Fire Becomes Ice

12. Guess Who's Coming For Dinner?

12. Guess Who's Coming For Dinner?

Edward slammed the door shut to Jacob's Volkswagen. Through the mist of sprinkles in the grey evening sky, Emmett's bleachy-flavored scent tinged his nose. The Volvo was now a little further down the street, and Edward imagined his burly sibling on close watch. Happy for this, Edward made his way up the Swans' driveway, but then paused and returned to the mailbox. When he opened it, he found exactly what he was looking for inside. With a smile he tucked the day's mail under his arm and proceeded towards the door.

He knocked as he always had, awaiting the two contrasting reactions. Bella would greet him with a smile, and the sight of her would be like the morning sun after a bleak, stormy night. Charlie's expression, on the other hand, would be more like the dread of a flat tire. His words, although polite, would not reflect his true thoughts. Edward was determined not to allow this to bother him, even though he wished things could be different. However, when Chief Swan opened the door with beer in one hand and a wide grin on his face, Edward wondered if he had been wrong.

"Hey, Jake! Good to see you."

Right, Edward realized sadly. He was Jacob.

"We're just finishing up dinner. You hungry?" he asked, gesturing him inside with his hand.

Edward stepped inside, finding Bella on the phone. Her shoulder was leaning up against the wall away from his view, and she was speaking in a low voice.

"Yes, sir," Edward replied, anxious finally to sample some of Bella's famous cooking.

"She's on the phone with you know who," Charlie said, rolling his eyes, but pointed toward the stove. "But, grab a plate and help yourself." He took a sip from his beer and headed toward the flat screen, stopping on his way to alert Bella to Jacob's presence with a poke of his finger.

After turning his way, she smiled to him, but there was no light in her eyes. Her body turned away from him again.

Edward placed the mail on the middle of the table, placing the envelope of interest on top, and then removed a plate from the cupboard. His senses were filled with the aroma of pork and mashed potatoes. His stomach felt like a bottomless pit as he placed the last chop onto his plate along with a healthy portion of potatoes and big spoonful of corn. Meanwhile, he could not help eavesdropping on Bella's conversation.

"Do you really think that's a good idea?" he heard her ask.

Missing his mind-reading ability and super hearing, he removed a fork and knife from the drawer.

"Well, it's just that…I think you should hunt…."

Hunting. An excellent idea, he thought, hoping that Jacob would listen to Bella.

"Oh, you did? Well, good."

His ears perked up at this, and as he set his plate down across from the half-eaten contents of Bella's plate, he wondered if Jacob was telling her the truth.

"Yes, but...maybe…I don't know…." Curling the cord around her finger, she shot an uneasy glance back to her friend sitting at the table, suddenly impressed by how he was using a fork and knife to cut into his pork chop. "How about I call you later?"

Edward inwardly smiled. He liked that she wanted to hang up with him, but he also had the feeling that it had nothing to do with manners. Having come so close to death hours before had to have left her on edge. And before the fury could bubble up inside the pit of his stomach at Jacob's lack of judgment, Edward held it back, instead concentrating on the flavor of the meat now in his mouth as he chewed.

"Well, Jake's here," she told him, and Edward waved to her with a smile and then presented her with a thumbs up. "Uh…I don't know if he will, Edward." Bella's shoulders shrugged as she looked at him. "Okay, I'll ask." She covered the mouthpiece of the phone and leaned toward his direction. "Edward wants to speak to you."

After swallowing the bite in his mouth, he rose and made his way to Bella. "Of course."

"Okay, just a minute." She handed him the phone, but whispered, "Be nice."

"Hello?"

"I wasn't done talking to you before."

So, it would seem. But I was done talking to you. "I'm fine, thanks. And you?" Edward replied with a smile. Bella, although she had moved back to the table was watching…and listening.

"You're not telling me what I need to know."

How does it feel? "Bella's fine, Edward. Thanks for your concern. You don't need to worry about her right now. She's in good hands." Unless you have something you want to share with me? Like how to phase?

"I'm going to tell her about the intruder."

Bad idea. "Well, we're eating dinner now. Gotta go now." And my food is getting cold.

"She deserves to know," Jacob's Edward voice insisted.

Sure. Tell her she has another vampire to worry about besides you. "Bye."

"Don't you hang up on me! Do you hear me? We are not finished talking!"

Edward held out the phone to Bella, hoping that Jacob would not follow through as she took the receiver. He felt strangely confident that Jacob wouldn't, and trying not to appear as though he was listening as she said goodbye to him, Edward straightened the stack of mail between himself and where Bella would be sitting so it would be in her view.

