20. Right or Wrong
20. Right or Wrong
Bella had fought him for all of ten seconds, if that. This kiss was unwelcome to her, an invasion, really. And the warmth of Jacob's lips only served as a reminder that he was definitely not the correct person to be kissing her…until she realized how tender those lips had remained despite her struggles against him. The sweet urgency had soon taken over, and the feel of his lips upon hers was no longer unfamiliar. There was something else – that perfect, restrained pressure. It was playful, and sweet, and teasing, and innocent all at the same time…
And then it wasn't.
After months of kissing Edward, there was no doubt in her mind. She had always been able to guess that precise moment when they had taken it too far, each time hoping to take it further. And she had craved to be kissed the way he was kissing her now.
Bella looked upon his face, this time struggling to see past his features. "Edward?"
Edward felt Jacob's heart leap at her recognition. He had known she was intuitive, and it was now almost a dream come true that she had finally figured it out. "Yes, Bella. It's me."
She closed her eyes, allowing only the words to pass through without the distraction that this was Jacob's body standing here before her. And that Edward was speaking using Jacob's voice. Squeezing his hands tightly in hers, she urged him to continue. "How is this possible?"
The rain still fell lightly upon them, and she shivered against the warmth of his body as Edward placed his arm around her shoulder, facing her back toward the house. "Let's go back inside and I'll tell you everything."
"This is bizarre."
With towels draped around their necks, the two sat side by side on the sofa, and Bella had traded in her soaked denims for a pair of Jacob's grey sweatpants and t-shirt. In awe, Bella stared down at the small, round turquoise stone in Edward's palm. He had issued a strict warning not to touch it and had explained the circumstances that led to how this piece had inspired the change. She eyed the tiny lightning symbol, amazed that such a small piece of unsuspecting jewelry could have caused all this trouble.
"And so the curse wouldn't allow you to tell me?" she probed, examining the situation from every angle.
"We couldn't write or say it...to anybody."
"What if you had tried to give me clues before? Or tried to kiss me?"
"Do you think you it would've worked?"
Considering what they had all been through that week, Bella shook her head. "Probably not." After his lengthy explanation, Bella was still trying to process it. "This explains so much – your sudden loss of control, how Alice couldn't see you…." There were other connections she was making– her dreams appeared to have been playing a role as well. She paused, facing him hopefully. "Could there be any connection with the intruder to this necklace?"
Edward still wanted to pop Jacob in the jaw for telling Bella about the threat of the other vampire. "It's unlikely. Since it somehow came into Emily's possession and then into Jacob's, there seems to be little chance any vampires would look for anything like this."
"So, nobody else knows?"
"Not even Sam Uley or the other wolves?"
"I haven't phased yet. Jacob doesn't want me to for some reason, and he refuses to tell me how," he admitted wryly, taking the stone and stuffing it back into the safety of his pocket. Just the idea of having it out made him nervous, and he did not like the idea of Bella touching it.
On the surface, it almost seemed that Jacob had the better end of the deal, but then considering the difficulties he'd had to overcome to withstand her blood, she could see this was not the case. And she felt her whole body flush as she considered her experiences over the past few days. She had felt an overload of conflicting emotions – fear, hurt, love, relief, happiness, and acceptance. Jacob had been playing the part of Edward, and Bella was happy that Jacob was forced to behave himself. He had cuddled her to sleep the night before, and though there was nothing for her to be ashamed of, she bit back the unease of her feelings for him.
"Can you still read minds?" she asked, unable to stop herself from shooting out question after question.
"And now Jacob can?"
"Unfortunately," Edward replied sourly.
"Do you miss it?"
"Mostly I don't, but sometimes I do."
"So, you were out there…on the tree branch, guarding me? That was you?" she asked, still trying to put together the oddities.
He grinned widely. "That was me."
"And that was you during dinner at my house – when you cut your hand on the knife?"
"That was me."
