After the dust cleared and the wolves had run off, Desiree's heart rate had resumed a normal pace. While she'd been fully aware of their identities, she had never in person seen the impressive circle of wolves that were easily the size of bears. After Jacob interrupted Paul's advances on the beach, Desiree was both relieved and happy to place as much distance between herself and the two boys. From behind the bulky trunk of a redwood tree, she watched in surprise as first Paul's body erupted into the massive-sized animal only to watch Jacob's body following suit. Various growls resounded, masking the crashing of the waves against the shore. The two appeared as though they would engage in a scuffle with Jacob on the offense, and it wasn't long after when three more joined them.
Everyone on the reservation had heard the tales of the wolves giving chase to the cold ones, but to see them in a pack was breathtaking. They had not remained in that spot for long, looking from one to the other as they communicated their thoughts before taking off in an impressive burst of speed.
As she returned to the shore, her eyes caught sight of the rags dotting the sand. Determined to thank Jacob, she began collecting the ripped pieces of denim when in her vision a glimmer of silver drew her focus. Upon closer inspection she saw the turquoise pendant encased in the shiny frame hanging from a chain. It was just a short distance from the torn pocket, and in awe, she knelt down before it. There was a tiny symbol of a lightning bolt, she observed, and unwilling to leave it on the sand, Desiree looped the chain onto her finger and placed it onto one of the scraps.
Edward's predicament had been on Bella's mind all night as she tossed and turned, and the first thing she did after rising from her bed was check her window for any sign of him. The sun was just coming up over the horizon, and as she poked her head out to search for him, her face was coated by a burst of cool air. He was nowhere to be found.
With a sigh, she began her morning routine, showering before heading downstairs and then found Charlie packing up for another fishing trip.
"Morning, Bells. You're up early."
She rubbed at the bleary feeling behind her eyes and headed toward the coffeemaker. "Yeah."
"No." Removing the used coffee filter from the funnel, she realized how little in her life she actually could reveal to her father. How would she explain that she needed to help Edward phase back into human form?
With the filter in the palm of her hand, she walked toward the trashcan, but gave a start, nearly spilling the damp coffee grounds when Edward's presence appeared at the window. "Oh!" She looked at him with wide eyes, then disposed of the contents in her hand and proceeded to the door to meet him.
"Edward?" she asked, throwing open the door.
His beautiful face reflected his disappointment. "Sorry," Jacob replied.
"Oh…I just thought…." Since she hadn't seen or heard from Jacob since the day before, she'd foolishly hoped that if Edward had phased back that somehow the spell might've been broken, but it was too much to hope for. As she walked toward the kitchen the worry crept up on her once again.
"Good morning, Edward," Charlie said, his voice flat as he watched Edward enter their home.
"Good morning, sir," Jacob replied, realizing how naturally Edward's greeting had come out as he followed behind Bella.
Bella could see that her father was not happy to see him. And although she needed to speak to Jacob privately, she was fearful of the idea of her father fishing while the threat of the vampires loomed over the surrounding areas.
"Do I need to worry about you two?" Charlie asked, his brown eyes darting from one to the other.
"No, Dad," Bella said. "Do I need to worry about you?"
Charlie chuckled his response to Bella, but looked to Jacob with stern eyes.
"No, sir." Jacob shook his head. He would tell her later that the wolves would be on alert once Charlie ventured into their area.
After Bella prepared a breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausage, Charlie was off and running. She was relieved to see him go.
"It's horrible, Jake. Edward phased into a wolf yesterday, and now he's out there somewhere, and I don't know how to help him phase back. What are we gonna do? What's he gonna do?" she said in one breath, frantic as she began scrubbing the dirty frying pan.
"Calm down, Bella. I was here last night. I know what happened. Edward's fine."
She pulled down the faucet handle to stop the flow of water, staring at him in disbelief. "You saw him? He's okay? Was he still a wolf?"
"I worked with him. He now knows how to phase back and forth."
"So, where is he?"
"By now, he should be back in La Push, looking for the necklace."
When Edward emerged from the shadowy forest into the brightness of the open sun, his first impulse was to shield his skin from the telltale glowing sparkles, but once again reminded himself that he was not in his own body. Old habits died hard…
With Jacob's assurances, Edward and Leah departed from Bella's home. Sam agreed that it was important for Edward to locate the talisman and allowed them to leave at dawn. Edward, however, refused Leah's help and returned home, phasing back into human form just as he reached the driveway of Billy's home. After slipping into Jacob's room unnoticed as Billy slept, he was back out again fully dressed. This time, now that he had some control over the transitions, he had no intention of losing any more clothing.
