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The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon

The Twilight Saga 2: New Moon: Page 40

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The tears welled up again. "Are you�� breaking up with me?" The words were all wrong, but they were the best way I could think to phrase what I was asking. After all, what Jake and I had was more than any schoolyard romance. Stronger.

He barked out a bitter laugh. "Hardly. If that were the case, I'd say 'Let's stay friends.' I can't even say that."

"Jacob�� why? Sam won't let you have other friends? Please, Jake. You promised. I need you!" The blank emptiness of my life before��before Jacob brought some semblance of reason back into it��reared up and confronted me. Loneliness choked in my throat.

"I'm sorry, Bella," Jacob said each word distinctly in a cold voice that didn't seem to belong to him.

I didn't believe that this was really what Jacob wanted to say. It seemed like there was something else trying to be said through his angry eyes, but I couldn't understand the message.

Maybe this wasn't about Sam at all. Maybe this had nothing to do with the Cullens. Maybe he was just trying to pull himself out of a hopeless situation. Maybe I should let him do that, if that's what was best for him. I should do that. It would be right.

But I heard my voice escaping in a whisper.

"I'm sorry that I couldn't�� before�� I wish I could change how I feel about you, Jacob." I was desperate, reaching, stretching the truth so far that it curved nearly into the shape of a lie. "Maybe�� maybe I would change," I whispered. "Maybe, if you gave me some time�� just don't quit on me now, Jake. I can't take it."

His face went from anger to agony in a second. One shaking hand reached out toward me.

"No. Don't think like that, Bella, please. Don't blame yourself, don't think this is your fault. This one is all me. I swear, it's not about you."

"It's not you, it's me," I whispered. "There's a new one."

"I mean it, Bella. I'm not��" he struggled, his voice going even huskier as he fought to control his emotion. His eyes were tortured. "I'm not good enough to be your friend anymore, or anything else. I'm not what I was before. I'm not good."

"What?" I stared at him, confused and appalled. "What are you saying? You're much better than I am, Jake. You are good! Who told you that you aren't? Sam? It's a vicious lie, Jacob! Don't let him tell you that!" I was suddenly yelling again.

Jacob's face went hard and flat. "No one had to tell me anything. I know what I am."

"You're my friend, that's what you are! Jake��don't!"

He was backing away from me.

"I'm sorry, Bella," he said again; this time it was a broken mumble. He turned and almost ran into the house.

I was unable to move from where I stood. I stared at the little house; it looked too small to hold four large boys and two larger men. There was no reaction inside. No flutter at the edge of the curtain, no sound of voices or movement. It faced me vacantly.

The rain started to drizzle, stinging here and there against my skin. I couldn't take my eyes off the house. Jacob would come back. He had to.

The rain picked up, and so did the wind. The drops were no longer falling from above; they slanted at an angle from the west. I could smell the brine from the ocean. My hair whipped in my face, sticking to the wet places and tangling in my lashes. I waited.

Finally the door opened, and I took a step forward in relief.

Billy rolled his chair into the door frame. I could see no one behind him.

"Charlie just called, Bella. I told him you were on your way home." His eyes were full of pity.

The pity made it final somehow. I didn't comment. I just turned robotically and climbed in my truck. I'd left the windows open and the seats were slick and wet. It didn't matter. I was already soaked.

Not as bad! Not as bad! my mind tried to comfort me. It was true. This wasn't as bad. This wasn't the end of the world, not again. This was just the end of what little peace there was left behind. That was all.

Not as bad, I agreed, then added, but bad enough.

I'd thought Jake had been healing the hole in me��or at least plugging it up, keeping it from hurting me so much. I'd been wrong. He'd just been carving out his own hole, so that I was now riddled through like Swiss cheese. I wondered why I didn't crumble into pieces.

Charlie was waiting on the porch. As I rolled to a stop, he walked out to meet me.

"Billy called. He said you got in fight with Jake��said you were pretty upset," he explained as he opened my door for me.

