What Music They Make
When an unexpected conflict with the Volturi brings Jacob back into her life, Bella finds that being a vampire only makes it even more complicated for her to be in love with two people.
11. X: Punishment
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chapter X punishment
Edward found her standing at the window and staring out of it when he quietly entered the room. He sat down on the couch and then entire minutes ticked by before either of them spoke.
“It seems you can be a decent liar when you really need to be,” Edward finally commented.
“I have enough to deal with for now without them knowing,” she said.
“But depending on what you decide, you may never want to tell them.”
She closed her eyes a second, bowing her head a little.
“Well, that would certainly make it easier for you,” he added with a hint of dark color in his tone now. “Isn’t it strange? I think this is the first time I might feel some true pity for him.”
“You’re just disappointed I lied to him because you know he would do everything he can to try to stop me. Just like I know you’re going to.”
“Of course. But it is also almost sickening to think of him having tried so hard to come to terms with what you have chosen only for it to be for nothing because you have committed yourself to something much worse.”
“You’re being dramatic. I may not like it, but it wouldn’t be impossible to stand.”
“I am not being dramatic,” he said, his voice rising a little. “Eighty years. It is a little unusual for anyone to serve in their guard just as a low-ranking member for quite that long. Do you know why?”
“Because they’re free to leave whenever they like?”
“No, Bella. People die serving the Volturi. They are a very strong force, as you’ve seen more than enough to know now, and they certainly live up to their reputation, but things do happen. Just enough that they are used to it. Jane was a shock they were not prepared for because she was so prestigious and talented and was always very well-protected by the others, but…you would be another case.” His voice broke a little, not remaining as level and strong as he was disturbed by the thought.
“Do you really think I can be worried about that?” she asked sadly. “And besides…I’m strong. I probably won’t even be of low rank for very long.”
He leaned his forehead over into his hands. “I cannot believe I am actually talking about this with you,” he whispered.
After another long moment of silence between them, without looking back up toward her he asked softly, “And are you lying to us, too? To me?”
She turned her head back to look at him, looking alarmed. “What?”
“Three days. Is that how much time you need to make up your mind, or just how much time you need to get ready and say goodbye?”
Her mouth fell open. She turned all the way to face him as he looked up at her again.
“Please, please,” he said beggingly, “try to not just think about them. Think all of this through. Think about exactly what you are doing.”
“I am,” she said, looking extremely conflicted. “But—”
“These are the same people who have threatened the ones you love, and you are thinking about becoming one of them. Do you really think this is noble? If you accept, we are letting them get off easy when the wolves could still at least get the chance to fight for themselves and take some of them down with them.”
Her breath rushed out in a soft, tight gasp.
“It is horrible, Bella, I know that!” he said sadly. “It’s not right! Seeing all of this has almost been enough to make me completely forget about what I usually think of their kind. That one…Paul. He probably saved Alice’s life yesterday. And I saw what was happening to him the moment it did and there was nothing I could do, no way anybody could get to him in time. I knew it the moment he was dead because he was still quite close but his thoughts just went silent, and I could hear what the others were thinking as they also felt this. I heard them getting scared and screaming their last words to him in their heads as they saw it happening through his own eyes, knowing they were losing him.” He shook his head, looking at her sadly and seeing how much it hurt her just to hear all of this. “There was no way I could not be angry then…It is not right. You must never think I simply do not care.”
“I know that,” she sighed.
“But this...this is not right either,” he said firmly. “You should not have to—”
“Edward, I know I’m not being noble!” she said. “I know this is just giving up and letting them have what they want more. Either way they are going to win in this, even if it’s come at a big cost because of Jane. What else can I do? You don’t understand…”
She put her arms around herself, holding herself tightly, looking almost nervous. She started to talk very softly, her eyes full of terror. “Two of them are gone. I already know what it’s like to know that some of them are dead and they wouldn’t be if it weren’t for me…It’s already way too much to live with. And I even already know exactly what it feels like to think that I’m going to losehim…I nearly had to see him die knowing that it’s because of me.” She let out a fast breath that sounded strangely like a gasp and laugh at the same time. “It feels kind of like my life has become something that constantly puts him in danger. In the past week it’s crazy how many times I have been picturing him dead…a lot of the time directly from my hand. I know I don’t have to tell you how terrifying that is. Because you know what I am talking about, don’t you?”
