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Breaking Rules

Summary:
Basically, it's Breaking Dawn before me and my friend read it. It features Edward and Bella techincally dead - though Edward is MIA -, Jacob madly in love, the Volturi, personality differences... And it's different. We don't have a wedding scene *hint hint*. So uniqueness counts, right? Please give us a try.


Notes:
I am working on this with EdwardCullenGirlxo, who also has permission to post it on her profile. We had a lot of fun writing it and hope that you enjoy it lots.


1. Love in many forms

Rating 0/5   Word Count 6988   Review this Chapter

All Kinds of Love

Edward drove me home and we both admired the ring on my finger.

“It looks beautiful,” he said, a half-smile on his face. He was looking straight ahead, and I wondered just how much euphoria he was hiding from me.

I twisted the glittering object around, waving my hand slowly while it glinted in the sun. “It is kind of pretty,” I admitted. It didn’t feel so terrible to have it on. I would have minded if it were anyone but Edward, though.

We were in my driveway, and he reached over to keep me from climbing out of the car. “Just how much do you like it, Bella?” he demanded seriously. “One minute you’re totally willing, the next minute I’m not sure.”

“This is what I want, Edward,” I said firmly, trying to focus as his sweet breath wafted into my face. He was too close again.

“Are you ready to go tell Charlie?” I said, after he stared at me for a moment.

“Not quite,” he said. And his icy lips met mine.

“Hey kids,” Charlie called, when we walked in the door. He was in the living room, watching a game, as usual. The simple routine brought tears to my eyes. I wondered if I could imagine just how much I would miss him. Would I remember things like these ten years from now? Would I recall the hours he had spent rooting on his favorite teams, with Billy at his side? Edward squeezed my hand softly and leaned down to kiss me.

His kiss was brief – soft and sweet. He only pressed his lips to mine for a moment, but they meant everything to me. But the small part of me that still yearned for Jacob threw a small tantrum.

“Wait for me,” he whispered.

“What?” I mumbled, confused, my eyes locked with his and my head beginning to fog from his perfection. Again.

He smiled his crooked smile, and ran his hand down my cheek. “I want to do this properly Bella, don’t you remember? Isn’t it traditional for a man to ask his bride’s father for her hand?” He seemed pleased, but my heart sped up uneasily.

“What?”

I tried to unclench my teeth. I had agreed to do this, after all. And I had told myself that I would do it
properly. “That just seems like you’re overdoing it,” I scowled.

“Not overdoing it, Bella love,” he said. “Doing it the way I always wanted to do it. Don’t you remember what I told you? This is as much for your sake as it is mine.”

I tried to pull back slightly from his embrace so that I could glare up at him. “But how will Charlie react?” I asked, knowing that he probably already knew.

His glorious face darkened for the briefest of moments, and I felt sick. I played with the ring, biting my lip and waiting. “Charlie won’t shoot me,” he finally said. “Alice didn’t see any danger.”

I sighed. “How difficult will he be?”

“Don’t worry Bella,” he said. Then, raising his voice so that Charlie could hear, he announced, “Why don’t you go up to your room? I’ll be right up. I just want to do something really quickly.”

“I can’t even be with you?” I complained.

“Shh…” He pressed one cold finger to my mouth. “No. I’ll tell you about it later.”

“But –”

“Please, Bella.” His eyes burned and melted, staring into mine overwhelmingly. He leaned in again to kiss me. I let him kiss me softly, and then sighed in resignation. I didn’t have a choice. If he were going to be difficult about it, he would be difficult about it.

“Fine,” I sighed, turning up towards the stairs. I paused halfway up to see Edward slip quietly into the living room. Then, unable to do anything more, I climbed all the way up to my room.

I didn’t hear any shouting. I didn’t hear any screaming. Ten minutes later, Edward was walking into my room and wearing a huge smile.

“He said yes?” I cried, leaping off the bed and running to him.

He hugged me to him tightly. “I told you he wouldn’t, didn’t I?” he asked, pretending to sound injured.
He tipped my head back so that he could look me in the eye. “We’re engaged, Bella,” he whispered, his face glowing.

I knew I was still sad over Jake. I knew I didn’t want to do what Alice wanted to do. But I was going to be with Edward, and everything was okay. That suddenly sunk in on me and I was happier than I could have dreamed.

