah constantly reminding Sam what a jerk he was for leaving her. Leah was left with a heart broken in two, but Sam was far too busy chasing after Emily to care. I always felt like if the old Sam was looking down on his new imprinted self, he'd regret what he became. He wasn't a bad person by any means, but from what I've seen through Leah's eyes of how he used to be, he'd never abandon anyone.

"Jacob," Edward called out, his voice filled with worry. "Do you really think a werewolf would abandon his entire family if he imprinted later in life?"

I shrugged. It's possible. Imprinting is ridiculously strong.

He froze for a moment, his expression surprisingly tormented. I wondered what I said to upset him so much.

"Then I truly, truly hope you don't imprint," he murmured.

Edward turned away and without another word disappeared into the black trees headed down the mountain. So sudden, not even a goodbye.

I was left confused for a moment on why he suddenly didn't want me to imprint. Wouldn't that be what he wanted? But it started to make sense when I remembered him going on about making Bella happy. Seeing her upset was apparently like poison to him. That's when I realized where he was coming from. I could possibly break Bella's heart more than Edward ever could, and not just her, but maybe even our future kids.

The sound of teeth chattering came from the tent behind me. Although this snow was no big deal for me, I knew the low temperature would really bother Bella. I wasn't sure if she'd been freezing the entire time or just now started getting cold, but either way I needed to go to her. I finally could, now that Edward was gone.

I pulled back on my hind legs and quickly changed back to the much less hairy me. I put my jean shorts back on and left the thick parka I brought in the snow. I didn't need it after all and it was frozen anyway. Seth stayed as he was while I walked over to Bella's tent, unzipping the entrance.

Author's Note: Well that wasn't a few days, was it...? :/ Well I'm back in college now and I'm actually not going to set anymore specific release dates for chapters. Instead, my goal is to finish Solar Flare before Breaking Dawn Part 2 comes out, so I'll be releasing as many chapters as I can to get it done in time. HOWEVER, this doesn't mean Solar Flare is over. I have some great ideas for it so there'll probably be a part 2 as long as I can keep writing. I hope everyone who kept reading will continue to read even when part 1 ends. Thank you.

That's a great idea. Wouldn't want this story to end so soon.

29. Together Forever?

JACOB BLACK

Her whole sleeping bag was shaking. Curled into herself, her body violently trembled as her teeth chattered endlessly. I couldn't see her skin as she was making every attempt at keeping it away from the exposure of the sub-zero temperature. Her sleeping bag didn't zip up all the way, so she had to lower her face just below the opening where the heat from her own body radiated. The bloodsucker definitely picked a top-notch sleeping bag there…

"Why didn't you yell or something if you were cold?" I asked with a frown.

She didn't look at me, keeping her face hidden and away from the cold.

"I-I-I c-can b-b-barely even s-s-s-speak," Bella stuttered.

It pulled at my heart seeing her like this. I shouldn't have been talking to Edward when Bella was freezing to death in this lousy tent. How did I not hear her suffering in here with her teeth rattling as loud as they were? Did the extreme chills just hit her?

"Scoot over, I'm coming in," I instructed.

"N-no, I-I-I'm f-f-fine," she struggled to say.

My eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Has the low temperature driven you insane?"

"I d-d-don't wanna m-move."

"Well, if you don't, you're gonna freeze to death."

"I-I'm w-w-warm."

"The hell you are…"

I didn't listen to any further protests she had. I crawled over and unzipped her sleeping bag all the way down. She let out a distressed whimper as a gust of wind shook the tent and seeped in through the opening I made. She didn't have to worry for long as I squeezed into the down bag with her, forcing the zipper up behind me since it wasn't exactly built for two, especially with someone as big as me.

I quickly wrapped my arms tightly around her, pressing her into my chest. Bella responded eagerly by returning my embrace, and as her icy palms pressed into my bare back, I realized just how cold she was.

"Jeez, you're freezing, Bella," I complained.

"S-s-s-sorry," she stuttered.

I sighed. "And you didn't want me to join you, why?"

"I f-f-found the w-warmest position. I-I-I d-didn't want t-to m-move."

"But isn't this much, much warmer?"

"Y-y-yes…"

"Well alrighty then." I smiled at her, not expecting one back since her chattering teeth didn't look like they'd let her. "Try to relax. You'll be warmed up in a minute. Of course, you'd warm up faster if you took your clothes off."

Bella tilted her head up at me, her expression curious. "W-what?"

I chuckled. "It's just a simple fact. That way we share body heat. Y'know, survival one-oh-one."

"Oh…"

I gave her a teasing smirk and rubbed my hands on her back. I didn't expect her to actually do it and she really didn't need to. My body heat was enough to get her sweating in no time. Of course I wasn't always right and apparently this was one of those times in regards to my former thought.

