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. She was so tired from her late-night visit, and I knew she could feel the anger for Jacob rolling off me. I didn't tell her that I met up with him after taking her home last night; I didn't want to stress her out more. She looked so reluctant to let me leave, but I really felt the temporary separation would be good for us. I didn't think anyone should be around me at the moment. So, I went for a run. I could break my promise and punch him, I mused as I easily dodged the dense foliage. But he would heal too quickly for it to be worth pissing off Bella that much when he tattled. And if I did permanent damage, she would never forgive me. I could set his Rabbit on fire. He loved that piece of junk. Bella said he built it himself and it took him forever. Was that too cold? No. He called my sweet, virginal Bella a whore for no reason. He had this coming. But fire was a little conspicuous. So I’d have to settle for stealing and impounding. I’d hire a punk so they could not trace it to me. Besides, I wasn’t exactly allowed to cross the border to his house. I was willing to break that rule for Bella’s safety, but not my own payback. I retrieved my car and pulled up to Bella’s house at 8 after determining that her long nap would be satisfying enough. I heard her cell phone ring from inside the house and paused. “Hey Ang,” Bella answered happily. She must have woken up earlier; I hoped that she slept enough. “Oh, my friend Jacob is good with cars?” she said after a pause. “Yeah, he built his own car,” she said softly as if she regretted mentioning him. I could imagine her biting her lip. “I spent hours sitting in that thing while he worked on it. It was better than the floor.” She sounded wistful. “Did I tell you about the time that Mike almost threw up in the back of it? Jake almost had a heart attack.” She laughed despite herself. “Well I’ll give you his number; he probably won’t charge much to fix it.” Crap. What was I going to do now? I wasn’t intentionally trying to eavesdrop. It just kind of happened.
My selfish side wanted to impound it even more than before. To destroy any connection he and Bella had left. But doing so would destroy sentimental memories for Bella as well. And how would that be helpful when I was doing this revenge for her sake? This was for her sake, right? I drove around the block so it would seem like my arrival was better timed.
Edward picked one of my books up and glanced at it briefly. He seemed distracted today-- even more so than usual. He was just probably running last night through his mind like I was. Unfortunately, I hadn’t come up with any reasonable ways to improve the situation between the three of us. “You don’t read as much as you used to,” he concluded as he dismissed the worn Romeo and Juliet copy back to my shelf with a plop. “Sorry,” I mumbled while playing with my hands. I didn't know what else to say. He was right, of course. I hadn’t touched that particular book since I was confronted with a love tragedy of my own. He turned around to look at my face. “Don’t apologize for it,” he sighed. “Lord knows you have that one memorized. I was just wondering about the change.” He sat down on bed and studied me like I was a giant Rubik’s cube. I shrugged. “I guess I’d just rather live in the present right now,” I explained quietly. He paused. “I’m not going anywhere, you know?” he assured as he tucked a stray clump of hair behind my ear. I nodded reflexively, but I didn't really know. It wasn’t possible to know for sure, at least not yet. Maybe not until my change. Truthfully, part of me died each time he left me in the morning. Even today’s knowledge that he would leave as soon as I fell asleep kept me from my nap longer than it should have. I realized he could now see the fear in my eyes, the question of his return. I knew how this mistrust must hurt him. But it wasn’t something that I could help, especially after he recently ran out due to our dispute about touching me. He didn't look placated, but he pulled me to his chest and kissed my temple anyway. I felt my face slightly crumple once it was out of his view. I also hadn’t been able to tell him that I didn't like forehead kisses as much as I used to. How do you say something like that?
I hoped it was one of those things that would fade with time. Because as much as I didn't like what it reminded me of, I still felt like I needed that affection. And he clearly needed to give it, too. “I love you,” he reminded me. I smiled against his charcoal T-shirt. I was thankful that this declaration made me forget how damaged I was, even if just for a moment. “Love you, too.”
It brought me guilt, plotting while Bella was obviously unsure of my dependability. But there wasn’t a whole lot I could do to convince her except continue to love her until she was at ease. I finally thought of a harmless payback for Jacob that night while she was sleeping. Yet I was almost eager to get it over with so I could move on. This sparring match was becoming something akin to obsession, and that worried me. I still had a few friends from my wandering days, though we had not talked in years. I decided to call up a rather mischievous one who would have no problem participating in a prank without asking for details. I asked him to mail me a few items with his scent on it. I would disperse the items in random places within the reservation (so my family was not likely to catch a whiff). I would have to throw them over the boundary or something without mixing my own scent with them. Then, Jacob and his pack would freak out at the prospect of a new, non-vegetarian vampire, run around with no sleep, and be totally spooked for however long it took them to figure out that there was no danger. My friend was on another continent and would never actually come in contact with the wolves, so there was no chance of it backfiring on him. It was the perfect plan.