She shook her head incredulously. Something like this was impossible to believe, and if she hadn't had the proof in not only the kiss, but the difference in Jacob's and Edward's mannerisms and actions, Bella would not be convinced. Her eyes met Jacob's dark gaze which was meeting her with adoration, and she couldn't help but look away.
Edward took her hand in his. "Are you okay?"
She nodded, still looking out the window into the darkness. The rain had fallen silent. "This is just confusing. I mean, I understand that it's you, Edward. But when you look at me like that…." It was quite the contradictory feeling considering she'd just been kissing him in the rain.
"It takes some getting used to," he assured her. Her hesitance confirmed she did not have feelings for Jacob, but at the same time he could not resist the magnetic pull from her body as he inched his way closer to her.
"How long do you think you're going to be stuck like this?" She turned back to face him, but kept her gaze on their interlocked hands.
"We don't know," he said with a sigh.
To Bella, Edward had painted a fairly hopeless picture, having informed her of the conversation with Emily's neighbor, and now she felt at a loss for how to help. "Do you like experiencing the human stuff?"
"There's the good and the bad…the things I'd forgotten. Being able to sleep is nicer than you can imagine, but it's easy to forget that without enough, the body's left tired. It's wonderful to enjoy food again, but miserable to be hungry…or thirsty…."
She smiled, considering all the human experiences that Edward had become reacquainted with and unwittingly had shared some together. For once, he had actually fallen asleep on her.
"There is one big benefit," he said.
He tilted her chin up to meet his gaze. "I don't have to worry about being so careful with you all the time." Or killing her… "This is what it must feel like to feel normal."
"And the kissing?" she asked, lamenting the absence of his lips already. The heat from the kiss outside still sent waves of tingles up and down her body.
"That was the best. When I'm kissing you, I don't have to think about a hundred things at once. I can just focus on you, Bella," he said, his voice becoming softer as he leaned in toward her face. "The softness of your lips…how tempting it is to have you so close…."
She leaned away slightly, her gaze falling to the floor, visibly uncomfortable.
"What's wrong?" he asked, noticing the nervous way she was now chewing on her bottom lip. "Oh," he said, leaning his back against the cushions of the sofa. He still looked like Jacob.
"It's just confusing, Edward." Bella turned her gaze back toward Jacob's dark eyes, which at that moment was confusing her even more. "I know you're in there, but you still look like…."
He sighed. "I know."
There was too much light. Even in the dimness from the single lamp in Jacob's living room, Bella could make out his every distinct feature – the short spiky black hair, the dark skin, the impressive muscular build of his body. The male before her looked like Jacob, and even though her heart was telling her that Edward was inside, she felt torn. She wanted to kiss Edward more than anything. Here they were alone, caught up in an unexpected romantic moment, and Bella felt silly for holding back…because now they didn't have to…and the realization of this hit her like an explosion.
She sat up hastily and reached behind her to the lamp on the coffee table. "I'll turn off the light."
There were only two shadows in the darkness now, and Bella moved back toward him on the couch meeting his shoulder with her own. "That's better," she said, pressing her lips to his, but to her dismay this prompted no response from Edward. She pulled away from him. "Edward, what's wrong?"
The dream of Bella telling Jacob she loved him a few nights ago pierced furiously into Edward's consciousness, and he could still feel the sting of hearing her say his name.
"I don't want you to be confused."
"I won't be," she insisted. "It's dark. I can barely see you."
He placed his hand tenderly on her cheek, knowing she would be disappointed. Edward felt forever cursed that he could never give her what she wanted, what she needed. "I can't have you be confused. Do you understand, Bella?" He felt her head nod against his fingers. Intimacies such as these had a way of inspiring unbidden feelings.
"How about this?" she proposed, "I'll keep my eyes closed so that I don't get confused."
"What about when I speak?"
