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The Inevitable

Summary:
-Eclipse in Edward's Point if View- ~*~"It's more Inevitable than the sun rising in the East." -Alice Cullen Midnight Sun~*~


Notes:


18. Strike Two

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The Inevitable

Chapter 17

"Strike two"

I took a quick glance and was surprised to see Charlie's number on the front of the phone. It had to be Bella, I couldn't think of any reason why Charlie would be calling me. I opened the phone before it had a chance to ring again.

"Bella?" Hope flared in my chest. It was now that I realized just how ridiculous I had been acting. Of course my Bella would come home to me. "You left the phone...I'm sorry, did Jacob drive you home?"

"Yes."

Her voice instantly wiped the smile from my face. It sounded angry and there was a slight edge to it...almost like she was in pain.

"Will you come and get me, please?"

My chest tightened...Yes, there definitely was pain, I could hear it. "I'm on my way...what's wrong?"

"I want Carlisle to look at my hand. I think it's broken."

"What happened?" I demanded at once, I knew something like this was going to happen. I tried to rein in the anger that was beginning to build. I knew it was wrong to jump to conclusions, knowing Bella she probably just tripped and fell. But if something had happened... if any one of those dogs had lost control....

"I punched Jacob."

My mouth opened and then silently closed again.

She what?

And then it sank in...my tempered little kitten had done the one thing I had wanted to do to that overgrown mutt for weeks now. Though I highly doubted she had punched him to, well...punch him. Surely she didn't have the same type desire I had on the subject.

Any satisfaction I would have felt with this type of news was gone at the thought of Bella's small, very breakable, hand making contact with any part of the wolf's body. Their flesh might not be stone but it wasn't exactly soft either.

"Good," I finally managed to say through the shock. "Though I'm sorry you're hurt."

Her laughter filled my ear and though it was strained it still tugged the corners of my mouth up.

"I wish I'd hurt him." She went on, the anger and frustration back in her voice. "I didn't do any damage at all."

"I can fix that," I said without thinking and then instantly shut my mouth waiting for her to reprimand me.

She didn't though and her next words were the last thing I expected to hear.

"I was hoping you would say that." Her voice had no humor to it... she was serious.

"That doesn't sound like you," I frowned as the anger began to build up again, this time I could not push it back...because with it came suspicion.

‘I'm not giving up!.....I'm tired of this, tired of just waiting on the side lines!..."

"What did he do?"

"He kissed me."

Of its own accord, my right foot pushed the gas pedal down into the floor, while the rest of my body froze, every muscle locking down.

I could only remember feeling this type of anger two times before.

The first time was nearly two years ago, it was not as strong then and at the time I hadn't realized why I was feeling it. But it had been there -however weak- when I saw Mike Newton touch Bella's hair that sunny day in the school parking lot, commenting on how it had a red tone to it.

The second time was much stronger; it was nearly parallel to how I was feeling it this time.

Watching James on the television screen as he put his filthy hands on Bella's face...her leg snapping under his foot, his hand crushing into her face.

Somewhere inside my mind was telling me that James was completely different. That that situation did not compare to this one. But a larger part of me was making that caparison and it was adding to it a entirely different side.

There was the anger that someone else's lips had touched hers, had touched Bella's lips...lips that belonged, selfishly, to me.

Then there was the hatred that the felonious lips belonged to none other than Jacob Black. To the one person who had planted so much doubt inside my mind.

And then there was the fury...the unyielding rage that he had done so without her permission.

If it were not for the last part, I would have ignored Bella's permission to rip apart the dog's face. I would have kept my anger and jealously to myself. But it was clear in Bella's voice she had had no intention nor any desire to kiss him...and he had forced her to anyway.

‘I'll fight....she hasn't given up so neither am I.'

I would show him a fight...I would show him just how far past too far he had gone. He had crossed a line that should have never been crossed. A line that never even existed, because it should not have been a mere thought inside his filthy mind.

I concentrated on unlocking my throat enough to speak, "Is the dog still there?"

"Yes."

"I'm around the corner."

I heard a soft crunch as my fingers closed the lid of my phone. I tossed it into the passenger seat.

It didn't matter, a cell phone could be replaced.

I couldn't say as much for the dog's face.

The roads were wet and the tires protested loudly as I went around the last bend of trees, allowing the small house to come into view. I slammed on the breaks at the same time I whipped the car roughly into the drive way, screeching to a halt mere inches from the bumper of the police cruiser.