I was able to pout my way out of the senior prom, much to my self respect’s chagrin. But one big dance was really enough for a lifetime, especially with Alice’s primping. Graduation was only two days away when I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to my friends and family, so Edward was happy to put off my immortality for a bit. I thought 19 was a good enough age, and the Volturi probably would not bother me before then. They measured things in vampire years, after all. Plus, I was pretty sure that if I had some time, I could
convince him to change me himself without the marriage condition. Edward suggested traveling for a while since I already had an alibi for the fall, and I was open to anything so long as we did it together. I had not talked to Jacob since that terrible night, and was trying my best to forget about him. Sometimes I faltered, like when I unthinkingly mentioned him to Angela a week ago when she needed a mechanic. My heart ached a little afterwards. “You ready, kiddo?” my dad asked through my door. I frowned at the “special occasion” skirt I was sporting when I looked in the mirror one last time. I always imagined that this would be a fun human experience, but I now guessed that it would leave me wanting. Maybe it was because inhuman experiences taunted my mind. Oh well. I rarely trusted a teen’s definition of “fun” anyway. “Yep,” I called. I grabbed a seldom-used purse as well before taking my cap and gown downstairs.
Two blissful weeks passed after graduation. I had graduated countless times, but Bella being by my side made it something else entirely. It was closure. We were leaving drama-filled high school behind us. No more hopeful suitors. No more desperate girls. No more Edward freaking Cullen. The next time I had to suffer through the high school façade, Bella should be right there with me. And she would be irrevocably mine in every way, just like I was already completely hers. I was enjoying watching and listening to Bella sleep, like usual, when I realized that I left something at my house for her. It was an antique necklace that matched the engagement ring she refused to look at or acknowledge. They both belonged to my mother. I did not really understand Bella’s problem with worldly commitments, but I figured I should start small. I scanned the area for conscious thoughts before I could jump out of her window and get it. It was silly; the chances of someone seeing me in the dark, unblurred, for a fraction of a second was extremely unlikely. It was very late at night. But I did not like to take chances when I could help it. There was no one awake in her neighborhood. I let my gift wander farther out of curiosity. Someone was driving through town. They were thinking about pina coladas. And getting caught in the rain. What the hell? This is what I get for searching out of boredom.
I was about to close myself off to all thoughts when I got the most horrifying image from a different mind. It was even worse than the one Alice saw of me with a drained Bella. In this, Bella was mangled beyond repair and death was not coming soon enough for her. She was being tortured. I ripped myself away from the picture. I had to stop myself from crying out in pain so I would not wake my angel. Who would think such horrible things? Whoever they were, they were close, so I had no choice but to submerge myself back into the despicable thoughts. Mixed with Bella, there were images of James. The feelings behind them were clear. Love. Devotion. Revenge. No! Victoria. I was such a fool to think that she had given up. That the return of the Cullens had scared her away. I had no choice but to call the person who owed me nothing. Less than nothing. I grabbed Bella’s phone off her desk, as she already had the number programmed. “Please have opposable thumbs right now…” I mumbled to myself as it rang. My hand was trembling with rage and fear when he picked up. “Is this Bella, or her psycho, overprotective beau who often calls me in the middle of the night?” he answered dryly yet somehow cheekily. His voice was not clouded with fatigue; I had not woken him. I tried to keep my voice low despite my panic. “Jacob, I need help. I detected a vampire. It’s--” “We know. We’ve been smelling an unidentified vamp for weeks. There have been no deaths--” “This isn’t the same one.” I was becoming impatient. “How do you know?” I didn't hesitate. “Because I planted items around so you would think that there was a vampire, and you would worry and not get any sleep because of rounds.” I don’t have time for this. “Oh, Edward. Haven’t you heard about the boy who cried vampire?” Had he? If he remembered the tale correctly, all the sheep were massacred at the end. “It’s Victoria. Here,” I spit out. “Shit. Why didn’t you say so? We’ll take care of it. Where is she?” “Maybe 3/4 of a mile from Bella’s. She just passed the post office and is not going in a straight line.”
