I sat on the rocking chair and sighed. Alice was right, as usual.

No wonder Bella could not accept my marriage proposal. She did not trust me. How could she? I bailed at the first sign of trouble. I’m jealous and controlling. Too serious and brooding. Aside from my physical strength, I’m weak. I took a deep breath of her tantalizing smell, then added “heroin addict” to the list. But she still loves me despite all of my faults. She just wants me to love her back. She looked as beautiful as ever now, curled up on her bed like a kitten. I was glad that Jasper calmed her before she ran out of tears. I had no reason to doubt him. I would have to find a way to apologize later. The absurdity of my “hands off” policy was quite clear now as well. She deserved a boyfriend who could kiss her. One who could grip her waist tightly without harm. One who could rub soothing circles on her hand. I had managed all these things so far. My anger towards Jacob was what clouded my focus. If I could stay calm around Bella, maybe things could go back to normal. Yet she had brought up my intimacy rule again. I had not realized that it was still so much on her mind. But it made sense; it was always on my mind even though I tried not to think about it. We loved each other so much, possibly more than any two people had ever loved. But it felt like we were the only couple in the world that could not fully express those feelings. Her graduation deadline was just a month away. If she could only wait… She stirred in her sleep; Jasper’s effects were long gone by now. She whimpered and tossed. Probably having nightmares about me. But I usually knew how to stop them. I lay down next to her and lightly encompassed her with my arms. She snuggled against my chest and smiled slightly. As I closed my eyes, I felt as close to slumber as a vampire possibly could. I eagerly hummed her lullaby as my fingers scaled her clothed back. A sigh of relief left me. This plan was the shortest-lived plan in history.

I felt cool arms on me as I started to wake up, so I kept my eyes closed. Maybe I was still dreaming. Hallucinating, perhaps. I didn’t care. I didn’t let myself think that Edward had really left after promising to stay. He probably just needed some time to cool down. But his “no touching” rule left me reeling. Could I even stand that? I wished that he could sleep, just so I could sneak and touch his cold, granite skin without being scolded. “Bella,” he breathed against my ear. I jumped. That felt much too real. My anxious eyes met golden ones. “I’m sorry, did I scare you?” I stared at our skin contact and shook my head to myself while trying to make sense of this. Had I dreamed everything up? But my cast was still there. “I realized that neither of us could bear not touching each other,” he explained. “It was one of the most ridiculous thoughts I’ve ever had. I’ll be the first to admit it.” I thought of the electricity we conducted and agreed silently. “And I’m sorry for leaving after I promised you I wouldn’t.” “You were really going to leave for good?” I gasped. He froze and looked like he regretted mentioning it. “When you went through the list of each thing I did wrong...I thought you were telling me in so many words that you would find someone better. I wasn’t thinking clearly. Alice snapped me out of it.” He kissed my cheek, his lips cooling and smearing the foreign moisture found there. When did I start crying? Now tears sped down my cheeks, burning them as they went along. “Please don’t cry,” he pleaded. “I’m so sorry, about it all.” My hands clutched his shirt, bringing our bodies closer. I just wanted him to hold me. And he did. I rested my wet face on his chest and closed my eyes, praying that at least this part of the day was real.

I don’t know how long we were lying there, but we were interrupted before either of us felt like getting up. “Bella?” Her father knocked on the door. “Yeah?” she answered a little breathless. I was in her closet before he peeked inside a second later. “You’re still in bed, sleepy head?” he chastised playfully. “Jacob is coming over in a few minutes. He wants to see you.” Charlie did not even try to contain his excitement. I cursed to myself. I had not even gotten a chance to talk to her about him yet. I resisted breaking anything in her closet. The door closed and I walked slowly out of the small space. She looked at me apologetically. “I forgot that Charlie was even home. It must be Sunday.” “It’s okay, you go get dressed. Call me when he’s gone.” It was clear that I did not mean Charlie. I slid out of her window before she could respond. I ran straight to the forest where I could enjoy decimating several large trees.

