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Dream Jacob/OC. Post-Eclipse. Elizabeth Foster is your typical grad student. When she interns on a summer research project looking for dire wolves in the Olympic Peninsula, she finds more than she bargained for.


11. Stolen Moments

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2267   Review this Chapter

PART ELEVEN: Stolen Moments

[Jacob POV]

"Are you humming?" Quil eyed me suspiciously in the mirror. I continued brushing my teeth, humming faintly. When he realized he wasn't getting an answer, he glowered and stuck his toothbrush back in his mouth.

Nothing wrong with humming. Not when you had something to hum about. Trying not to grin, I leaned down to spit and wiped my mouth on a towel. "You're too uptight, Quil." I clapped my hands on his shoulders, giving him a little shake. "Loosen up a little." His only response was a snort and a skeptical look, so I gave it up as a lost cause.

Leaving him to finish, I grabbed a clean t-shirt off the bed and pulled it on, eyeing myself critically in the mirror. Shirt was a bit tight, but in the good way, showing some muscle. Hair was a little too tousled. I ran my fingers through it, smoothing the heavy black strands. Not bad. Beth and Kat shouldn't have anything to complain about, as an escort I was stylin'.

Yesterday had been productive. I spent the morning sniffing out a thick patch of wild irises. With an armload of the purple flowers in tow, I'd begged an empty coffee can from the old lady at the front desk. That made for a pretty impressive floral arrangement, and what it lacked in finesse, it more than made up for in volume. Hell, I was impressed and I didn't even like flowers.

Kat made Beth rest most of the day after her sleepless night, while Quil and Embry went to lead a foray in the woods. The research team was hilarious, with all the noise they made it would be a miracle if they found a chipmunk, much less a wolf. That left me to hang around the girls, unobtrusively of course, although I'd caught a break when Kat went out to get them lunch.

I met Kat going and, sort of, got permission. Okay well, she sighed, rolled her eyes and left the door cracked for me with a warning that she'd only be gone for a few minutes. That made it easier to be cool, moving silently across the room to set the flowers on the nightstand. Perching on the edge of the bed, I looked down at the girl that slept there, her hand tucked under the pillow. She was so beautiful like that it was hard to wake her; honey-gold lashes against her pale cheeks, hair a riot of tumbled waves around her face. After a moment, I remembered to breathe again and reached out to touch her face. Her eyes opened, and the way they focused on me and softened with recognition... man, it was worth it.

A smile tugged at my lips and it was hard not to kiss her then. I was so tempted to just throw caution out the window. "I brought something for you." Leaning back a little, I let her see the explosion of purple at my elbow.

She bit her lip, and for just a moment I was afraid I'd overstepped. "Irises..." Carefully, she sat up, reaching out to touch them, a slow and wondering smile lighting her eyes. "They're beautiful." She knew what they were and she liked them. To say I was positively gleeful didn't begin to cover it.

"You think so?" Never hurt to be sure.

"I do."

"Good." I grinned, but I could have danced. "How you feeling?"

She frowned thoughtfully. "Better, I think."

"I'm sorry I kept you up last night." There were dark circles under her eyes still.

Laughing softly, she arranged herself cross-legged on the bed. "It was as much my fault as anyone's." She ran a hand through her hair, giving it a little shake. "I think I needed the company."

"Kat doesn't seem to think so." I made a face. That one could be a pain in the ass when she wanted to be. Which was hypocritical since I knew just by the smell of her that she'd been cuddling with Embry.

Beth laughed again. "She's just being protective. We watch out for each other."

"Well, she's going to be back in a minute, so I'd better make this quick." I could all but guarantee she was going to kick my fuzzy butt out when she returned. "If you feel like it, I was wondering if you'd let me show you around Forks tomorrow?" I shrugged, trying to make it seem like no big deal. "There's no much to see, but I thought maybe you'd like to stretch your legs, get some fresh air?"

The hesitation told me that she wasn't sure it was a good idea. "I don't know..."

"Kat's welcome to come too," I reassured her, willing her to say yes.

The hesitation lingered, and then finally faded. "I guess that would be okay." She smiled again. "I've been here for days and I haven't really taken the time to look around."

"It's a plan, then."

There really wasn't much to see, just a few shops on the main drag, but it was an excuse to spend time with her. So we'd left it at that, since Kat came bustling in just a minute or so after. I was as angelic as a 6'7" werewolf could be, making my exit before she had a chance to evict me.

Which brought us to this morning, and the cheerful anticipation of having two lovely ladies to show around. There was no denying Kat was pretty, or that she looked out for Beth. I just wished she would stop treating me like the big bad wolf. Maybe I could make a better impression on her today.

The weather was typical, overcast but balmy. I played my role to the hilt, appearing at Beth's door moments after Kat pulled the Xterra into a parking space. Opening it, I offered her my hand, helping her step down to the pavement. "M'lady," I tried on the most pretentious expression I could think of, and was rewarded when she laughed.

"Thank you, sir."

She was in no hurry to pull her hand from mine, so I took a chance. My eyes holding her gaze, I raised her hand to my lips and kissed it. Startled, she just stared at me, a slow flush coloring her cheeks.

"Okay, you two, that's enough." Kat stood on the sidewalk, hands on her hips. She gave me an evil look before glancing down the sidewalk. "C'mon Betts, there's a likely looking antique shop down that way."