“Alright. Take care of Bella,” he ordered before hanging up. I dropped the phone and quickly scanned for Victoria’s viewpoint. She was still weaving and moving slower than necessary. It made me anxious that I did not know why. But I was glad that it was stalling her. I gently tightened my hold on Bella’s waist. It’s not like we could fight in the house with Charlie here. I would have to leave her inside. More panic started to build but was cut off when I saw a black wolf tackle Victoria. I just had to hope that she would not bite them. Jacob arrived, wanting a piece of her as well. Literally. She was bewildered and I saw flashes of a different wolf in her mind, still and bleeding. After many more wolf attacks, I could no longer read her mind. Was she destroyed or did she get away? I scanned for her thoughts furiously. If the wolves did not do the job, I would have to call my family and put them in danger. Or I could handle her myself like I always wanted. No, the wolves must have taken care of her. They destroyed Laurent, after all. That’s why I called them. That and the fact that they were probably closer than my family. And honestly, I’d rather have the pack in danger than my family. My shameful thought was interrupted by Bella’s phone. Jacob. At this rate, we should really put each other on speed dial. I skipped the greeting. “Yes?” His voice was rough. “Can you call Carlisle and tell him to come right away? We’re in the woods behind the diner. Embry’s hurt. Victoria is dead though. Well, more dead than before...” I was so relieved that it was finally over. “Yes. Thank you. Should I come too?” I really wanted to see Victoria burn. “Probably. Bring Bella if you want.” I hung up, relieved, and located a pair of Bella’s pants. It was too cold to wear her skimpy sleep shorts outside, and I really wouldn’t be able to stand any lustful glances from others. She was practically in underwear. Not that I was complaining. I was never more glad that we let the wolves defend all of Forks now from outsiders. Carlisle had insisted on it upon our return because he was worried about Bella’s safety.
I called Carlisle and he left immediately for the diner. I stared at Bella sleeping form and debated my plan to take her with me. A vampire bonfire was not the most pleasant shindig. But what if there was more danger remaining tonight? She would surely pull it toward herself. She was coming with me.
I was still mostly asleep as Edward pulled jeans over my clingy shorts. Had I been more conscious, I surely would have blushed when thinking of the alternative option he had. I mumbled the question of where we were going, and he said the diner. I was too tired to ask why. Maybe we were going to get pancakes or something. But he does not eat… He stopped my fruitless suspicions after he started running. “Jacob’s pack killed Victoria.” That woke me up a little. “Really?” I was so relieved. “But why are we going to the diner?” “I kind of wanted to see for myself, and I did not want to leave you alone.” “See what for yourself?” “Well, hopefully nothing.” He had an odd expression on his face. I didn’t really get it, but we arrived shortly. The whole pack was there. Most were in their human forms but two were phased and keeping lookout. I smelled thick incense. It reminded me of something but I did not know what. Then I saw the fire with unusual smoke, and I knew. But I did not let my mind officially make the connection. A little ways off, I saw Embry on the ground with Carlisle crouched over him. A machine was helping him breathe. His clothes were torn and caked with blood. Jacob was next to him. “Jake, what happened?” I nearly shrieked. He turned reluctantly and walked over to us before launching into what sounded like a practiced explanation. “Embry and Jared were on their usual patrol. Jared found an item with a vampire scent on it and phased out of his wolf form so he could talk to Sam. Sam thought there was a third wolf on patrol but he was mistaken. Leah had taken a break to get some food--” “Leah’s a werewolf?” I interrupted in shock. Jacob shot me an admonishing look that didn't belong on his youthful face.
“Yes. Anyway, for once, Jared forgot about the buddy system. He feels terrible. Embry was the only one phased at the time, so we did not hear his distressed thoughts until we got Edward’s warning. We were afraid of Victoria getting away so we tried to hurry and finish her off first, but it look longer than expected.” Jacob looked down, ashamed. “It’s not your fault. Victoria was really skilled. You should be proud that you defeated her,” I insisted. He did not look convinced as he continued. “Well, he had lost a lot of blood despite healing quickly. And he was losing consciousness and having trouble breathing. Carlisle thinks he will be okay though, now.” I hoped so. I could not help but think this was my fault. I had brought Victoria on them, after all.
