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Choosing Warmth

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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Pairing: Jacob/Bella

Rating: MA

Note From The Author:  This story was written a little less than a year ago for the 1 st Annual Tricky Raven Silent Author Contest to raise funding for the site. My bidder was the glorious TamFan and her prompt was the tent scene with a twist. So, I tried my hardest to give her what she wanted by seemingly rewriting Eclipse in a one-shot. And now I'm able to share this with you. I hope you guys enjoy and as always review!

 

 

 

Victoria and her army of newborn vampires were headed straight for Forks to drain me of my sweet, enticing blood. She was ruthless and secretive, and preying on any human who could be turned into an indestructible vampire.

All because of me.

Edward had killed her mate James to save my life, to prevent me from turning into what I thought I was supposed to be, what he never wished me to be. To justify James’ death, Victoria wished to kill me allowing Edward to feel the type of pain she was in.

And so a war was started. A war in my honor. A war to prolong my life.

Contrition burned through my veins just as James’ venom had the night he bit me in my old dance studio. If someone died, if anyone was hurt, it would be my fault. And I couldn’t live with that.

So, I decided to place myself in danger’s way - if that even made any sense. I refused to stay home. I refused to allow myself to be babysat while Jacob’s pack and the Cullen’s fought for my life. I had to help out.

I had to do something.

A plan formed amongst the many mythical minds surrounding me. I would be hidden, but first I would lead the army of vampires to the battlefield, where they would each meet their destinies by the scent of my blood.

Standing between Jacob and Edward, I pricked my finger with the tip of a sharp rock. Edward’s face tightened as my blood sang to him through the breeze. Jacob painfully watched as I dragged my finger across the bark of trees, through the grass, and against the rocks surrounding the large field we had hiked to.

When I was finished spreading the scent of my blood, Jacob was to carry me up the side of the mountain to the snow caps, where Edward had set-up camp. My belly fluttered with butterflies at the thought of being against his naked chest. After his forced kiss, Jacob’s lips seemed to be on my mind more often than Edward’s.

And his speech... the one that begged me to not change, to stay human for him... it pulled my heart strings taut until they could be plucked like that of a violin.

“Bella,” Alice’s sweet voice chimmed over my worries of Victoria and her newborn army, my possible death and Jacob... “Can I speak with you?”

I pulled my wool beanie over my ears, protecting them from the cooling gusts of wind. “Sure.”

“Alone.” Alice nodded toward Edward who stood just a few feet to my right, and to Jacob who stood a few inches to my left.

Jacob cleared his throat.

Edward heaved a fake breath. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“Are you insinuating that I am not able to protect Bella?” Alice gleamed down her thin nose. When neither of them answered, the corner of her mouth curled up victoriously “It’ll only take a minute.”

“It’s fine, I should probably check with the pack one last time before I head up the mountain.” Jacob’s eyes flitted toward me. Worry crept into them, but on his face was a soft, warming smile that almost softened the tension brewing inside of me.

“Edward, you should check with Jasper. See if he’ll practice a few more blocks with you.” Alice directed.

A pair of cold, hard lips pressed worriedly against my forehead. “Stay safe.” He muttered.

Those two words stabbed my heart like a knife - reminding me of our months apart, of the many lonely days I spent filling his void with Jacob, reminding me of the hurt he instilled deep within the crevices of my heart.

Just as his words reached my ears, Edward disappeared down the mountain to the clearing where Jasper and the rest of the Cullens awaited the army’s arrival. And I was left alone with Alice and her sparkling honey eyes.

“I don’t know how to bring this up, Bella.” Alice hummed softly. Her voice chimed in the cold wind. “So, I’m going to give it to you straight.” She straightened her posture even more, placed her marble-esque hands on my shoulders and stared into my eyes. “Your future is changing. No longer can I see a clear vision of you with Edward or as a vampire. Sometimes your future blurs and distorts. Are you unsure of what you want? Have you changed your mind?”

I hadn’t changed my mind. In fact, I hadn’t really made it up. All I knew was that I needed to protect my loved ones. Their lives were at risk of the Volturri if I did not become like the Cullen’s.

Nonetheless, I still felt a tug toward Jacob. Something resembling gravity bound me to him and my heart to his. I loved him. But I would tell no one. Not even Alice. Not even him.

“Why hasn’t Edward brought this up?” I asked quietly.

“I’ve been protecting my thoughts. Consistently reading the minds of vampires is far more difficult than that of humans. We’re able to think of more things at a time, and we’re able to hide our inner most thoughts, if need be.” Alice explained, her marble fingers gently squeezed my shoulders. “You have a choice to make, Bella. One that will affect your life, your future.”

“I don’t want to endanger others. I don’t want anyone to get hurt.” I responded with an honesty that I hadn’t held with anyone else. “This war can’t be about nothing.”

“You’re a special girl.” Alice smiled, her calm voice soothed something inside of me, quieting the deepening anxiety. “We all love you, Bella. We won’t be disappointed with your decision. All of us will support you.” She accentuated “all” to encentuate Edward agreed to her ideals.

“What about the Volturri? Won’t they hunt me down?”

“We will deal with the Volturri. Their time as leaders of our kind is long overdue.”

Alice’s answers settled something inside of me. The support from the Cullen’s she offered filtered some guilt from my heart. Choosing my fate freely seemed to be more of an option now. But my curiousity was peaked.

What type of vision did she have regarding Jacob and me?

“Alice... what do you see... I mean when your visions change or blur... does it include Jacob?”

“Jacob is a black hole for my visions. I can neither read or envision his future. What I do see when you falter between him and Edward reveals quite a bit. But, Bella, that’s something you’ll need to see for yourself...”

***

Brustling wind rattled the four nylon walls that surrounded me. Even with the rocks on each side and the mountain behind, the tent fiercely shook. The fabric buckled and bowed under Old Man Winter’s fury allowing puffs of bitter cold air to swarm in.

I lay nestled in a sleeping bag, my teeth chattering and my toes numb. With each gust of winter-chill came a bout of shivers which seemed to never end. To the left of me was a lantern. It aerated a warmth that unthawed a tiny spot on my forehead - reminding me of Jacob.

To the left of my only source of heat sat a brooding and cold Edward. His arms were looped around his knees. His face scrunched into a self-loathing grimace. A chill wafted from him, dropping the temperature.

“I’m sorry, Bella.” He apologized. “I shouldn’t have brought you.”

“Don’t blame yourself.” I chattered. “I forced you. I wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

A pensive gleam formed on his statuesque face. “This way you’re safe. If I wouldn’t have let you come, you would have put yourself in harm’s way and gotten yourself killed.” He comforted himself. Edward faked a deep breath as he had trained himself to do over the past century. “Instead, now, you’ll freeze. And I’m not helping matters much.” His honey colored eyes dropped from my face to the tent floor as though he were disgusted with the usual coldness of his marble skin.