"Don't… speak," she whispered, determined. After crawling onto his lap, she faced him, placing her legs into the seam of the sofa on either side of his hips the way she'd always longed to and then took his face in her hands without giving him the chance to argue. He didn't say a word after that when she covered his mouth with her own, pressing her lips urgently against his.
Edward knew in the back of his mind this was wrong, that he should put a stop to it, but then again, he also realized that if he were fair, he would allow Bella the chance to fall for Jacob…to have the chance at a normal life.
All thoughts were temporarily lost as he relished the feel of her chest heaving against his, her fingers threading into his hair, the delicious heat of her tongue as it searched for its mate. Guided now by his own desire, he grasped at the fabric at her back, pulling her closer so there was no space between their two bodies. As their kiss deepened and clawed at Edward's self control, he found it easy to forget Jacob and the existence of the curse. In this one perfect moment, there was only his sweet Bella, and his desire for her was escalating beyond what was typically acceptable. Her body was responding to his, taunting, testing…Bella was always testing the boundaries, and his body won the struggle against his mind and conscience. Edward didn't separate from her lips as his hands lifted her easily and repositioned her so that she was lying beneath him.
"Bella," he murmured, setting kisses across her jaw line. "I want you so badly."
"I want you, too, Edward," she said, hitching her leg around his hip.
"Tell me I'm not dreaming," he said.
"You're NOT dreaming," she said breathlessly, caught up in the fire of his lips now along the curve of her neck.
"We shouldn't do this." He meant it, of course, but the way he said it sounded incredibly unconvincing.
"Edward, please stop thinking." Her hands began to roam from his hair down to the solid muscles of his back, and her lips sought his again.
Lost in her kiss again, his hand burrowed underneath her shirt at her back, and he loved the way goose bumps erupted as his fingers brushed lightly against her skin.
A burst of light illuminating the room and the noise of wheels against the floor broke their lips apart. Both were out of breath, embarrassed and surprised by Billy's arrival.
Billy's eyes widened as he found his son on top of Bella on his living room sofa. "Well, this is new," he said, pushing the door closed behind him.
Turning several shades of pink and crimson, Bella buried her face beneath Edward's Jacob chest, chewing her lip furiously.
Edward didn't know what to say. He hadn't even heard a sound outside…although he hadn't been listening… He lifted his body away from her to put a respectable distance between them, awaiting Billy's reprimand.
"Well," Billy began, wheeling himself across the living room and toward the back rooms, "I'm going to bed. Good night."
"Good night," Edward replied in disbelief.
"Good night," Bella said in a tiny voice, horrified by what Billy had seen, by what he would think, by what he might tell Charlie. She mouthed the words 'Oh my God' to Edward as she sat up against the couch.
"By the way," Billy said, wheeling himself backward. "Jake, you might want to get Bella home. Charlie's going to be worried about her."
Nodding, Edward agreed, feeling very much like the seventeen-year-old boy whose body he was inhabiting. "Okay, Dad." He took Bella's hand and pulled her from the couch, and the two erupted into giggles as they heard the click of the door closing from Billy's room.
As Edward drove them back toward the boundary line, Bella ended her call to Charlie. Now that he was aware she was on her way home from Billy and Jacob's house, she knew he wouldn't worry, but then another concern hit her.
"I forgot to call Edward!" she said, looking at him with horrified eyes.
Edward became very quiet, keeping his eyes on the narrow dirt path that wound around through the quiet moonlit forest. "You mean Jacob?"
"Of course! Yes. I meant Jacob," she corrected. "I was picturing your face, so I said your name."
Bella instantly felt bad for her mistake. His silence told her she had hurt him. "I'm so sorry, Edward. I meant Jacob. Please believe me?"
Before they could discuss it any further, the figure of Edward's body came into view of the headlights as they neared the rendezvous point. Edward could see that on Jacob's Edward face he was angry, and this encounter was one he was not looking forward to.
"Stay here," he directed. "Let me talk to him."