There was a long pause as our bizarre triangle mulled over thoughts. I was very aware of the dangerous glares I was getting from the entire pack. Bella, I assumed, was still reeling from the existence of a female werewolf. I had already known from Jacob’s mind. I was telling myself how stupid I was. Because of my distraction, Victoria had gotten through the wolves. And if I had not been scanning for thoughts, she might have gotten too close… I would have been an accomplice in the death of my own girlfriend…best friend…soul mate. Bella interrupted my horrific realization. “Did Victoria come here recently, before today?” she asked Jacob. “We’re not sure…We’ve been a little...distracted.” He glanced at me with reproach. “Distracted how?” “Edward here made us think that there was a vampire on the loose. Another one, anyway. I guess Victoria could have come relatively close to town without us noticing when we were so focused on the other scent and the areas that we found the scented items in. Oh yeah, the item Jared found, it was a fake,” he added bitterly. I looked at Bella anxiously. I knew that I did not deserve all of the blame for missing Victoria previously, but I did deserve most of it. “I have an explanation for doing this, I swear,” I murmured to her. A pretty crappy one, I admitted to myself. “We’ll talk about it later,” Bella replied in a way leaving no room for leverage. “I can’t deal with this right now.” She stole a glance at Embry.
“Did you find out why she was weaving around like that?” I asked Jacob. Frankly, I was lucky he was even talking to me. “We’re not sure. When we were chasing her away a few months ago, we did it quickly enough that she probably never knew about our human forms. Maybe she picked up the human scents we left when we were just walking around town. Thought they were fresh. Do you think she had run into a lot of other werewolves?” I shook my head. “None like you, anyway.” Recognition flashed in Jacob’s eyes, but Bella gave me a puzzled look. Luckily, she just turned back to the bloodied Jacob and sighed. I was glad for the distraction; I didn't want to add another type of monster to her list right now. “Thank you, Jacob. For taking care of Victoria. For everything. I’m sorry I’ve treated you so badly. I didn’t know what the right thing to do was.” She went to give him a hug but he motioned to his stained shirt. “God, I don’t care, Jake,” she insisted as she wrapped her arms around him. Watching them hug like that…with such strong feeling…I suddenly felt very uneasy. She would go to Jacob now. She would forgive him for everything and blame me. I can’t let that happen. I can’t live --exist-- without her. I needed to make a preemptive strike. “He called you a whore!” I accused barely after their embrace had ended. Bella’s head snapped toward me and her gaze was scorching. She then turned back to Jacob. “WHAT?” “I never said that out loud.” He fidgeted. “Yeah, he thought it. And he wanted me to hear it.” “When?” she demanded. I was silent. Maybe this was not a good idea. “When he came back to threaten me so I wouldn’t leave any more crap at your house,” he explained while staring at me. “You didn’t know about that, did you?” he asked as he threw a smirk my way. “Then he lunged at me. Probably would have taken me out if it was not for my brothers stepping in.” “Edward, you promised,” she scolded. “I didn’t touch him.” This was as lame of an excuse as Jacob’s. “But you would have,” he chimed in. “So I’m guessing that since he could not hurt me, he settled on the genius plan that led to tonight. In his defense, he thought it would just cause stress and make us lose sleep.”
“I couldn’t let him get away with that,” I murmured. “Let him win.” I knew as soon as the words left my mouth that it was the wrong thing to say. Bella turned to address only me. “Win?” she spat. “This wasn’t a game to me! I wasn’t driven by revenge, spite, jealousy, or damn testosterone. I loved you. I loved both of you. I tried to stop loving him for you. For you and me. You were supposed to be the mature, responsible one!” Loved. Past tense. Agony. She looked at me to say something but I could find no rebuttal. By now she was crying relentlessly. “Embry almost died, all because of your stupid game. And you would not even have cared because it would have been one less werewolf to smell. You just care about yourself and maybe me. The whole world could explode around us and you would not even blink.” “That’s not true--” “I don’t believe you. I don’t trust you. And I don’t know how you expect me to be eternally 19 with you.” I had frozen into a block of ice. So she turned and walked away after giving me a heartbreaking look. I expected another smirk from Jacob. At least some form of mockery. But he seemed frozen as well. We both came fighting to win and neither of us did. But one thing was definitely certain: Bella had lost.
