Evening's Light

8. Morning

Edward and I quickly dressed in our clothes from yesterday when we heard Charlie's alarm go off this morning. He still makes me detach from the world when he's close to me, when he touches me, and looks at me. But nothing compares to our nights together. I say that, because when the alarm went off and distracted us, we looked around and noticed at some point during the night, we had re-arranged all of Charlie's living room furniture. And in no good fashion or order either. We had made a mess.

Swiftly, we put it all back before anyone could see what we had done, especially Charlie. We were married, but he didn't need the visual.

Jacob and Renesmee had also woken up to the alarm, and headed downstairs just before Charlie.

I thought I would get some coffee going before my father would have to head in to work. I had to concentrate really hard away from the smell though. We didn't drink coffee at home, and neither did the partial-humans that resided with us. I used to love the smell, but the bitterness that rose up in the vapor burned at my nostrils a little now.

Edward and I assumed it was safe for Charlie to go in to work. We had kept our smelling scent senses wide open during the night, considering all the other ones were often occupied. Neither one of us picked up on the scent anymore, and we didn't want to over-react. Which was another characteristic we failed to mention in our checklist for Charlie from last night. How we had a tendency to make big deals out of very little things at first. I think it stems from when I had come around—as a human that is. I'd given the Cullens much to worry about, continuously. Danger always followed me.

I was getting some breakfast going for Charlie, Renesmee and Jacob, when Jake suddenly came blaring through the kitchen in a thundering huff. He pounded his feet heavily on the floor and made quick angry swings with his arms. I'm not sure what the point of was of him coming through the kitchen that way was, but he did shoot a slight smile at Renesmee in spite of his mood. He'd never think of being anything but sweet to her.

"Morning, Jake," I said as he stomped on by.

He made no notice of me, but it seemed like he definitely wanted me to notice him. He then made his way swiftly out the patio door, and took off at a quick rate towards the woods.

Edward's facial expression changed from ease to fury when Jake marched by him sitting at the table. He got a little close, too, bumping Edward's shoulder, making his chair skid a bit.

"He must still be mad for you tripping him last night." I lightly chuckled. But Edward didn't say anything to my comment; he just continued to stare at the table, off in space it seemed.

"Maybe Jake's going to cool off?" I whispered to Renesmee, who was sitting on the counter helping me stir eggs. She loved to help cook, since she was the one who would be eating.

I looked back at Edward when he didn't reply, still staring and thrumming his fingers on the table loudly, in deep concentration. His eyes wandered about like he was watching an event unfold in his head, and his lips tightened. He usually made that face when he was concentrating on someone's thoughts. Irritating thoughts.

I all of the sudden laughed out loud at the memory of Jakes face when he fell and said to my husband, "What I would have given to see you tear him up last night. I was almost rooting for him to keep going when he started to lunge at you like that. He can be so obnoxious sometimes."

Edward stopped his thrumming, making no reply or acknowledgment of me again. What was he so focused on?

Renesmee put her hand to my face to show me she was unhappy with the comment I'd just made. Whoops!

"Oh, I'm sorry, sweetie." I caressed her cheek then kissed her forehead. "Sometimes I forget to watch what I say when he acts like, well...when he acts like Jake." I smiled in apology.

She felt better and went back to stirring the eggs that were almost done.

Suddenly Edward stood up, not looking at us, and in a not very convincing tone said, "I'm going after Jacob, to help double check the woods for the scent. I'll be back."

When did Jacob say he was going to double check for the scent? Well, he must have thought it on his way by a minute ago. He was probably going to get in a good run, too, while he cooled off. I'm sure Edward wanted to check it out one more time before we left, too.

"Okay," I said looking at him. "Hurry back."

My father came in the kitchen just then, all dressed and ready for work. I never noticed before, but my father actually looked rather dashing in his uniform.

"Morning, kids!" he said cheerfully.

My guess for his good mood this morning, was probably that he'd finally slept better than he had in the past year, knowing our secret now, and not having to be on the outside anymore. Even though it was my father's choice to not know before...I knew he hated it the whole time.

"Good morning, dad," I said as I handed him a cup of coffee.

"Smells good, Bells, thank you."