I was moving faster than human pace as I climbed out of the car. When I reached the front door I tried desperately to fight against the desire to throw it open and charge into the house. Charlie's thoughts were the only thing that kept me from doing just that.

‘This isn't good...knew it was going to happen sooner or later.'

I watched from his mind as Bella walked by the living room to get the door, her hand cradled to her chest.

"How's your hand?" he asked. Charlie's voice was as nervous and uncomfortable as his thoughts ‘...this isn't going to be good...' he thought again ‘I might have to...'

Bella removed what seemed to be a cloth filled with ice from her hand and lifted it up.

I flinched at the sight.

"It's swelling."

‘Ouch...Jacob should have left...he's going to be pissed...

"Maybe you should pick on people your own size."

I couldn't remember ever feeling any kind of anger towards Charlie. He had justifications in hating me the way he did and had every right to want Bella with Jacob, but as I saw the slight betrayal tighten in Bella's eyes I was suddenly furious with the man.

He was supposed to be her father. It was his responsibility to protect her, his responsibility to be pissed right now and not just at me. In a situation like this he should be siding with his only child. His daughter had more or less been assaulted by someone she considered a friend and he was siding with the wrong person.

This hurt me because I knew it had hurt Bella, and then it hurt all the more when Bella simply ignored him.

She didn't expect anything else from her father. She didn't expect to be comforted...she knew better.

Just like with Renee, Bella was the parent.

"Maybe," she mumbled making her way towards the door.

I took a deep breath. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I knew what I wanted to do...to both the dog and Charlie.

Then the door opened and Bella's face was there instantly pushing everything else aside. The bitter hollowness I had been feeling not even an hour ago evaporated from my chest in that mere second, as if it had never even been there to begin with.

She was my first priority...always.

It no longer mattered what Charlie thought, or how well he was a father to her, because despite how wrong it was or how selfish and all together immoral it made me, Bella was mine to protect now, mine to take care of.

And that's exactly what I was going to do.

"Let me see," I murmured.

Bella immediately held out her hand, her eyes trusting. I gently took it in both of mine, the warmth that radiated from the touch calmed me some. I breathed deeply, pulling in the perfect distraction... her scent was as soothing as it was painful.

Cradling her hand like the priceless breakable that it was I examined the damage. Her last three fingers were swollen and the knuckles there were already turning blue. With a feather light touch I ran my finger over the third knuckle, unhappy with what I saw.

"I think you're right about the break," I looked up to meet her gaze. "I'm proud of you. You must have put some force behind this."

I was pleased to hear the slight shame in Charlie's thoughts. I was the one here now, taking what should have been his responsibility, saying the words and doing what he should have the moment Bella walked through the door.

It was good he realized his mistake, but it was far too late for him to regain the respect I had once held for him.

Bella gave a grim smile looking back down at her hand . "As much as I have...not enough, apparently."

I lifted her swollen hand to my lips and kissed it gently. "I'll take care of it." The promise was meant for both counts.

Bella had pulled my mask of calm to the surface and I was thinking clearly now.

I would not do what my mind was telling me to do.... or what my body was yearning.

Not Yet.

Not today.

"Jacob," I kept my voice quite, but Charlie was instantly alert.

‘Here we go' "Now, now," Charlie said quickly, pushing himself up from the sofa.

Jacob rounded the corner first and I continued, with some effort, to ignore his thoughts. When I had called his name they had turned instantly to eager anticipation and that wasn't helping the fight against my anger.

I kept my eyes fixedly on Charlie's stern face, not trusting my self control if I looked at the other.

"I don't want any fighting, do you understand?" I locked eyes with Charlie and for once my expression was far from being polite. "I can go put my badge on if that makes my request more official."

I gritted my teeth, still using everything I had to ignore Jacob. "That won't be necessary," I answered. It took a lot to keep the growl out of my voice. I could feel it building up in my chest... longing to get out and make both of them take a step back from us....from her.

Charlie's thoughts clearly told me he could see that barely restrained hostility in my eyes and he also knew a part of that was aimed directly at him.

"Why don't you arrest me, Dad?" Bella said angrily. "I'm the one throwing punches."

Charlie turned towards her raising an eyebrow. ‘...Alright if you want to be like that...' "Do you want to press charges, Jake?"

This was becoming too much. I barely managed to restrain myself from stepping into Charlie's face and giving him the reality check he was desperately in need of.

"No." Jacob answered cheerfully.