His look of discomfort answered her clearly as he remembered.
“I never had to think about anything like that before now. I already know how much I could never stand for it to happen. It doesn’t make any difference if you don’t think I should feel guilty. It would feel exactly the same as if I was the one who attacked him.”
He stared at her a long time. She had said “to think I’m going to lose him.” So naturally, as if it made perfect sense to describe it that way and she had not even noticed what exactly she said, while the wording had sharply pricked something in him when he heard it. Lose. When she had barely spoken to him in years at the moment she found him dying.
"Is it all about him?” he asked her quietly. As he looked at her then, there was no hiding the hurt anymore.
She looked a little daunted, her brow drawing together sadly, and then she turned away from the nightmare that was his injured-looking face and looked back out the window. The sunlight was as bright as ever, making the grass in their yard a bold emerald from this view for once. It felt like a mockery for it to be such a beautiful day.
“You mean like you would agree to join them all for me?” she asked.
“What else could you expect me to do?”
She took a while to answer, staring outside with a very hard expression. “Edward…You can’t do this just because of me.”
“Of course I can. The only thing worse for me than the idea of you going to Volterra is the idea of you going alone.”
“But you wouldn’t have to join them. I’m sure Aro would be very accommodating. There’s no reason they shouldn’t let you come visit me whenever you want.”
“No, I can not visit you!” he said, his voice rising desperately. “I can only be with you!”
She turned to the side to meet eyes with him, only able to look at him with painful regret, her posture hopelessly sinking a little.
“You are my wife,” he said, his tone pleading. “My lover. My mate. You are my life. To be apart from you would be vastly worse than anything service with them could involve. This is nothing I have not told you many times before. Can’t you understand why my only possible path in this situation is clear to me?”
“Can’t you see how that is a little hypocritical to say?” Bella asked before she could stop herself.
He sighed. “You are the one who has a choice to make. I do not.”
“That’s ridiculous. People always have choices. Paul and Seth had to die for me to finally figure that out. Don’t you realize how much more difficult this makes it for me?”
“Yes,” he said simply, raising his brow a little. “I do.”
She just looked back at him and sighed heavily. “Of course you do. I...I really can’t stand to talk about this anymore right now.”
She leaned back against the ledge of the window, looking down at the floor.
With a resigned look, Edward said, “Why don’t you tell me about your powers, then?”
She had been nervous about finally addressing that with him after the way he had gotten so angry at Alice downstairs. But he did not sound at all like the subject bothered him very much anymore. As he looked at her, waiting, she managed to give him a weak, relieved smile.
“Yes,” she said. “I would like that.”
When she went to stand directly beside him, he circled his arm around her and held her close. She only hoped that once this was finally out of the way, she would be able to feel like there was nothing at all between them again.
Jacob was not having a good day at work.
After dealing with two different customers in the past twenty-five minutes mercilessly complaining to him just for forgetting to bring them something, he let out an exhausted sigh as he stopped by the doors to the kitchen to lean against the wall and tie his shoe.
Scott passed by and stopped when he saw him. Jacob looked up before lowering his foot back down and found him staring down toward his feet.
He pointed at something on him. “What’s that?”
Jacob looked down at his jeans where he was staring, seeing nothing until he added, “Right below your knee.” Then he stretched his leg out a little and finally noticed the long, smeared reddish-brown stain on his pants.
“Did you spill something on yourself?” Scott asked, even as he sounded doubtful.
Jacob felt so stupid for a moment he could not even come up with an answer at first. He had been running late to work today and gotten dressed so fast he did not even think about which pair of jeans he was putting on…
Finally he resolved to just shrug and say, “I guess I must have. I don’t know what that is.”
Scott fixed him with a strange look for a brief moment. “Go and try to wash that off as much as you can. It looks a little...”
He did not seem able to think of an appropriate word and just allowed his speech to trail off as he turned away.
Jacob spent more than ten minutes in the bathroom trying to wash the blood off of the bottom of his pants and then getting them to at least look like they were dry. On his way out, he stopped on his way past the mirror, alarmed to see his face. He looked like he had not slept in four days. Maybe it was no wonder everyone he knew here seemed to be talking to him weirdly today. And it probably wasn’t helping that he had not even been here for two hours yet and already made a lot of unbelievably careless mistakes.