“Oh, Edward,” I sighed, craning my head up to kiss him. His lips met mine eagerly. He pushed me slowly down onto my bed, and we kept kissing, his mouth still careful. I could feel his joy in every line of his cool marble body against mine. I could almost taste the sweetness on his lips. He pulled away gently when my head started to spin, but I wrapped my arms around him securely, and he held me, stroking my hair. I heard his breathing, and it was uneven, like mine.

“I think he wants to see you,” he said quietly.

“Hmm?” I was disoriented again. He seemed to have that effect on me.

“Charlie wants to see you,” he said, humor in his voice. “To congratulate you, probably.”

I didn’t want to let go of him. “Charlie can wait.” We sat in silence for a minute. “Was he mad?” I finally asked, so quietly that I was mouthing it. I didn’t want o hear the answer. I guessed that he was mad.

“Not completely,” Edward said. “I don’t think he’s extremely happy, but he gave us permission, at least.”

“That’s good.” I snuggled into his cold stone chest, content.

He lay there, perfectly still. His eyes were closed, and his breathing was even. “Bella?” he finally asked, his lips the only things that moved.

My heart skipped a beat. I loved the sound of his voice more than anything else in the world. It was perfect. He was perfect. “Yes, Edward?”

“Do you know how much I love you?”

I smiled. “I think so,” I said. “I hope so.”

The phone in Edward’s pocket started to buzz. I sat up as he flashed it to his ear. “Yes, Alice?” he said warily. I watched with amused trepidation. What could she be calling about? He had hardly been gone for long.

His face grew exasperated. “That is completely worthless at this point, you know.” He paused for a very short time while Alice said something. “No, not particularly.” He smiled at me and rolled his eyes. I got out of bed and started pacing warily. I had a feeling I didn’t want to know what Alice had to say.
A minute later, he snapped the phone shut. “Alice is being difficult,” he said.

“What?” I asked cautiously. If I knew Alice, it was something completely ridiculous.

“She already thinks the planning is going astray. There’s something wrong with the party decorations she just bought.”

“Wait, what?” I demanded shrilly. “That can’t be right. She can’t already… Ugh. I hate Alice right now.”

“Don’t hate her,” Edward said. “Just be frustrated. Alice will be Alice.”

I nodded, understanding exactly what he meant. He took my hand. “I really think you should go see Charlie now,” he said. Then he looked at me seriously. “Are you okay?” he asked, alarmed.

My stomach tied into an ugly knot. I felt as if I were about to vomit. “I think so,” I gasped. “I just really don’t want to…”

His hands were on my face, soothing me. “Bella,” he said softly. “It’s fine. He isn’t angry with you. I’m here.”

Charlie wasn’t angry. And Edward was with me. I took a deep breath, and peeled one of his hands off my face, clenching it tightly. “I know,” I whispered, half-smiling. “Thank God.”

He steered me to the door. Charlie wasn’t waiting at the foot of the stairs, like I half-expected. Edward led me into the living room, and Charlie muted the TV, got up, and hugged me.

“Congratulations, Bells,” he said into my ear. As I let go of Edward’s hand, the sparkle caught Charlie’s eye. “Is that it?” he asked, seizing my hand.

“Yeah.” I let him examine the ring from all angles.

“Wow,” he said, grudgingly admiring. “That’s quite something, Edward.”

“My father gave it to my mother, before she died,” he said truthfully. He pretended not to see Charlie’s awed expression, and instead glanced at the clock. “I hate to run,” he said regretfully, “but Alice is expecting me. She has an emergency question.”

“Maybe we can talk about this later,” I suggested, pulling my hand free.

In front of Charlie, Edward bent down to kiss me goodbye. Then he left.

I was fixing Charlie his dinner when the phone rang. I could hear Charlie grumble over the TV.

“Hullo?” I said, holding the phone on my shoulder while trying to wash my hands. All I heard was silence on the other end. “Hello?” I said again. I looked over my shoulder to see if my dad was fixated in his game, then tugged the cord until I was the farthest away from him as possible, although, if it was who I thought it was, Charlie wouldn’t mind a bit who I was talking to. “Jacob?”

“Bells?” Jacob answered quietly.

“Jacob — ”

“No, Bella. Please, let me talk,” he said, and I could hear the hurt in his voice.

“Jake — ” He cut me off once more.

“No, Bella!” he sighs. “Let me talk.” He said it fiercely — not a question, a demand. “You are making one of the biggest mistake of your life, doing this, Bella, and you know that! You know the choice you make once you commit to him.