"You're welcome. Renesmee helped, too," I replied as I poked her gently in the tummy. That always made her laugh. And she would want me to make sure he knew she also liked to cook, and was good at it.

"Chief," Edward said with a stiff nod of his head and straight face as he turned and headed from the dining room and out the back door after Jacob.

That was weird I thought. He obviously had a lot on his mind. Enough to keep him distracted from my conversation to him. Was losing the scent bothering him? It was just an animal. So, I figured he would tell me later if something was wrong, and went back to serving my dad's breakfast for him.

"He, okay?" Charlie asked when I handed him his plate, then set Renesmee down to join him.

"He was earlier." I pulled my eyebrows together, still thinking what could have changed.

My cell phone rang then, catching my attention. I couldn't imagine who'd be calling at six o'clock in the morning? I looked at the caller ID…oh, it's Alice.

"Hi, Alice," I said joyfully.

"Bella, where are you?" she sounded alarmed. This was twice in two days Alice had called me sounding like this. If it didn't stop, I was going to have to quit answering her calls.

"We're at Charlie's still, having breakfast. Why?"

"Why!" she yelled. "Why aren't you out there stopping them?" she was suddenly stern with me, as if I had some clue as to what she was hollering about.

"Stop them? Stop wh—"

And then it hit me. Oh crap! How could I have been so stupid? Edward wasn't going after Jacob, he was going AFTER Jacob!

"Thank you, Alice, I'm on my way."

I flipped the cell phone closed and looked at Renesmee. She appeared concerned. She knew that Alice's cell phone calls generally weren't for chit-chat; that they usually ended up being some kind of warning.

"Everything ok?" My father inquired, over-hearing my side of the conversation. Renesmee leaned over to see my face better when he asked.

"Well, umm, dad…can you watch her for a few minutes please?" I stroked a hand down Renesmee's hair. "I have something urgent I need to tend to, just real quick."

Charlie glanced at me with a confused expression, wondering what could be so important this early in the morning.

"I'll be back soon, sweetie," I said in a hurry to Renesmee, knowing she'd be anxious the entire time I was gone. She didn't like when both her parents and Jacob were out of her sight.

"Urgent? Will you be alright?" Charlie set his fork down, ready to stand.

"I'll be fine." I motioned for him to sit back down. "But the items I have to go check on might not be if I don't get there."

"Okay. I'll…wait till you get back," he answered somewhat hesitant as he looked at Renesmee then back at me. I wondered if he thought he should go with me, but this wasn't a 'police' situation. Well, not his kind anyway. Handcuffs and a badge weren't going to work where I was heading.

"Thank you, dad." I kissed him on the cheek, then ran as quick as I could out the patio door, following both idiotic scents through the woods.

I'd caught up to them just in time. They must have heard me coming, because they were both standing there, facing each other with their arms crossed, trying to act innocent.

I put my hands on my hips and yelled at my husband. "You didn't think Alice wouldn't see you make a decision, Edward? Then panic when you suddenly disappeared?"

He didn't say anything.

This was the third time he'd ignored me this morning. And it better be the last. Focused or not, I didn't care for conversations that were one-sided.

"Aw, come on, Bella!" Jacob shouted with disappointment as I stood there waiting for an explanation. "Why do you always have to do this?"

"Do what?" I scowled. "Constantly have to remind the big, dumb wolf, and the know-better vampire to behave?" My eyes narrowed back and forth between the two of them. "That you mean?" I was really getting tired of chasing these two around, just as much as they were. But I knew that even though they were big strong protectors, they were also typical, testosterone, ego pumped teenagers.

"Bella," Edward said sternly, still staring his opponent down. "Jacob and I need to do this. If we don't, you know it's only going to escalade and become worse." His statement contained a warning that he wasn't leaving here today without getting his hands on Jacob somehow.

"How could it get worse?" I barked. "You kill him now, or you'll kill him later? Its worse no matter how you look at it!"

"I won't kill him," he said like a promise, looking at me now. "Jacob just needs to be taught a lesson, personally, from me." His eyes were cold and dark.

This wasn't going to be a simple fun wrestling match like at home. These two were obviously furious at each other.