Scott was near the bathroom doors and came over to talk to him again as soon as he came out. “Look…Is something wrong?” he asked him. “You were half an hour late today.”
“Yeah,” Jacob sighed. “Sorry. I was just...”
He didn’t finish when he was suddenly distracted by hearing the slightly raised voice of someone close by talking with a far from friendly tone. “Just what are you trying to—? Oh no, I don’t think I want to let you talk to me for a second. Please. Leave me alone.”
When Jacob stopped looking away toward where he heard her, he saw Scott seemed to have heard it, too.
“What’s wrong with her?” he asked, raising an eyebrow in surprise.
“Oh, damn,” Jacob muttered angrily as a certain thought came to him. “I really hope it’s not…”
He started to go out and see for himself, but stopped when he heard the next thing she said. “Sir…Oh, for crying out loud! We’re really busy right now, so if you’re finished, please just kindly get lost—What?...Oh...”
He and Scott had both started heading out toward the tables to see what was going on when she came walking their way anyway, looking very annoyed.
“Hey, Jake,” she said. “There’s some asshole at table fourteen asking to see you. He says he knows you.”
He was so surprised to hear it he gave a single, deep laugh. “You’ll have to be more specific than that,” he said. “I know a lot of assholes.”
Scott laughed beside them and said, “I thought it would be one of your scumbags, Lilah.”
“Oh, ha, ha,” she said sarcastically. She looked back at Jacob and said, “He said his name’s Edward...Cullen? I think that was it.”
His small smile vanished like he had been hit in the face. He looked behind her head, unable to see the right table from there, and then walked behind her to quickly glance behind a large pillar that blocked his view.
Edward Cullen looked him right in the face, already staring in his exact direction. He barely started to subtly nod to him before Jacob turned right back around.
“Shit!” he said in a loud whisper just out of utter surprise, rushing right back to Lilah. “But why...What the heck did he do to you anyway?"
“Well, apparently he’s done nothing but stare at me the whole fifteen minutes he’s been here," she answered. "I didn’t actually notice it myself but Ellie swore to me. All he ordered is a coke and he hasn’t even been drinking any of it, and before he started trying to keep me at the table long enough to tell me something I saw he left me a twenty dollar tip. Is that totally creepy or what?”
Jacob stared at her as she said all this as if something still was not clicking and making sense to him. “But...but wasn’t he acting ridiculously charming and...?”
“Hello,” she said impatiently. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you! Yeah, he must think he’s so smooth…”
“Wait.” Jacob just blinked vaguely for a moment, still seeming confused. “You...told Edward Cullen to get lost?”
She nodded slowly. “Right....What?” she asked as he continued to stare at her with a dumb-looking expression.
“I think I love you right now.”
Lilah rolled her eyes, sighing loudly. Scott laughed as he finally decided everything seemed to be under control and left them.
“Whoever he is, will you just go see what he wants so he’ll leave?” she said, taking his arm and dragging him into a walk in the right direction.
Edward was stirring the straw around in a drink he obviously still had not touched as he patiently sat alone. Jacob first came and just stood in front of the table, looking down at him questioningly. Deciding it would be too hard to have a discreet conversation that way, he glanced around to see if anyone who would care if he wasn’t working was watching before quickly taking the seat in front of him.
“You have very strange ways of coping with tragedy,” Edward began just as he was opening his mouth to speak. “Ten minutes before the battle was to begin, all you were thinking about was how you forgot to tell your father where you left his checkbook and what time you were going to have to go to work today.”
“…Oh,” Jacob said, understanding now how he had found him here so easily.
“But furthermore, I am a little surprised to find you were actually willing to come in now.”
“I wouldn’t guess that you know much about having to work,” Jacob said.
Edward shrugged a little. “True.”
Jacob looked down at the twenty dollar bill that was still sitting on the table, not having to voice his thoughts before Edward responded to them.
“I’m afraid I offended your friend a little and did not get the chance to apologize,” he said.
“That’s a pretty generous tip for a coke,” Jacob said.
“I had no smaller bills,” Edward explained. "And I am somewhat in a hurry."
He rolled his eyes. “And you were staring at her?” he asked with apparent confusion.