It was true he wasn’t helping, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the extra bit of chill his body put into the air numbed my left side. While the bitter winter wind cooled the skin on my right, my soul coveted warmth.

“I-I-I-I’ll b-be fine.” I mustered enough energy to smile, then I brought my sleeping bag up and over my nose and lips, relishing in the small raise in temperature from my breath.

As my temperature dropped more, what little bit of feeling I had left in my toes and fingers was nearly gone. Snow built up a barrier on the right side of the tent, cutting back the chill of the wind a bit. However, from my left side still bristled a bitter cold leaving my teeth a chattering mess. And the tiny taste of warmth wafting from the lantern caused my craving for Jacob to grow.

It seemed no matter what I was doing, who I was with, or where I was, something reminded me of my best friend and his exuding warmth. Jacob’s werewolf temperature only added to his radiating heat. A tenderness and kindness beamed from his heart. I could always feel it even when he wasn’t around.

“Knock. Knock.” The zipper to the tent came undone and in stepped Jacob clothed only in a pair of cut off shorts. A smile covered my frozen cheeks and my heart stammered in my chest. In that moment, I felt... complete. “What’s all the chattering about in here?”

I pulled the edge of the bag down over my mouth. “H-i-i-i J-j-j-jake.”

“Jesus, Bella! Your lips are blue!” Jacob scowled in concern. His eyes darted from my blue lips to Edward. “I told you this was too far up for her! She’s freezing to death.”

The presence of my werewolf best friend rose the temperature in the tent just slightly, but not nearly enough to stop my bones from starting to rattle. Yet, oddly, enough for me to notice.

Edward bowed his head. “I wasn’t thinking. I figured the mountain and rocks would block most of the wind.”

“Guess you were wrong.” Jacob cynically remarked. A roll of steam caused a halo of warmth around him.

“G-g-g-guys. N-n-o-o f-f-f-ighting.” My stutter was getting worse. The numbing cold of my left leg rose higher up my thigh. I could no longer feel my fingers and my breath did little to warm them. “I-I-I’ll b-b-be okay-y-y.”

“Bells,” Jake lifted his eyebrow in protest. “Stop trying to play down the situation. I know better than that. Your teeth are chattering and your lips are blue. I’m surprised you don’t have hypothermia by now.”

“She still has a few hours before hypothermia sets in.” Edward corrected.

“In a couple more hours, it’ll be even darker and colder.” Jacob spat out the obvious with a snarl. His snarl faded to a welcoming but forced smile. “Bells, you remember the night you jumped off the cliff and how cold you were on the ride back and how warm I was?”

“What are you getting at Jacob?” Edward’s words were soaked with venom.

“Read my mind.” Jacob smirked, but continued to speak to me as though my brain wasn’t functioning correctly. “Do you remember?”

I faintly remembered curling into his side and the warmth that barreled from his feverish skin onto mine. That was a feeling I craved at this moment, a feeling I needed in order to stay alive.

“Y-y-yes.”

“I think that’s the only solution here. I’m the only one who can keep you warm.” A prideful smirk lifted the left corner of Jacob’s lips. “We need to spoon.”

My fogged brain comprehended the need to cuddle with Jacob, but his joyful smug expression was almost too much for me to handle. I disbelieved Edward would allow such a problematic situation to develop in front of him. But when I glanced up through chilled eyelids, what I saw was nerve rattling.

Edward’s lifted and worried brows eased. The slightest bit of relief flurried across his honey colored eyes. His tense stature slighted as much as a marble statue could.

“E-e-eddddw-ard?” The question came out as though I were asking his permission to allow Jacob to spoon me; however, my intention was not that. My question was more about how he seemed to be outwardly agreeing.

He thought for a moment before he answered. “It would be a wise decision to take Jacob up on his offer.”

“What? Really?” Blurting out of Jacob’s mouth was his own surprising disbelief. But as his cockiness caught up with him, Jacob huffed a breath and played off his mindless moment. “I mean, yeah of course it would be.”

I was appalled by Edward’s willingness and furthermore disgusted by the thoughtless second it took him to agree to Jacob’s proposition. While I had no problem spooning with my best friend, I did have a problem doing so while the man I loved sat across the tent from me.

As though he could possibly read my mind, Edward quietly answered my shocked stare, “I’m only doing this so you won’t freeze, Bella.” But something flitted across his frozen-in-time face, something that resembled defeat.

“Always the martyr.” Jacob huffed. His hands came to a rest on his hips. His thumbs looped into his belt loops. “There’s no way I’m climbing into that sleeping bag with Bella unless she agrees to it. I don’t want to get punched again.”

A loving smirk lifted the corner of Jacob’s mouth. His onyx eyes stared softly at my numbing face. His statement, while blithe in nature, was an acknowledgement of my plea for him to never kiss without asking. That sentiment warmed the half of my heart that was his, radiating across the dark crevice of my inability to choose, and slowly defrosting shards of Edward’s piece.

“Bella’s not in her right state of mind at the moment. Her ability to decide what is in her best interest has waned. I’ll make the decision.” Edward ordered as though I was an incoherent and incompetent mindless zombie.

“And what decision would that be?” Jacob chortled. I imagined if he were in wolf form his head would sway side to side as he snorted a puff of warm air. Without waiting for Edward to respond, Jacob continued, “Bella’s capable of making her own decisions. Aren’t you, Bells?”

Both Jacob and Edward watched as I nodded.

Jacob honored my choices and decisions. He knew that even in my current state, I would prefer to make my own mind up. Jacob may have learned his lesson the hard way, but at least he learned - at least he figured out to not push or force me into something not of my choosing. He lived his consequences - no matter how hard they were for him.

“So, Bella, is it okay with you that I keep you warm?”

I knew my decision would hurt Edward. I knew him watching Jacob spoon me would only antagonize his doubts of our relationship and his ability to protect me. However, sticking in my mind was Edward’s disgusting remarks. I may have been cold and close to hypothermia, but my capacity was the same as it always was.

“Y-y-yes-s-s.” I stuttered.

My numbed hands managed to grasp the zipper of my sleeping bag and drag it down a notch or two, but not before Jacob’s fingers replaced mine. Without hesitation, Jacob finished unzipping the bag. He kicked off his sneakers and slipped in closely behind me, flinching at the temperature difference.

“Gosh, Bells, you really are cold.” He whispered as he pulled me against his feverish russet flesh, turning me just so my head rested against his heart.

Unable to hold myself back, I roughly pressed my nose against the center of his chest. A sigh almost parted my lips as I dug my cold fingertips into his back, his warmth unthawing them second by second.

Minute by minute, the rattle in my bones slowed to a stop. While I was still cold and could still feel the wind whipping through the thin nylon tent material, Jacob’s abnormal temperature made the bitter winter storm sustainable. I would survive another night because of him. And for that I was entirely thankful.

