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I woke up, my scream filling the air, my hands reaching out, clutching…and as always, clutching air. I shook my head to get rid of the remnants of the dream that still lingered in my head, like dust in an old house. But the dream refused to leave me, the russet colored wolf still howling out in my head, his eyes filled with pain. Pain that I’ve caused, me and me alone. If I hadn’t needed him so much then, if I hadn’t been so selfish, maybe things would be different. But Jacob was so bright and so full of life that I just held on and sucked for all my worth, readily gulping down the life that he so generously gave, making me no different from a vampire really. It is kind of ironic considering the path I have chosen, maybe I was cut out more for this vampire business than I initially thought I was.

 I looked over at the spot beside me on the bed, the spot that Edward usually occupied whenever he slept over. But I thanked god that tonight of all nights he wasn’t here. He would probably want to know the content of my dream and I would try and lie because I wouldn’t want to hurt him. But he would see through it anyway, and despite the fact that he could not read my mind, there was little that I could keep from Edward.

I glanced at the ring on my fourth finger and sighed. My dreams had become more and more potent as the date for our wedding approached and now that we were two days away…That was one of the reasons why Edward wasn’t sleeping over tonight. He is as old fashioned as they come, insisting that some physical time apart would give us more to look forward to after the big day. He also said he needed the time to prepare for our agreement.

 Before all this wedding business, everything had seemed so clear. I knew I wanted Edward, and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I knew that I had to become a vampire and I was willing to brave that, just for a life with him. But now…

Maybe it was just cold feet, brides get that before their weddings right? Even 19 year old brides? I sighed, knowing it wasn’t cold feet that made me dread the trip to the altar but rather what I had seen: The new-born vampires. Their eyes blood red and crazy with need to drink…and drink and drink…The feeling was insatiable and I knew from everything I have been told that it takes years to control the thirst, it was something perhaps only Carlisle had perfected. Even Edward, my Edward, had so nearly given in to the temptation of my blood. If even Edward could fall, then surely, wouldn’t I? Everyday, that constant thought plagued me, that when I become a vampire, I would lose control and hurt someone, maybe even someone I loved…

 Again the image of Jacob filled my mind and I bit my lip to fight back the tears that threatened to overwhelm me.

“Bells, are you okay? I thought I heard you scream.” Charlie came into my room, eyes filled with sleep and hair ruffled like a sand storm had been through it.

“I’m fine Charlie. Honest, it was just a bad dream. Go back to sleep.”

“But I thought you didn’t get bad dreams anymore, not since HE came back.”

I could see it in his face, the memories of the time when Edward left, when I felt barely alive. I could see he was worried and I couldn’t really blame him. It had been a dark time for me.

“It’s nothing, honestly dad. Go back to sleep. I’m fine.”

He sat down on the edge of my bed, his eyes concerned. “I don’t think its nothing. Are you having second thoughts? You can always back out you know, no one is having a gun to your head.”

I smiled. For days Charlie had been working that into our conversations and I know that he was just freaked that his little girl was getting married, probably way sooner than he expected.

I took his hand in mine and squeezed. “No dad, no second thoughts. I love him.”

“What about Jacob?”

I felt the smile freeze on my face and I let go of his hand. “What about Jacob?”

“He’s been MIA for God knows how long. Billy doesn’t seem worried but I am. What happened between you two?”

“Charlie…I don’t want to talk about it. Please leave it be.” I whispered, my voice barely audible.

“Your dreams…It’s about him isn’t it?” He probed further, ignoring my plea.

I looked at him, knowing now that I had called out Jacob’s name when I had been dreaming. It was clear I had been giving Charlie sleepless nights again.

“Please…” I said again, refusing to look him in the eye.

He sighed and pushed off the bed. “Well then, try to get some sleep Bells. It’s going to be a long day ahead. And your mom’s coming down so we’ll need to prepare the guest room.” He seemed shaken at the idea of Renee coming down and I realized that this would be the first time since she left that she would be once again in this house.