Edward looked just a little embarrassed. “More than that, I was listening. It took me a while before I could be sure she is the one who knows you well. I suppose I am...not as composed as usual today, and I was careless about not being too obvious. She is very interesting to listen to, actually. She has quite a...colorful mind.”
He smirked a little. “Yeah, I bet.”
“Would you be interested to know how she really feels about you?”
Jacob looked annoyed. “Like you can tell me that after hearing her thoughts for fifteen minutes. People lie to themselves.”
Edward’s face became much more serious. “Yes,” he admitted. “They do.”
Jacob started to turn to look behind him but Edward said, “He is in the break room. You won’t get caught.”
“If you have something to tell us then you could have chosen a more convenient place to talk to me,” he said.
“That...might have been problematic to arrange,” Edward said hesitantly. “She doesn’t know I’m here, you see.”
Jacob just looked at him a long moment, completely taken aback and not understanding.
“It is very important that I speak to you about something as soon as possible,” Edward explained. “About her.”
When Jacob headed back to the kitchen not a minute later to make a quick escape through the back door, he passed Lilah and grabbed her shoulder to stop her. “Hey,” he said in a low voice. “If anybody asks you, I had a hell of a migraine and had to go. Right?”
She looked at him with widening eyes as he took off his name tag. “You’re leaving?”
“Shhh,” he said, raising a finger over his lips and glancing around them cautiously.
“Aren’t you going to tell anybody?“
“Can’t wait. Oh—Here.”
He took out of his pocket Edward’s twenty dollars which he had taken from her table so nobody would steal it. “Go ahead and keep this,” he said, handing it to her and winking. “He really didn’t mean anything by it.”
She couldn’t finish before he had gone through the kitchen door and was gone.
The sun had come out for a second day, but already it was starting to get dimmer. As Bella stood once again staring out the large window in her room, it seemed to her that all the time since yesterday morning had already gone by so fast. It was rare for her to have such a strange perception of time anymore, and it felt surreal for it to already no longer be so bright outside.
Standing here, she kept being reminded of the night just a couple weeks ago she had been in this same place watching the thunderstorm. The time she had realized her bracelet was misplaced. She looked down at her crossed arms now, seeing the bracelet securely fastened around her wrist where it was supposed to be. Just looking at it seemed to make all of her ache sharply all the sudden. It was just like the moment that the bolt of lightning had struck and sounded so loud and close it was like it had cut right through her, splitting her in half, only it was not a harmless and distant awareness this time but a very near, tangible, and agonizing pain.
What was she going to do if she decided to leave? If she went to see Jacob one last time, to tell him some lie for him to believe the rest of his life, could she possibly be strong enough to hold herself together and not let him see that something was wrong? Even if she knew what it would mean for his and everyone else's safety, could she handle that part?
One. Last. Time. The idea had not even completely registered in her mind yet, what it meant. There was enough to think about without acknowledging that yet. It was the least important thing to consider.
Instead she thought of dim memories, the way the cold had had her trembling in the deep underground of Volterra surrounded in the dark by tall, looming hooded figures like angels of death. She looked from the bracelet on her wrist to her arm; she ran her hand over it and felt the several tiny grooves she now had there as well as on her other arm and some parts of her back. Bite marks like the one she once had only on one of her hands. How many more scars might she have in the future? She tried not to think she could be turning into the same thing Jasper used to be.
At least Edward would come with her. At least they would be together. As much as she was doing all she could to make him see he shouldn’t feel like he had to join her, she knew in the end it would be cripplingly painful to say goodbye to him and easy to let him come. Her relief, she hoped, would eventually overcome her guilt. His presence would be the only consolation through all of it, the only joy in an otherwise empty and drudging life. She kept thinking this to comfort herself, but it was not doing as much as she would expect to take away the fear and worry. She could hardly bear the thought of them being apart in any circumstances, much less as she had to live a life like this. But at the same time, she could not any more easily bear the thought of him having to be there with her, sharing her cage.
She remembered how only a few years before, in a time when it felt now like she had been so much younger, she thought that having Edward in her life would always be enough to make her happy no matter what, make her life heaven without death. She had been so certain, as if the solid conviction lived in her blood and had always been there, that there was nothing else she could ever possibly care about or need.
It made her feel so ridiculous and ashamed.
Jacob had driven just a few blocks from the bar and then pulled over somewhere to get out and talk to Edward, who had said he would find him. Edward had instantly followed in his Volvo and they had both been standing and leaning back against Jacob's car as they spoke.