“You’re like a space heater.” I laughed against Jacob.

And as he laughed at my reference I could feel the chuckle of pleasure form in his gut and rise through him. I could feel his abdomen tighten against me. Suddenly, he was my Jacob again. Ease poured through my body like warm water filling a bathtub. My heart’s pace quickened at the sight of such a lovely smile forming across his face. I needed to keep that smile there. It made me forget about the war ahead. So, I loosened my arms from Jake’s midsection and slid my hands to his sides. Gently, I fluttered my fingers across his skin. Relishing in the ease of it.

“C’mon, Bells, quit!” Jacob laughed like a child. It was one of those innocently happy and entirely too wrapped up in the glory of the small things type laughs. “You’re tickling me!”

“Please,” Edward seethed, “Bella keep your hands to yourself.”

Blush powdered my already red cheeks. “S-s-orry.”

Edward sighed a heavy, formidable sigh. “It’s not you. It’s his thoughts. I can hear them. And they’re not pure or innocent.”

Jacob’s effervescent laugh quieted. My fingers halted. Awkwardness filled any empty space it could find. Quiet fell across the tent allowing me to fall into my thoughts, allowing me to try to decide where my heart belonged.

I knew, although denied it, I loved Jacob. And that love was a very deep and easy. It wasn’t simple or ordinary by any means, but it was easy. I could breathe around him. I felt normal around him. I felt okay to be who I was. There was no need for perfection or change.

Jacob loved me for me...

This love was something he wanted more than anything. It wasn’t like I didn’t notice the way his hand always drifted toward mine or the sparkle of hope in his eyes at the end of a not-long-enough evening together. I knew he waited for the day I chose him. The day I decided on fire over ice.

But... even with Edward’s need to control and make decisions, I still loved him. With Edward came the promise of an endless forever, immortality, and luxury. He could show me things I’ve only imagined seeing and take me places I’ve only dreamed of visiting.

To be with Edward, I would have to change. In a sense I would need to be perfect, to be more than who I was today. My flaws were just that: flaws. Whereas Edward and the rest of the Cullen’s were perfection. They were neither clumsy or weak or tired... They were resilient, adventurous, and strong.

Everything I wished of being. Everything I wasn’t.

A very large part of me wished Edward were the still obvious choice. However, Jake’s confession of love, his radiating warmth, his ability to read me like a coverless book overturned the obviousness of my choice.

There wasn’t one.

And I was drowning in them both.

While I was lost in my own thoughts, Edward stopped all movement - even those he’d grown used to faking, like breathing and blinking. Glancing over to him, his eyes were wide and his face furrowing in thought. He was lost in someone’s mind, someone’s thoughts, someone’s vision.

“Edward?” My voice rose with question.

His spine stiffened. “Alice. Her visions have changed.” I froze. I hadn’t chosen. How could he... “The newborns are moving faster than anticipated.” I sighed against Jacob’s chest, almost relaxed that the newborns were moving faster and Edward was still in the dark about my indecisions. “But there’s something else. Something she’s hiding. I need to go see her. I need to find out what she’s hiding to protect us.” Edward rambled lost in the vision inside of Alice’s head, ignoring the panicked breaths entering and exiting my lungs.

Fear exploded inside of my belly. This was all going to happen sooner than expected. An army of ravenous vampires were on their way to drain me and possibly kill everyone in their way... including Jacob and Edward. My muscles began to shake at the mere thought of losing not only my life but everyone else’s too.

“We’ll have to let the pack know so they’ll prepare.” Jacob tensed, his muscles becoming rigid. He began to unzip the sleeping bag, but Edward waved a hand stopping him.

“I’ll warn them on my way to see Alice. She’ll meet me at the battlefield.” Edward stood and flashed out of the tent without so much as a goodbye or a see you in the morning. But then he slipped his head inside, and his honey eyes sought out my brown ones. “Bella, you’ll be safe here with Jacob. I trust he has your best interest at heart and will stop at nothing to protect you. I’ll be back.”

***

Time passed slowly with Edward away speaking to Alice about her vision. Sleep swarmed my brain with z’s, but the impending war had my nerves standing on end. I would not dream this night. Instead, I lay in Jacob’s arms - warm and protected, loved and cherished.

Fighting off sleep, I replayed the good days before Jacob transformed into a giant werewolf. I remembered the moments in his garage, him talking about everything just to keep my mind off of Edward and the pain burning inside my chest. I remembered the days we spent formulating our ages based on our experiences in life. Somehow, I always came out older, but I wasn’t so sure I truly was wiser.

Jacob knew what he wanted. He knew himself so well that he devoted large parts of his life protecting me and loving me in ways that any teenage girl would dream of. Yet, I chose Edward. I chose to limit myself to one option all because of my fears.

Death was my greatest fear. Edward and the Cullen’s absolved that fear. They embodied immortality. But...was immortality worth losing a life filled with love and joy?

For once, I wanted to be normal, to feel like a normal teenage girl who didn’t entice vampires. What better way to do that than to fall into the moment with Jacob, to allow him to make me feel what I always took for granted... being a teenager.

“Jake...” Through thick lashes, I glanced up to his tanned face, which seemed to be concentrating on the seams of the tent, almost distancing himself from the close confines of the sleeping bag.

“Yeah?” He answered without moving his eyes. His concentration strickly placed on the tent’s taught nylon walls.

I wanted to capture his attention. I wanted his loving eyes to fall to mine and make me feel that ease I was so used to feeling around him. I wanted to see his face light up with his bright and beautiful smile soothing me with warmth. I wanted him to lose himself in me.

Releasing my hand from his side, I slid it up his firm, but soft chest. “Thank you for always being here for me.” I ran a finger down the side of his neck while I spoke, enticing him with the sweet whisper tying my words together.

Jacob’s Adam’s apple bobbed as he gulped down a throat full of air and his eyes squinted down at me. . “You’re welcome.”

The walls of the tent no longer held his attention. I did. Something changed inside of me. I became a bit more bold, a bit more brave.

“This may not come out spectacularly or sound positive, but you make me feel normal. While that may not always be a good thing, in my life, it’s perfect.” I dropped my eyes to the tip of my finger as it glided across his collarbone. The high contrast between pale and tan skin drew me even further in. “I’m always surrounded by people I used to think were make-believe. But when I’m with you... it’s just easy. Normal.”

I heard him breathe a sigh before he answered. A confused and fiery expression fell upon his face. “Well, I’m happy I make you feel that way.”

I was happy he did too.

When my index finger reached Jacob’s bicep, my palm settled there. The tender feel of his soft, warm skin under mine quenched a blinding thirst in me. Yet, as my palm slid down his bicep to his tricep to his elbow, I was parched.

Jacob’s wide hand clasped my hip. His fingers squeezed tightly there while mine clenched his forearm. With his opposite hand, Jacob reached up and pushed back a strand of hair that was falling into my eyes. “It would be as easy as breathing with me, Bells. It already is.”