Nodding, Bella remained inside as Edward got out to meet him. Seeing the two of them face to face like this reconfirmed how bizarre this situation was. She was still attracted to Edward in his own body, but had to tell herself that he was Jacob. Confusing…
"I've been waiting here for hours," he said, his voice angry.
"I apologize for that, Jacob. The time got away from us."
Jacob was silent as he read Edward's explanation. "Bella knows. Wow, I was starting to think it wasn't possible…wait! And you kissed her?" he burst out incredulously, golden eyes wide with disbelief. "In my body, you kissed her?"
"I'm not going to apologize for that," Edward replied.
Jacob's gaze shot toward Bella's guilty face in the car and then back to Edward. Taken aback and angry, Jacob wanted to punch the face in front of him, which was unfortunately his own. "Dammit!" he shouted. His body moved away, and his foot connected with a rock the size of a tennis ball, launching it high up into the sky past the peaks of the trees, and in that tense moment, both he and Edward watched and listened out of curiosity for its descent. When the boulder crashed against the dirt, close to a mile away, he estimated, Jacob recalled his anger.
"Dammit, dammit, dammit!" he continued ranting, his hands on his hips, cursing Bella and Edward and the rest of the world. "You are not allowed to kiss her in my body! That's just wrong. If there's anybody who's going to be kissing Bella in my body, it's gonna be me!"
"She is my girlfriend, Jacob, and you know this," Edward replied calmly.
Heaving a frustrated sigh, Jacob glared at Edward and his stupid logic. This whole thing wasn't fair.
"This is my fault, too, Jake," Bella told him, standing and leaning against the door frame as she met his gaze.
He had no response to that. Instead he hung his head. "Fine. Whatever," he said. "But you're in my body," Jacob told Edward, feeling his words were useless anyway. "Just don't…do anything stupid."
"Agreed. Now, I have to get Bella home, and since I'll be with her-"
"Oh, no," Jacob jumped in, already realizing where Edward was going with this. "I'll still be there…outside." He was determined he was not going to be sent home, and although he would have preferred to spend the endless night hours cuddling Bella, Jacob decided that keeping guard from the Volvo was better than being questioned by the Cullens why he wasn't with her.
"So, what am I going to tell the Cullens? That Bella broke up with you?" Jacob asked, now voicing his concern.
Edward and Bella had not even considered this. They looked to each other. It would stir up too much drama if they said they had broken up, even if it was a short time until the two returned to each other's bodies.
"Maybe we can tell them about the curse?" Bella suggested, meeting Edward at his side.
Jacob shook his head. "We've already tried that."
Edward turned to Bella. "And the only reason you believed me was because-"
"He kissed you!" Jacob cut in bitterly.
Bella shrugged her shoulders and breathed a long sigh. "Then I guess we say nothing."
"So, you're going to continue to pretend he's me?" Edward asked.
She turned to Jacob, who was now grinning at the uncertainty in Edward's thoughts.
"Unless you have any better ideas."
"Nope," Jacob replied.
"Then it's agreed. In the morning you and Bella can make arrangements for tomorrow," Edward said, putting his arm around her and pulling her close.
"Fine," Jacob muttered, remaining where he was as he watched the two head back to the Volkswagen. "Behave yourselves!" he called out.
"Good night, Jake," Bella said.
Edward waved in acknowledgement as he opened the door for Bella. He had expected Jacob to be upset, and he couldn't blame him for feeling that way. Now as the Volkswagen loudly putted past the treaty line, past his Volvo and Jacob, Edward realized that Jacob was not the only one likely to have ambivalent feelings about this new development. Billy was now aware, and the perception of Jacob and Bella was likely to abound across the reservation.
Things weren't perfect for them right now, but at least they had tonight together.
Bella took his hand in hers, and Edward smiled as they drove away from La Push, forgetting for now that she was smiling at the likeness of a wolf boy.