At the sound of his voice I slipped. My guard fell and I was unwillingly pulled into his mind.

One of his hands on Bella's face, the other cradling the back of her neck as he lowered his face to kiss her. Then Bella's hands were pushing on his face, and then tangled in his hair trying to pull him away from her face.

"I'll take the trade any day."

Bella standing passively as he placed several more small kisses on her lips.

I felt disgust twist up my face.

‘How does it look from that point of view? Because it was pretty spectacular from where I was standing'

The bastard actually believed Bella had kissed him back...even after she had punched him...even now.

I felt Bella stiffen next to me, her injured hand was still cupped in both of mine and I felt it twitch reflexively. I looked back down at her just in time to see her shift her gaze from me to Charlie.

"Dad, don't you have a baseball bat somewhere in your room? I want to burrow it for a minute."

Charlie looked sternly at his daughter. "Enough, Bella."

An appalled sound came from my throat before I could stop it. "Let's go have Carlisle look at your hand," I cut in. Charlie glanced my way again and I stared back as I continued. "before you wind up in a jail cell."

And preferably before I did something I knew I would regret...but regret only because it would hurt Bella more than she already was. She had been betrayed by enough people she had trusted for one day, I wasn't going to add myself to that list. I had already been there once and I had no desire to repeat that experience.

Still holding Bella's injured hand in one of mine I gently took the rag full of ice from her left hand and wrapped my arm securely around her waist. She willing accepted my half embrace, relaxing into me and tilting her head into my chest.

As I turned our bodies toward the door I flicked my wrist, tossing the rag towards kitchen, aiming for the counter closest to the hall. It made its mark more fiercely than I intended it to and I ignored the three chunks of ice that slipped out and clattered noisily to the floor.

I heard Charlie huff behind me, ‘...who does he think...he can't just...'

I turned my head looking over Bella's hair to glare at him. His mouth was opened like he was about to speak his thoughts.

When he met my gaze however, he froze. I saw myself reflected in his mind. My face was hard and cold, my eyes threatening. For once I let him see a flicker of what I truly was...let him know he too had crossed a line today.

His heart skipped a beat as he experienced the natural fear my kind brought on.

As the instinct of danger and self preservation automatically kicked in, Charlie took an unconscious step back, closing his mouth in the process.

Good.

I turned away and continued to walk with Bella to the car.

Charlie's mind was mixed with fear and uncertainty as he watched our retreating backs. But most of all he was confused, confused as to why he was feeling the fear in the first place.It wasn't until Jacob took a few steps forward that he snapped out of it.

"What are you doing? Are you crazy?" he hissed under his breath.

Jacob glanced over his shoulder, "Give me a minute Charlie....don't worry, I'll be right back."

‘The kid has lost his mind' Charlie thought desperately as he watched Jacob step through the door. Charlie was already thinking about a fight starting and was prepared to go into what Bella always called "Chief Swan mode".

Charlie may not be as perceptive as his daughter, but he was far from being ignorant. He could clearly see that Jacob was nearly a head and a half taller than me, but he had the natural sense to know who to worry about getting hurt if a fight did break out. Something his daughter always seemed to lack.

I continued towards the car without a backwards glance, Jacob six paces behind us. I knew he would follow and I also knew what he was hoping for. He didn't want a fight so much as he wanted me to lose control in front of both Charlie and Bella. Jacob had been disappointed once already today and that only fueled his desire.

He wanted me to make the first move; his mind was already swimming through the different strategies he had learned. He was confident in his ability to win and the thought of what kind of pain that would cause Bella never even crossed his mind.

That right there made me angrier than anything else.

But he was wrong on both counts. I would not give in and even if I did he would not be the one to walk away.

The dog may be strong and good at what he does, but he has had no real experience. Compared to me Laurant was nothing and if a fight did break out he would be alone this time not surrounded by his pack brothers.

But I couldn't.

Not today and definitely not here.

Regardless of what he wanted and what I craved to do....he would still hear me out.

Jacob was in need of a reality check more so than Charlie.

Opening my car door I gently released Bella's hand and helped her into the car. When she was safely inside I closed the door and took in a steadying breath.

Through it all brown eyes were glued to my face. I could see what lay beneath the surface of anger and frustration. Despite what Jacob had done, Bella still cared for the mutt. His pain still hurt her and that was one thing I would never do again. I would never hurt her.