And what lesson was he referring to? What happened so suddenly? Is this because of Jacob's trip to the floor, or was the trip the end of all ends for these two?

Edward didn't usually play along with Jake's games, he was bigger than that, but he did last night when he stuck his foot out in front of him. Was Jacob throwing out challenge after challenge, and Edward was finally accepting? Had they been holding some kind of hidden hostility inside all this time and this is what it had come to? I thought things had gotten better since our joining against the Volturi? Or maybe it was all the frustration we'd through in the few short days since my mother called…and Charlie's confrontation.

I walked over and put my hands on Edwards's arms, holding them down, and blocking Jacob's path. "What lesson?" I inquired softly.

He uttered quietly, but firmly through grinding teeth. "A lesson in growing up. It's not a free-for-all of the mouth anymore. He needs to be knocked off that high-wolf pedestal of his. There's no talking to Jacob anymore, Bella. Like you with your father yesterday, I've had enough."

"Oh, I see…" was all I could say. It was about Jake and his mouth, and his attitude. Jacob must have said something to Edward on his was out of the house this morning. And Edward had complied.

I looked back at Jacob. He was standing with his hands on his hips, looking at me as if hoping I'd get out of the way sometime soon.

Edward was right. He wasn't the prime example to teach manners from. He was a wolf on his own sloppy pedestal. And if Edward didn't remove him soon, somebody else surely would. Somebody with much less restraint, Emmett...Jasper...even Rosalie.

"And you think this is the best way to handle it?" I whispered ever so slightly, concerned.

Edward spoke to me loud enough so Jacob could hear this time. "It's the only way Jacob will understand his place within my family. He's not Alpha male here."

Jacob let out a loud huff.

Edward tightened his lips and flared his nostrils, glowering at him again.

With Jake being as hard headed and annoying as he was, I knew Edward was right. Jacob does and says whatever he wants when he wants. He may be Alpha to his pack, but Edward headed up our family. And in a pack situation, as I'd seen once on Animal Planet, a duel between top males usually made a final decision. Edward knew Jake's mind as well as Jake himself, and what makes him tick, and un-tick. He was going to play Jacob's way today.

I looked back at Jacob again. This time he put his hands up in the air as if to say 'well'? But it was the haughty look on his face that convinced me to take my hands off of Edward's arms.

"Umm…okay," I said nervously as I slowly took a step back, dazed by what I was about to let happen.

Then I realized something.

"Wait!" I shouted, holding a hand out in each of their directions.

Jacob sighed and crossed his arms rudely in front of his chest. "What now?"

"There's three ground rules …or no fight." I looked at each of them, waiting for an ok, before WWF would begin.

"Alright," Edward agreed confidently.

I looked at Jacob.

"Fine!" He spat at me.

Edward growled in his chest for me on that one, so I brushed it off and continued. Jacob was only adding fuel to the fire that stood just across from him.

I held up one finger. "Number one. NO TEETH! From either of you, understood?"

They both nodded quickly in agreement, considering Jacob could practically bite Edward in half, and Edward would kill him flat out with just one drop of his venom. I would have to watch carefully that they each kept their mouths shut.

Like that would be easy..

Then I held up two fingers. "Number two. Jake, contact your pack, tell them what's going on, and 'order' them to stay away. And Edward, you contact Rosalie and order her to keep Jasper, Emmett and Carlisle away. I'm sure Alice has already informed them of what she thinks is about to happen. I smell any other vampire or wolf, besides the two of you around here, and I'm breaking this up before someone could die for real!"

After sighing at me, they each made their calls, and orders were given and taken care of.

Esme and Alice were very upset with us, I could hear, while Carlisle knew he'd probably be bandaging some up after this. Luckily, Emmett, Jasper and Rosalie would defend Edward's reasoning about this with me.

Leah and the boys knew they had to obey. There was no option to defy there. I wouldn't let it come down to a death match, and it was apparent these boys needed to throw some punches around, fight things out the 'old school' and wolf pack way.

I pointed to each one sternly for number three. "Jacob, you come anywhere close to killing my husband, and I'll kill you myself before you get the chance. Understood?"