“Bella, he’s just going to hurt you again. Remember when he left you? When you were clutching your sides just to keep yourself from breaking?” I flinched. I did remember.

“But Jake — ”

“Look, Bella. You can’t marry him. He’s not human! One day you’ll wake up, and you’ll go downstairs, and he won’t see you, and he’ll turn around and accidentally kill you!” Jake cried.

“Jacob. You know that would never happen,” I said.

“But it would! Bella… you know that I am the better choice for you!” The words stumbled out of his mouth, too fast.

“Jacob. I don’t know that. I love Edward. I love him,” I said. I twisted the beautiful engagement ring around my finger.

“No! Bella! You love me! Don’t you realize that?! When you kissed me back…,” he stopped, hesitant.

“Yes, Jake, I did. But I really do love Edward! We’re engaged, and I’m sorry, but I can’t — I won’t — change that!” I shouted.

“Belles! I LOV —” I hung up on him. I sunk down to floor, the hot tears streaming down my face.

“Jacob knows that I love Edward,” I whispered to myself. “Why can’t he get it through his thick head?”
But that annoying little voice inside my head said to me, “Bella, why can’t you get it through your thick head that you love Jacob as much as you love Edward?”

“I’m not going to keep talking out loud to nothing,” I told myself, and that little voice. “That’s a sign of insanity.” I got up off the floor, wiped the tears from my eyes, and hung up the phone before something could start talking back.

“Bella?” Charlie called over his game.

“Yeah, Dad?” My voice broke.

“Who was that?” he asked.

“Um,” I hesitated. Should I say it was Jacob? “It was.... Well, it was Jake, Dad.”

“Oh, what did he want?” I could hear the pleasure in his voice.

“Just.... Just to talk.” I start, once again, on Charlie’s dinner.

“Did you talk, then?” My dad is the king of prying when he wants to be.

“Yes, Dad. We talked. Now, do you want me to recite everything he said, or just get back to your game?” I growled, with a sarcastic, harsh edge in my voice.

“Mmmgrr,” Charlie said, and I could tell he was back to his game.

Ten minutes later, I called Charlie to the table, told him dinner was ready.

“Thanks, Bells. This looks really good.” I had made him spaghetti. “Are you going to sit down and eat?”

“No, I’m not really hungry.”

“Okay,” he said through his food.

“I’ll be in my room if you need me,” I said, and trudged upstairs.

I sat down on my bed and picked up my worn-out copy of Wuthering Heights. I knew it almost by heart, but for some reason, I couldn’t stop reading it.

When I was engrossed in my book, I felt something cold on the back of my neck. I whip around to find Edward laying behind me. “Ah!” I breathed.

“Sorry. Did I scare you?” he asked, his velvet voice soft. I saw something in his eyes. Was it hurt?
“No... No,” I said, and let him take me in his arms.

“Jacob is upset,” he said after a few minutes of silence. I automatically stiffened. I wasn’t used to Edward bringing up Jacob.

“Are… well, are you upset?” I asked, hiding my face in his chest.

He groans. I look up into his topaz eyes, and see no trace of anger. “I’m not upset, Bella. But you want to see him. Don’t you.” It’s not a question.

“Edward…,” I started, but hesitated.

“And he wants to see you, too, I’m sure. To tell you that you are making the biggest mistake of your life, no doubt.”

I smirk glumly. It sounded so... normal when Edward said it.

“Why don’t you go down to La Push?” he asked, holding my face in his hands, forcing me to look into his beautiful eyes. “I know Jacob would love that.”

“I’m not so sure,” I said, pushing my eyes down so I was staring at my bed. “He kind of mad at me.”
“He may be mad,” Edward said. “But no one can stay mad at you for long before they go crazy.” He smiled the crooked smile he knows I can’t resist.

“But, Edward. Do you really want me going down there?”

“Well, when you do, remind him for me that, if he kisses you again, he’s going to lose an arm.” I cringed.

“Edward —”

“Goodbye, Bella,” he said, pushing me slightly away from him. “Go. Please. Smooth things out with Jacob. He wants you to come.”

“Are you sure?”

“Completely and most definitely,” Edward said. “I’ll be waiting for you.” And with that, he lightly sprang up, smiled at me, and jumped out my window.