Bella started squirming in my arms like she was trying to get loose, which didn't make sense to me. Why would she want to get away from my warmth when it was still a crazy winter wonderland outside?

"C-could you l-l-let me g-go for a s-second?" she asked. "Unless y-you want to t-t-take them off."

My mouth popped open. "You're serious?"

"A-a-aren't you?"

"I-I-I…" Great, now I was stuttering.

I ended up loosening my hold on her enough so she could move around, although it might've just been from surprise and not on purpose.

Bella started shivering like crazy and rushed to get her thick sweatshirt off that was damp from all the melted snow. She struggled to pull it over her head with the little room she had in her sleeping bag, but ultimately succeeded, throwing it in the far left corner of the tent. Next came her jeans, which she quickly unzipped and squirmed out of. Just inches away from me was Bella in only a dark purple bra. We were too confined for me to see what was below torso level, but I could only assume there were panties down there. I didn't get to look for very long, hardly even a second, as Bella quickly tightened her arms around me, pulling us flush against each other and legs tangled together. I flinched a bit at how much of her icy cold skin was touching mine and she gave me an apologetic frown for it, but I really didn't care. She felt sooo good.

I had never felt so much of Bella's skin before. She was so smooth, despite the goose bumps. Her body was shaped in just the right way; with waist curved inward and hips modestly extended out, but not to such a degree like most super models are these days. My hands had minds of their own as they curiously explored along her slender legs and especially taking a liking to her bare thighs. I lightly traced my thumb along the edge of her panties at her right cheek, which was pretty much all covered, making me wish she had smaller underwear. But what was I complaining for? My heart was racing from just how much of her I could touch right now. Not to mention her pillow-soft breasts squeezing together as they pressed against my own chest definitely adding to my arousal.

"Y-y-you're right," Bella stuttered. "This is m-much better."

"Hell yeah, it is," I wholeheartedly agreed.

I really hoped Bella wouldn't complain about getting 'poked', because it was gonna happen.

We laid there quietly like that for a while, holding onto each other and sharing warmth, although I was doing most of the giving. I could hear Seth outside as his paws stepped in the snow at a constant pattern; probably pacing to keep himself active. It'd just occurred to me that I didn't have any kind of alarm clock with me that I could set for the time of battle. I was hopeful that Seth would stay up and fill that role.

"Thank you," Bella suddenly said in a soft voice.

"You're welcome," I responded. "For what exactly?"

"For being here. For keeping me warm."

I nodded. "It's my pleasure. How do you feel? Still cold?"

"As long as I hold onto you, I should be fine."

"Glad to be of service." I smirked.

She smiled back at me and rested her head against my shoulder. I sighed happily and lightly rubbed her back, feeling how incredibly smooth her skin was now that she warmed up.

I really, really missed her. It was amazing what just one week apart could do. But after days of fearing the worst, she was here in my arms again. Her smell, her beautiful face, her perfect body, her sweet voice, her melodic heart beat; everything was right here. I wanted to hold her like this forever, but even if the vampire was out of the picture, the sad truth was our problems weren't over yet. An old foe that might even be more frightening than the bloodsucker once again reared its ugly head.

"Bella," I whispered.

"Hm?"

"Do you love me?"

She lifted her head up to look at me. "Of course I do. I always have."

"Okay." I nodded and paused for a second. "Why do you love me?"

A warm smile stretched across her face.

"You make everything worthwhile," Bella began. "You're very warm-hearted, thoughtful, protective, funny, and just a blast to hang out with. You mean so much to me. I don't know what I'd do with my life everyday without you there."

"Really?"

"Really, really," she giggled.

Her words warmed my apparently already warm heart, but her needing me like this wasn't all good. I needed her too. I felt the exact same way. But all those feelings would disappear the moment it happened. I wouldn't even miss them.

"If I wasn't there for you…what about Edward?" I asked, kind of afraid of her answer.

She frowned. "It's not that simple, Jacob. Edward isn't some band-aid that will make everything okay. Nothing would be the same. I couldn't be completely happy without you. Not anymore."

"What about vice versa? If you didn't have Edward, would I be able to make it better?"

"Well…you did. Remember?"

I chuckled lightly. "Oh yeah."

It was quiet for a moment. Even the wind outside seemed to be calm for the moment. I could hear Bella's heart beat at a steady rhythm. Relaxed.

"If you felt like you're life would be nothing without me, then when I got mad and yelled at you to get away from me, how come you didn't, y'know, fight back?" I asked. "I mean, I'm glad you didn't because you could've gotten hurt if I phased, but you didn't stick around at my house or come looking for me either. Things definitely weren't clear with how that ended."