After Edward finished telling him everything, Jacob was just silent a while. Cicadas were screaming around them, and it seemed to fill the momentary silence between them with an appropriately unpeaceful sound that spoke for everything he was not yet saying in response.
"She did not want you to know, of course," Edward said. "But I think you—all of you—need to be aware of what is at stake."
"And you think I might be able to do something," he assumed, not completely buying the more attractive explanation for this conversation. He sounded almost mocking, as if he felt like Edward was coming to him and just asking him to fix all his problems for him.
Edward hesitated. "You may try to hide a lot from others, and I believe sometimes even what I have heard in your head has been a little deceiving. And as I said, you have strange ways of dealing with these things. But…I know you still care about her just as much as you ever did. And I know I am not wrong in assuming that if she is thinking about doing something like this, you would rather get the chance to have your say about it.”
“Do I have a say?” Jacob asked with lucid bitterness, and then added as if it was terribly relevant, "I didn't get an invitation to that meeting, did I?"
He sighed. "I think if either of us is able to tell her anything that might sway her, it is you. I am sincerely sorry for the losses our presence here has now caused you, whether you want to believe that or not. But I am not exactly in the position for my feelings about this to matter."
“She’s your wife,” Jacob argued, though he sounded a little mocking again.
“Yes. And much more than that. These things she feels so guilty about can do nothing to taint my love for her. Unfortunately, I can do nothing to try to instill that kind of forgiveness in her for herself. If…” He stopped, trying to think of how to explain it. “If I love her as unconditionally and changelessly as I do, you see…how can my opinion of her decisions seem to matter? I suppose to her, my approval of certain things can seem as meaningless as that of an innocently devoted child. It is so easy for her to keep my love. At least that is how she might see it. I simply see even her weaknesses, what makes her so willing to dispose of herself like this, as part of what makes her special to me and has me so irremovably attached to her.”
“Well...you might be wrong in thinking that it’s much different with me,” Jacob said quietly. “It’s hard to say how much you can forgive sometimes. Love can be really messed up and illogical. Only I’d probably never be able to speak with so little shame about it.”
“You still can do for her what I cannot. You can try to make her see that there is just as much shame in this as anything else she now has to live with. When it comes to anything I could possibly try to tell her about this, I am too flattering a mirror to be able to make her truly confront herself.”
Jacob just shook his head as if this all had him in disbelief, looking like he could almost laugh. "I have to try to convince her to do something that you can't,” he said, sounding daunted by the ridiculousness and impossibility of it.
Edward was silent a long moment. When he spoke again it was more delicately, tip-toeing around the thing he did not want to talk about with Jacob any more than was necessary. "You can discuss things with her that she is not comfortable about admitting to me. In fact, if your thoughts in the past ten minutes are any indication, I believe you already have. She is just too afraid of hurting me.”
Jacob dug his hands in his pockets, looking uncomfortable. “She doesn’t have anything to feel bad about.”
“I know. Nonetheless, I can tell she does. Just like when she blamed herself before. And somehow, it feels as if it has closed up everything between us. It is like I can hear these holes in everything she says, where something is missing that she does not want to tell me.”
Jacob’s face slowly changed as he heard all of these words, starting to look vaguely shocked as he stared off in the distance. It was not much, but it was more than he would have expected to hear. He said “before” almost as if it meant the same thing as “the first time,” as if something had actually happened. But nothing had happened, even if Bella’s perception of everything had been changed by the recent events. Nothing had changed. And at the same time, everything had.
Once Edward was silent, obviously having plenty reflection of his own, Jacob remembered that he knew every thought that occurred to him and felt like all of him had suddenly gone tight, not knowing what to say or do.
“You should trust your ability to understand her more,” Edward only said quietly. “For the most part, I am sure you have found she is quite unchanged. You still know her just as well as you used to. But Bella is...” His voice trailed off for a while and he seemed to be struggling very much to voice what he was thinking. When he went on he sounded distant and meditative, almost as if he was starting to just think aloud to himself. “She has always kept many things to herself. She is not very good at expressing exactly what she feels, and she does not always even know what is in her own heart. There are these dark, hidden parts of her I have no understanding of, I think because they are just as strange to her. I did not have any idea what she was capable of until I discovered how she defended you from Jane and Alec. She hid that from me. She makes her decisions on her own now. She hates that I am so willing to go with her to Italy. And I feel...completely helpless. Unable to change her mind or do anything for her now. Like she does not really need me anymore."