"I got your mail," Edward announced as Bella joined him at the table.

"Thanks," she said, noticing at once the large envelope from Dartmouth. A small frown appeared on her face. Before she could remove it from the table, Edward's hand stopped her.

"Dartmouth, huh? That's impressive." He stole the envelope from the top of the stack and waved it within her view. "It's thick. Looks like an acceptance," he said, recalling the similar envelope he had received just days before.

Bella glared at him and snapped the envelope from his grip. "Yeah. I don't know. I think Edward sent that in." She quickly stowed the stack onto the counter behind her.

"College suits you, Bella. You have your whole life ahead of you."

"Now, you sound like Edward." She didn't meet his eyes, instead focusing on cutting into the last piece of pork chop on her plate.

"Maybe he's really thinking about what's best for you."

She ate, moving her hand to her forehead. She couldn't stand this – having to defend her decision to both of them. "My mind's already made up, Jake. We've already talked about this."

"I know, but delaying it a few years to go to college…."

Shaking her head, she stood. This conversation had spoiled her appetite. "It's going to happen whether you like it or not." Her voice was tight as she moved to the trash and threw away the bone. "So, can you please drop it?"

Edward sighed. Even as Jacob, it seemed there was no reasoning with her. He finished what was left on his plate as she began piling dishes into the sink. Soon, he was behind her, inhaling that fragrant vanilla and honey scent of her hair, longing to reach out and touch it. "I'm sorry."

She didn't say anything and peered at him over her shoulder. He was giving her large dark puppy eyes as he stood there holding his empty plate, and she couldn't help but smile.

"I'll make it up to you," Edward said. "You wash, and I'll rinse and dry."

A few moments later, Bella was scrubbing and Edward was rinsing in silence.

"Can I ask you something?"

Bella handed him a soapy plate. "That depends on what you want to know."

"What's it like to have a vampire as a boyfriend…if you don't mind my asking?"

For some reason, she felt like she was being tested. Bella rolled her eyes at him. "It's the best." Although a sliver of alarm sunk into her consciousness. Things with Edward had been fine up until the night before.

"I'm serious," he said, placing the dish into the dish rack. "Don't you ever wish that things were different?"

"Do you mean do I wish he was a wolf?" she joked.

"No, that he was human."

"Well, that would be ideal," she admitted. "But, that doesn't really matter to me as much as you think it should."

That's what had always worried Edward. She was ridiculously complacent about their relationship...and about being turned….and about giving up so much.

"Can I ask you something else?"

"Fine," she said, handing him a glass.

"What's it like – having a werewolf as a best friend? It doesn't scare you or freak you out?"

She smiled, cocking her head to the side. "No, not when the werewolf is being nice."

"One last question?"

"If you must," she said with a sigh, raising her shoulders in exaggeration.

"Would you still want to be with Edward if he was a werewolf?"

Her mouth fell open, and she elbowed him. "What kind of question is that? I don't love Edward because he's a vampire! It wouldn't matter to me if he were a wolf, or even Frankenstein!"

This warmed his heart. If only he could tell her…

"Jake, really. Why would you even ask that?"

"I guess I thought that maybe you just really wanted to be one of them. You know - immortality and all that."

She was quiet for a moment, running a soapy sponge around the black handle of the large frying pan. "I guess you don't know me as well as I thought."

He took the pan from her and ran the stream of water over it. "Look, Bella. I'm not trying to hurt your feelings. I would hate for you to…regret…you can't take it back."

"I know that," she said, grabbing a large cutting knife and soaping it delicately.

"Well, there's no rush anyway. You have options."

Shrugging her shoulders, she met his eyes. "I'm not so sure." She handed him the handle of the knife.

"What do you mean?" he asked, running the water down the blade.

"Well, before I was thinking of graduation, but now…because of Edward's loss of control around me, it's going to have to be sooner."

"Owww!" Edward yelped, causing Bella to jump back in surprise. His hand dropped the knife in his hand and it fell back into the sink with a loud clank. He realized that he had gripped the blade too hard. What was left was a long, deep gash and a lot of blood that was streaming down his fingers and palm. "Owww…owww…Ouch!" The pain was unfamiliar as it stung and burned at the same time.

Bella dropped the spatula in her hand into the sink, her mouth falling open at the sight of blood that was gushing from Jacob's hand. "Oh no! Jacob! Oh no!"