I stared after him dumbly, thinking over my last visit with Jacob. It had only been yesterday, but so much had happened since then. I was officially engaged. And I wanted to see him, still. I choked back a sob, realizing that there was no way I could win. Could I go see him now? He was still hurt, still wrapped in layers of plaster and drugged with Carlisle’s morphine. It hurt to see him like that, and what if Edward was wrong? What if Jacob hadn’t decided if he wanted to see me? He said he would call, which he had. But all he had said was that he loved me.

I hurried downstairs, ignoring Charlie, who watched me warily, trying – and failing – to subtly analyze my expression. I found the phone quickly, and my fingers tripped over the buttons as I punched Jacob’s number. My hand was shaking, and that stupid lump was back in my throat. I had made my decision, I told myself, while I waited for it to ring.

“Hello?” said Billy’s deep voice. He sounded weary and worried. I hoped that didn’t mean Jacob was worse. I couldn’t take that.

“Billy,” I said, as composed as I could be. “Is Jacob awake?”

“Hey Bella,” he said amiably. He didn’t seem as if he held a grudge against me for breaking his son’s heart. At least there was that. “Yeah, Jake’s up. Do you want to talk to him?”

I tried to keep my voice from shaking. “Yes please.” I took deep breaths while I waited for Billy to roll into Jacob’s room. I could be calm about this. It wouldn’t be that hard. At least I didn’t have to see his face, I told myself.

“Bella?” Jake asked. He sounded groggy and sad. “I’m sorry about earlier.”

“It’s fine,” I said, surprising myself with how well the words came out. “But I do want to talk to you. Did you decide if you want to see me again? Or will that make it worse.”

He was silent for a long moment. “You can come,” he said finally, his voice husky. “I think that would be okay.”

“I’ll be there soon,” I promised.

“See you, Bells,” he whispered.

“Dad?” I asked, flitting into the living room. He looked up from the game, but didn’t mute it this time. I could tell he wasn’t mad at me, at least. “I’m going over to see Jacob.”

He sighed, glancing at my hand. “Does he already know…?”

“Yes,” I whispered. “I need to talk to him.”

“I thought you talked about the hard stuff last night,” he said cautiously. I wondered if he was afraid of another waterfall.

“It’s fine, Dad,” I promised him. “We’re okay now, I think.”

He nodded. “Don’t be too late.”

“Fine. I won’t be too late,” I said. I walked toward the door and slipped on my coat, fumbling with the zipper. “Ow!” I yelped. I had cut my finger with the zipper.

“You okay, Bella?”

“Yeah, Dad.” I grabbed a band-aid from the kitchen counter. “I’ll see you later.”

“Bye, Bells!” Charlie called contentedly.

I skipped to my car. Not a happy-go-lucky kind of skip. More a half-run, half-trip. I grabbed the handle of my door, hopped in, and pulled out of my driveway. I was halfway there until I realized I wasn’t alone.
“Ahh!” I screamed, almost jumping out of the car.

“Did I scare you?” Edward asked quietly.

“Well, yeah! Either that or I have a bad case of déjà-vu,” I mumble. “Why are you even here? I mean, you told me to go!” For some reason, his being there made me quite annoyed.

“I’m sorry. I just thought that maybe, I could wait for you and drive you home. When you were done, or course,” Edward said. He was glowing slightly in the dark.

“It’s all right,” I said. I pulled around a corner, getting to the boundary line of La Push. “You know, you’ll have to make me walk from here,” I told him.

“A little exercise never hurt anyone,” Edward said, and kissed my forehead. “Go on. I’ll be waiting here.”
I hopped out the car, and waved to Edward. I could see him smile.

When I got to Jacob’s house, Billy was waiting for me on the porch.

“Hey, Billy,” I said. “Jake’s inside, right?”

“Yeah. It’s nice to see you around, Bella,” Billy said. There was a touch of something in his eyes. Wariness, maybe.

“Jacob?” I called once I got inside.

“Bella?” he said. I whipped around, and he was laying on the couch.

“Oh, Jake!” I cried, running to him.

“Bells,” he chuckled.

“Are you laughing at me?” I demanded, looking him hard in the eyes.

“Yeah, I guess I am,” he said.

We sat in silence for a few minutes before Jacob broke the silence.

“Where is he tonight?” he asked, emphasizing on the “he.”

“He’s waiting for me in my car at the boundary line.”

“Are you serious? That over-protective…,” Jacob stopped himself. “Doesn’t he know you’re safe here?”

“He does, Jake. But you know Edward. He likes to be where — or at least near — where I am. And I like that, too.”

“You like that? It doesn’t make you uncomfortable?”