His words were soft and almost spoken as a whisper. Each syllable brought a millimeter slip of his hand under the hem of my sweatshirt. I inhaled air, but it didn’t seem to oxygenate my blood.

“There’s just so much more to think about... I can’t be selfish.”

“It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.” Jacob wisely countered. His hand stroked the skin just above my jeans. Goosebumps rose over my entire body as he gently caressed my abdomen. The tips of his fingers barricaded from more of me by the fabric of my jeans.

Sparks ignited between us. Their tiny zaps allured my need for him and my wish for his need of me. His palm fluttered across my abdomen and onto my ribcage, where his fingers flirted with the underwire of my bra. They inched up further until the cotton fabric of my bra separated his palm from my breast.

My heart was pumping too fast. My body was too warm. My skin too sensitive.

A gasp hurled from my throat, and Jacob’s hand slid back down my abdomen. I bit into my bottom lip, knowing that his words were both wiser and more meaningful than anything I could ever say. Shivers started from the top of my spine and encircled every nerve with selfishness on its way down.

I curved into him. My lips reaching deathly close to the pout of his bottom one. Unclenching my hand from Jacob’s bicep, it came to rest at the band of his khaki shorts. I grazed my thumb across, in question of the effect my touching him had. Wanting to feel the hard protrusion I never seemed to feel in this situation with Edward – as if he would allow our intimacy to progress this far.

Jake’s Adam’s apple bobbed again and his eyes squinted at my face once more. His tongue parted his lips just slightly before he bit into his bottom one. Want and restraint flooded his face. His chest rose and feel with exacerbated breathing.

I trusted Jake would not kiss me without my asking. The restraint covering his face and the stiffness of his hand on my abdomen told me that. So, I gently pressed a kiss to his chin, just a centimeter or two below his bottom lip.

“Bella,” Jacob protested, squeezing his eyes tensely shut. His fingers clenched into my skin.

“Jacob,” I mocked with a grin, causing him to open one eye. “For once, I want a normal night with a boy... with you.”

The other eye opened and his brows rose. “Really?”

“Yes.” I nodded my head, but I needed to plant some ground rules. While in this moment I was being a normal teenaged girl with crazy teenage hormones, intimacy was something very important to me. What we were doing needn’t go any further than touching and exploring. “But...we need to have rules.”

Jacob cleared his throat. “Okay. I can handle rules. What’s the first one?”

“No kissing.” I replied.

“How is that going to work?”

“Kissing is intimate. It opens up the soul and the heart to their meeting points.” I revealed. “So, no kissing unless... I ask you to.”

“So, I can’t ask you to kiss me?”

I shook my head and continued, “Touching and exploring are musts.”

Before the words ever dribbled off my lips, my hand glided across the top of Jacob’s shorts just where the button was. With hopeful eyes, I looked toward my hand, wanting nothing more than to see that I truly was sexually appealing to someone. My throat constricted at the stiff thickness protruding from his body.

Touching him in this moment would be the icing on the cake. I wanted nothing more than to watch his restraint unravel. With that in mind, I curled my hand around him, feeling him pulsate with ecstasy.

A simple, but sensual moan fell from Jacob’s lips. His teeth dug into his lip as he glanced down to the enticing position of my hand. Pure want covered his bold native features when my hand gently pulled along the length of him.

“Touch me too, Jake.” I breathlessly spoke, his lips hovering over mine eagerly waiting for the moment I begged him to kiss me just as I was begging him to touch me.

My body craved the warmth he created in me. It craved a fire that only he could ignite. An echoing need for pleasure throbbed between my legs.

“Please…” I begged again curling into him further.

But...Jacob’s lust faded to restraint the moment his eyes met mine again.

“As much as I’ve wanted this to happen, Bella, I don’t want you to regret what’s happening tomorrow.” His thick strong hand flexed against the skin of my abdomen, teasing me without intent.

In retort, I glided my hand back up to the button of his shorts.

“I want to touch you. I do.” His eyes squeezed shut again as I popped the button of his shorts.

Stretching the length of my spine, I brushed my lips across Jacob’s jaw line without kissing. “Then touch me again.” I pleaded, our mouths aligning. His feverish lips close to mine.

“I won’t be able to stop.” Jacob worriedly answered. His eyes fixated on the tiny space between his lips and mine. Lust and caution battled across his face in a series of worried creases and flustered eye rolls. “I don’t want that. I don’t want to be that guy you messed around with to keep your mind off of danger. I want you to want this... me... us.”

Jake chose the honorable path. And as much as I didn’t want him to, I couldn’t disagree. Maybe it was the adrenaline from my possible impending death, or the fact that we were so close, and so very alone that feelings flared. Or perhaps the whole time I had been on the wrong side. Either way, I was lost and entirely too confused to choose. I needed something far more definite, something that would make my heart swell so much it felt as though it would explode out of my chest. While Jake’s gentlemanly actions were sweet and with good intentions, my heart still resided in Switzerland.

“You know I can’t make that decision right now.” I flustered.

“I know, Bella. And I’m sorry.” Jacob rolled to his back, taking with him his tantalizing hand and perfectly pouty lips. “Maybe you should try to get some sleep.”

***
The following morning, I awoke to the sound of my own teeth chattering in an empty tent. I squinted at the flapping, unzipped material where Jacob had entered and Edward exited the night prior. My heart squeezed in my chest and my lungs tightened with anxiety.

Why was I alone?

Where was Jacob?

Did Edward ever come back?

While panic and anxiety ran rampant through every capillary of my body, I slid out from underneath the sleeping bag. I slowly slipped on one boot at a time, hoping that someone would realize I was awake and awaiting any signal of Victoria and her newborns.

Forever passed. Or at least that’s what it seemed like until Edward poked his head through the tent door.

“Hello love.” His sweet voice sang. “I thought I heard your heart began to beat faster.”

“Hi.” My lips formed a straight line. Guilt rippled through any narrow spaces between anxiety and doom. “Have you heard anything? Are they coming?” I asked trying to avoid any conversation which could bring up my actions the night before.

The wind had stopped sometime during the night and with the rise of the sun the temperature rose to an almost bearable degree. I tugged my arms through my jacket and buttoned the bottom few buttons.

“Not too much longer.” Edward reached his hand through the tent door and helped me step out into the snow.

Usually when his cold, marble hand clasped mine a swarm of bumble bee’s buzzed in my stomach. I tended to feel abnormally insufficient standing next to such a perfect being. Yet, this morning, the cold in my hand felt foreign and unrealistic.

I wasn’t were I needed to be.

“Alice’s vision hadn’t changed too much. Just the timing. Victoria has trained them well. They’re much faster than we expected. They’re not stopping to drink.” Edward further explained what he learned through Alice’s new vision. “I’m not sure why Alice panicked. She could have simply let me read her mind.”