From a distance he saw the figure sitting on the shore, facing the water and instantly recognized the shiny black hair that hung down to the middle of her back. He hadn't seen her since the day before…the whole fiasco with Paul…
"Good morning, Desiree," he greeted from behind so as not to startle her.
She looked over her shoulder, smiling up at him in recognition. "Hey stranger," she replied and gestured for him to sit beside her.
"Come here often?" he asked. The beach was vacant, surprisingly at this early hour – not even a sign of surfers in the distance. Edward was happy for that, but also hoped he would find what he was looking for.
"This is my favorite time of day," she confessed, breathing in the salty air and lavishing the warmth against her face. "By the way, I didn't get the chance to thank you."
"No thanks are required."
She smiled then, and her dimples appeared like imprinted crescents on her cheeks. "I wanted to tell you that your secret is safe with me."
Smiling back, he met the amusement in her eyes. "I don't think it's a secret that I'm a werewolf."
"That's not what I mean, stranger."
"Why do you keep calling me that? You know my name is Jacob," he replied, trying to sound convincing.
She laughed then, and her dark hair bounced as she shook her head. "Oh, no. You are so not Jacob Black."
"So, now that the wolves know, it's not really a secret anymore," Bella concluded after Jacob finished filling her in on the events of that morning. "Now we can tell Carlisle and Esme…and Alice!"
Bella glared at Jacob beside her as she put away the dishes. It was amazing how he could look like Edward, but still be same old stubborn Jacob. "Why not? The wolves aren't angry with him, and the Cullens won't be angry with you."
Jacob still wasn't convinced of that. "I just think that the less people who know about it, the better."
"C'mon Jake! At least we have to tell Alice."
Looking away, he tried to think of a way to change the subject. "Alice is too busy planning for your graduation party." He didn't want to bring up the other thing- the continual threat to Bella's life. "And you can invite Edward."
"So, you're planning for it, Jake? Graduation's almost a week away. What about getting changed back?"
He shrugged. "I think about it all the time, Bella, but this is out of my control. Trust me; I don't want to be in this body any more than Edward wants to be in mine. I will do whatever it takes."
Taken aback, Edward stared at Desiree. Had Paul or one of the boys gone against Sam's orders? Was that even possible? She spoke again before he could reply, but the kind smile remained on her lips.
"At first I thought that maybe you…." She paused to correct herself, "Jacob, I mean, had changed. You know, having grown out of his immaturity. I think the last time he called me by my name was back in the first grade, but that display out on the beach, coming to my rescue with Paul – that was just above and beyond his character."
Edward felt instantly bad for Desiree. Although he'd never treated her badly, he was aware of the ridicule she faced since she was a child.
"It's not his fault," she explained. "I'm not a Quileute. My family descends from a rival tribe that even though they were peaceful, they never saw eye to eye. And even if I hadn't peed my pants in the first grade, they would've found something else to hold against me.
"And when I was collecting your things on the beach, I found this." There was a crinkling sound as she pulled a sandwich bag from her pocket, and Edward nearly gasped as he recognized the familiar necklace through the clear plastic. "This explains a lot."
"You know about the stone? How?"
"My great, great, great aunt Tahumei was legendary in our tribe for her knowledge of dark magic. She cast a number of spells on many of these types of shiny stones, but up until now I thought these had been buried forever. From what I gather, this change between you and Jacob has been accidental?"
That was an understatement, Edward thought as he nodded his response.
"I thought so."
"Do you know how to break the spell?" he asked with a note of desperation.
She shrugged her shoulders. "Unfortunately I think that Tahumei carried that with her to her grave, but from what I've been told from my elders, she was very big on sacrifice."
"Sacrifice?" he asked, his mind conjuring up images of rituals and dead bodies.
Desiree laughed, and her eyes danced with amusement. "Probably not the kind of sacrifice your thinking - no virgins or animal carcasses. She wasn't into that. More like…a personal sacrifice...whatever that means."
"So, what does that mean? Do I have to give up Bella?" he asked.
She shook her head. "I couldn't tell you, but I'm sure whatever it is, it's something of great importance."
"Is there anything else you can tell me?"