He rolled his eyes and nodded, then threw a spare pair of clothes at me. He wasn't planning on undressing before phasing.

"And Edward, I will take you down before I let anything too serious happen to her Jake. Do you understand?"

He nodded angrily, staring at Jake, waiting. His eyes were as black as coals now, and a deep rumble brewed inside his chest.

"Okay then…" I said as I was getting ready to back up and get out of the way.

"WAIT!" Jacob shouted.

Could it be? I hoped he was changing his mind after seeing the look in Edward's eyes.

"What?" I asked.

"Shield me."

"Shield you? From what?" My face twisted in confusion.

"From him!" He scowled, pointing his chin out at Edward. "I want a fair fight with the mind reader!"

I looked at Edward a little panicked. Knowing what was coming was his greatest defense. And Jacob just asked me to take that away?

"It's alright, Bella, go ahead. I don't need it," he spoke confidently.

I didn't like it, but…I trusted Edward.

"Very well…" I said uneasily, covering my shield tightly around Jacob till every opening, crack and crevice was closed and pushed up against him like an extra layer of skin.

Edward wouldn't be getting through that. But I wished he could.

Everything was taken care of now. Rules were set, calls were made, and threats were given. The only thing left to do, was give the go ahead. My muscles tightened in nervousness.

I backed up a few good feet, taking each step as slow as possible, prolonging in inevitable for as long as I could.

"Oka—" I began, not having a chance to finish before Jacob phased and immediately headed for Edward. His clothes exploding in all directions like a firework going off. Jake took three long strides before he leaped in the air.

But Edward's reflexes were very good. He ducked at the incoming wolf, catching Jacob by the underbelly, and threw him about forty yards farther in the same direction he was already heading. Edward gave a loud growl and grunt, as every muscle in his body flexed with power.

Jacob threw rocks, dirt and plants everywhere when he hit the hill slant and rolled in a big mass all the way down till he reached the bottom, dug his claws in the ground and skidded his huge, furry form to a stop.

Wow, I thought, distracting myself. I'd seen Edward practice fight, wrestle with Emmett and train other vampires how to fight, but I had never seen him do that before. Vampires usually just stared and waiting patiently for the opportunity to snap their opponents head off in under a second. But this! This was pure force and strength I was getting to see firsthand.

I bit my lower lip in stimulation and hunger for Edward after that, and wondered if Jacob would mind giving us an hour alone before continuing...

"Bella!" Edward hollered at me. "What are you doing? The shield, put it back up!"

Shoot! Jacob…the shield…right!

Back on track, Bella.

Jacob came running up the hill very quick, and I shielded him again as soon as he reached the top. Edward braced himself in a crouch. Then just before he got to Edward, Jacob began sliding on all four paws. He swiftly swung his back legs around, sliding backwards now, and I couldn't tell what he was doing. Until quick as lightning, he pulled his knees up to his stomach, and launched his back paws into Edward's chest.

The massive kick threw Edward at least forty yards back as well, pounding him to the ground loudly, creating a humongous dirt cloud.

Okay, this wasn't cool anymore.

I looked to see if Edward was getting up, but the thick dirt that hung in the air made it difficult for even me to see him.

Jacob could see though, and I knew Edward was alright by the intense pace Jacob was making toward him again.

As the dirt began to settle, I could see Edward getting up in time to notice Jake coming at him very rapidly. But just before Jacob reached him, Edward yanked a thick, fifteen-foot tree next to him out of the ground, and swung it like a bat to a baseball.

It knocked Jake off his path while shattering and splintering the tree in all directions. The crack of the trunk and thud against Jacob's body echoed in my ears.

Jacob's body flew about sixty yards through the air this time, smashed into the middle of an extremely large tree, and slammed to the ground with a bone snapping cracks.

I put my hands to my mouth and gasped.

"Edward!"

He'd heard the snap too, then waited. "Bella!" he hollered. "Take down your shield so I can hear him!" Edward wanted to make sure he was ok, that it wasn't a trick Jake might be pulling by laying there before heading over.

"It's down!" I shouted.

Edward listened closely for Jacob's mind.

Then he cursed.

"Come on, he's out cold, but still alive!" Edward waved me over as he began to run.