She winced, her expression filled with guilt. "Because…I didn't think I had the right to fight back. I kissed someone else that I still had feelings for behind your back. Your anger and…" she winced again, "…rejection of me would've been understandable. I hurt you. I would have deserved being lonely."

"Jeez, don't talk like that…"

"Why not? Isn't it true? Usually you break up with someone if they cheated on you."

"True…" I frowned. "But you did tell me about it. You weren't kissing him behind my back in hopes that I'd never find out…right?"

She shook her head. "Of course not. It was a mistake, I felt horrible."

"I guess that makes me feel a little better," I sighed.

Absent-mindedly, I brushed my fingers along her back, feeling her smooth, but still slightly cold skin. It reminded me of her possible fate if it wasn't a 'mistake.'

"My main worry was that you'd love him more and toss me aside the moment you guys reconnected," I admitted. She looked like she was about to say something, probably that I was wrong, but I quickly continued before she could. "But I know now that I mean a lot more than that. Plus, even if it was true and you chose Edward over me, I still would've fought back."

"Fought back? Really?" she asked curiously.

"Yeah, because you're too important to lose."

She smiled at me for a moment.

I smiled back and chuckled lightly. "Coming to your graduation party and begging was kind of Plan A."

"Really? And what if that didn't work?"

"I probably would've just kissed you." I chuckled guiltily. "I was thinking if Edward could do it and win your heart back, then maybe I could do the same."

She rolled her eyes. "What is it with you two and kissing me without permission?"

"Sorry. I know that you'd forgive me anyway."

"I would have." She nodded. "And…if that didn't work?"

I could feel my heart beat faster. My Plan C was definitely my most desperate one and not one I was too proud of.

"Well, we were sort of exploring further into our relationship recently," I mumbled. "I was thinking maybe you'd be more interested if I reminded you what we could do together that we'd been trying to do for a few weeks."

Her eyes widened. "You were gonna bribe me with sex?"

"It was Quil and Embry's idea," I blurted out quickly to save myself. I'd be blushing if my skin wasn't already red.

"Really now?" she giggled, which kind of surprised me.

"Well, since you obviously can't do it with him safely, I figured I'd offer you something that he couldn't. Unless…" I swallowed thickly, thinking of the other alternative.

She raised a brow at me curiously. "Unless what?"

I grimaced and let out a deep sigh. "Unless he changed you. No worries about breaking you when you're as sturdy as he is."

"Oh…"

I looked her straight in the eye. "Bella, I'll be honest with you. If I ever lost you to someone else, even though it would hurt a lot to see you go, as long as you were happy and healthy, I could accept it and maybe move on. But…if he changed you and made you like him, taking away your soul, your humanity, your life…" I shook my head, cringing at the thought, "I don't think I could handle that."

She frowned and slowly brought her left hand to my face, brushing her thumb on my cheek. Seeing her now, gazing at her beautiful eyes, feeling her incredibly soft skin, and listening to her precious heartbeat, it stung like flaming needles in my chest to think of her as a cold, hollow, bloodthirsty version of what she once was. I didn't want the girl I loved to become a monster, especially not one I was perfectly designed to hunt and kill.

"Jake, don't think like that," Bella whispered. "I don't want to be a vampire anymore. Even if I chose Edward, I still wouldn't want it."

My heart skipped a beat at what she'd said. "What?"

"Yes. Even though I don't think I'd be losing my soul or humanity by becoming one, I do know I'd be leaving the life I had behind. I might have to constantly move around every few years so people don't get suspicious. I'd never be able to see my parents or my friends again. I'd probably have to come up with some bogus reason for why I'm gone forever, maybe fake my own death or something. To abandon them and put them through that pain just so I could live a perfect romantic life with a vampire would just be selfish and wrong."

I just nodded my head, agreeing with everything.

"And the biggest reason is that we couldn't see each other anymore. With the treaty rules and our supposed natural instincts, it'd be too difficult. That alone is reason enough."

"Yeah…" I mumbled, my face scrunching up as I imagined her out of control with bloodlust. The whole pack would have to take her down.

"Besides, I hate blood," she said humorously. "I can't imagine having to consume that for the rest of my existence."

"Tell me about it." I shivered in disgust.

Another gust of freezing wind rocked the tent from outside as I tightened my arms around her reflexively. I couldn't hear Seth pacing anymore so I assumed he must've sat down to rest. I just hoped he wasn't buried in snow by now. Bella hid her face in my chest until the violent air finally calmed down.

"Thank you," she said with a warm smile. "I'll say it again, I couldn't handle losing you for good. Not for anyone. I might have months ago, but not anymore. You're too important."

I knew those words should've planted a permanent grin on my face, but I just cringed instead. Even if Bella was one hundred percent devoted to me forever, could I be?