The one speck of luck I had was that Charlie did not wake up when I had to go through the front door. In addition to sobbing, I spent the rest of the night debating which was worse: the night Edward left me, or tonight when I left him. Did I actually leave him? Had we truly given up on each other? I did not remember getting an answer to my questions by the time I finally gave in to the emptiness of sleep. ***
Hurt myself again today And, the worst part is there's no one else to blame
I was sprawled out on my bed the next morning, completely miserable. Or maybe it was afternoon. It didn’t matter. Time would continue to move fast. I would be old before I knew it. Edward hadn’t called or shown up all night.
Ouch I have lost myself again Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found, Yeah I think that I might break I've lost myself again and I feel unsafe
I suddenly wished that I had amnesia so I would not know what I was missing. Oh what I would do to forget. Unwelcome memories swirled in my head: being carried to the nurse after my blood typing disaster, hanging onto him in Italy as tight as I could, the silly banter before he asked to drive me to Seattle, Romeo’s lines being whispered in my ear, him distracting me with his lips before the baseball game-There was a knock on the door. I barely heard it over the blare of the stereo. I considered ignoring it, then finally dragged myself to go open it. Immediately, I wished that I hadn’t. “Jacob?” I was tempted to kick him out before I even let him in. But what did I have left to lose? And I did owe him for Victoria. “Can I talk to you for a minute?” He was more solemn than I had ever seen him. I nodded and stepped aside. We sat down in the living room. I looked at the floor while he spoke. “I’m sorry. This isn’t Edward’s fault. I started everything. I did everything I could to drive you apart. I asked you to the party right in front of him to make him jealous. I thought the brochures would make Charlie forbid you from seeing him, but I was an idiot to think that would stop you. I was about to just tell Charlie what happened, but then I realized that you would move in with him and then I would never see you.” I glanced up at him as he paused to swallow and take a deep breath. “And I’m so sorry that I called you a… I didn’t mean it. I don’t know what I was thinking. I wasn’t. I just wanted to get a rise out of him. To get back at him for stealing you, when you were never mine to begin with.” He laughed humorlessly in a way that made my stomach sick. “It was irresponsible of me, to put it lightly. My pack could have gotten hurt. It would have been a replica of last night. Or we might have killed him and then what? I would never be able to look you in the eye. A war would be started over my petty game. So I’m no better than he is. I would have reacted the same way he did… probably worse.”
“I expected to feel happy after it finally happened, your split. If that’s what that was...But last night, I felt sick. Just because I can’t find happiness, it doesn’t mean that I should rob others of it. You guys love each other so much. Should be together. I hope I can find something like that one day. Even if you had chosen me last night, it would have been wrong. I know that now. I never had the chance; I see the way you look at him. You were right when you said you were Sam and Emily.” I stared at his sudden maturity with wide eyes. I must be dreaming. “Well that’s all. I hope things will work out for you two. And I hope we can be friends again sometime soon.” He walked by my shocked self, pausing to lightly kiss my cheek. Even if I had been thinking clearly, I would not have protested. It was too sweet. Despite my daze, I managed to hear the door shut behind me.
I sat outside her house all night like the vampire stalker I was, but I couldn’t help it. I hated leaving her unprotected even though I hurt her more than anyone else could. I did not want to go home anyway because I would have been chastised as soon as my family found out what happened with the pack. Carlisle had been too busy last night to yell at me for being careless and immature. Listening to Bella cry herself to sleep was not an easy experience. It made me hate myself even more, and I thought I was at the limit of self-loathing before. I hadn’t moved an inch. So I got a front-row seat to Jacob’s monologue. I would have been touched if I was not so devoid of human emotion right now. Empty. Cold. Basically Jacob’s stereotype of a vampire. But how could I be anything but when my reason for existence no longer wanted me? I knew that he must have smelled me by the trees, but at least he had the decency not to acknowledge it. I did not even feel angry when he kissed her cheek. I was just a spectator. Worst of all, judging by her music choice, it seemed that she was blaming herself for my mess. It was all my fault. I was never really defending her honor; I was defending my ego. My claim on her. If I really cared about and respected her, I should not have retaliated. She would never stop caring about Jacob. She wants the best for him. I should have been the bigger person and tried to get along.
There has to be something I can do. If Jacob of all people can be noble, I can be, too. I finally turned my phone back on and called Alice for ideas. I got quite an earful when she picked up.