We got to Jacob in about three seconds. He must have phased back when he got knocked out, before hitting the forest floor, which explains why he crunched like that. He had fallen at least twenty-five feet in human form.

"Where's he hurt?" I asked Edward after he clothed then examined him. I looked at his chest, he was still breathing thankfully.

"He hit his head on the tree, and it looks like he smashed his right shoulder and a few ribs when he landed. We need to be careful with him, and get him back to the house, quickly."

"Okay."

Edward threw Jacob gently over his shoulder and I held his arm close to his side so it didn't flop around while we ran.

When we arrived near Charlie's house, we smelled them, all of them. Jacob's pack. They were waiting for us.

My muscles tightened when we reached the side door. I was afraid of what would happen as soon as we walked inside with their Alpha passed out, hanging limply over a vampire's shoulder.

Quil and Embry came and took Jacob off Edward as soon as we walked in, and placed him on the couch, still out cold.

Leah starred me down. We would never be friends now, for sure.

"I'm so sorry, Leah." I felt horrible. "I didn't know he would phase back after getting knocked out. Please forgive me?"

She hesitated, still glaring at me, nostrils flared. She was next in rank and could order the others to take me or Edward out at any moment. The rest of the pack stood around, glancing back and forth at each other, waiting to see what she would say.

When her face finally relaxed, she sighed at me. "No. I guess you didn't know. He is still breathing, and…he'll heal," she said reluctantly behind clinched teeth.

I took a deep relieving breath. She'd sick the dogs on me no questions asked if I was the only one standing here, and if we weren't in the middle of Charlie's living room. I wanted to believe Edward was the one thing stopping her from having me torn to pieces.

She glared at Edward then, who crouched slightly as if he was preparing for another fight. I backed him up in my own fighting stance and waited. Was she contemplating attacking him? She'd have to be crazy.

"Plus, he deserved it…" she then trailed off, shaking her head, looking away from Edward.

Good call Leah.

Edward straightened up and relaxed his shoulders, then froze in place. And I followed suit.

She'd no doubt heard how Jacob sounded out there after phasing, and known how angry Edward had to be when Jake called her to order the pack not to interfere. Maybe Jacob did deserve what he got today, but not kind of ending. I wish I'd known.

"Let's just get him taken care of." I heard her teeth grind together in irritation. And I wasn't sure who she was more irritated with at the moment. Jacob…or us.

"Charlie took Nessie upstairs, Bella," Seth jumped in, "so she wouldn't see him like this." His eyes motioned to Jacob. "I told him what was going on and what happened."

"Thank you, Seth," I replied, not realizing the words he had spoken quite yet.

Then he clapped Edward on the back of the shoulder. "Nice one with the tree, man!"

Jacob was Seth's leader, but Edward was his secret hero. Edward tried not to smile out of respect, but he couldn't help it as one side up his mouth slightly turned up. I think he knew that was pretty cool of him, too.

I sat down in my father's recliner and put my face in my hands while Edward got to work on bandaging Jacob up with the supplies Leah had brought. Apparently, she had a feeling 'someone' might be needing them.

Quil watched Edward closely.

He was very gentle as he wrapped the bandage around Jacob's shoulder, underarm and chest to keep everything firm in place. Edward knew what to do, according to his previous medical studies and assistance under Carlisle's wings from time to time.

"I told him not to do it, before he lunged," Embry huffed, "but he didn't listen." He shook his head.

"He's been begging for this for years," Quil argued back. "He just didn't know it would turn out this way, like we did." He snorted.

"Shut up, both of you!" Leah growled.

Quil raised one eyebrow. "Come on Leah, even you knew to bring supplies for him. Tell me you thought it would end up different?" he challenged her.

"I brought them for whoever would need them," she spoke through gritted teeth, narrowing her eyes at Quil.

"Call it what you want." He shrugged, sounding like he knew better.

"That's enough, Quil!" she barked with a warning glance.

"Eye-eye, captain." He snapped to attention with a military salute as sarcasm covered his face.