"Um…about that," I said in a low voice.

"Hmm?" She looked at me with concern when I didn't give the response she was expecting.

"I talked to Edward outside for a little bit."

Her eyes widened. "Oh, really? You didn't fight or anything, did you?"

"Maybe just a little." I smirked for a second.

"Jake…"

I shrugged. "Anyway, I mentioned to him what Alice said about not being able to see you in her visions or whatever she has. He was concerned about me imprinting, but I told her that it wouldn't happen because Alice can't see you."

She nodded. "Yep, that's right."

"But…"

"But…?" She raised an eyebrow, looking at me like I really shouldn't be saying anything else and just leave it at that.

I just frowned and sighed. "He said something about Alice only seeing things based on decisions, but it's still not absolute, because she can't see anything unexpected."

She was silent for a moment, looking at me in confusion.

"What does that mean?" she asked.

"Well…imprinting is pretty unexpected."

"So?" Her tone was a little snappy, scowling at me like she really didn't like this conversation. She wasn't making this very easy.

"Bella, it means that I might still imprint."

"Says Edward! What does he know?" she suddenly shouted. I could feel her hands clench into fists at my back.

I shrugged. "Beats me, you know him better. Does he usually know what he's talking about?"

Bella didn't say anything, or look at me. I could hear and feel her heart accelerate along with her trembling body. I guess that was a yes at the leech knowing his stuff.

Her lip started quivering too and I cringed when tears began falling from her eyes. I wasn't sure if they were angry tears or sad ones, but that really didn't matter.

"Bella…" I whispered, trying to make my tone soothing.

I moved one hand to the back of her head and pulled her in as she planted her face into my chest. At that moment she began sobbing and tightened her hold around me even more. I wasn't sure what to say to make things better because it was a crappy situation. All I could think of doing was to hold her and rub the back of her head lightly until she calmed down.

I didn't think the tent felt quieter than the moment Bella stopped crying. I was waiting for her to say something. Anything. What did her silence mean? Was she re-thinking having a relationship with someone like me who could leave her unexpectedly at any time? I wouldn't blame her. Why stay with someone that you know isn't a stable choice? As dangerous as the bloodsucker was, at least she'd know that they'd stay together, as long as he didn't pull another 'I'm leaving you to save you' deal. It really made me think what would be the best choice for Bella. I couldn't keep her just to make myself happy. To spend years and years loving her only to leave suddenly had to be the worst thing I could put her through. It'd be better to end things now while there was still a chance to recover. She was still young, plenty of time to get over it, right? Hopefully she could find someone else to fall for, preferably someone whose main diet wasn't blood.

"Bella," I whispered, "I know this is a lot to handle. So if you don't think you can go through with this, I understand."

She removed her face from my chest to look up at me. "Huh?"

"It's a lot to ask of you to stay with me when I might not even do the same. So if you'd rather be with someone a little more stable, then I won't stop you."

Her expression suddenly turned angry, like I insulted her. And if her expression wasn't proof enough that I made her mad, her knee deliberately ramming into my genital regain definitely was. I flinched back in pain and crossed my legs to guard from any further attacks, but it didn't help take away the intense, stinging pain.

"Argh!" I shouted and gritted me teeth. "What the hell, Bella?"

"You had three plans to win me back and now you're just letting me go?" she asked with a deep frown.

I groaned, mostly from the pain I was still feeling. "But, what about the imprinting? Aren't you worried about that? I could leave you anyway."

"Or maybe you won't."

"It's a big risk though."

"Jacob, I am not going to give you up over something that might never even happen. Didn't you hear me say I couldn't handle losing you?"

"That's the point, it might happen later in the future."

"MIGHT!" She put extra emphasis on the word. "It MIGHT happen, Jacob. Why ensure that I lose you right now when there's a good chance I never will? Isn't imprinting supposed to be rare?"

"Yeah, but look at our pack. It's already happened with three."

I sighed deeply and squeezed my eyes shut as I waited for the pain to subside. I was grateful that it wasn't a full blown kick or I might not have been able to offer one thing to Bella that the bloodsucker couldn't. After a minute passed, I opened my eyes again and looked back into her deep, brown ones.

"Bella, I just don't want to hurt you," I said sincerely. "To live with you for years and years, making you feel secure, only to one day suddenly imprint and leave you. That has to be the worst thing I could possibly do to you."

"You're not doing anything, Jacob. It's not your fault if you imprint. You can't help it and you can't see it coming, right? This is my choice. If anything, I'd be causing myself pain if that ever happened."

"And I don't want you to do that. I don't want you to be miserable."

"No one wants that, but like I said, it's my choice. At least I'll be fully aware and understand what's going on if it happens. I can't say for a fact whether I'll be alright, but at least I'll know you found someone who can still make you happy."

