"That was…really weird," Bella said to Edward as the Volkswagen followed the trail leading out onto the main road from La Push with only the two circles of light illuminating their path.
"This whole thing is weird," Edward agreed. "The only thing that isn't bizarre is being with you, Bella." He took her hand in his, and his heart was filled with joy as she smiled at him. "I'm so happy that you know the truth."
Edward could see the headlights in the rearview mirror and could barely make out the angry expression in Jacob's Edward face. Apparently, Jacob was unhappy with this latest development. However, Edward did not want to think about Jacob right now. He had certainly not been the most accommodating in this situation. In fact, Edward was sure that if he could've taken advantage of the situation, he would have.
"So, why do you think Jacob won't tell you how to phase?" she asked, sliding her thumb over the dark skin of Edward's knuckles.
"I don't know. It's a mystery to me."
"How did you explain it at the pack meetings?"
Smiling, he tightened his grip around her hand. "There was only one pack meeting, and the rest of the time, Sam seemed to be okay with running."
Bella was curious about Jacob's hesitance. "Oh…maybe he thinks you'll be stuck that way." She remembered stories he had shared with her of the others' experiences.
Edward shrugged his shoulders. Being stuck as a wolf didn't sound so appealing. "Maybe."
"And once you're in wolf form, the others will know that you're not him."
"How would they know that?" He thought about that, recalling Embry's remark about how they knew what he was thinking. "Oh. The wolves can read each other's thoughts, can't they?" Bella nodded, confirming it. This was an alarming thought; it was already bad enough that Jacob could read his mind, but the whole pack having that ability was far worse. Somehow, he doubted that his new wolf brethren would welcome his presence in Jacob's body with open paws. "That may not be such a good thing."
"But, what if one of them know about the curse or how to break the spell?"
Back at Jacob's house, Edward had already explained to her about what he had learned from old Ida. Not even a woman of her age was sure of the talisman's powers. "What if the curse doesn't allow them to know?"
"It took quite a bit of convincing, Bella. And I'm not sure I'd want to be letting them in on the secret." Edward had a mental image just then of Paul picking a fight with a bloodsucker parading as a wolf. "This sounds funny, but I trust Jacob. That's why I'm not pushing it right now. He knows them like I know my own family." Edward liked to think that in Jacob's own way he was trying to protect him.
A loud rumble roared from Edward's stomach, and Bella's eyes turned toward his stomach in amusement. "We forgot to eat dinner," Bella said.
"That's odd. In this body, I can never forget. This body is always hungry," Edward said, embarrassed. "If I had the money, I would take you to the nicest restaurant…."
Bella's lips stretched wide across her face. "You know what, Edward? I really like that you don't have money right now. I have money with me, but since we don't have time for a restaurant, I have another idea."
"Do you really want to do this?" Edward asked.
"Yes, I really do," Bella said, looking down at the three grocery bags on her bed. "C'mon. I know you're still hungry." Even the super-sized burger meal he'd ordered from the drive thru window wasn't enough to fill him up. It had been Bella's idea afterward to take a jaunt through the supermarket and purchase as much junk food as possible.
"Oh, I know in this body, I can handle it." Edward pulled a bag of cheese puffs from one of the bags, imagining that the oblong orange pieces tasted as good as they looked. "What about you?"
Bella smiled as she removed a can of cola from the six pack and popped open one for Edward. "I'll try to keep up." After handing him one and opening one for herself, she pulled a package of chocolate cup cakes from another one of the bags and tore it open. If Edward was going to be somewhat human, she wanted him to have the teenage human experience. She took a bite into one of the cupcakes and held up the other to his lips. "Do you like chocolate?"
"I don't remember. I think I do." He accepted Bella's offering, relishing the fluffy texture and sweet taste of the small cake, wiping away some of the crème filling from his upper lip. "Mmmm…yes, I do," he said, nodding.
"Is he out there?" Bella asked, her eyes in the direction of the window.
"Yes. He's parked in front of the neighbor's house."
"Are you sure?" She was a little uneasy about the possibility that Jacob was watching them.
Edward smiled, wrapping his arms around her with the bag of puffs still in one hand. "Yes, I'm sure. If he were close by, I would smell him."
His dark eyes pierced into Bella's, and before Edward could lean down to kiss her, she closed her eyes to insert the correct mental picture.
"Confused again?" Edward asked, catching onto her reaction.
"No," she said, shaking her head.
Leaning his face away from her, he sighed, disheartened. "Bella, you're a terrible liar."
"Just kiss me," she said, ignoring the voice and keeping her eyes closed tightly.
"No." Edward moved away from her, cursing the bitterness he had inside. He was still in Jacob's body, and the fact that he looked and sounded like him was driving a wedge between him and Bella.