"Yeah, come on Quil...just because she grabbed everything a wolf would need for bandaging, doesn't mean she brought them for him. She probably figured she'd be using the whole wrap on Edward." Embry joined in then laughed, holding his fist out for Quil to bump it, to which he did.

"Ugh! You guys drive me crazy!" she snarled, throwing her hands out in frustration, and then grabbed her hair in her fingers, pacing in place.

I decided I'd try to help with my own curiosity. Hoping any small distraction from me would be welcomed.

"So, you guys were all phased in front of Charlie?" I immediately broke up the squabble, picturing my father's face through all of this.

"Just on the way over," Embry informed me. "But Seth stayed phased outside until he Jake the tree. He came inside right after to tell us what had happened."

"Oh." I nodded, glad Charlie wasn't witness to four large wolves on guard, snarling and on edge in his house.

"He didn't see anything, Bella," Leah snapped at me after she'd calmed down some.

Edward gave her a dirty look at her tone.

"I was just wondering," I said as polite as possible, trying to smile cordially, and struggling. One could only take so much.

"Make sure you take him to see Carlisle at the hospital, as soon as possible," Edward directed Leah coldly when he was finished wrapping. "I'll call to make sure he knows you're coming. I'm sure he'll head over right away."

"Billy's gonna love this…" she trailed off, shaking her head again.

"Does he know you're here?" I wondered, worried what Billy would think of me after this.

"No." She glared, obviously still hating me I assumed by the look in her eyes. "But I don't enjoy making calls to him where his son ends up hurt."

"No, of course not." I shuttered, feeling guilty as her stare ran icy-cold through me. I couldn't believe this girl still had the ability to make me feel so small. Every time I tried to make things right, I seemed to fail. I don't know why I don't just give up?

"Take him to Billy's after," Edward told her. "Do not bring him to our house. Is that understood?" He stared at her with hostile eyes. She was probably ripping me apart in her mind.

I felt bad, but was happy to see her shutter in his presence.

"Uh…okay." She nodded.

"Thank you," he said as he stood to come stand by me, giving her one more evil glance.

Then a thought entered my head. Something I'd been told earlier. "Seth?"

"Yes?"

"When you were telling Charlie what was going on…where was Renesmee?" I noticed their stiffened reactions and concerned glances.

"Um, I'm not exactly sure where she was, Bella," he said nervous and apologetically. "I rattled everything off so quickly after it all happened, and didn't think about her until..." He stopped.

"Until, what?" I glared at him.

And that's when I received my answer.

"Edward!" My father shouted over the clamor of us from upstairs, realizing we were back.

Edward headed for the stairs first while I followed quickly behind.

He opened the door to Charlie's bedroom, slowly entered, turned, and held a hand out for me to wait.

I paused, nodding my head apprehensively, wishing I was going in with him.

I could hear Renesmee crying, almost in hyperventilation, as the door gradually shut in front of me. And I suddenly felt sick as I stared blankly at the closed, wooden object. My daughter was on the other side, in tears. And there was nothing I could do for her at the moment.

I fell to my knees and covered my head in grief when I heard Charlie say, "I can't get her to stop. She's been asking for you since Seth said everything went blank and he couldn't see Jacob anymore."

"Thank you, Charlie," Edward replied regretfully.

"Daddy…" I heard her say behind her tears, a few sniffles following as Edward picked her up from my father.

What had I just allowed? Would the repercussions of this day ever end? I should have told them both 'no' and left it at that? But Edward was right, it would have only have escalated; making sure we went through this again at some point. This day was unavoidable. And I'd have to get through it the best I could.

I heard a door open and shut.

"Bella, honey…" my father reached under my arms and helped pick me up off the floor when he came out of the room.

"Oh dad," I breathed as I allowed him to help stand me up and walk me back downstairs. I couldn't believe as a vampire I felt so weak.

"She's going to be alright, Bells. Just give her a few minutes with Edward." He tried to comfort me by rubbing my arm as we took the first few steps down the stairs.

I nodded, hearing what he was saying. He didn't know the relationship between those Jake and her, though, and just how much this was hurting her. And that that hurt was piercing me right through the gut with a stabbing pain.

Jacob had come around by the time we circled into the living room.

Still feeling weak, I walked over and gently sat down next him on the couch.