After Edward vanished, much to my dismay, I put on some sweats and quickly brushed my hair and teeth. I shouldn’t try to appeal to Jacob any more than I already do. I headed downstairs and shortly after, he knocked. “Hey Jake,” I smiled after I opened the door. He did not smile back. “Hi. Can we go for a short walk?” He looked pointedly towards the living room where my dad was watching a game. “Sure.” I followed him outside, neither of us making eye contact until he stopped at the edge of the woods. I noticed that we were precariously close the banned area. “What is going on with you?” Jacob accused, disrupting my frozen thoughts. “I know he was here; I smell him. You’re just going to forgive him for breaking you? I’m telling you that vampires are too dangerous to--” “Right, and werewolves are so much safer?” I shot back unapologetically, my mind now clear. “Yes, actually they are. If you’ve noticed, I have yet to hurt you.”

“Look at what happened with Sam and Emily.” He had no reply to that, so I continued in a softer tone. “But she still loves him. Why can’t you understand that I feel the same way?” He glanced at me, his eyes seeming to hold secrets. “That’s not the same thing.” “It’s totally the same thing. We’re soul mates.” He rolled his eyes. “You can’t be a soul mate to someone who has no soul.” I reached out with my right hand to punch him, but his arm caught me before I made contact. “You don’t want to hurt your other hand, Bella. I’m hard-headed. “Besides,” he glanced at my clenched hand in his, “next time, you’ll want to keep your thumb in.” He was fighting a smile, which made me all the more furious. “I don’t want to see you anymore, Jacob.” I yanked my arm away. “Bella, you can’t let this leech control you. This is how he gets his kicks.” “He didn’t tell me to do anything! I don’t want to see you again. My idea.” “I don’t believe that.” “Then maybe you’ll figure it out when I do not come visiting,” I twisted his previous words coldly. Hurt touched his face before the bitterness burned it away. “Fine. But don’t come crying to me when he puts you in a wheelchair.” My head throbbed as he stalked off and drove away. I hated to hurt Jacob after he had always been there for me. But Edward and Jacob could never be civil while they were both playing tug of war over me. And I was tired of being the rope they were tearing apart. I wished that Jacob would just find another girl already.

I looked around at my destruction and felt a little guilty. I had snapped five trees, uprooted four, and punched a hole through a log or two, all in the name of a 16-year-old child? But I supposed that was better than punching a hole through him. Better for him, anyway. At least I was calm again. I figured that Jacob was gone by now and wondered why Bella did not call. Maybe she was upset. Or maybe she decided that I was not unkempt enough, and he was

teaching her the best way to howl at the moon. Either way, I thought as I started back toward her house.

The spiky grass tickled me even through my sweatpants, but it failed to adequately distract me. I had slumped to the ground and was holding my head in my hands. I could never regret meeting Jacob because he saved me in so many ways, but I felt so selfish because our friendship was very one-sided. He built me up and I always seemed to tear him down. I wanted to make him happy. But I couldn’t. I’m already taken. “Are you okay?” my angel asked softly. I looked up and smiled; I did not even have to fake it. “Yeah, I’m fine.” He offered me his hand and pulled me up. “Did he break up with you?” I laughed grimly. “I wish.” I broke up with him. “Did he yell at you?” I could tell that Edward was trying to remain level-headed. “Yeah,” I admitted reluctantly. “Then I told him that I did not want to see him anymore.” He stopped walking. “You don’t have to do that for me, Bella.” “I know. I did it for me. Continuing on like that was hurting everyone, including me.” “But he was your friend. Won’t you miss him?” “Of course I will. But he does not want to be just friends. And it just so happens that I’m taken. For eternity.” I grinned and he beamed at me. His face was glowing but I only saw it for a short second before he pressed his closed lips to mine in an excited yet still controlled way. I latched onto his hair and he clung to my waist as he lifted me up. When I was adequately dizzy from the partially-chaste kiss, we walked toward his car and passed mine. “If you won’t let me get you a decent car, you should at least keep a spare tire, Bella. What if something happened?” “Edward,” I sighed playfully, “I just told you that I don’t believe in spares. You’ve got to trust the one you got.”

He chuckled and held me closer.