Now I got to laugh at him. “Not in the least.”

There was another long pause.

“So… you’re… you’re… getting married?” he said. I could tell it pained him to say that.

“Yes. I am,” I replied slowly.

“Are you sure, Bella?”

“Jacob! Of course I’m sure!” I said. But really, I wasn’t sure. I felt there was some part of me that was, but there was also another part of me that wasn’t. “I thought we talked about this already. Did you say you didn’t mind so much? You know I’ve considered all the options.”

“You still haven’t made the best choice,” he said softly. His black eyes were intently focused on mine. His russet face seemed to have smoothed out just a bit with an expression I couldn’t exactly identify. Maybe it was hope. I shook my head, crushing it. I felt the pain dig deep into my heart.

“I can’t go back, Jake,” I told him, reaching for his un-bandaged hand. It was so warm. I wondered how much I would miss that warmth. “Alice is already planning the wedding,” I added, hoping to bring a smile to his face. I smiled a bit, because I understood how ridiculous it was. “She already even got the dress.”
To my surprise, he was scowling, his brow furrowed with pain. “So you’re happy about that.”

I blinked, shocked. “Of course not, Jacob. I –”

“Sure,” he muttered. “That’s good, that you’re happy. That’s all that really matters.”

But what about him? I squeezed his hand, and he held it tightly for a few silent moments. There was nothing I could say to make it better. Finally, I changed the topic. “Has anyone else dropped by to see you yet?”

He smiled at my effort. “Yeah. Sam and Quill dropped by earlier. They say hi. Embry is supposed to be coming later. I think they’re all just really relieved not to have to chase after the redhead anymore. It was fun, of course, but tiring. Although,” he said, lowering his voice conspiratorially, “they were all mad at Edward for finishing her off. All of us wanted a chance to get her.”

I pulled my hand away, glaring at him. “I think it’s a good thing Edward was the one to finally kill Victoria,” I said indignantly, secretly pleased that he had been brave enough to say Edward’s name.
“You do? Why might that be?” He seemed angry, but he wasn’t phasing. That was good, I told myself. At least he was in control. But he was mad at me.

“At least Edward knows what he’s doing,” I choked, knowing that this fight would be the same as all the others. “I mean, look at you, Jake,” I sputtered, waving at his broken body. “A newborn did this to you. A newborn. I realize you were protecting Leah,” I said, before he could contradict me, “and that was very gallant of you, but the fact is you’re still hurt. And he’s not. Look how quickly the Cullens were able to end it, too. You spent what, four months going after her?”

He was shaking his head slowly. “I’m’ not going to argue with you Bella,” he said. “But you really just don’t get it. You think your Edward is so perfect, but he’s not. He has his own flaws. And…” He trailed off. All this was spoken softly; he wasn’t angry, but sad. And yet it was now that his hands shook. He scowled, and the tremors stopped as quickly as they had come.

“How are you feeling?” I asked softly.

“I’d be a hell of a lot better if I could phase,” he growled, staring up at the ceiling.

“Jake,” I whispered. My voice couldn’t seem to reach a decibel any higher than that. “Are you tired?”

“Bella —” Jacob said, but he was interrupted by the phone.

“I’ll get it,” I said, and jumped up to grab the phone.

“Hello, Black residence,” I answered, confusing even myself at the formal greeting.

“Bella? This is Sam. I need to talk to Jacob,” Sam Uley said. His voice was urgent.

“Uh, sure. Here he is.” I handed the phone to Jacob. “Sam,” I mouthed.

“Hey Sam,” Jacob said. “Uh huh. What? Why? He called you? Why would he do that? Sam, tell me,”
Jacob growled. I wished I could hear what Sam was saying on the other end. “That stupid, idiotic, blo—” Jacob stopped and looked at me. “Tell him to call here. Okay.” Jacob threw the phone next to him.
I waited a minute before I asked, “What did Sam want?”

“Well, if you absolutely need to know —”

“Jake!” I stopped him, looking him deep into the eyes, as if telepathically telling him I wasn’t going to play games.

“Calm down! Sheesh, I was about to tell you.” I glared at him. “Okay, okay! Your blo — boyfriend” — he sneered the word — “called to ask if he could have permission to come down here!”

“To the reservation?” I asked stupidly.

And,” Jacob continued, “he wants to see me!”

Now that shocked me. But, Edward did seem to be making an effort to like Jacob. He practically forced me to go to La Push, and he sounded completely normal when telling me to go.