Bella was forgiving and I knew sooner or later Jacob would be forgiven for his actions today. Jacob himself knew this. He knew her well and knew she wasn't one to hold a grudge. Despite Bella's reaction to his kiss Jacob would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact he was determined to do so....which was why I needed to get the words out now....make him listen.

Releasing a breath slowly through my nose I turned around, cautious of the fact Bella was sitting behind me and Charlie was in clear view listening intently.

‘Bring it on leech'

Jacob stood, his muscles tense and face relaxed into an arrogant expression. Though he had his fists clenched and arms crossed I could still see the slight trembling.

My voice was calm and low. I kept to the truth not caring if Charlie could hear or not. If anything my words would do him some good too.

"I'm not going to kill you now, because it would upset Bella."

"Hmph."

I turned slightly to see Bella scowling at me....she still wanted me to act for her. If I didn't know her so well the temptation would have won over when I looked at her disappointed face. Instead I smiled softly at her expression and tried to show her the apology through my eyes, because I did know her.

I reached through the window and caressed her cheek lightly with my fingertips, making the crease between her eyes disappear. "It would bother you in the morning."

Bella sighed and leaned into my touch without argument. Satisfied I turned back to Jacob, letting my hand fall to the window ledge.

I looked the dog straight in the eyes, silently warning him to heed my words. "But if you ever bring her back damaged again-and I don't care whose fault it is; I don't care if she merely trips, or if a meteorfalls out of the sky and hits her in the head--if you return her to me in less than the perfect condition that I left her in, you will be running with three legs....Do you understand that, mongrel?"

‘I'd like to see you try.'

"Who's going back?" Bella grumbled behind me. I ignored this....my gaze still boring into his.

She'll come back,' Jacob thought smugly, reassuring himself. ‘She always comes back.'

He was already planning what he would say and do when that time came. The well organized plan he had worked out in his mind last winter had not been interrupted, he hadn't been discouraged in the least.

"And if you ever kiss her again...." I went on, cutting off his thoughts before they pushed my control any further. "I will break your jaw for her."

"What if she wants me to?" He sneered, leaning forward slightly as he deliberately sent me the image again. He showed me his side, showed me what he perceived to be Bella kissing him back.

Once again all I saw was Bella pulling his hair, trying in vain to pry his face from hers.

I gritted my teeth, trying desperately to keep my face blank and keep the growl that was building in the base of my throat from slipping out. Every part of my being was fighting against the natural urge to crouch....to fight for what was mine.

The heat radiating from the car and warming my back was the only thing that kept my locked muscles in place.

"If that's what she wants, then I won't object." I answered truthfully, "You might want to wait for her to say it, rather than trust your interpretation of body language....but it's your face."

Doubt finally began to seep into his mind and I resisted the urge to smirk, because for once it wasn't my mind swimming with uncertainties, it was his.

He was beginning to doubt what he felt as his mind unconsciously began replaying some of Bella's words....They were fast coming but I caught enough.

‘Don't touch me; I'm going home right now....'

‘I can't wait to see what Edward does to you! I hope he snaps your neck, you pushy, obnoxious, moronic DOG!'

‘Jacob I can't be happy without him.'

‘....that was not kissing back, that was me trying to get you the hell off of me you idiot."

My lips twitched, and as I watched my angels angry eyes from his mind I gave up my fight and smirked. As soon as he saw it he cut off his thoughts, remembering once again that I could see everything, even the slightest of flashbacks.

Then as quickly as the doubt came, it was gone and I envied his easy release of the emotion. He still knew that despite Bella's words and anger she still cared. ‘More than she realizes....but I'll make her see.' He grinned widely, his eyes eager. He was anticipating the day she would ask him. There was no doubt in his mind that she would.

It became clear that Bella could see this on his face as easily as I could read it from his mind because she suddenly snorted....loudly. "You wish."

Jacob's eyes flashed quickly to the car and then back to me. His grin faltered slightly.

I nodded in agreement. "Yes, he does."

The grin slid from his face all together as his eyes finally showed the anger I knew would come eventually. My seemingly composed exterior combined with Bella's reactions were finally getting to him. "Well if you're done rummaging through my head....why don't you go take care of her hand?"

I watched the quivering in his hands move up to fill his, still tightly crossed, arms and I knew I had to wrap this up.

"One more thing," I said slowly, emphasizing my every word so that they penetrated his thick skull and settled themselves into his conceited mind. "I'll be fighting for her, too. You should know that. I'm not taking anything for granted, and I'll be fighting twice as hard as you will." It was simple fact that a fight for survival was always the strongest....especially for my kind.

