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A Different Path

Summary:
How would the story have progressed if Bella, instead of Jacob, had answered the phone on the day of Harry's funeral?


Notes:


4. Chapter 4

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1626   Review this Chapter

Lunch was considerably better, and also considerably worse than Bella had feared. Edward wasn’t there, so she at least didn’t have to apologize right away. What she DID have to contend with were the shouted comments from nearly everyone she knew. Clearly the rest of the school was under the impression that she’d gotten him sent home from school out of a justifiable desire to pay him back for the pain he’d caused her. Only Angela seemed to notice the horrified expression that crossed Bella’s face every time someone congratulated her.

“Don’t worry,” she said quietly. “He won’t think that’s why you did it.”

Bella smiled ruefully. “No, he’ll know I did it because I didn’t want to talk to him, though.”

“What did he say to you, anyway?” Alice asked, coming in late, and seating herself gracefully beside Bella.

Bella shot her an annoyed glance – as if she didn’t know exactly what Edward was going to say from the moment he’d decided to say it – then took a deep breath and explained that Edward didn’t think Jacob was good for her. He thought he was a dangerous sort.

Angela shook her head, her eyes sorrowful. But it was Ben who said what she was thinking. “If it were me, I’d be crazy jealous,” he said, smirking ruefully.

Bella felt her face heat up, and saw Alice watching her carefully. Likewise, she was careful choosing her response. “I don’t think that can be it. Before -” she said, then paused and added quickly, “when he left, I mean - he didn’t seem to be interested in me anymore.” She lowered her voice to something that was barely a whisper, and leaned toward Angela. Ben took a bite of something and looked the other way. “When he told me they were leaving, I offered to go with him – to L.A. He said he didn’t want me to.” She straightened up again, and added, “I don’t think I misunderstood.”

Bella looked back at her food, and noticed for the first time that she had wrapped her arms tightly around herself again. She forced her arms to relax, and reached for her drink, feeling the gaping wound in her chest pulse uncomfortably, and risked a glance at Alice. She was startled to see that her friend looked miserable. She looked away again quickly.

“That’s awful, Bella. No wonder you were so hurt,” Angela said after a minute.

Ben nodded. “Downright rotten,” he agreed. Alice only pursed her lips.

Suddenly Bella wondered what had possessed her to say such a thing in front of Alice. She looked at Angela again, and realized that she’d really just wanted someone who wasn’t involved in the whole mess to understand at least a little of what she was going through. Still, it wouldn’t be necessary to let it get back to Edward.

“Anyway, I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” she said, glancing at Alice again. “Let’s think about something else,” she added pointedly. Alice snapped out of it. “Are you planning any shopping trips to Seattle, Alice?” Bella asked, trying to inject some hopefulness into her tone.

“Prom is coming up again,” Alice said, getting into the game again right away. “Are you going?”

Bella grimaced, but nodded. “Probably,” she said glumly, thinking how much Jacob would enjoy it.

Alice laughed, like a silver bell, and Bella couldn’t help but smile. Alice looked over at Angela. “Maybe the three of us could take a trip to the city to shop.” Then she paused. “Not Seattle, though. Let’s go to Olympia instead.”

“Sounds good,” Angela agreed. “My parents wouldn’t let me go to Seattle right now anyway.”

They hammered out their plans for the weekend during the last few minutes before the bell rang, and parted ways in mostly high spirits. Bella wasn’t as eager to shop as Alice, nor did she expect to enjoy the prom as much as Angela. But it would be novel to spend time with someone besides Jake. She just hoped it went better than her movie night with Jess had.

Jake was somewhat disgruntled when Bella told him she was going shopping with Alice that Saturday. Edward had been beside himself with rage, at first, when Alice told him she was going shopping with Bella. But that didn’t stop either of them from making the trip. Angela went as well, and sat in the back seat, securely buckled in and eyes wide as they rode to Olympia in little more than half the time it should have taken.

Still, it was a fruitful trip, and each of them found a dress they liked. “Hopefully this year, you won’t be in plaster shoes,” Alice joked goodnaturedly as the piled back into the car. Bella laughed.