I sighed. "Bella…"

She put her hand to my lip, stopping me from saying anything else. She didn't say anything immediately; we just stared into each other's eyes as time felt like it suddenly stood still. Bella removed her hand and I'd forgotten what I was going to say in the first place.

"I will hold on to you for as long as I possibly can, Jacob Black," she announced.

I didn't feel like I could argue against it anymore. Bella was fighting to keep us together, why was I making such a fuss? She had the positive attitude, why not me? We were dealing with something that might not even happen. It wasn't like I was going to imprint for sure. We could have a wonderful future ahead of us and I was suggesting she throw it away. What the hell was wrong with me? If Bella wanted to take the risk, then I was more than ready.

"Bella, I don't know if it's even possible, but if I ever do imprint, I'll do everything I can to fight it," I said with certainty I wasn't sure if I was allowed to have.

"You'll fight it?"

I nodded. "Yeah. I honestly don't know how, but I'll think of something. Maybe the pull won't be as powerful if I've been with someone else for years. I mean, I have to have some kind of mind of my own. I can't be a total slave to her, right?"

A smile slowly stretched across her face. "I'm happy to hear that."

And then we were staring again; both of us getting lost in each other, not caring how long. In that moment, it really did feel like everything had been officially set. I felt more connected to her than ever before. If I ignored the stupid imprinting, it felt like nothing could possibly get in our way. Sometimes you just have that gut feeling that things will work out, and looking into those beautiful orbs of brown complimented by the brightest smile in the world, I knew I found the one. No imprinting necessary.

Our faces were slowly moving closer to each other, both wanting that one thing we hadn't experienced since our fight. Bella's arms found their way back around my neck as she closed her eyes in preparation.

"Wait," I said sharply, putting my hand up in between our magnetic lips.

Bella looked at me confused. "What's wrong?"

"Well, you kneed me in the balls, Bella. I think I need more time to forgive you for that one." I looked at her with narrowed eyes, making my expression as stern and serious as I could.

Her eyes widened for a split second before filling up with guilt. She hung her head with a grimace, her arms loosening around my neck slightly.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I shouldn't have done that. I'm not a guy, so I don't know how it feels."

Wow. Even though I was trying to look serious, I didn't expect her to really feel bad. I was hoping she could see through my jokes.

"Yeah, you don't know," I scolded, playing it along a bit further.

She was quiet after that. Her heart started beating faster out of nervousness, guilt, or maybe embarrassment. After just ten seconds, I couldn't take it anymore. I wanted her to be happy, and frankly, I needed a kiss.

"Okay, times up," I said with a smile and lifted her chin up for her to look at me.

I wasted no time and pressed my lips to hers, the contact sending a spark through me that felt familiar, but so much more powerful. I'd missed this feeling and having it back was like a breath of fresh air after nearly drowning. Of course one breath wasn't enough, I wanted as much as I could get. I pulled her tightly against my chest, arms flexing around her, as our eager lips moved with each other perfectly. With her hands at my neck, Bella slowly snaked her fingers upward through my hair, grabbing a fist full when we intensified the kiss. We both opened our mouths, letting each other in. Our tongues became reacquainted as they twirled around each other in the same way we always did, like dance partners that hadn't danced together in a while and were happy to finally perform again.

Our hearts were racing, but from excitement, not fear or nervousness. We kissed for what could have been hours, but again, I wasn't counting the time. Our lips refused to stop. When they took a break to breathe, they found themselves pressed together again. In that moment, absolutely nothing matter to me except her. Were we still in a tent? Were we still on a freezing mountain? Was Seth still outside and possibly listening to our lips smacking? I had no idea. All I knew was that I was in my own personal heaven and I did not want to leave.

"I love you, Jacob," Bella whispered a little breathlessly.

"I love you, Bella," I whispered back before my lips found hers once again.

Author's Note: I'll admit, this chapter should NOT have taken this long. I am back in college so I am more busy with school work, financial issues, and making time for new friends I've made, but still, it's been almost 2 months...and I apologize. I don't think I can make my goal of getting this story done before BD Part 2 hits, but DAMMIT I 'WILL' finish this story. I might even continue it in a part 2 if the Twilight fanbase is still alive.

YES, YES, YES, you should do a part 2! 

I really hoped Bella wouldn't complain about getting 'poked', because it was gonna happen.
^ This was just :'''''''''D.

great update!  can't wait to read your next update!

30. Arrival

BELLA SWAN

BARK BARK!

The sudden loud canine noise blasted, startling me awake and cutting my wonderful dream short. I felt Jacob jump from the noise as well, causing him to tighten his arms that were already around me even more. He looked around frantically in alarm all while I was struggling to breathe. I couldn't break out of his bind. Usually it was pleasant being held by Jake, but this was what I could only imagine being squeezed by a boa constrictor felt like.