Her eyes flew open. "What?"
After plopping onto the bed and shifting the bags onto the floor, he looked up at her surprised expression. "You're not comfortable with this, Bella. And, to tell you the truth, I'm not comfortable with it either." The plastic made a loud rustling noise as he tore into the bag in his hand.
"You're kidding, right?" Bella watched as he popped two puffs into his mouth. After the make out session they'd had at Jacob's house, she couldn't imagine why he, all of a sudden, was uncomfortable about it.
With mouth full, Edward shook his head…and then offered the contents of the open bag to her. Silently, she sat next to him, scooping a handful into her palm.
"I don't believe this," she said after a moment. "Here you are…almost human…and, I can't get you to kiss me."
"I want to kiss you, Bella. Very badly."
"So then do it."
He shook his head again, looking away and stuffing more cheese puffs into his mouth until Bella took away the bag.
"Why not?" she demanded.
Swallowing a large mouthful, he wiped clean the yellow-orange crumbs from his fingers and brushed his thumb against her cheek. Being here with her like this was heaven, but at the same time it was hell feeling like he shouldn't touch her. "In this body, I feel like my emotions have been magnified. Everything I feel is exaggerated. In my own body, I was more in control; I could discern what didn't make sense and put it aside, but in this body, I'm struggling not to get too angry, or laugh too hard, or burst into tears, or love too much…I understand so much better how you feel now."
"What are you trying to say, Edward?" she asked, confused.
"I'm selfish. I would never say this in my own body, but I want you to myself."
She shook her head. "You have me. All to yourself."
The smile on his face was wistful. "Don't you see, Bella? As long as I kiss you in this body, I will always be sharing you with him."
"No, Edward, because I don't see him when I'm kissing you. I see you."
Edward wanted to believe her, but said nothing and reached for the bag back from her. "Imagine you were in my shoes. Let's pretend that you and Rosalie switched bodies and that I wanted to kiss you."
Bella was quiet for a moment, but then shook her head. She closed her eyes, trying to imagine. "I think…I would be okay with it."
"Remember, you would look like her, and every word out of your mouth would be spoken in Rosalie's voice…."
Her brows pulled together as she sat, pondering this…dejected.
"Well? Do you think you could handle it?"
Instead, Bella chose not to answer his question. She pointed to one of the grocery bags on the floor. "Pass the Oreos."
One package of cookies, four cans of coke, a package of licorice, cheese puffs, and a bag of Doritos later…
"I think we should tell Alice," she said, leaning her head comfortably against his shoulder as they lay side by side on her bed. "Or should try to…."
Smiling, he tightened his grip around her hand. "I know she knows there's something wrong, but she doesn't suspect that it's really me in this body."
Bella recalled Alice's actions earlier that day at school. She had been so protective of her, ready to pounce on the figure of the wolf. "It's affecting her visions, too, somehow. She said that her visions weren't coming to her the way they used to, and she seemed to think that you both were affected."
Edward shrugged his shoulders, nibbling on the corner of a tortilla chip. "Poor Alice. So, does that mean she can't see what happens with Jacob in my body?"
"Yeah. I think that whenever anything has to do with Jacob, she is completely blocked, whether it's him in your body…."
"Or me in his…" Edward finished for her. "I do wish I could tell her."
"Maybe I can," Bella offered.
"It's quite a stretch, don't you think? Do you think Alice will believe that we've switched bodies?"
"I don't know, but there's no other explanation for what's blocking her visions."
"It couldn't hurt to try."
There was silence for a few moments before Edward spoke again, concerned by the crease in Bella's brows. "What's wrong?"
"I was just thinking about how Jacob's out there right now, feeling like he has to protect me…that we still don't know anything about this vampire that was here in my room."
Shutting his eyes, he suppressed the surge of anger. "I wish he hadn't told you that."
She turned to face him. "I'm glad he told me." The headlines were becoming more disturbing each day, and though he didn't talk about it, the worry was evident on Charlie's face.
He put down the bag of chips and pulled Bella into his chest, breathing in the lavender scent from her hair. "Bella, we're going to find out who this vampire is. I don't want you to worry – we have a team of wolves and vampires working together." There had been a buzz on the reservation about the killings in Seattle, and Edward anticipated that Sam would be calling another meeting soon. They were already alternating shifts. "You are safe."
The thought of a strange vampire lurking nearby did bother her, but as she cuddled against Edward's warm Jacob body, she felt safe.
The small trash can was overflowing with empty wrappers, and now there were various discarded cans and bags dotting the floor.
Bella could only make out the silhouette of his figure in the darkness, and it was dead quiet except for a low rustle of the leaves from the window. His body radiated warmth as she nestled her head comfortably into the crook of his arm. She had been drifting in and out of sleep and now wondered what time it was, unable to judge from the absence of light outside. She lifted her head slightly, but could not see the time on the clock.