"Good," Jacob growled. ‘It's nice to know you actually have a fight in you.' "It's no good beating someone who forfeits." ‘What's the point of the prize then?....She'll come back....she always does...I know it and so do you....things will turn out right....she'll see sense sooner or later and come back to me....It's where she belongs....she's mi-‘

The thin hold on my self control snapped. He took in my changed expression and instantly his mind was going into overdrive....waiting for the lunge.

That one unfinished, possessive word in his mind was more than I could handle. It went against my very nature to back down as it threatened not only the man in me, but also the monster.

Barely conscious of the movement I stepped towards him, my muscles straining against the urge to crouch and protect what belonged to me.

"She is mine." The growl could no longer be contained as it slipped up my throat and laced into my words. "I didn't say I would fight fair."

"Neither did I."

"Best of luck."

"Yes, may the best man win."

I couldn't help but smirk through my irritation. He had walked straight into it. "That sounds about right....pup."

I chuckled darkly under my breath. There was a great deal of satisfaction in watching his face twist up at my choice of words.... it seemed I had hit a sore spot.

After Jacob composed himself he leaned sideways to glance over my shoulder. I resisted the immature impulse to step over and block his view.

"I hope your hand feel better soon." I watched from his mind for her reaction. As soon as there was eye contact she grimaced. "I'm really sorry you're hurt." Stubborn as always my Bella turned away. No forgiveness yet Jacob Black. That's my girl.

Jacob sighed softly before he turned his gaze back to me. ‘But I'm not sorry for the kiss....and I'll be waiting patiently for the next one too.' He smirked and then tilted his head in mock farewell. ‘Keep your eyes open leech.... I'll get my next chance.... soon.'

My right hand clenched tightly. I yearned for the way it would feel when it slammed into the side of his face....how the satisfying crunch would fill my ears.

Not today.

Not yet.

I turned quickly on my heel, not willing to test my limits any further. It felt very wrong to put my back to my enemy, but it was obvious the dog wasn't going to move from his spot.

It wasn't until I had started the car and began backing from the driveway that Jacob went back inside.

"Damn kid what were you thinking?" I heard Charlie ask as he opened the door.

Jacob snorted sourly. "What? You think he could take me?"

Charlie hesitated, taking in the mutt's abnormal height. ‘He's big, but....I don't know....' Charlie looked back up and when he saw Jacob frowning he went on quickly. "Of course not." But then his face grew stern. "But that doesn't matter....I don't want you two fighting and I definitely don't want it to be in front of my daughter....you understand?"

"Yes sir."

Charlie nodded, looking over Jacob again. ‘I don't know the kid obviously has some strength....but, man there's something about the Cullen kid...he just...' Charlie shook his head as a shiver ran down his back.

I frowned, perhaps I had gone too far with Charlie....but as I remembered the flash of hurt in Bella's eyes I knew I would do again.

As I turned the corner and their voices faded and their thoughts grew indistinct I slowly let out my breath.

I wondered how long I had been holding it.

Trying to calm myself I filled my lungs deeply, taking in the sweet burning aroma that surrounded me.

I looked beside me and saw Bella glaring out the window. She still cradled her hand to her chest and though she didn't speak I could tell from her clenched jaw that she was in pain.

"How do you feel?" I murmured. Not taking my eyes off her face.

"Irritated," she answered through her teeth.

A whispered chuckle escaped me, "I meant your hand."

She glanced at me quickly and shrugged. "I've had worse," she mumbled looking back out the window. The words were not said to intentionally cause pain, she was just stating fact. But they cut through me fast and hard.

I wondered if she remembered that those were Jacob's exact words not so long ago. ‘You don't think she can handle it? She's had worse.'

They were both right. "True," I agreed softly.

I sighed and looked more closely at her hand. The swelling had increased and the bruising was growing darker. I mentally slapped myself for throwing the rag of ice back into Charlie's kitchen.

Freeing one of my hands from the steering wheel I reached over and gently eased her injured hand into her lap before I cupped mine gingerly over it. I suppose my skin could be useful every once in a while.

Bella's shoulders relaxed at the contact and she slumped back into the seat. "Thanks," she breathed, closing her eyes.

I smiled, "You're welcome."

When I looked back at the road the small smile faded. I could feel my angel's soft broken hand burn and pulse beneath my cold touch.

Strike Two Jacob Black.