Charlie's voice called out from the living room, "Everything okay in there?"

"Yeah," Edward and Bella called back.

"Don't panic," he told her quietly, searching for something to wrap around his injury. It hurt like hell, but the last thing Edward needed was for Bella to pass out, knowing how queasy she became at the sight of blood. And to his surprise, the sight of crimson as it burst forth did not incite a bloodthirsty frenzy.

With dish towel in hand, she reached for his cut palm, but he shrugged it away, taking the towel from her and wrapping it around his hand.

"I got it. It's okay," he murmured, clenching his teeth together as he applied pressure to the wound.

"It's okay?" she shrieked. "You sliced your hand open!"

"I'll be okay," Edward told her, wondering if he would need to pay a visit to the emergency room. He doubted that Bella had a suture needle and thread in their first aid kit.

"Let me see."

The pain had already subsided, and Edward felt the oddest sensation. It was as though the open skin was pulling together from the inside, and he wondered if it were possible.

"Let me look at it!" she said.

"Bella, calm down. Breathe." He removed the towel from his hand and moved it back to the running water.

The sight of red mingled with the water was making her head swim, but she fought to remain conscious. "Let's go. I'll drive you to the ER."

"I just want to see something." No sooner had the water finished rinsing the blood, revealing not an open gash, but a closed one. Remarkably, it appeared as only a long pink line against his russet skin. "Whoa."

Hardly able to believe her eyes, she removed his hand from the water, staring at the hint of the wound that was there only a minute before. She even flipped his hand over to confirm that it was his palm he had cut.

"See? I'm okay."

"But, you were bleeding…so much."

"I guess I'm a fast healer." He was learning something new about werewolves all the time.

"I'll say."

Seeing that he was fine, Bella had made short work of bleaching and scrubbing the premises. Edward did not have to ask why. Blood was a very sensitive topic. It was not very late as he helped her clean up the rest of the kitchen, and despite the ruckus, Charlie was snoring in his chair in the other room. Bella went to him and tapped his shoulder to tell him to go to bed, and as Charlie waved a sleepy good night to both, she gestured for Edward to join her on the couch.

"Oh yeah," Edward began, recalling suddenly what Billy had suggested that morning. "Tomorrow night we're having a bonfire party. Will you come?"

Bella almost said yes, but realized she would need to speak to Edward first. But then again, she wondered what things would be like when she saw him again. Or if she should go straight to Carlisle… For now, it was more appealing to think about a gathering around a roaring fire at La Push with Quil and Embry. In fact, Bella wondered if she would meet Kim, Jared's imprint. "Sounds like fun, but I'll let you know tomorrow for sure."

Edward could not think of a reason why Jacob would disapprove…unless he was trying to be petty…

"Be sure to get permission from the warden," Edward joked, realizing the irony of his words. Here he was playing the part of the friend who was trying to steal time away from her boyfriend.

Bella rolled her eyes at him.

A loud, powerful yawn overtook Edward. It had been hard to push away that tired feeling he had had all day, and now it was finally catching up to him.

"Time for the wolf to go to bed?" Bella said.

Though the idea of falling back onto Jacob's bed sounded like heaven, he had no intention of leaving the property. Sam had issued an order, and even if he were not bound to it, Edward would still choose to remain close by. "Okay, thanks for dinner. It was delicious." He meant it, too. And he could not help but feel grateful for this opportunity to enjoy these small human moments with her.

She smiled as she walked him to the front door. "Talk to you tomorrow, Jake." They had their moments at times, but now she was happy to feel normal again. And she liked how he made her feel safe.

"Goodnight," he told her as he stepped out onto the front porch. For a moment he almost could not suppress the overwhelming feeling he had of wanting to kiss her. Her eyes looked tired, and she looked worn by the events of the day. Nevertheless, he was struck by her beauty.

For just a moment, she was surprised by the intensity of the look he had just given her. Yet, it was neither unnatural nor disconcerting. And she could not recall him ever looking at her that way before. "Goodnight, Jake."

She shut the door, and with a yawn forcing its way out of her mouth, Bella rubbed her eyes and headed for the stairs.

"I love you," he whispered to the figure on the other side of the door and then headed to the tree by her window. It was as good a place as any to keep watch. Despite the tiredness, Edward felt he was becoming more accustomed to this body, and with the agility of a leopard, he climbed to a high branch. He did not look forward to the watch that was coming in the morning, but perching himself high up in the tree, he leaned his back against the large trunk and willed himself to stay awake.


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