I may not have been able to read minds or have superior thinking skills, but I was sure that Alice’s panic stricken state had more to do with my wavering decision of what path I was going to choose. And my heart thanked her. Had she not, then my decision may not have become lopsided. And I may not have experienced the honorable side of Jacob that reminded me so much of my Jacob. Maybe even through the transformation, shards of my Jacob were still in there.

“Has Jacob already gone?” I questioned with more hope that Edward hadn’t read his mind or that he couldn’t see the way my skin rose with goosebumps at the simple thought of Jacob’s feverish skin against mine.

“Through the trees near rock cliff.” Edward flatly replied.

“I think I should go see him before the fight starts...” I mentioned as my feet already began carrying me toward the tree line. “He’s here fighting a war in my honor. It’s the least I could do.”

“Thoughtful.” Was the single, one-worded reply I received from someone who seemed to be fading into my past. No longer did I need to be so close to Edward. Instead, my heart tugged toward the direction Jacob was supposedly in.

I needed and wanted to see him... my soul would stop at anything to be around Jake.

As I peeked through the sparse tree line of pines, I spied Jacob’s russet skin glistening. It soaked up the rays of the sun as though it were a parched man walking through dry baren land and coming upon an entire lake of water. The dips of his muscles created shadows, defining his muscular stature like dunes of sand in the desert. He stood stoic, awaiting the war, awaiting the fight for my life, watching the trees across the valley sway.

Jacob wasn’t just sort of beautiful anymore.

He was the definition of beauty.

My foot stepped through to the clearing, settling on a tired, old branch. When my weight shifted, the twig snapped, grasping Jacob’s attention. His head turned to the side as he peered over his shoulder at me. And a gloriously wonderfully beautiful smile battled the sun in brightness.

“Hi.” I bashfully smiled with a lift of my hand. My stomach flipped in on itself. Flashes of Jacob’s want covered face appeared in the forefront of my mind.

“Hey Bells.” Dropping his eyes to the ground for a moment, Jacob reached out his hand to me. “C’mere.”
The two onyx irises I had lustfully stared into last night resembled the eyes of my Jacob before his werewolf gene kicked in. My heart tumbled.

When I placed my palm against his, my heart settled neatly in my chest, circumferenced with Jacob’s contagious warmth. Our fingers harmoniously intertwined. My soul’s longing was soothed by the meeting of our flesh.

“I need to tell you something, Bells.” Jake embarrassingly smirked. “It’s going to sound lame and stupid. And I’ll probably sound like an idiot...”

“Jake, just say it. You can tell me anything.” I curiously smiled and squeezed his hand for comfort.

“Last night was probably the best night of my life.”

The smile on my face grew wider and my settled heart pounded profusely.

“And seeing how very little happened… that means a lot, Bells, a whole lot.”

Jacob turned until he was standing directly in front of me, until the tip of his nose brushed mine. His cheeks glowed a rosey red, and his eyes were glossed over with happiness. “I know I’ve told you this before. The outcome then wasn’t what I wanted, but here goes nothing...” The usual nerves of steel Jacob had were tightening their grip around his throat, but then his eyes met mine and ease filled the space between us. “I love you, Bella. I want you to choose me.”

My cheeks flared with an intense burning that started in my neck and rose until the flames lapped at my eyes causing tears to well up. The ice that had covered half of my heart thawed until warm love pounded fiercely through my veins.

“It’ll be as easy as breathing. We can be together. You won’t have to hide or leave your family. You can stay with Charlie. You can go to school in Jacksonville. You can do or be whatever you want if you choose me, because as long as you’re still human, I will fight for your every breath.”

It was in his moment of explanation... of rambling that the feeling hit me like a ton of bricks.

I needed him to kiss me.

I needed that moment of clarity where my heart was open to my soul.

I needed to see what Alice saw.

“Jake...” I breathed staring intently at his perfectly inviting lips.

“No one can stand in our way. No one...Yeah?” He answered mid sentence.

“Stop talking and kiss me.”

“What?” Hesitation flared on his face. The last time he kissed me, he promised to never do so without me asking. So maybe my statement wasn’t exactly a question.

“I’m asking you, Jacob Black, to kiss me.”

There was no hesitation this time. Gently Jacob’s hands cupped my burning red cheeks. His stare trickled over my face, soaking up the moment’s grace. And before I could inhale a breath, Jacob pressed a sweet, tender kiss onto my lips.

This kiss, it was nothing like our first one. No, this one, it meant something. It pulsated in my veins. It twirled in my stomach. It stopped the beat of my heart as it met my soul and my eyes opened to the vision Alice must have seen.

I was sitting on the front porch of a quaint, new house surrounded by pine trees. The scent of salt and sand swarmed through the light breeze.

Around my abdomen was an arm, which tightly squeezed me. By simply glancing down to the hand connected to the arm, I immediately recognized it as Jacob. His palm rested on my thigh and his chin rested neatly on my shoulder.

My heart swelled at the love flowing easily and freely between us. The smiles on our faces were brighter than the Spring sun. I felt connected and together, confident and human – entirely human. And I was at peace with that.

While I basked in peace and love, I watched the tree line intensely, expecting someone to appear. And when no one did, a weird urge to protect, to find, to love, and to cherish nervously shook through my bones.

“They’ll be out soon.” Jacob whispered into my ear. He tightly pulled me against his ribs. “You gotta remember who their dad is. I know these woods like the back of my hand.”

Dad…? I thought, but before I could mull the situation over, two black haired little boys sprinted through the tree line clothed in nothing more than cloth shorts. Their bare feet splashed through the slightly muddy ground. And their laughs cooed my heart causing it to swell and burst with happiness, love, peace.

“Dad… look what we found!” The slightly bigger one proudly smiled the same smile I watched spread across Jacob’s face as he peered down to our two boys.

The younger, smaller child scurried behind the eldest, his skin slightly lighter, but tanned nonetheless. “Mom, you gotta see this. It’s so cool!”

Mom.

My heart exploded with what couldn’t be described as anything but pure and utter joy. And the moment it exploded the vision slowly faded. A longing to go back to that moment in time where everything was perfect and harmonious started to burn through every layer of ice which had once been my love for Edward.

In my future, I was a mother to the two perfect little boys, who I made with the man taking my breath away with his lips. I felt proud, strong, clumsy, beautiful, loved, and needed.

As Jacob swallowed another kiss, my heart tumbled into his hands. My own selfishness outweighed the martyr in me. How could I say no to the boys Jake and I would create together? How could I take from the world the simple perfection of two perfect souls for immortality? Children, in their own, were immortality. A piece of you would live on forever through them.

And that was enough for me.

I pressed my lips roughly against Jacob’s, beckoning a low, feral growl from him. His hands shot up my back yanking me forward, and taking advantage of every passing second as though I were about to break his heart.