"Bella, are you awake?" Edward whispered.
"Can't sleep either?"
"I guess it was all that caffeine…and junk."
"I suppose you're right."
"How's your stomach feeling?" she asked, circling her fingers lightly over his chest. Bella had stopped after two handfuls of cookies, two cans of soda, four pieces of red licorice, and half a bag of chips. The rest of the damage was all him.
It was quiet for a moment before Edward spoke again. "I've just been thinking."
Bella turned her face to look at him in the darkness, cuddling against his chest. "About what?"
"I still want to kiss you. I literally can't think of anything else."
A smile spread across her face, and the familiar twirl of butterflies danced in her stomach. Right now he had a one track mind that deliciously reminded Bella of her own. "I still want you to kiss me."
"We already talked about this."
"Maybe that's the problem, Edward," she said, rolling her eyes even though she doubted he could see it. "There's too much talking. If you just be quiet…."
Before letting her say one more word, he leaned down and covered her lips with his, unable to resist their magnetic pull. As they quickly slipped past the safety of their traditional chaste kisses, he tasted a hint of the mixture of salt and sweet from chips and cookies on her tongue. Longing to feel her closer, Edward rolled her underneath him, loving the soft feel of her body against his. It seemed that her tank top and shorts was the only thing keeping him in check. His right hand trailed down from her bare shoulder to the curve of her waist, gently down her hip, and Bella gasped in surprise as he reached the back of her left knee and folded her leg against the back of his.
Bella's heart pounded with the realization that they were dangerously close to crossing a line, but she couldn't bring herself to care as her fingers yanked at the sides of his t-shirt.
Out of breath, Edward tore his lips from hers, tugged off his shirt, and then tossed it onto the floor. As the sweet torture of her fingers trailed along his chest to the muscles of his abdomen, he found his control was diminishing.
Her breath came out in loud, excited pants as she snaked her arms around his waist, drawing him closer, and his lips returned to meet hers in a kiss that made her whole body tingle.
"Bella," he began, now moving his lips across her cheek and ghosting along her jaw line. "Please, tell me to stop," he whispered with his lips at her earlobe. "I swear to God I'll stop."
She felt like she could hardly breathe, let alone think, urgently threading her fingers into the softness of his hair. The last thing she wanted was for him to stop, and in response she curled her other leg tight around his other one.
"Edward," she whispered, her voice ragged.
"Yes? Do you want me to stop? Just say the word."
"No, I want you to shut up."
Leaning upward, she pulled his mouth back down to meet hers. With every caress and stroke, the desire rushed through her body, drowning out their previous conversation. This felt too right, and in a bold move, Bella reached down to grip the edges of her tank top and tugged it upward.
His breath came out hard and fast as he realized what she was doing. It had only been the week before when Alice had kidnapped her. The difference from then when he had stopped her and now was that now he wasn't concerned about killing her. And Edward couldn't tear himself away from the temptation of her body…It seemed that his control and his morals had just left the room…and slammed the door behind them.
"Bella," he whispered, his breathing heavy and ragged. He hesitated; it was a feeble attempt to yank them back to reality.
"Shhhhh…." she said, silencing him and moving his hands to the fabric to help her tug it off.
Unable to think or focus on anything but the desirable girl underneath him, he leaned away from her then, and his fingers slowly brushed against the velvet smoothness of her skin as he began to peel the top away.
"What the HELL is this?" Jacob's Edward voice resounded throughout the room, loud enough to jerk them apart. Jacob was feeling like he was having an out of body experience, except that the body he was looking upon was not being occupied by him. Horrified by the image of himself undressing Bella, he stood at the window with hands on hips, ready to tear Edward's Jacob head off. From outside, he had heard the heavy breathing, and Edward's indecent thoughts seemed to be screaming in his ear.
Edward and Bella froze, having been caught for the second time that night. He sniffed back that bleach-like vapor that had been previously blocked with the distraction of Bella's kisses. His fingers then readjusted her top so that it was covering her skin as Bella buried her face into his chest.
"You two were supposed to behave!" Jacob reprimanded. "Get off of her! Now!"
Edward had never felt more like a teenager than now and leaned his back against the headboard so that he was sitting beside her. The blush was now covering her body and burning into Bella's cheeks. With their chins down in shame, the two looked as guilty as sin.
"Do you have any idea how messed up it would be if she was pregnant with my baby because YOU knocked her up?"
For a moment, Bella and Edward glanced at each other, trying to grasp the inconceivable notion. It was already bizarre to see the figure of Edward standing there scolding them, and for a fraction of a second she felt like she had been caught cheating…
"I'm sorry," Edward said, his tone sincere. It had been too easy to forget Jacob's feelings.