"That's retarded," Jacob said before he could help himself.
Edward just gave him a mildly surprised look.
“People in a relationship aren’t supposed to need each other for...well, anything other than just each other," Jacob said. "What century are you in? She’s never needed a bodyguard or a daddy.”
He sighed. “I wonder if you would talk about it so crudely if you had been there any of the times I did have to be the former. It was not to impress her. I would certainly rather not have been needed in any of those cases.”
“If you didn’t want to end up having to save her from vampires, why didn’t you just stay away from her in the first place?”
“…Oh,” he said, seeing that Jacob was only thinking of the scar he had seen on Bella’s hand in response to his words. “So she never told you the rest.”
“What are you talking about?”
Edward stared forward, his eyes looking far off into the past. "Shortly after Bella moved here I pulled her out of the way of a van that was sliding toward her on some ice. That was how I gave myself away, and it became impossible for me to try to ignore her from then on when she had so much curiosity about what I really was. Of course, I cannot simply give her the blame because of her persistence; I was near her much more than she knew at that point, because I told myself that was harmless. And one weekend I followed her to Port Angeles...and while she was walking alone, these four men..." A shadow of deep anger flashed across his face, but it seemed like it was too tired a memory now to affect him very intensely when he thought of it. "Perhaps it is true that everything would have been different if I never found myself having to protect her like that. You cannot lie to yourself about how you really feel about someone when you see how close they are to that kind of danger. I could see exactly what these men wanted to do to her. That is the first thing I always remember. That and what she said after I had showed up just in time. She said she felt very safe with me. With me. And whatever you might think, I was not happy to hear that—that she seemed to have actually come to depend on me in a way just as I did not feel right being away from her. It was the first time I truly felt scared that I did not have control over this. That there might be no going back and I was going to hurt her, in one way or another.”
There was a long stretch of silence, and then Edward shook his head, returning to where he was now. "I cannot believe I am telling you all of this," he said, looking to the side at Jacob. "It is very strange, though. I feel as if I have not actually talked about these things in decades."
After another long pause during which Jacob just kept waiting in silence, he finally continued, "But there is nothing I can protect Bella from anymore that she cannot defend herself from. I cannot save her from herself.”
“Neither could I,” Jacob pointed out, “once before.”
“She was not doing it for you before.”
Jacob was relieved that he had found out about this rather than staying completely ignorant of it, but he still did not think he quite understood what exactly Edward expected he might be able to do about it. He probably was not even sure himself. But somehow Jacob intuitively knew what truth he had pulled out of those dark places inside her that Edward may not have seen. He said it without being sure why it was even important.
"She’s started to see that she could have chosen differently," he said.
Edward kept staring forward a while, and then he slowly nodded. "I have been afraid that that was inevitable."
"It doesn't really mean she regrets it, though," he added.
"How can it not mean that?" Edward said, his voice a little strained with anxiety even as he tried to sound calm.
"I mean she doesn't regret you," he said. It seemed to take a lot of effort to say it.
"Quite ironic that you would be trying to assure me of that,” Edward said, looking at him with a raised brow.
"I'm only saying that she hasn't said a thing to suggest that. Do you really think that would make me happy? Two people are dead.” He had to force the words out with difficulty. “And they shouldn't be. They shouldn't be. That's bad enough as it is. All I can hope for is that all of this isn't enough to ruin everything for her."
"Nothing will ever be able to ruin everything between Bella and me."
"Good," Jacob said, sounding a little harsh.
"I have made her happy, Jacob Black," he said back in the same slightly aggressive tone. "As much as it has been in my power to."
"Good," he just said again.
"But she could still ruin everything for herself."
Jacob shook his head slowly. "She's not going to be happy to know that you told me this. Will I even be able to get her to talk to me about it?"
"I will make sure she will talk to you," he just said. "And try to make it sound as much as I can like you do not actually have much confidence that you can do anything to influence her choice so that she will not feel like she is going into an extremely pressuring confrontation. Let her be angry with me."
Jacob gave a short, bitter laugh as he got out his car keys and twirled them around his finger. "As if."
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