"Wha? What's going on?" Jacob asked, disoriented.

"Jake…too tight…" I managed to cough out, almost choking on my words.

"Huh? Oh!"

Jacob immediately released me and pulled away, which meant ripping out of the sleeping bag since we didn't have much room. I gasped for air as he cursed under his breath. I wasn't sure if it was because he felt bad for squeezing me or ruining the sleeping bag.

"Oh god, are you okay?" he asked, his tone extremely anxious.

"Yeah…" I answered short of breath. "I forgot how tight your hugs can be."

"I'm sorry, it was a nervous reaction. What was that noise?"

The answer stood outside the tent, pawing at the ground and making low grunt noises. Its huge shadow covered most of the tent's right half while the other side was much brighter from the sun shining outside. I didn't need a cell phone or watch to tell me it was morning.

My face turned red knowing that Seth was right outside and I was still in my underwear. I'd almost forgotten about him. I wondered how much he heard of us last night. Jake and I didn't go further than kissing, but we did kiss for a really long time; probably our longest session yet.

"Hey, are you okay as far as the temperature goes?" Jacob asked, propped up on his elbow.

I nodded. "Yeah, I think I'll be fine once I'm dressed."

Maybe I should've lied. Once I told him I was okay, he nodded and sat up to unzip the tent's entrance. He slipped out of our sleeping bag through the rip he made and exited the tent without a word.

It clicked in my head that this was it. The moment I dreaded was finally here. Jacob, Edward, every vampire and werewolf I loved; they were all going to put their lives on the line for me. And the one I cared about the most was leaving right in front of my eyes. I was afraid of imprinting taking him away, but I could potentially lose him right now.

I scrambled to my feet and rushed out of the tent. I was in too much of a hurry to care about getting my clothes on, but the chilled air outside made me regret the decision as I instantly tensed up from the cold. Luckily, Jacob didn't go far. He was just a few yards away, having some kind of wolf chat with Seth.

I cringed with every step I took into the snow, but I didn't stop until I got to Jacob. I reached out and grabbed his arm with both hands. He looked at me with wide eyes.

"Bella, what are you doing?" Jacob asked in astonishment. "You're gonna freeze out here. Put some clothes on."

I ignored his demands and focused on what I needed to say.

"Jacob, don't go," I pleaded, staring into his eyes. "Please, please don't go. I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to you. Please."

He sighed and turned his body to face me with Seth positioned behind him.

"Bella, I'll be fine," he assured me. "We'll all be fine, the bloodsuckers said so themselves. We've got the perfect strategy."

I shook my head. "You can't just leave me here worried sick and wondering if you'll ever come back."

"I will come back. I promise you. Besides, like I said, it's Sam's orders, not mine."

I still wasn't ready to let this go. I squeezed his arm and kept my eyes locked on his as I fell to my knees, begging. "Please."

"Bella," he sighed.

Jacob quickly lifted me back up to my feet, pulling me closer with his blazing arms around me. Without a word, he leaned in and pressed his warm lips to mine. It was impossible to resist kissing him back and my arms found their way around his shoulders. I felt my feet get knocked from underneath me and in the next second I was in his arms. It would have startled me, but with his lips connected to mine the whole time, I was easily distracted. His warmth made my whole body melt. It was as if we weren't even outside in the cold. I noticed that we were moving, but I wasn't concerned where at the moment. We were together. He was with me. That was all that mattered.

Suddenly, our lips parted and I opened my eyes to see that we weren't outside anymore. He was lying me back down on my sleeping bag, his arms leaving me as he backed away.

"I'm sorry," he apologized, but quickly gave me a smile. "But I promise I'll be right back."

"No!" I shouted.

Before I could reach out to grab him, he was gone. The tent shook as he pushed through the entrance and bolted down the rocky path we took to get up here. I just watched helplessly.

I began to tremble as the fear slowly took control of me. Images of Jacob's body, broken, mangled, and lifeless started flashing in my head. I felt sick to my stomach. There was nothing I could do but pray that Jacob was right. Pray that he and the rest could handle the newborns with no problem. But as much as I tried to think positively, my body refused to relax. My breathing became shallow and tears started rolling down my face. I got goose bumps, feeling colder than ever before despite the weather being far tamer than last night. Getting dressed didn't help either. Even with an extra thick sweatshirt, jeans, and jacket, I was still shivering uncontrollably.

The only thing that kept me from completely going insane was the fact that I wasn't alone. I heard a soft whimper come from outside and once again his giant shadow covered up half the tent.