Charlie went to sit in his recliner.

"Are you alright, Jake?" I put my cold hand on the knot that was forming on the side of his head.

"Yeah, Bells, I'm okay." He winced when he tried to move.

I held him back in place.

"I'm glad you're awake. You had us all worried, you know."

"Who bandaged me up?" he asked when his arm wouldn't budge from his side.

"Edward did," Embry replied.

"Hmm." He pursed his lips. "I bet he enjoyed that." His eyes rolled with a hint of humiliation.

I tilted my head and raised an eyebrow at him, letting him know that Edward had done a great job taking care of him. That he could have just left him out in the woods if he wanted to.

Jacob ignored my expression.

"So, you couldn't have grabbed that tree from him before he nailed me with it, huh?" he tried to be funny, but all I could hear was sarcasm.

"Of course, I could." I smirked lightly. "But I couldn't see very well through that dirt cloud he made from that hellacious kick you gave him." I wanted to make him feel better. "Don't let that go to your head, though." I pointed at him. "He got you twice before you were 'out'!"

Jacob hung his head and closed his eyes.

"Yeah, well, I guess I'll be watching what I say and pay better attention." I know it pained him to admit. "Especially if that's going to happen every time." He half huffed.

"Jake," I spoke honestly, "You went outside first. And you challenged him. That's not like Edward to do what he did today. You know that."

Jacob hung his head lower than it already was. "Yeah, I know…" he choked out. "I guess I did ask for it, huh?"

"Yes, you did," I agreed. "By the way, what did you say to him when you rushed by this morning?"

Jacob looked too embarrassed to tell me.

I stared at him, waiting.

He sighed.

"I told him to come meet me in the woods if he was man enough…" he sounded as if he wanted to take his words and eat them right then and there.

Raising an eyebrow, I asked suspiciously, "Is that all?"

I knew that wouldn't be nearly enough to get Edward to follow him outside.

"Well...and, maybe some other stuff..." He stopped, shaking his head in an 'I'm such an idiot' kind of way.

"I see..." my voice lowered, not pushing the subject. I didn't want to know anymore. Whatever it was, it was obviously bad.

Charlie snickered through his nose at what I thought was Jacob's failed attempt to be tough against Edward.

"I thought for sure if you took away his 'skill', it would be a better fight?" Jacob looked a little confused that that's why he hadn't won.

Stupid pedestal!

"So…the two year old wolf, wanted to fight the ninety year old vampire, huh?" I poked at him gently and laughed.

"Aw, come on, Bella, that's not funny, you know we do what we do well," he said, dying for me to agree, and I complied.

"I know Jake. You guys are the best at what you do." I looked at Quil, Seth and Embry, as well.

Leah had already gone into the kitchen to call Billy. I would have had a hard time looking at her after that comment, even if she was one of the best at what she did. Not to mention she probably would have punched me, thinking I was lying. Which I wasn't. This group—minus Seth—had taken on a large pack of newborn vampires last year—and were all still here to talk about it.

But for Charlie's sake, they better not.

"I know." Jacob's arrogance showed itself for just a brief second before he laughed it off.

I shook my head. He couldn't help himself for one minute could he?

Edward's been around the world, seen action like today a thousand times over, and lived to tell about it, too. That has to say a lot about him. He was definitely more experienced, and anyone would have put money on him today.

Everyone except Jacob of course, I laughed to myself.

"What?" Jake asked from my little snicker.

"Oh, nothing." I kept my thoughts secret with a wave of my hand.

"Hmm," he noised.

I looked into his eyes seriously then. "Listen Jake. Edward's got great self-control, but you push his buttons way too much. He's a good man, a good husband and a good father. And, just like I told Charlie yesterday…he deserves your respect. He doesn't want to hurt you, or take anything away from you. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

Jacob thought for a moment.

"Yeah, yeah." He frowned, knowing I was talking about Renesmee at the end. "I'll work on not being so pushy…I promise. Sorry, Bells."

"And you might want to start working on some new moves. When Renesmee gets older, I have a feeling you're going have another fight on your hands." I winked, speaking quickly so Charlie wouldn't understand. But it was also a warning.