I had been mourning for two days when it hit me: What was the point of all this? Alice called last night to assure me that Edward was only staying away because he thought I wanted him to, and he was trying to make it all up to me somehow. I knew that Edward would probably buy half of Paris, make me an entire book of compositions, tell me that he was sorry a million times, grovel at my feet for days, or all of the above. And I would forgive him because I love him and we are both hopeless without each other. It was inevitable. And it had meant enough to Jacob to apologize and try to fix things. He didn’t usually bother with things like that. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter how something happens; it just matters that it does. I don’t always have to be the damsel. I grabbed my keys and was gone before Charlie could ask where I was going. I arrived in record time and knocked on their door lightly, knowing that they likely already heard my truck. I was expecting Carlisle or Esme to answer, but it was my angel who opened it. We stared at each other for a few moments in silence. His eyes had a century’s worth of sadness in them. I felt mine blaze with determination. And I didn’t care that his family was probably gawking from the next room. I threw myself into his arms and he was so surprised that he actually staggered a few steps back. He was clearly a drug for me too, because all was right with the world as soon as our lips met. Emmett’s chuckling finally wedged us apart a little. “Oh you crazy kids,” he teased. I could not help but smile. “I’m so sorry. I promise to act my age from now on,” Edward vowed as he smoothed my hair. “Okay, but don’t get too into it. I don’t want you to break a hip.” I kissed his cheek. “I really did have a plan,” he laughed as he released me. “I know, but I didn’t feel like wasting any more time. I feel like I overreacted a little.”
“No, you were right. I was being careless and immature, self-centered...” “Okay, okay, I know. My point is, we can’t let these things get in our way. I love you and I want to be with you forever. I’m sorry that I ever questioned that.” “I’m sorry I made you question that,” he murmured. I squeezed his hand. Our audience cheered and I blushed deeply. *** A month passed, and things completely recovered between Edward and me. He even gave me a key to his house on the off-chance that they locked it (since breaking and entering was not easy for all of us). It was more symbolism than anything. I spent most of my time there and while Charlie was not very pleased, what could he say? I was moving out at the end of the summer to a supposed writing internship on the East Coast. I was grown. I still slept at my house to keep him from having a total heart attack, but of course, Edward stayed with me. I would kind of miss my room at Charlie’s, I had to admit. By some miracle, Charlie never even noticed that we had broken up for a few days. I kept my tears at bay around him, so he probably assumed my mood was due to PMS or something equally embarrassing. Exceptionally unobservant, anyone? But I was glad; he did not need any more reason to doubt Edward. Jacob and Edward had been hanging out once a week for the past three weeks or so. The first time they went out, I nearly hyperventilated. When they returned in one piece, I was amazed. I asked where they went but neither would tell me. As long as it was not a strip club, I suppose. And now that Edward and Jacob accepted each other, I could hang out with Jake a lot more without feeling terrible about it. Today I was going to a party at La Push. Sam and Emily surprisingly eloped a few weeks ago, so they were having some kind of housewarming party to make up for it. I asked Jacob why they didn't get married as planned, and he mumbled something about bridesmaids. I shrugged and let it go. Too much marriage talk made me nervous. After I was dressed, I added the multicolored gemstone choker that Edward gave me when we made up. He said it was his mother’s and that it would look beautiful on me. There was deep emotion in his eyes that did not match his casual words, but he said nothing more. All I knew was that it made him happy when I wore it, and it matched my dark jeans and fancy empire waist top quite well. I was never one for skirts but I knew the werewolf clan would understand that better than anybody. Much better than Alice.
I did not particularly enjoy parties, especially when they were mushy and I had to go alone. But even if Edward had a desire to go, he couldn’t. Things weren’t quite that friendly, even though he apologized to the pack and was getting along with Jake now. I had several gifts with me. The first was for Sam and Emily. It was a clock, the kind you set on your mantle, with wolves carved into the stand. I managed to find it at an antique store. Then I had the gift for Embry that Edward asked me to deliver. Even though he knew nothing could make up for Embry’s injuries, Edward wanted to give him a gift for selflessly fighting Victoria. Jacob mentioned that Embry been craving an iPod. The box in my arms was quite heavy, however, so I guessed that he snuck some additional electronics inside. I suggested giving each pack member something, but when I asked Sam and the others what they wanted, they wouldn’t hear of it. Depending on the member, it seemed to be about either embarrassment or rivalry. Natural enemies...what fun. After both gifts were delivered, I weaved in and out of the groups of people and balloons to search for my other friends. I easily spotted Jacob across the living room; he was glowing and surrounded by his brothers. When we made eye contact, he ran over and pulled me to a more private corner. “Bella! I met a girl. The girl,” he announced, grinning with excitement. “Wow that’s great, Jake! When?” I had seen him just last week. “Yesterday.” I blinked. “Umm...isn’t it a little soon for you to call her the girl?” He laughed with real amusement. I must have looked confused. “I never told you about imprinting, did I?” he asked softly. Imprinting? I shook my head and waited for him to continue. “I think I was afraid before to explain about Sam and Emily. I did not want you to be too shocked by the weirdness.” “It takes a lot to freak me out these days, Jake,” I said truthfully. “True. Well,” he continued in a muted tone, “werewolves have soul mates that they discover if they see them. Their bond is very strong. Like on the level of you and your bloodsucker.” He nudged my shoulder and gave me a goofy grin. Now there was an analogy that I could get. “That’s awesome. I’m so glad you found someone,” I said with real meaning. Finding love like that was very lucky.