But I could never do that. I could never take from him a future with his sons. I could never take from him the pride-filled smile which easily spread his cheeks when his two children came to view. I could never take from him the one thing he cherished more than his own life… the one thing he was fighting a war for… me.

The vision made my decision clear. No longer did my heart reside in Switzerland, instead its home was on the reservation. And I needed to tell him. I needed him to know before he ran off to fight an army of newborn vampires in my army.

I needed him to be safe.

I needed him to come back to me.

“Jake…” Pulling my lips away reluctantly, I opened my mouth to speak but found them covered again by Jacob’s eager mouth. My hands slid from his shoulders to his neck, my fingertips digging into his russet skin.

As I was losing myself in his sweet, tender lips, Jacob suddenly stopped kissing me. His top lip rose in a snarl and his nose lifted into the air.

“They’re here.”

One last kiss was planted on my lips.

“That should have been our first kiss.” Looking off into the distance, Jacob nodded his head. “I gotta go.”

“Please be careful.” I begged allowing more of my heart to entangle with my words. “I need you to be safe.”

“I will, Bells. I promise.” He answered with a quick peck on my lips.

And suddenly, I was cold and alone on the edge of a cliff waiting for Victoria to find me.

***

“You’ve decided.” Edward’s charming voice peaked through the fear and anxiety swarming my brain.

“I’m sorry, Edward.” I faced him.

Displeasure covered his frozen-in-time face. Heartbreak flitted across his honey eyes. His mouth set in a straight line.

“Being wrong is hard for me.” I stepped forward, his scent enticing just as it used to, but now a filter stood in its way. No longer was I intoxicated by his musky sweet smell. “I’ve seen what my future could be with Jacob, and I can’t give up on that.”

“Jacob is good for you. He can provide you with a life I cannot.”

“I do love you, Edward…” I whispered as defeat weighted down on his statuesque shoulders.

Edward raised his palm to the side of my face, and settled it there. “I know, love.” He whispered just before placing a chaste kiss upon my lips. They felt foreign, cold, and hard. “And I you.”

My eyes watered my cheeks with tears of sadness and relief.

“No need for tears, Bella. You’ve made the decision I would have made for you. You’ll stay human.”

I nodded my head. “I have to be selfish. I have to dedicate myself to my future, a future I deserve.”

“You deserve a fruitful life full of happiness.”

“Oh, how sweet. Your human has dismissed you for the likes of a mut.” Fiery red hair contrasted against the snow and barren trees just behind Edward.

“Leave Jacob out of this!” I nearly hissed.

Blood red eyes focused on me.

Edward turned in a flash.

“Ballsy.” Victoria snarled. “My dear Bella, it doesn’t matter who you chose. The end of your human life has come. Nothing would displease Edward more than for you to become like us. His self loathing is repulsive, but his love for you is far worse.”

Victoria hadn’t come to kill Edward or Jacob or anyone else for that matter. She had come for me, to change me, just as I had wished even the day prior. But now my heart sang a different melody. I wanted to be human. I chose to stay human for the two black haired boys in my future. I chose Jacob because he offered everything I thought I never wanted.

And suddenly my life was in the balance. And I was petrified that I would become Jacob’s enemy. And that the love he had for me would fade as well as the vision of our two boys and my future with them.

Edward’s arm lengthened, shielding me. “Bella is still under the protection of the Cullen family.” He paused and glanced back to me. “She forever will be.”

A smug smile crept onto my face, but not before my mouth gaped open as a large red wolf darted through the pine’s to Victoria’s left. “Jacob, no!” I yelled covering my mouth as my fears turned into tears and shed down my cheeks.

“Jacob!” Edward flashed forward as Victoria flipped in mid air just barely missing Jacob’s snapping jaws. And before he could stop himself and turn back around, Victoria landed on her feet.

She sprinted in Jacob’s direction. As his wolf turned and galloped forward, Victoria leaped into the air, flipping once more until she landed just behind Jacob. Her arms wrapped tightly around his midsection. With a barely noticeable squeeze, Victoria snarled while Jacob’s ribs crumbled. An ear splitting yelp and the sudden sound of breaking metal had me covering my eyes and hoping that the transformation wouldn’t hurt as much as watching your best friend, your soul mate being killed in your honor.

I heard two more sounds that sounded like crumpling metal before I uncovered my eyes. And when I did, they focused on the naked in-human-form Jacob lying in the snow. His mouth agape with a scream, but no sound came out. Dashing toward him, I looked to the place Victoria had been, but only saw a pile of pieces and strands of fiery red hair a few feet away. Edward’s hand slipped into his pocket and fished out a lighter. After lighting it, he tossed it onto the pile of what used to be Victoria before rushing over to Jacob.

“Jake,” I sobbed, “please be okay!”

Edward approached and knelt next to Jake’s disfigured ribs.

“Edward! Please help him. Get Carlisle… someone!”

As though the threat of the newborns was over, Edward’s form blurred as it darted down the mountain toward the battlefield. Knowing that my safety was foremost on Edward’s mind, I felt oddly safe even with Jacob rolling from side to side in agonizing pain.

His pain was my pain.

I knelt next to him, my knees barely brushing his hip. Glancing over his naked form, I gulped at the dent in his ribcage. My heart profusely pounded in my chest. Reaching my hands out, I tried to steady him. I tried to calm Jacob to take a bit of his pain away. And when our skin connected, Jacob’s involuntary rolling slowed.

My hands ached as waves of his pain flowed from him to me. Our eyes met and in that moment, I could see our two dark haired boys again. I could see the years of my life passing as I rested comfortably next to Jacob. I could see the wrinkles forming at the corners of our eyes. I could see the strands of our hair graying. I could see our children having children and the ample amounts of love that surrounded me.

I could feel the protection of the pack. I could feel the welcoming of a family. I could feel the easiness of breathing.

But mostly, what I saw was the physical formation of mine and Jacob’s love.

And there was no better feeling in the world.

***

Jacob lay covered in a sheen of sweat. His arm and ribs wrapped with a bandage to keep the bones Victoria broke in their proper places. He faded in and out of consciousness as the morphine Carlisle had given him eased his pain. And when his pain resurfaced, not only did Jacob feel it but so did I.

My mind was foggy and abused with the day’s events. I had gone from knowing my destiny to deciding against it. I allowed myself to love Jacob properly, to allow him that little bit of a chance to show me what he saw. With that scene my brain validated my heart’s beat.

My soul met its mate.

And so for days, I sat next to Jake. I watched him heal. I watched the sweat bead above his brow and slide down his tanned cheeks. I watched him slip from fully aware of my presence to thinking I was simply a dream.

For that reason, I waited to explain my choice to him. Jacob could have heard my conversation with Edward. That could have been why he was still so close when Victoria appeared. But I wasn’t sure.

So, I waited.