The conversation between me and Jacob lasted about thirty seconds. Normally, Edward would’ve called in the next five seconds after hanging up. I wondered what was taking him so long.

My thoughts were cut short by the ring of the phone.

“That must be him,” Jacob muttered, and answered. “Parasite?”

“Jacob!” I smacked him. “Ow,” I muttered. He didn’t say anything.

I could almost make out Edward’s velvet voice on the other end.

“Why? You know it’s against the treaty,” Jacob said, shifting restlessly in his place. “Yeah.... Sam agreed? What?” Jacob was practically shouting.

“Jacob, you might want to —” I stopped. Tremors were rippling through his body. I placed my hand back on his. The shaking stopped.

In my head, I could hear Edward. “Calm down, Jacob,” I imagined him saying.

“Fine. Fine! Do whatever you want. Fine! I’ll see you.” Jacob hit end and plunged his fist into the couch. It shook violently.

“He’s coming here?” I breathed.

“Arrrrrgh!” Jacob roared.

I hoped this visitation was not going to be violent. That would not end well for anyone. I laid a hand gently on Jacob’s shoulder. The undamaged one. “Calm down,” I asked him, trying to sound soothing. “Edward probably just wants to see how you’re doing. He came by the other day, too, when you were unconscious. Didn’t Sam tell you? He is starting to trust us more. Carlisle, at the very least.”

Jake’s thick black eyebrows furrowed as he glared at me, teeth clenched. He shrugged my hand off his shoulder.

“What did I do?” I asked, hurt and surprised.

“You’re getting more like them every day,” he scowled. “You just almost said word-for-word what your bloodsucker told me. And no, Sam did not tell me that he was starting to trust all of ‘you.’”

Was that what he was getting at? “Aw, Jake, come on. You use the pack plural all the time. Don’t you see? I’m practically one of them. I will be soon, anyways.” I tried not to let it show how much the bloodsucker comment stung. I thought he had gotten over that a while ago.

His face turned soft when he saw that I was offended, but anger still burned in his dark eyes. “But Bella,” Jake groaned, reaching for my hand. “You’re not one of them. You are human.”

I tried to yank my hand away, but he held it tightly. I couldn’t say anything, and he didn’t say anything. There was electricity in the air, not unlike the electricity I supposed accumulated when a normal girl touched a guy she liked. But I wasn’t a normal girl. And I loved someone else more. His eyes were locked with mine, and I found that I couldn’t look away. My heart was pounding, and I felt ashamed of myself. This was exactly the thing I had sworn would never happen.

After a moment, Jacob’s nose wrinkled. “I think your fiancée is at the door,” he said, spitting out the word fiancée like a curse. He let me jump up and run to the door, watching me with an unfathomable expression. I threw myself at Edward, burying my face in his chest and trying to forget that I had almost let myself get in deeper with Jake again.

Edward loosened my arms gently from around his waist and held my hand. I led him to the couch, where Jake lay.

“Hello, Jacob,” Edward said pleasantly.

Jake’s eyes darted to my face, and whatever he found there clearly took away any ideas he might have had about being unpleasant to Edward.

“Edward,” he said tightly. “It’s… interesting to see you again.”

Edward squeezed my hand as I scowled. “I was hoping to speak to you alone, actually,” he said. They both looked at me and I sighed.

“I take it you want me to leave then.”

“Please.” Edward whispered the word sweetly into my face, and his sweet breath wafted towards me. I felt quite lightheaded as I nodded, and disappeared into the kitchen.

I strained my ears, trying to listen in on their conversation. I stood by the doorway, where neither of them could see me, but I could hear them fine.

“Why are you here?” Jacob grumbled. It wasn’t meant to be mean; he sounded slightly interested, even though he did try to hide it.

“Jacob, when I hurt Bella,” Edward started, and I could hear the remorse in his voice, “you were there for her. If it wasn’t for you, she wouldn’t be the same person that she is today.” That made Jacob growl slightly — I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded if Edward wasn’t in my life.

“And that would be a bad thing?” Jacob asked, voicing my thoughts.

“Yes, it would,” Edward said, without even a second thought. “You see, Jacob, whenever Bella is in danger” — I grimaced — “you… help out. When Victoria was coming…,” Edward paused. “Well, if you and your pack had not agreed to work with us, I don’t think it would’ve gone as well as it did.”
Jacob grunted in agreement.