Wondering if he wanted something, I crawled toward the entrance of the tent and poked my head out. Seth was standing just inches from the tent, looking at me with his huge black eyes, filled with concern. I hadn't looked at myself in a mirror or anything, but I assumed I didn't look so good. I rubbed my eyes and they were still puffy from crying. Normally I would've told him that I was okay, but who was I fooling? I didn't even bother to lie.

"I'm sorry," I said, my voice a little shaky. It was all I could think of saying. I wished he didn't have to see me like this.

Seth made a whining noise and leaned in closer to me. I didn't move as he gently rubbed the side of his snout against my cheek. The gesture was comforting and I could feel the warmth radiating from his body. Somehow, I began feeling a little more at ease.

It dawned on me how glad I was that Seth was here with me. He was probably the most caring, sincere, and purest member of the pack. He reminded me so much of a younger, more innocent Jacob. If I was going to worry about everyone, at least I had someone to worry with; even though I was sure he felt the same as Jake and he was usually optimistic anyway. Maybe that's what I needed though, someone to help me think positively. People's moods could rub off on others; why not werewolves'?

I managed to smile at him and wrapped my arms tightly around his huge, furry neck.

"Thank you, Seth," I said sincerely.

He made a soft mutter and leaned his large head against my side as if returning the hug.

His warmth was hard to resist, especially in this cold. I had a difficult time pulling away from our embrace, but I didn't have to worry. Seth broke my hold as his head suddenly perked straight up and looked off at the horizon, his overall stance very alert. Did he hear something? Was he getting a message from the pack? Did the fight already start?

"Seth, is everything alright?" I asked anxiously.

He kept staring and didn't move, like he didn't hear me; which made no sense because his ears were huge and I was right next to him.

"Seth!" I shouted.

His head snapped back in my direction; eyes fully open and giving me his attention.

"Is everything alright?" I asked again.

This time he nodded, thankfully.

"Are they fighting already?"

He shook his head and started wavering back and forth between me and the horizon, like he wanted to know if I had any more questions before he went back to what he was doing; whatever it was…

"Okay," was all I said and sat back down inside the tent.

Seth turned away and started walking further out toward the edge of the mountain devoid of trees, but plenty of leftover snow. He was pretty far away where his wolf from behind was about the size of my fingertip if I held it in front of my face. I could still tell that he stopped walking before getting too close to the edge, standing very still and attentive.

Curiously, I left the tent and started walking over to him. There was no easy path to take. Snow was everywhere and there was about eleven inches of it on the ground. I had to lift my feet straight up every time to keep from falling.

Once I got to him, he turned his head around to look at me; suddenly not so alert.

"Sorry, I got kind of lonely, I guess," I said, which was partly true.

Seth's muzzle pulled back to show me a grin as he positioned himself right next to me. His heat really was irresistible and I found myself leaning against him. Absent-mindedly, my fingers would snake through his fur and I mentally compared it to Jacob's longer, shaggier hide.

Aside from seeking comfort and warmth, I wanted to know how things were going with the others. I knew he was connected to the pack, and even though he couldn't speak to me, his body language and simple nods were better than nothing. Right now he just seemed focused, staring beyond the cliffs at nothing in particular. Was he trying to listen to the others in his head? I would ask if everything was alright, but I'd end up asking again in five minutes, maybe not even that long. I didn't want to be like the little kid during car rides that constantly asks 'Are we there yet?'

Suddenly, Seth tensed up and his head lowered. A deep growl resonated from his chest which made me flinch away from him. His eyes were still focused, but he had a new threatening vibe to him.

"Seth?" I said in concern.

He kept his stance firm, not moving and still growling.

"Is it happening? Is the fight starting?"

With another growl, he nodded.

I felt like my heart traveled up to my throat. Despite it being so cold, I started sweating and my breathing became heavy. It was happening. It was finally happening. The newborns were here and everyone I loved were about to fight them. Kill them. Or the other way around.

My legs were shaking and I wrapped my arms around myself. I stared at Seth, trying to judge his reactions and what they could mean.

"Wh-what's happening?" It was the first thing that came to my mind and I ended up speaking it, even though I knew he couldn't properly explain.

Seth just glanced back at me with calm eyes, but the rest of him said otherwise.

"Could you phase back for just a second so you can tell me?"

He groaned and shook his head. I knew the answer would be no, but I had to try. He needed to remain connected to the pack.

I started to feel like I was going crazy again. Seth wasn't enough to keep me calm now, not with him half crouched down and snarling like he was on the battlefield himself. Pacing wasn't helping either. It wasn't calming my nerves, only moving away from the perfect warm spot. I would give anything to be down there helping them. I didn't care what Jacob or Edward thought, using myself as a distraction like Jasper mentioned was a good idea. I'd be making things easier and if anyone got hurt, it'd be me, not them.