"Tahumei wasn't evil, despite what most thought of her. I always thought it was ironic how Tahumei's mother's beauty had been legendary, yet her own face was disfigured from birth. Her mother died giving birth to her, and with the ridicule she faced from her own people, it's easy to see how she had grown bitter.
"I imagine that she might have cast this spell for her own purposes, so she could have a husband, her own family. It's pretty sad, actually."
Edward returned his gaze to the vast front of dark blue waters that stretched out before them endlessly and heaved a long sigh.
"I wish I could be of more help."
He turned back to face her and met the apologetic look on her face. "I appreciate what you were able to tell me, Desiree. It's more than I knew more before."
"I have a question. Who are you?"
"Maybe it's better that you don't know."
"I doubt you're any worse than Jacob," she laughed.
"You might not feel the same way after I tell you."
"Please?" she begged.
Wearily, Edward shook his head. "My name is Edward Cullen, and I'm a vampire."
The last thing he wanted was to scare her, and Edward explained how the Cullens fed from animals and strove to lead a peaceful existence. She remained dead silent as she took in his words.
Desiree's dark eyes met his for a moment, and the O that was on her lips shifted into a semicircle as she let out a long laugh. "I think that's the funniest thing I've ever heard," she said, imagining proud Quileute Jacob living the life of his enemy. "I'm very sorry this happened to you, Edward, but I'm glad for the chance to have met you."
He felt the same way and told her so, rising and looking off to the east and wondering where he might find Sam. "I have to go," he told her.
She nodded and handed him the plastic bag containing the necklace. "Hold onto this. We don't it to fall into the wrong hands…and good luck, Edward, to you and Jacob."
"Thank you," he replied, taking the baggie and stowing it in the pocket of Jacob's cutoffs.
"See you at school."
Desiree waved, and guilt prickled the inside of her stomach as she watched him head back into the forest. She made a point of being positive when she spoke, even though there was one possible outcome she purposely kept to herself. She was convinced it was better if he learned it on his own…and she certainly did not want to be the one to tell him.
"Sam, what's wrong?"
Sam focused on his fiancée across from him. She was as beautiful as the day he met her despite the horrible scar that crossed her cheek. Emily was holding a fork in her hand, poised over her plate.
"Nothing," he replied, peering down at the plate full with a mound of mashed potatoes, sliced carrots, and pork chops. She had gone to all the trouble of preparing a nice meal for them, and he felt bad suddenly that he had no appetite. So much had been learned in the past twenty-four hours and through his exhaustion, his brain had not had the time to process it.
Leah had meant to switch bodies with Emily - switch lives with her. And fortunately for Emily, Leah's intentions had mistakenly been passed onto his beta and one of the Cullens.
He picked up his fork and knife and cut the meat away from the bone. "Did you ever hear the legend about how my great, great, great grandfather Levi switched bodies with Ephraim Black?"
She scooped a heap of carrots onto her fork and shook her head. "No. It seems like there are a lot of legends I haven't heard about. Did it really happen?"
As Sam shook his head, he realized how badly he wanted to tell her the truth, but he meant what he said to Leah. He didn't ever want Emily to find out about this ordeal or any part of it.
"Then what made you think of it?" she asked.
Forcing a smile to his lips, he laughed. "The boys were talking about that movie Freaky Friday, and that's what reminded me of it."
"Oh my God," Emily said, smiling now. "Can you imagine if that could really happen?"
"Yeah. It would be a disaster." Legends and anecdotes seemed to be interchangeable within their tribe, and Sam wasn't surprised that Emily hadn't heard the story of Levi and Ephraim. His own great grandfather had passed on the tale when he was very young of how the two began to mysteriously act like one another, adopting their personalities and mannerisms like magic. No one other than their significant others had noticed the change, and it was said that the two were never the same again.
Edward knew what he had to do.
As the pink, orange, and purple colors of the sunset mingled in the horizon, he stared out at the ocean, numb with the knowledge of that morning's conversation.
Desiree said it would take a sacrifice. His very existence ached at the idea of giving up Bella again. He had done it once before, seemingly for her own good, and the memory of his misery was worse than burning, worse than dying, worse than being tortured a thousand times by the Volturi. At the same time, he realized that this predicament was bigger than him. Jacob was a young man and still deserved having the life Edward could not. His lips curved into a smirk as he considered that Jacob would have to make the sacrifice as well.
If it was what he had to do to break the spell, then Edward was determined. His heart felt heavy as he left the beach in favor of Forks, and now he hoped Jacob would agree to do the same.