“And, I know you never would let anything substandard happen to Bella. She looks at you as a best friend, Jacob. And though you may not see her in the same light….” — it was then Edward’s turn to scowl — “I think she is very lucky to have you as her friend. And you to be hers.”

There was a long pause — much like the ones between me and Jacob earlier. I could tell Jacob was not pleased with what Edward had said, and the way he had said it. I was very pleased with him.

“Jacob, I know you don’t understand the thirst — pardon the phrase — Bella has to joining us,” Edward continued. “Even I don’t truly understand it. But it is what she wants, and I think that if you genuinely care about her, you will support her decision.” Jacob growled again. “I do know that it sounds marginally… cheesy, and I also know that it will be terribly hard for you to support her decision because of your background and your present. But, putting all that aside, I do believe that you can show your approval — slight approval, if you must — to Bella’s choice.” Edward held up his hands at the ‘slight approval’ remark.

I was very proud of Edward. He put everything into a wonderful statement, and made it sound so simple.

Then, it was Jacob’s turn to talk. He was quiet for a very long moment, probably choosing the words that would least offend me. I had no doubt that they knew I was listening.

“Look, bloodsucker,” he grimaced, no offense in his voice. “I know I’ve already said this before. But when you left” – he ignored when Edward winced slightly “– I was actually pretty happy. I know that Bella wasn’t, but after she came to me, I knew she could be. I was helping her to heal, and you know it. I know she loves you. I know she wants to be with you. But I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get over the fact that she chose you over me. When you were the one who left her.” His husky voice cracked. Edward sat down gently on the end of the couch, by Jake’s feet. Jake scowled.

“I understand.” Edward’s velvety voice was muted, as if he could feel Jacob’s pain. His golden eyes were tight. “You have no idea. But haven’t we both agreed long ago that we will do whatever is right for Bella? That we will accept whatever decisions she makes?”

Jacob took a moment to answer. I bit my lip as I waited, so hard that it hurt. I didn’t want to see him look so pained, but I knew I would only make it worse. I would. “Yeah, we did decide that,” he said finally. “I know that. I wouldn’t want her to be unhappy.”

Edward was very understanding. Too understanding. I could tell that it was killing Jake. He would have been happier if Edward had tried to yell at him, tried to fight. Then he would have had a reason to be mad. “Then I’m afraid we’re both stuck on this path.”

“Yeah, well you’re getting the better deal. I’d hardly say you’re stuck on it.”

Edward’s eyes flickered to the kitchen, and I ducked back behind the doorway, my heart pounding. I didn’t want him to catch me listening to this. He wouldn’t be able to speak as freely.

It was so silent in the living room that I thought they were sitting and glaring at each other. But then gathered up my courage and looked again and saw that they were talking. Edward’s lips were vibrating with speed, the way he spoke with his family. Jacob was frowning, but listening. Then he said something too low for me to hear.

Of course. I should have known, or guessed. They had their own ways of keeping me from hearing things. I contented myself with watching their expressions. Jake looked resigned, but then Edward said something that quickly turned his face defiant. I could tell that his quiet voice was angry.

Edward said something that soothed him slightly, and they both glanced my way. I thought I saw Edward smile his perfect smile, and hid behind the wall again. This time I didn’t turn around. I sat in one of the chairs at the small kitchen table and looked down sightlessly at my hands, worrying.

I was afraid for both of them, I realized, pressing my fingers together to keep them from shaking. I knew I was still hurting them, like Cathy. I kept telling myself that I had to change. Over and over. Time and time again I knew what I was doing was wrong.

But I somehow knew that wasn’t what was bothering me. What could Edward say to Jacob that he couldn’t tell me? What could go on that would actually calm Jake down, and make him accept the way things were. I was frightened by that prospect. I could only guess that it was a threat, although I knew that was highly improbable coming from Edward. So what else? No arguments that I hadn’t brought up already. There was nothing he could say that I hadn’t already told Jacob myself. And if there was, I wanted to know what it was. Badly.

“Bella?” Edward called, breaking me free of my thoughts.

“Yes?” I answered breathlessly. He was at the kitchen door.

“You can come back in now, if you’d like,” Edward said, holding his hand out. I threw myself at him again, and he chuckled.

“What were you talking about?” I mumbled into his stone chest.

“Nothing of your concern.” Edward’s voice was suddenly tight.

“For some strange reason, I cannot come to believe that,” I growled softly, looking up into his liquid golden eyes.