“Sleep well dad.” I said, making a big show of pulling the comforter over me, and snuggling deep into it.

He sighed again and left my room, closing the door gently behind him.

I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but I knew it was fruitless. Sleep was not coming to claim me, despite me wanting it so badly. Maybe it knew that soon I would not need it anymore and was taunting me this way. One more thing I was going to have to give up, one more thing to miss.

 

“Oh Jake, please come back. I miss you so…” And I started to cry, wondering at the irony of getting married without my best man. 

*****

“Rise and shine Bella, we have a long day ahead of us.”

I groaned and stretched, opening one eye to see Alice propped so prettily in my doorway.

“Just five more minutes okay? I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“No five minutes, get up NOW.” I felt the sheets whipped off me and groaned again, kicking furiously in the air.

“Jesus Alice, who died and made you dictator?” I said, using my all my energy reserves to prop myself up against the bed frame.

“Believe me Bella, if you don’t get up now, Hitler will have nothing on me.”

That would have been an idle threat if I hadn’t seen Alice in action before. Not only did she have speed, elegance and strength in her favour, she could see any moves I would make before I could make them. And being a klutz did not help me any.

“Okay, okay, I’m up. Jeez, you would think it was your wedding, not mine.”

Suddenly, Alice was in front of me on the bed, her eyes furiously scanning my face.

“Okay, what did I do?”

“Bella! Why do you have dark circles under your eyes? It looks worse than the ones the day before! Why aren’t you sleeping properly?” Her fingers cool against my skin as she gently touched the skin under my eyes.

“I…er…I…uhmm…Can‘t you fix it?”

“I’m a vampire Bella, not a magician. Never mind, get ready, we will deal with the circles later. You need to follow Charlie to go and pick up Renee.”

I nodded, quickly slipping off the bed and heading to the bathroom. Inside, I locked the door firmly before turning to the mirror. I looked ghastly and familiar at the same time. Had I looked this way before? With a start, I remembered how I would get up and stare at my face like a zombie, my heart eating a hole in my chest and watch as the empty vacant eyes stare back at me. Everyday without Edward was torture, like going on cold turkey after tasting drugs for so long. Was missing Jake having this effect on me? Did I love him more than I thought possible?

 

With a sigh, I shook myself out of the reverie and proceeded to make myself presentable.

*****

“Carlisle?” I peered inside the room and saw him stand up, flustered.

“Bella? Is it time? I completely lost track, these medical journals…of course you don’t want to hear about them. So sorry… Is Alice going to have my head?”

I laughed at his panic and the power Alice held in her tiny frame. “No, you’re not late at all! Still plenty of time before the wedding rehearsal.”

He smiled. “Good, that’s a relief. I swear it’s been like Fort Knox over here but I’m sure it’s much worse for you, being the bride and all.”

I smiled back. “I just grit my teeth and bear with it. After all, she means well.”

“Wait a minute. If you’re not here because of Alice, then why are you here Bella? Not that I’m not glad you are…”

I cut him off apologetically. “I needed to talk to you Carlisle. Do you have a minute?”

He looked at me. “Of course Bella, you’re family now. It’s not about the…the agreement you have with Edward is it?”

I blushed slightly. “Er, no. I’m sure you told Edward everything he needs to know. It’s more about…the vampire thing.”

His eyes widened a little, and liquid topaz in his eyes swirled, if that was possible. “I must say I’m surprised Bella. I thought that was one thing we wouldn’t have to talk about. You know everything about it.”

“Yes, I know everything. But feeling it is a whole different story.” I hesitated, and then continued. “If you could choose, would you rather be a vampire or human?”

Carlisle sighed and sat back down. “I love my family Bella. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for them.”

“That doesn’t really answer my question Carlisle.”

“Doesn’t it? That’s because there is no answer for your question Bella. I wasn’t given a choice for this life and I have made the best of it that I could. None of us were given a choice Bella.” He looked at me. “But you have a choice and I know it’s not easy, but it wasn’t too long ago that you wanted this. What changed your mind?”