"Yeah. I'm sorry, too, Jake," Bella said.
Ignoring Bella, Jacob shook his head, meeting Edward's eyes with a glare. "I don't wanna hear it. You should go home now."
"But, Jake," Bella began, "he doesn't have to go…."
"Yes, he does." Jacob pointed out to the faint light that was peeking out from the sky. "I don't need Charlie seeing my body climbing out from your window."
"He's right," Edward agreed. After all this, he did not want to invite any more trouble, and as much as he hated tearing himself away from Bella, he stood from the bed and looked around for his shirt.
Looking around at the junk food wrappers littering the floor, Jacob snorted in disgust. Part of it was envy. Doritos were his favorite.
Covering herself with her blanket, Bella's head was still spinning at the peculiarity of the whole situation. "So, when am I going to see you again?" she said to Edward.
"Not today," Jacob answered for him.
"I guess I have some explaining to do in La Push," Edward said, pulling his shirt over his head.
"Why?" he asked, looking from Edward to Bella when he read it in Edward's thoughts. "Billy saw you two?" He turned back to Edward. "Like this? UGH! Don't you have any self control?"
A little smile fell across Edward's Jacob lips. "Sorry. I'm only human."
At this, Bella and Edward giggled.
"Very funny." Irritated, Jacob's brows were nearly stapled together. "Now this will be spread all over the res. What a mess."
"I'll handle it," Edward said, having no idea how he was going to do that.
After both were dressed and had picked up the trash, Jacob waited impatiently on the bed with arms folded across his chest for Edward to leave, intent on remaining there as they said their goodbyes. Just as they were about to lean in to kiss, Jacob cleared his throat loudly, and Edward and Bella looked at each other with regret, moving their faces so that their lips met each other's cheeks.
"I love you, Bella," Edward told her, setting his hand on the curve of her chin.
Bella closed her eyes so that she was not looking at his face, concentrating instead on the image of Edward's perfect features. "I love you, too, Edward," she replied, smiling.
With a sour expression, Jacob mimicked the two, mouthing the words and tilting his head from side to side. Though he was bitter, he had not missed the purposeful way in which Bella had shut her eyes, and there had been a flicker of something disturbing he caught in Edward's thoughts. He leapt down after him, having told Bella he would return.
To the east, pushing away the darkness was a mix of purple giving way to an orange glow. She couldn't hear the brief exchange between the two, and after watching Edward jog away from the property, Bella stood back as Jacob made his descent back through her window.
"What was all that about?" she asked.
Making a beeline for the bed, he replied coldly, "Wolf stuff." He sat, and his posture became rigid like a statue. Bella could see he was upset with her.
She approached him apologetically. "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"
He turned his face away from her. She smelled disturbingly like wolf. "I don't know."
Bella sat beside his still figure on the bed, observing the pout on his lips that despite Edward's face was distinctly Jacob. She elbowed him, but the point only met the hard marble. "Please?"
Jacob sighed. "You ate licorice and Doritos with him, Bella."
"It's like I don't even know you anymore." Jacob knew he couldn't stay mad at her no matter how she smelled, and despite what Edward and Bella had done together, a small part of him liked that it was his body that had held and kissed her. "Maybe I should just allow that strange vampire to come and get you," he said, keeping his face smooth and expressionless.
She smiled, hearing the joking behind his bitter words. "How about if I promise to be good from now on?" A long yawn escaped her lips, and she wiped at the bleary feeling in her eyes.
"That might work." He stood and gestured to the bed. "I think you should get some sleep. It's Saturday, and it's still early."
"And you?" she asked, uneasy at the thought of him watching her as she slept.
"I'll be out there, on guard."
Nodding, she crawled inside the covers, yawning again. "So, what about later?" Bella had wondered about making plans to go to the Cullens' house.
"After you get up, I'll call you from my cell phone, and you can tell Charlie you're going to be with me."
She could hardly keep her eyes open as her head sunk into her pillow. Her ability to think was shot. "Going to be with you, Jacob, or you, Edward?"
As wide awake as he was, Jacob was still having trouble comprehending her question. "You're going to be with me," he said, lifting his gaze to the ceiling. "You know, with me as Jacob as Edward." His brow rose to consider if he'd worded that correctly, but when he looked back at her, he found her asleep. Jacob moved beside the bed and adjusted her blankets. She looked like a peaceful angel with her eyes closed and breathing in and out in steady breaths. Despite the bitterness he felt toward the contact Edward and Bella shared, Jacob still felt that ache of longing for her.
"Good night, Bella," he said softly, unable to resist placing a kiss on her cheek.
She breathed a soft sigh at the contact of his icy lips against her skin. "Good night, Edward."