I waited for Jacob to open his eyes, to be coherent, to be able to hear me outright and not think that what I was telling him was a figment of his imagination – or induced by the morphine shots Carlisle periodically gave him. I sat next to him, worry filling my brain with all the possibilities concerning his injuries. Deep anticipation curdled in my blood.

Still… I waited.

I lasted two days without sleep, food, or a shower. My sole concentration on the being lying in his twin size bed in front of me. I watched, waited, and anticipated his every breath.

On the third day, Charlie appeared in Jacob’s doorway. Worry etched onto his face in creases and lines.

“Bells, I think you should come home, take a shower, get some rest.” Charlie placed his hands on his hips just above his police belt.

I didn’t bother with responding. I simply stared at Jacob, waiting and hoping that he’d open his eyes and smile that brighter than the sun smile because my soul was beginning to grow cold. I needed his warmth to cover me – to let me know he was okay.

“At least let me sit with him while you shower and eat here. I brought your girly shower things and a salad from the diner.”

It was then that I finally glanced up to Charlie.

He shrugged. “I didn’t think you’d listen to me. When have you ever?”

A small smile tweaked at my lips just before I pressed them to Jacob’s wet forehead. I whispered into Jacob’s ear, “Give me thirty minutes. I’ll be back. I promise.” My bones cracked when I stood. “If he so much as blinks more than once, come get me.”

“Don’t worry. I got this.” Charlie waved me off and settled in the floor next to Jacob’s bed. He flipped on the television to the latest episode of COPS as I headed for the shower.

My skin and brain thanked me for the few minutes of solitude in the shower. Tears trickled down my cheeks as pent-up frustration welled on my heart.

I wanted Jacob to wake up. I wanted to be the first person he saw. I wanted him to look at me. I wanted him to hold my hand again. I wanted him to smile… just so I would feel okay, so I could drop a bit of this burden riding on my shoulders.

But most of all, I wanted to tell him how much I loved him and how that was exactly enough.

After my shower, I settled into the couch with my salad on my lap. My stomach rumbled at the mere sight of food. The crunching of the lettuce soothed my brain, allowing it a moment or two of relaxation. That moment or two turned into eight beautiful hours of perfect sleep, where both my heart and soul rested peacefully in the comfort of Jacob’s home.

It was morning when I first stirred to the creaking of a door. I flinched as a pair of warm lips rested comfortably on my forehead. My heart double beated. Goosebumps rose over my skin. But the warmth stirring inside of me faded with solid footsteps leading away.

Exhaustion held my eyelids down disbelieving the prior kiss and the warmth still lingering on my forehead. And so, I drifted back to sleep comfortably hoping that whatever dream wandering around my brain would reappear.

Time slipped away from me again. Dreams of waterfalls in the distance clouded any chance of re-greeting my dream of two warm lips. The sound of water crashing against the earth lulled me to a heavy sleep. My body curled into the couch relishing in Jacob’s lingering scent. When that scent became stronger, pure comfort engulfed me with soft, pliable flesh against my cheek.

“Morning Bells.” His voice reverberated through my bones, warming me from the inside out. A finger brushed a strand of hair behind my ear. And it almost felt as real as his voice sounded.

When I didn’t stir or open my eyes, a pair of warm, soft lips kissed my cheek just by my ear. A puff of breath blew stray hairs against my skin, tickling my neck. I swatted at the strands of my hair only to find my hand resting against a cheek that wasn’t my own. My eyes fluttered open and my heart stumbled heavily in my chest.

“Jake!” I cried, elated that he was awake. “You’re okay!”

A small, but bright smile cocooned me in warmth. Without any sort of hesitation, I wrapped my arms around his neck. My hands rested against his back, meeting with droplets of water. His scent was particularly strong, like he’d freshly showered. I glanced up to his hair, noticing the droplets of water clinging to the spiky chunks. I realized, then, the waterfalls in my dream were the sound of his shower.

“I’m okay.” Jacob chuckled. As he released our embrace, I noticed the purplish-black surrounded by an odd shade of yellow bruise on his ribcage. He followed my stare, brushing his fingers over the dips and groves of his ribs. “Doesn’t hurt as bad as it looks.”

I nodded, trying to believe him. But I had been there for the past three days. I knew the amount of pain he was in. I knew there had to be some residual agony somewhere. However… the fact that he wanted me to believe he was okay swelled something in my chest. Jacob didn’t want me to feel a tiny bit of anguish over him protecting me. It was what he chose to do.

I needed to tell Jacob my choice – even if he had heard it just before the battle with Victoria. He needed to know that I chose him, that I chose a lifetime with him over an eternity with Edward. I chose to live for him and our two future sons, for our family, for my future.

I chose love and life and happiness.

Jacob’s hand slid to his stomach and rubbed. He turned toward the kitchen and just before he could take a step forward, my hand grasped his thumb, stopping him dead in his tracks.
“I choose you.” I stated firmly. Maybe it wasn’t the most romantic way to go about things, but it was direct. Jacob had been stuck in the run-around for far too long. I wanted him to know.

“What?” He answered, his brows pulling high on his forehead almost as though he were surprised.

Further explanation was needed, so I heaved a breath and well… explained.

“When you kissed me on the mountain, Jake… something happened. I saw my future with you. I saw you and me on the front porch of our house. I saw our two little boys playing in the woods. I watched them grow as we grayed. I saw their children and the wrinkles on our faces… “

I gazed into his softening black eyes. The beat in my chest tripled with every passing second.

“I felt your love for me and finally… I felt my love for you.”

Jacob fully turned toward me. His face a few inches above mine, but softly he watched as I relived the moments our souls and hearts connected..

“I know what my future holds with you. It’s everything I never knew I wanted, but everything my heart is crying for.”

A tear trickled from my eye and Jacob’s thumb was there to swipe it away, his palm resting comfortably against my cheek. Deep, content love traveled through me in waves of shivers

“I choose life, Jacob. I choose you.”

He sought out my stare, a tear or two puddling on his bottom lashes. A brightly beautiful smile widened across Jacob’s face. Just when I thought he would say something, Jacob swiftly brought his lips to mine. His lips were pliable and soft, but his kiss was hard and passionate – like he had waited every moment of forever for this particular moment.

My own matched the varying pace and pressures of his. Heavy breaths panted between our lips as our kissing escalated to roaming touches and needy hands. The hem of my shirt lifted and Jacob’s hand wrapped around my side. His bare flesh upon my bare flesh triggered a hasty need for me to deepen the kiss we were in, and so the tip of my tongue flirted with the part in his lips. Jacob granted me access with a heaving breath. Just as our tongues joined, a throaty groan escaped from Jacob’s grasp.

I ached for him, my body curving into him just to get closer, to feel more of him all over me. But that didn’t help. And just as the level of frustration rose in my veins, the tips of his fingers dug into my side. His grip tightened and he pulled me closer until my chest brushed against his, until I was coveted in warmth.