I know he was referring to the time I held the meeting, putting my mortality to a vote. I wanted so much to be a part of the Cullens, to be with Edward forever. “I haven’t changed my mind Carlisle…I just…”

“Do you love Edward Bella?”

Startled by his sudden question, I hesitated before answering. “Of course I do.”

He looked sad. “You didn’t answer straight away Bella. Before, you were so certain of your love, and that certainty led you on this path to becoming a vampire. You wanted to be a part of Edward’s world, to be as perfect as you think he is. Now, you ask me which I would rather be because you want me to make the choice for you, one that is no longer so black and white. You are questioning your love for him Bella, and my question is, why?”

“I was just startled by your question Carlisle. That doesn’t mean I don’t love Edward.”

“I never said you didn’t. But why do you Bella?”

This was not turning out like I expected it would. I thought Carlisle would give me a straight answer or even a neutral one but never in a million years would I dream he would ever ask me this.

“Why do I love Edward? Can you even explain love? I just do.”

He stared at me, patience written all over his face. “Try Bella.”

“Well, it’s the way he makes me feel. When I’m near him, I had hardly think. My heart overreacts. I am content just to spend all day lying in his arms…” This brought back all the memories of Edward sleeping over at my house and I smiled.

“What about Jacob? Why do you love him?”

My smile disappeared and I looked at him, enraged. “Are you trying to insinuate that I love Jacob more than Edward?”

Carlisle sighed. “I never said that. You did.”

I was speechless and knowing that this was turning out to be a really bad idea, I got up to go.

“Just to humour me Bella. Could you tell me why?”

I took a deep breath. “With Jake, everyday feels better. He’s like my own personal sun. So full of life and smiling all the time. Looking at him makes my heart smile. He’s funny, even in the smallest things…and his hands are so big, they always overwhelm mine…”

Carlisle moved from behind the desk and came to stand in front of me. “And which one can’t you live without?”

I blinked back tears. “Edward…”

“But Edward left at one point Bella. If you really can’t, then why are you standing here before me now?”

“Because Jacob…”I stopped short. I couldn’t say it. Not after everything I had been through, after all the decisions I had made.

He finished my sentence for me. “Jacob saved you. He’s the one you can’t live without. Edward is your first love Bella, and it’s easy to confuse your first love with your last. Bella, all of eternity is a very long time and I advise you to think carefully before making that trip to the altar tomorrow. Edward is my son; I want him to be happy. But I want you to be happy as well Bella and ever since Jacob left, I know you haven’t been.” He paused and gently placed his hands on my shoulder. “Its okay Bella, regardless of your decision, you will always be a part of my family.”

He hugged me and I hugged him back, struggling to rein in the turmoil I was experiencing. “Thank you Carlisle.”

“One last advice. Do not go for money, it may deceive. Do not go for good looks, even that fades away. Go for someone who makes your heart smile, because a smile can make a dark day seem bright.”

With that, he gently urged me out of the room, and shut it with a soft click.

*****

After my conversation with Carlisle, it wasn’t easy to let Alice lead me blindfolded to the main section of the house, the one part I had been banned from seeing until the wedding rehearsal. How could I continue with this when all I felt within me was confusion?

But I decided to let my feelings carry me along. I was tired of thinking and constantly weighing everything. I was going to let my feelings make my decisions for me.

And right now, I still loved Edward; I still wanted to be with him for as long as I could. Thus, the wedding was still on, until I stopped feeling this way.

Alice propelled me forward and I almost tripped, getting entangled in my own feet. Suddenly, we stopped. “You ready?” Alice asked, her breath cool and sweet on my face.

I nodded, willing the suspense to be over.

She slowly removed the blindfold and I blinked, my eyes adjusting to the light.

“So, what do you think?”

My first thought had been, ‘wow’. Alice had really outdone herself. The house looked transformed, with flowers and decorations all over the place. It looked like the set piece for a wedding in those old classic movies, which made sense considering how old all of them really were.