"Is anyone hurt yet, Seth?" I asked anxiously, sticking to yes or no questions.

He shook his head although his stance still seemed on edge as his teeth remain gritted.

Nonetheless, I sighed a breath of relief. "So, are we winning?"

Seth didn't respond this time. In fact, everything changed in that moment. Seth's low growls ceased and his whole body suddenly froze. Everything was so quiet; not even the whisper of the cold wind gave this mountain top sound.

"Seth?" I asked nervously.

He brought himself back up standing straight as he slowly turned his head toward a massive group of trees heavily covered in glittering, white snow. His whole body soon followed as he was now pointed directly at the trees, staring intently. He slowly moved closer, one paw at a time separated by at least two seconds. I found myself following a few feet behind him, just as curious and uneasy as he seemed to be.

"Seth, what is it?" I demanded. "You're freaking me out."

He stopped moving. The incredible silence was broken as a snarl so strong and monstrously vicious shot out of Seth's huge mouth; it made me yelp and jump almost five feet away from him. He wasn't paying attention to me though; it was all on the trees. What could they have done to make Seth so angry? Wolf or not, I'd never seen him this enraged, and honestly, scary.

Seth started backing away while he continued growling like a wild beast. Instinctively, I moved further and further out of his way with each step he took backward. It was hard for me to stop looking at him, but when I glanced at the trees once more, I couldn't look away.

There, about twenty yards away from us, stood a man. He was pretty tall, well built, and looked about my age. He had light blond hair that seemed to shine once he was away from the tree's shadows, a tattered denim jacket with ripped jeans to match, but was admittedly pretty handsome despite the messy clothing. Everything else I could say about him would explain why Seth was so angry. I could take note of his incredibly pale skin or his intimidating glare, but his vivid, piercing red eyes was enough.

My body was shaking all over, but I couldn't get myself to move.

The vampire wasn't alone. Behind him, still shaded by the trees, was her. She looked just as I remembered her, slender and beautiful, although her incredibly fierce demeanor kind of ruined that. She had the same long, curly hair of brilliant orange, looking a lot like fire. Even in the shadows, her hair was the brightest part of her. It almost looked like it was shimmering.

She glowered directly at me, her razor-sharp, blood red eyes piercing straight through. As if she was Medusa and I was her victim, I couldn't move an inch. I might as well have been made of stone, standing there completely useless, helpless, and overwhelmed with fear.

The blond man stood there glaring cautiously at the growling wolf in front of him. He was slightly crouched down with one leg behind the other, ready to spring at any moment. No one moved. One wrong step could mean the end.

He glanced back into the shadows for a split second, like he was asking what to do next. She, still staring daggers at me, mouthed what could only have been 'Go', because that's when it all started.

Everything happened impossibly fast. In one second the blond vampire was yards away and the next his left arm was locked in Seth's powerful jaws. He roared as he struggled to get free, but Seth refused to let go, shaking the blond around like a rag doll. For the moment it looked like Seth had the upper hand, but he suddenly recoiled back with a pain filled yelp as the blond furiously kicked the side of Seth's head with one powerful blow. Seth stumbled backward, dazed and confused, as the blond retreated with his arm still intact. Seth quickly shook off his dizziness and looked around for the blond vampire. He'd moved over much closer to the edge of the mountain than we already were. Seth snarled and sprinted over to him, his huge, sharp teeth bared and ready to bite.

I wanted to shout at him to stop, but I'd lost my voice. What if the blond vampire was trying to trick him into running over the edge? Seth was in so much danger, I couldn't stand it. But the moment I saw her triumphant smirk, I realized what the blond vampire had done. Here I stood frozen with a huge wide opening between me and her. The blond vampire was trying to get Seth out of the way so she could get to me. Nothing could stop her. Seth hadn't realized this yet, he was still focused on the blond. I felt so conflicted. One half of me wanted Seth to run away, I didn't want him getting hurt or worse. But the other half wished he could see what was going on and protect me. If not him, then who? Seth was all I had.

She took a step forward and crouched to the ground, her movements feline like a lion stalking its prey. Then, in the blink of an eye, Victoria sprang.

Time seemed to stop in that moment. There I was staring death in the face, but I completely accepted my fate. More than anything, I just wanted all of this madness to end. If Victoria got what she wanted, maybe she'd call back her army and leave. Seth didn't have to worry about me; I just wanted him to live. I just wanted everyone to live. If that meant just me being sacrificed, that was fine. Jacob would probably be devastated, Edward too, but I was just one girl. Hopefully overtime Jake would find happiness in someone else. All of this was my fault and I needed to be the one to end it. I couldn't fight, so this was my best option. I only prayed that Victoria would make it quick.

Noooo, this can't happen. I HATE cliffhangers! Really good chapter, though!

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