“Don’t jinx me,” she replied.

“I guess now that the dress shopping is out of the way, I’ve got no excuse to put off the graduation announcements anymore,” Angela said quietly, sounding worried.

No one answered her, however. Bella glanced over at Alice and noticed that her face was horrified for a moment, her eyes far away. It cleared up quickly, however, and she shook he head a little.

“Ok, Alice?” Bella asked lightly.

“Never better. I can’t believe how pretty you’re going to be in that blue dress. You should come over and we’ll – “

“Thanks, anyway,” Bella said laughingly. “No more makeovers from you. You had me so wound up for the last prom I could hardly stand it.” She laughed again but it sounded slightly forced, this time. Alice glanced over and noticed again that Bella was holding her stomach as if afraid something important might fall out.

“Sorry,” she whispered. Bella only shook her head, and tried to relax for the rest of the ride.

When Alice dropped her off, there was a generic message on the machine from Jacob, so she called him back. Billy told he he’d left in a hurry a few hours before, and hadn’t yet returned. He promised to tell Jake that Bella would be over to see him first thing in the morning. Bella shivered as she hung up the phone, wondering what had caused the wolves leave in such a hurry.

She made dinner, and then spent some time in the living room, where Charlie was watching a game on TV, putting off the time when she’d have to go to bed. Spending the day with Alice had been more difficult than she had anticipated. She felt drained, and wary about being alone. Mostly, she wished Jacob had been available, even just to talk to. Finally, bored with the television, and Charlie’s inattention, she said goodnight and went up to bed.

Her eyes strayed to her window as soon as she’d turned out the light. After a moment of indecision, she got into bed without opening it, scolding herself again for considering it. She let herself shed just a few tears, before turning her mind to Jake, and what he and his brothers could be doing.

She found out the next morning. Jacob was clearly just out of bed when she arrived, his hair mussed. He yawned widely behind his hand as he watched her pull up. She was starting to get used to the truck heralding her approach every time she came to visit. He was smiling her favorite smile by the time she met him at the door. She smiled in return, feeling the ache in her chest diminish as he put his arms around her and inhaled the scent of her hair contentedly.

“I meant to stop by and see you last night, but Billy said you were out,” Bella whispered. Jake looked down at her for a moment, then ushered her outside and closed the door behind him, as if to prevent Billy hearing their conversation, though surely he must already know what was going on. He took her hand and led her out to his garage.

“We caught Victoria’s scent, only 15 minutes old, and started tracking her. I was here, so I was last to arrive. The bloodsuckers were after her, too, though, and one of them – the big one – crossed the line. Paul tried to take a chunk out of him. We lost her as everyone faced off over that.” he explained, looking rather ashamed.

“Emmett,” Bella whispered, her face clouding with worry. “Was anyone hurt? Paul?”

“Nah, he missed. Sam let him have it for losing his temper, though.”

Bella took a deep breath, but forced herself not to sigh audibly. It was good no one was injured, but she got the impression it was a very near thing. “Pity they couldn’t have worked WITH you instead of getting in your way,” she said finally, trying to be diplomatic. She knew Paul’s temper, though, and she suspected there was more to the story.

Jacob eyed her strangely for a moment. “Yeah, too bad,” he said thoughtfully. Then he shook his head, and changed the subject. “Sam wants me to deliver a message to the leeches tomorrow morning. He figures it’s best if there are witnesses, so both sides have a good reason to stay calm. He wants me to go up to the school.”

Bella’s eyes widened. “I’m not sure that’s the best idea – “

“Will they be there?” Jake shot back.

“Yeah, probably. I haven’t heard that it’s going to be sunny. Still….what does he want you to say? I can pass it on to Alice without worrying about a confrontation.”

“No way! I’m looking forward to this,” Jacob exclaimed. Then, noticing her narrowed eyes, “Look, I’ll pick you up for school, and we’ll go together. Besides, Sam doesn’t want the message delivered to the psychic…”

Bella winced, but nodded. “And I’m sure I’m not intimidating enough to deliver the kind of message Sam intends,” she observed wryly.

“That, too,” Jake agreed, grinning suddenly at the thought.