“Me too. Now you can believe me when I say I’m not pining after you.” He winked and I laughed. “So when can I meet her?” “Promise not to be jealous?” “No promises,” I grinned. “Well her name is Aubrey and she’ll be driving down this weekend. She lives half an hour away, it really sucks. But we installed webcams and we chatted on them for hours today. She has kind of sandy blond hair and big green eyes. They have flecks of brown in them. I’ve never seen anything like her...” I had never seen Jake so excited. I was glad that Aubrey could give him everything I couldn’t. “She came down here to visit her sister, Meg. She’s not as pretty as Aubrey but who is?” I nodded throughout his spiel at the right moments, but then I had to go. I had my own soul mate to obsess over. I drove over to his house and let myself in. I didn't need to use my key; it was unlocked. It seemed like the rest of his family was out as I climbed up the stairs, but my human ears couldn’t be sure. I arrived on the third floor and shamelessly gaped when my eyes looked through Edward’s open door. His back was to me, and I deducted that he must have recently taken a shower. His strong shoulders shone slightly with spare drops of moisture; his bronze hair was darkened by wetness. He wore only his faded jeans. They effortlessly hung on his hips in a way that should be illegal. I eyed the exposed strip of his underwear’s waistband and was forced to bite my lip. I determinedly walked up behind him, but he didn’t turn. Maybe he liked pretending that being surprised was possible, so he could feel normal. Or maybe he just really liked it when I kissed the back of his bare shoulder and stretched up on my toes to kiss his neck, grabbing his arm to keep me steady. I certainly did. He quickly reached around and grabbed my waist so he could plant me in front of him. Edward kissed my neck, and on the other side, his hand lingered on the choker. He always seemed gentler with me when he kissed my neck, but I could see why. One slip of his teeth…
But this was the last thing on my mind at the moment. Actually, my mind was almost blank. This was most likely due to a combination of his scent and kisses. I grabbed his face and attacked his lips, being too careless as always. But he humored me this time. His hands slid up and down my sides and I shivered. I swore that I felt him smile against my overworked lips. “Tease,” I murmured against him. “The original.” But two could play that game. I placed my hand on his stomach right below his belly button and stroked sideways until I reached his hip. He growled and I giggled shakily at the pleasing sound, but was muffled by his mouth. I greedily accepted his tongue, and my own buzzed at the contact. I traced lightly over every inch of his chest while he picked me up and sat me on his antique desk. He kissed my collarbone and stroked my leg from ankle to thigh. My body tensed automatically in anticipation. I played with his belt loop with one hand and dug my nails into his back with the other. In the moment it took to reattach our faces, I saw that his eyes were pitch black. I fastened my legs tight around him, and I was not the only one having trouble breathing. “Bella.” It was just a simple sigh against my lips, but it summed up our wants perfectly. He pulled my hair to the side almost roughly and leaned over my shoulder so he could kiss the back of it. I grabbed his shoulders as tight as I could as he moved back to my lips. Claiming back one of my legs, I bent it so I could use my foot to stroke his thigh. His hold on my hips tightened slightly and he made a delectable sound. His hold was almost too tight but I would not dream of telling him to let go. I wanted him even closer but I was not sure if that was possible. Instinctively, I grabbed the low waistband of his jeans, slipping my fingers under it a little and making a fist. I don’t know where the game stopped and the lust started, but it was finally too much for him. Edward was suddenly out of my grasp in a blur, leaving me breathless and alone in his room. And more frustrated than ever.