Beth took a deep breath and dropped her eyes, moving past me to join Kat. Not for the first time, I wished I had the bloodsucker's talent for reading minds. I wanted to know what she was thinking. Kicking at a flattened beer can in the gutter, I followed them down the sidewalk. They'd reached the door to the antique shop with me drifting a few steps behind. I was just passing the jeweler one shop down when a familiar scent wrinkled my nose.

Aw, hell.

I raised my head and suppressed a growl when I found him already watching me through the plate glass window. Edward Cullen, the leech who had convinced Bella to marry him, dropped out of the sky as though my thoughts had summoned him. From what my nose told me, he was alone. That realization let go some small tension inside of me. I wasn't ready to see Bella, especially not with him.

For a moment, I was tempted to just let it be. Mind my own business and let him mind his, today was a good day, no sense in ruining it.

"Jake? What's wrong?" The sound of Beth's voice changed everything.

"Go inside, Beth." Cullen lifted an eyebrow. I tried not to let my thoughts give me away, but it was impossible. My instincts were telling me the same thing over and over again. This was an enemy, and my mate was in danger.

"Come with me." There was a note in Beth's voice that said she knew something was wrong.

"In just a minute. Go ahead, I'll be right behind you." I knew even as I said it that she was too smart to buy it and too stubborn to retreat. I loved her for it, even as it made life more difficult.

"No. I'll wait for you." She appeared at my side, blue eyes fierce, and put her hand in mine. I swallowed hard and twined our fingers together, trying not to dwell on how right it felt.

Cullen spoke briefly with the man behind the counter, then came out to meet us. He stopped a few feet away, under the jewelry shop's awning. "Jacob." He inclined his head just slightly.

"Edward." Bella would have been proud of me for using his name.

"Who's your lovely friend?" A slight smile played at the corners of his mouth, we both knew he was only asking for show. Anything he wanted to know, he'd already plucked from our thoughts.

"This is Elizabeth." I took a step forward, tugging her hand so that she was slightly behind me. I made no attempt to introduce them, as far as I was concerned, she was better off not knowing him.

"It's nice to meet you, Elizabeth. My name is Edward Cullen," he was very polite, observing the niceties. But Beth didn't answer him, I could sense her tension through our joined hands. Cullen noticed it, too, his eyes leaving me briefly to focus on her. She knew something was wrong, and she knew something was different about Edward Cullen, I was positive she didn't know just how different he was, but her brain had a hold of the information and wouldn't let it go. Good. "It's actually not a bad thing that I met you here," Edward continued. "We have some information we were going to share. This just makes it easier."

"Information?" My eyes narrowed. "I'm waiting." He raised his eyebrows just slightly, questioning Beth's presence. I answered him silently, just as I would have with the pack, forming the thoughts and letting him read them. I belong to her in the same way that Sam belongs to Emily. In time, she'll know everything I have to share. Those elegant eyebrows perked upward a bit more, but he nodded as though I'd simply confirmed something for him. Did it please him, I wondered, to know that with Beth's appearance my pursuit of Bella was ended? He tilted his head just a fraction, and the sentiment was clear. 'Wouldn't it please you in my place?' Okay, point.

Turning my head, I looked down at Beth, she was watching Cullen warily, but her attention returned to me as soon as I caught her eye. "Edward has some information I need," I said quietly, "Some of it may not make sense right now, but I promise you that I will explain. Do you trust me?"

She searched my face for several heartbeats, then squeezed my hand, nodding. "I trust you."

"Go ahead."

"We have some evidence that the Volturi are active in this area again." Every muscle in my body tensed. I didn't know much about the Volturi, but everything I did know was bad news. "They haven't approached us directly, so it's hard to know what they want." Cullen's calm facade slipped just a hair, enough for me to know that he was worried. Of course he was, the Volturi wanted Bella ether dead or a vampire. "No, we don't think that's it. Not yet."

"What does the fortune teller think?"

Cullen frowned. "That's just it. Alice isn't seeing clearly. Which of course makes me wonder if the pack is involved." He sighed, casting a troubled look toward Beth. "It could be as simple as a rogue, but if we keep a lookout on both fronts..."

"I'll pass the information along. We'll be in touch." I put my arm around Beth and started herding her toward the shop Kat had disappeared into. My first impulse was to take her someplace far from here, somewhere safe.

"She's safer with you than without you, Jacob," Cullen said, his voice carrying to my ears. "I learned that the hard way."

I'm not you. Beth wasn't Bella. And no matter what, I wasn't going to leave her. I glanced back over my shoulder, but Cullen was already gone.

"Jake." Beth stepped in front of me, resting her hands on my chest. "You said you'd explain. All of it." Her blue eyes held mine, and I was powerless to look away. "I'm ready to hear it."

My heart started racing, and I realized then that I wasn't sure I was ready to tell her. What if it drove her away? I took a deep breath, mastering the fear. Didn't matter. I'd meant what I said. I wasn't Edward Cullen, I wasn't going to hold back information from the woman I loved in some misguided attempt to protect her. She had to make her own choices, even if they were choices I didn't like.

"When we get back," I said quietly. "We'll find someplace quiet... and then I'll tell you everything you want to know. Everything."