“You’re right. I do apologize for saying that.” His voice softened.

“Uh huh,” I muttered. He laughed again. “So, you were talking about me?”

“Yes,” Edward sighed. He smiled at the bewildered look on my face. He was going to be honest to me? “But you have to remember, Bella,” he murmured against my hair. “Not everything is about you.”

“I know that!” I groaned. “Please, Edward. What were you and Jacob talking about?”

Edward sighed again. “Jacob imprinted,” he said after a moment of pause.

My mouth fell open. I felt faint. “I think I need to sit down,” I said shakily, stumbling over to the kitchen chair.

Edward looked at me anxiously. “Are you all right?” he asked, holding my hand.

I wasn’t in the right condition to speak right away, so my answer came a few moments later. “Who?” It was all I could force out.

“Leah Clearwater. You know her,” Edward said cautiously, like if he said something too hard for me to handle, I’d really faint.

“Leah,” I gasped.

But what about us? No, Bella! No, no, no! I scolded myself. There was nothing there!

How could I lie to myself like that? We’d both known we loved each other. But now he’s imprinted on Leah….

I whimpered.

“Bella, what’s wrong?” Edward whispered, anxious again.

“When did this happen?” I asked slowly, dodging his question.

“Recently. Maybe a few days ago,” Edward said, his topaz eyes searching mine.

“Recently,” I breathed. I shook my head slightly, trying to clear my foggy mind.

“Bella? Bella, love. Are you truly all right? You are making me nervous.” Edward looked so. His eyes were wide; frightened, maybe? I couldn’t see very accurately through the heavy mist that had settled over my vision.

Jacob had imprinted on someone else. Does that mean he can still love someone else? Or be loved by someone else? I could feel the salty wetness behind my eyes.

“How do you – How do you know?” It was hard for me to choke out the words. I shouldn’t have been reacting like this, I thought. But the pain was overwhelming. Was this how it had felt to be Leah, when Sam met Emily?

Edward should have rolled his eyes. He should have told me that I was stupid, and that I was disloyal to him, and loved him more. But he took me into his arms and smiled patiently, stroking my hair. “Because it’s horribly obvious, love. He still loves you, but it’s Leah who is the one in his life now. Didn’t you wonder why he saved her during the fight? Their bond goes beyond the pack relationship. It’s something very special. And he could be happy with her.”

I was calming down a bit with his words. He was making sense. And, in a way, I was happy for him. At least he wouldn’t be pining after me forever. At least I knew he would love again.

“Why didn’t he tell me?” I whispered.

Edward’s hand hesitated on my hair. “He was going to,” he said unwillingly. “But he didn’t know how. He was afraid of – of hurting you.”

I smiled a bit through my tears. He wiped them away with one cool finger. “You aren’t angry with him?” he asked softly.

Was I? Could I be angry? I knew how it felt to be Jacob. But I still loved him. I shook my head. “A little. But I’m mostly just glad that he found… Leah. In time.” I choked on the words, and I knew that it still did matter to me. No matter what I said.

Edward pushed me away from himself gently. “You should go talk to him,” he suggested. “He’s waiting for you.”

I stepped timidly back into the living room, hoping that all my tears were gone. I didn’t want to face him that way. I wanted to be strong, to support his decision. I knew this mattered to him.
Jacob’s face was in a mask of calmness, but I could see the stiffness of his eyes and mouth. I approached him quietly.

“Jake?”

He couldn’t look at me. He said nothing.

“Jake, why didn’t you tell me?” I fell to my knees at his side and tried to take his unbandaged hand. He flinched away.

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” he grimaced.

His pain entwined with mine, once again. The tears restarted their path down my cheeks, but I ignored them. “Jacob, don’t you worry about me,” I said fiercely. “All that matters now is that you’re happy. I can live with that. After all, I’m doing the same thing to you.”

He shook his head, and I was surprised to see tears spatter down his russet-colored cheeks. My heart almost broke again. “It’s not the same thing.”

“Jacob, what matters to me is that you’re happy,” I said. “I know we’ll always love each other, but now you have your Leah, and I have Edward.” I saw a slight movement in the kitchen, and I knew he was listening. “It’s time to let go and just accept this. Neither of us has a choice. You understand that now.”

“I do,” he said sadly. “But, Bella?” His lower lip was trembling.

“Yes?” I breathed.

“I’ll never stop loving you.”

He stroked my hair gently and I bent my head to hide my tears.