But...I needed to be completely engulfed.

I needed to satisfy the craving growing within me.

I wanted him to feel what I felt.

I wanted him to feel the love that swelled in my chest for him was far more than the love I once felt for another.

I was ready to be his – completely.

My arms rose over my head. His lips kissed mine once or twice more, question covering his face when he opened his eyes. Jacob slid his hand up my ribcage taking with it the hem of my shirt. A cocked eyebrow asked the question settled on his lips. And when I wiggled my arms and nodded my head, Jacob lifted the shirt from my body.
Before I could shake the waves of my hair out, Jacob’s grip was back on my hips, guiding me backward through his bedroom door. As Jacob entered his room, he grappled onto the side of the door shutting it behind him with a slam. Intimacy surrounded us, allowing us the time to express exactly what each felt. And I knew no better way other than to allow him to have the one thing no one would ever be able to take again… my virginity.

I outstretched my arms, looping them around Jacob’s neck and taking from him the kiss I really wanted. The kiss that shattered my world and changed my mind. At the same time, Jacob squeezed me close to him, his palms flat against my back. They slid up to my shoulders and back down to the curve of my hips and stopping at the top of my jeans, hesitant to explore further.

I clasped my steady hands on each side of Jacob’s neck. My thumbs grazed against his jaw as our lips kissed and parted, our tongues flirting every so often. And when our mouths weren’t connected, I felt empty almost, like I lost the one thing I was searching for all along. But I had something to say, something that Jacob needed to know.

This wasn’t just about being a risky teenager like the night in the tent. Tonight was about showing Jacob how much I loved him. It was about sharing with him something so intimate that no one could ever take it away from him or me.

This moment was ours and ours alone.

With his lips millimeters away, I pressed my forehead against his. I opened my love filled eyes only to see his closed lids, hesitant to open, hesitant to think of this as his reality. My lips grew needy, so I pressed a tender, sweet kiss upon his.

“Jake, open your eyes.” I whispered parting our kiss.

He shook his head no.

“Why not?” I trailed my thumb along his jaw again.

“I don’t want this to be a dream.”

“It’s not.” I stated firmly and gently kissing him again. “I promise you this is reality. And I never break my promises, do I?”

Lost in thought for a moment, Jacob squeezed his eyes shut and mouthed an inaudible word, then his beautiful lashes fluttered against his blushing russet cheeks until two dark irises filled with the greatest of loves greeted me.

I smiled in response. “See?”

His arms tightened around my midsection and squeezed me tightly against him, his body almost curving into mine. He nodded his head and gently kissed my bottom lip. Worry filtered into his eyes.

“Don’t worry, Jacob. This isn’t temporary or something I’m doing on a whim… I want this. I want you. I choose you.”

Jacob’s full lips tweaked up in the corners, but it wasn’t exactly the reaction I wanted. I wanted that full smile, the one that light up a room, the one that circumference me in warmth… the one I loved.

“I’m choosing warmth, Jake. I’m choosing you…” I brought my mouth a bit closer to his. His breath warmed my lips. “I want to be surrounded by you, encompassed by you because I’m in love with you.”

Jacob’s dark eyes lit up and the worry slipped from them as I said those precious words to him. Words, he probably assumed he would never hear. Words that seemed to draw every last bit of hesitancy out of Jacob.

“I love you too, Bella.” Jacob spoke just before he planted his two pliablely soft lips against mine in a kiss the buckled my knees and had me lying on my back, naked, in his twin sized bed within seconds.

Two wondering eyes sauntered over my naked flesh. Blush rose up my neck in waves of heat, but I had never felt more beautiful, more wanted, or more loved. My chest lifted dramatically with every breath I breathed. And with every passing second that Jacob’s warmth wasn’t directly over me, I became increasingly more aware of my hunger for him. The beat of my heart pounded so heavily that I was sure he could see it on the left side of my chest, but all Jake could do was take in the moment with wondering eyes, hands, and lips.

Loving and intriguing touches curled my toes. Softly gentle kisses arched my back from the bed, bringing every nerve in my body on end. Grunts of his unadulterated desire sent chills over my already overly sensitive skin.

Just before I unraveled from the lack of Jacob, he nestled himself between my legs. His desire for me rested against my thigh. His lips sought out mine, his tongue entangling with mine the moment our lips connected. Lifting himself slightly, Jacob’s hand trailed between us grasping himself and adjusting to where he was settled perfectly with me. He throbbed between my legs and I nearly vibrated beneath him, pleasure rolling through me with every throb.

Jacob parted our kiss, his wanting lips retracting until I lifted my head from the pillow in search of them. Our gazes interlocked. Without speaking, he asked the one question I didn’t need to answer, because I was there and in love with him. He would be my only one. And I was okay with that.

In response to his wordless question, I palmed his face and lifted myself up to kiss his perfectly plump lips. Moaning a slightly audible “yes”, I pulled Jacob back to me as I rested my head against his pillow.

Jacob placed his elbows on either side of my head and rested most of his weight on them, but on my lower half I felt his heaviness. His thickness throbbed against my womanhood. With opened eyes, Jacob brought his lips to mine once more. And as he pulled back, I mouthed an airy “I love you.”

Jacob’s hips lifted, bringing himself into me.

A sharp, stretching pain tightened every muscle in my body, but on the back end of that pain was fulfillment. I was as close to Jacob as any one person could ever be. I was completely surrounded and filled by him. Even with the pain, there was no greater feeling than giving Jacob this intimate gift that no one else would ever receive. That in and of itself swelled my heart with love and passion.

My world’s axis tilted. And I was suddenly swimming in a sea of Jacob. His scent, his rigid muscles, his taut skin, his intoxicating warmth encircled me until I was drowning, the pain slowly fading into nothingness until I was adjusted to his fullness.

Jacob no longer had to be careful in his thrusts so as to not cause pain. His movements remained slow and drawn out as though he were memorizing every second, but his groans were hasty and thick. Then… well… my goose bumps had goose bumps. My cravings had cravings. My needs had needs. And drowning was no longer the proper word to describe what I was feeling...

I was completely and irrevocably engulfed by Jacob Black.

And it was… perfect.

***

Those moments of warmth and intimacy were countless as our relationship bloomed into the easiest of loves. Innumerable memories were made there in his twin sized bed, including the night we conceived our first son, and the nights after when my stomach began to swell.

And as the years passed on, I remembered the vision from the mountain top, the two little dark-haired boys, the house, the warm embrace, and the comfort of an easy as breathing relationship with your soul mate. With those memories came the thoughts of my almost mistake of choosing death over life, of choosing an endless eternity over the love of a lifetime.

It was when I found myself in the same exact moment I had seen on top of the mountain when I had asked Jacob to kiss me that I truly realized a lifetime of love holds greater worth than an eternity of togetherness.