“Its beautiful Alice, so elegant and old fashioned…” In other words, everything I was not. Okay, maybe some part of me was old fashioned, considering my fetish for Jane Austen books. But if it had been up to me, I would have wanted something simple; maybe something on the beach…I closed my eyes again, forbidding the images of me and Jacob on the beach to come. But they did. They swirled around me and choked me with the memories they held.

“Bella…I never expected you to be so overwhelmed…” And I felt myself encased in a firm hug with Alice. I held on more firmly than I was supposed to and I felt the tears swim in my eyes. Her hug was everything Jacob’s wasn’t. While hers was hard, smooth, cold, Jacob’s was warm, soft and hairy if in wolf shape.

“Hello love, ready for the rehearsal? Bella, are you crying?”

I felt myself being moved from Alice to Edward’s rock hard chest. “I’m sorry, it’s just that everything looks so beautiful…” I said through my tears, hoping I would be forgiven for this tiny lie.

Edward looked at Alice questioningly. “You know how brides are Edward, they get very emotional as the big day approaches.”

He gently smoothed my hair, humming softly in my ear, Soon, I felt my sobs subside and my breathing quiet. My heart as usual started to overreact when he gently kissed me on the forehead.

“Better love?” He asked, his liquid topaz eyes studying my face and I felt my heart pump even more as he gently traced the contours of my face before coming to rest gently on my lips.

“Not yet.” I said, my gaze resting on his lips. His mouth curved up in my favourite crooked smile and like a hawk, he swooped down and captured my mouth in his own.

He broke away almost immediately and jumped away from me. Instantly, I knew why when I saw Charlie and Renee enter.

“Come on Bella.” Alice said, tugging me away from Edward and leading me up the stairs. I glanced back at Edward and felt comforted when he blew a kiss at me.

She placed me beside Charlie and gave me a radiant smile, then shouted. “Places everyone!”

I glanced at Charlie beside me but he looked resigned and sad. “Charlie, what’s wrong?”

He gave me a brief smile before taking my arm in his own. “Nothing Bells, I’m just gonna miss you that’s all.”

“Damn it Charlie, you’re gonna make me cry.”

“That’s the idea kid, that’s the idea.”

Then we heard the wedding march begin and Alice shouting at the pianist to play it slower. Charlie turned and smiled encouragingly at me and we begin to make our way down the stairs, slowly but surely to the man I loved.

*****

“This is fun! Isn’t it Rosalie?” Somewhere amid the blankets Rosalie made a noise, but I had no idea if it was consent or just pure irritation.

Alice and Rosalie were staying over in my room to keep me company. Despite the fact that I loved Alice to death, with my dreams getting more and more vivid, I was afraid she would report back to Edward, and worse of all, afraid of what she might hear. The guys were staying over at the Cullens and I knew that later on, all of them were meeting to go for one last hunt before the wedding. With all the people that were going to be milling about, it pays to be prepared.

My job, according to Alice, was to get my beauty rest. But with Alice constantly flicking on the light to check her plans and Rosalie grumbling in the corner, falling asleep was tougher than usual. But somewhere between the light flicking and the grumbling, I fell asleep. And I started to dream. I was running and running, my feet hurrying and jumping. At first, I thought I was running away from something but as I saw the figure looming in the distance, I knew I was running to something, or better yet, someone.

“Bella…” I felt strong hands around my waist, pulling me towards his chest. I felt warm all over. I turned. “Jake…”

He looked exactly as I had remembered him, tall and sinewy; his hands big and warm as they held my face, his smile white and brilliant enough to compete with a thousand suns.

“Jake…come back, please…Everyone’s worried…”

But my dream Jacob didn’t say anything; he just continued to smile down at me. Suddenly, I felt a shuddering and I saw him ripping and then…a russet wolf stood before me.

“Jake…” I reached out but the wolf started bounding away.

“No!!!” I started chasing after him, trying to reach him, trying to grasp him…

I woke up, my silent scream reverberating through the air and my hands outstretched, clutching…but as always, clutching air. 

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