Then he looked at my face. A kind of horrified recognition registered in his expression. I tried to feel my face from the inside out, to know what he was seeing. My face felt empty and cold, and I realized what it would remind him of.

"That's not exactly how it happened," I muttered.

Charlie put his arm around me and helped me out of the car. He didn't comment on my sodden clothes.

"Then what did happen'" he asked when we were inside. He pulled the afghan off the back of the sofa as he spoke and wrapped it around my shoulders. I realized I was shivering still.

My voice was lifeless. "Sam Uley says Jacob can't be my friend anymore."

Charlie shot me a strange look. "Who told you that?"

"Jacob," I stated, though that wasn't exactly what he'd said. It was still true.

Charlie's eyebrows pulled together. "You really think there's something wrong with the Uley kid?"

"I know there is. Jacob wouldn't tell me what, though." I could hear the water from my clothes dripping to the floor and splashing on the linoleum. "I'm going to go change."

Charlie was lost in thought. "Okay," he said absently.

I decided to take a shower because I was so cold, but the hot water didn't seem to affect the temperature of my skin. I was still freezing when I gave up and shut the water off. In the sudden quiet, I could hear Charlie talking to someone downstairs. I wrapped a towel around me, and cracked the bathroom door.

Charlie's voice was angry. "I'm not buying that. It doesn't make any sense."

It was quiet then, and I realized he was on the phone. A minute passed.

"Don't you put this on Bella!" Charlie suddenly shouted.

I jumped. When he spoke again, his voice was careful and lower. "Bella's made it very clear all along that

she and Jacob were just friends�� Well, if that was it, then why didn't you say so at first? No, Billy, I think she's right about this�� Because I know my daughter, and if she says Jacob was scared before��" He was cut off mid-sentence, and when he answered he was almost shouting again.

"What do you mean I don't know my daughter as well as I think I do!" He listened for a brief second, and his response was almost too low for me to hear. "If you think I'm going to remind her about that, then you had better think again. She's only just starting to get over it, and mostly because of Jacob, I think. If whatever Jacob has going on with this Sam character sends her back into that depression, then Jacob is going to have to answer to me. You're my friend, Billy, but this is hurting my family."

There was another break for Billy to respond.

"You got that right��those boys set one toe out of line and I'm going to know about it. We'll be keeping an eye on the situation, you can be sure of that." He was no longer Charlie; he was Chief Swan now.

"Fine. Yeah. Goodbye." The phone slammed into the cradle.

I tiptoed quickly across the hall into my room. Charlie was muttering angrily in the kitchen.

So Billy was going to blame me. I was leading Jacob on and he'd finally had enough.

It was strange, for I'd feared that myself, but after the last thing Jacob had said this afternoon, I didn't believe it anymore. There was much more to this than an unrequited crush, and it surprised me that Billy would stoop to claiming that. It made me think that whatever secret they were keeping was bigger than I'd been imagining. At least Charlie was on my side now.

I put my pajamas on and crawled into bed. Life seemed dark enough at the moment chat I let myself cheat. The hole��holes now��were already aching, so why not? I pulled out the memory��nor a real memory that would hurt too much, but the false memory of Edward's voice in my mind this afternoon��and played it over and over in my head until I fell asleep with the tears still streaming calmly down my empty face.

It was a new dream tonight.
Rain was falling and Jacob was walking soundlessly beside me, though beneath my feet the ground crunched like dry gravel. But he wasn't my Jacob; he was the new, bitter, graceful Jacob. The smooth suppleness of his walk reminded me of someone else, and, as I watched, his features started to change. The russet color of his skin leached away, leaving his face pale white like bone. His eyes turned gold, and then crimson, and then back to gold again. His shorn hair twisted in the breeze, turning bronze where the wind touched it. And his face became so beautiful that it shattered my heart. I reached for him, but he took a step away, raising his hands like a shield.

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