I had a feeling what was coming.

"And I'm not the one you need to apologize to…" I paused, turning to look at Edward standing at the bottom of the stairs when I smelled him.

"Right," Jacob mumbled.

"Are you ready to go, Bella?" Edward said with some minor frustration and impatience.

"Yes." I nodded as I stood, eyeing a tear-blotched Renesmee in his arms, wanting to grab and cuddle her. But her arms were locked tight around her father's neck.

I said my good-byes to everyone, and then made my way over to Charlie. "Bye, dad, I'm so sorry we kept you from work this morning."

"That's alright, Bells. I'm sure more excitement happened here today than out on the road." He laughed and then hugged me. "So… does stuff like this happen a lot? The fighting and all?" Charlie's curiosity got the best of him.

"Uh, no dad," I somewhat fibbed. "We just go around living everyday normal lives. Today was an exception." I shot him my best faked smile.

"Mm-hm," he said as he grabbed his keys. "Better be…" He turned to glare at all of us, and then headed out the front door to his police cruiser.

Like I would dare tell him anything different?

Renesmee wiggled in Edward's arms when she saw Jacob, and he let her down so she could go to him. She gently put her hand on his face to show him how she was doing. She looked angry.

"No, Nessie, I'm fine. And don't be mad at your dad, okay? I'm not. He did what was best, and…what I needed." Jacob almost sounded like a grown up.

"Yeah, you definitely needed the snot knocked out of you," Leah chimed in.

She really didn't have much couth, but Edward thought it was funny and laughed through his nose once.

Renesmee and Jacob both gave Leah a dirty look.

She touched his cheek again, giving him one more thought before she had to leave.

"I'll be home as soon as I can, okay? I promise…if it's alright with your dad?" Jake sounded so genuine. Could he really change that quickly?

Naaaa…

"Call when you're healed, and…we'll talk," Edward said with a very, very slight smile for his daughter's sake, but I could tell he wasn't happy.

"Fair enough," Jake replied, nodding.

"I'll miss you," Renesmee told him.

Edward sighed. He knew what this separation would do to them. And I'm sure he didn't want his daughter's heart broken any more than it already had been today.

"Call soon, alright?" Edward told Jacob. "Bella, Nessie…let's go."

I turned around after a few minutes of driving home; to make sure Renesmee was sleeping before I spoke with Edward about today.

"Are you really considering keeping Jacob out for a while after you talk to him?"

"No, I just want him to think I am." He smiled slightly.

"She's going to have a hard time with this." I looked back at Renesmee.

"I know." His face grew serious.

"And Jacob feels like an idiot."

"He should." His lips tightened.

Then we were silent for a moment.

"You were amazing out there," I redirected the subject.

"Just doing what I had, too," he said humbly.

"You heard me tell Jake he'd better learn some new moves?"

"I did." He shot me a wearily glance. "It made me wonder whose side you were on?"

So that was the cause for his frustration.

"Your side, always…" I ran my hand up and down his leg. "I just thought I'd give him a little help. Not that it would change anything." I smiled.

"I see." His breathing spiked a little when I then ran my hand along the inside of his thigh.

"I don't think you do."

Edward's mind tried to concentrate on what I'd meant at first, and then he stared at me with a hint of interest on his face.

I pulled my hand from his leg, reached over casually and started playing with his hair. I removed my shield, intent on showing him exactly how impressed it was with him. So he would know just how much I was on his side. I closed my eyes so I could watch with him, and then quivered in my seat when I reached the memory of his glorious strength and muscle. All my deep cravings and desires began flowing through me again. And how I was unable to concentrate on anything else besides Edward's arms wrapped around me and his lips pressed against mine, fantasizing that Jacob would have given us time alone before carrying on.

The car came to a screeching, sudden stop.

I opened my eyes, looked at Renesmee, and then at Edward.

"Bella," he weakly breathed. "If you keep showing me stuff like that, I'm going to run into a tree myself today."

"Sorry." I pouted, then removed my hand and put it in my lap for safe keeping.

"Hold that thought till we get home, love," he said, raising an eyebrow at me, and I smiled.

Then he floored the gas pedal, and pinned it.



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