Jacob ran after Bella, chasing her across the sand. His legs were so long compared to hers that he had to barely move them to continue the game. He didn’t mind. She had gotten much freer with him, had gained better control of her body. She didn’t fall so much anymore. He caught up to her, wrapping his arms around her as she shrieked, which quickly dissolved into giggles. Jacob joined her, their laughter fading out as it was carried away by the wind.
She broke free, making Jacob run away now. He led her right into the water, moving slow enough to give her a fighting chance. She yelled indignantly at him for making her go in the cold water, but didn't hesitate to run in after him. He had enough warmth for the both of them. They played in the water, splashing each other and racing each other. Bella was a much stronger swimmer, much more graceful than one would expect. But Jacob still beat her every time.
They pulled themselves out of the water, sitting on the beach, just close enough so that the water could lap at their feet. Bell wrung out her long hair, moving to do the same for Jacob before he just shook his head, flinging water all over. She started weaving it in a complicated pattern. They began to talk, the conversation flowing as easily as it always had. They spoke about the upcoming battle, Jacob doing his best to relax Bella. Jacob told her stories from the pack, all the shenanigans they got up to when they weren’t on patrol. They fell into an easy silence as Bella wound the last few strands of his hair into the braid.
Eventually, Jacob stood up, reaching down a hand to help Bella to her feet. He held her hand a beat longer than needed, squeezing it before he let go. Bella tried to ignore how it made her heart rate speed up. Jacob fought back his small smile when he heard it.
They walked down the beach, heading towards the small woods separating the two sections of the beach. Bella led him through the trees, happy to see her favorite part of the beach that wasn’t the man walking behind her. It was easier for her when she led the hike anyway; she still wasn’t a very fast hiker. This was the one part she couldn’t get lost on; the path was clear. It wasn’t long before they made it through, stepping out of the trees into the bright sunshine. Bella paused, feeling the warm rays on her face. Jacob did the same. He didn’t see the sun enough. Bella couldn’t help but admire the way the rays shined off his skin, .
Bella started looking through the tide pools, crouched low, leaning over them to get a better view. She watched Jacob show off, jumping from rock to rock. It was much easier with his longer legs. He helped her over some of the smaller distances, always holding her hand slightly longer than necessary, though neither party minded. He showed her some of the more readily hidden pools, full of water and teaming with smaller ocean life. They began to play eye spy in the pools, quickly chooser more and more obscure creatures until they were both laughing, dangling their feet in one of the biggest pools.
They went back to the other side of the beach, their arms around each other as they went through the woods. It had been a long day, and sunset was near. Bella didn’t want to have to hike in the dark, but she didn’t want to leave the beach, or Jacob, just yet. He led her onto the beach, choosing a spot to sit and pulling her next to him.
Jacob sat on the sand, leaning against their fallen tree. Bella sat next to him, leaning into his side, his arm around her. They didn’t speak, just watched the waves as they crashed against the rocky shore, admiring how the colors changed as the sun met the sea. Bella sighed, closing her eyes, leaning closer into his side. He rubbed small patterns on her arm, his fingers dancing up and down, deep in thought.
“It’s not me, is it?” he asked her without moving. She didn’t answer for so long that he thought she had fallen asleep. He would like that, the moment suspended longer, further proof of how safe she felt with him. The newborns were closing in, the shadows under her eyes growing darker by the day. Soon she would look like them without even being bitten. She had always been so beautiful…
“No,” Bella said, breaking him out of his thoughts. Now it was his turn to pause. He had no response to that. He leaned his head back against the log, closing his eyes. He told himself he would accept this. It was her choice. He wouldn’t pressure her. He wouldn’t force her. Not matter how it felt like his blood had run as cold as she would be, his stomach suddenly empty of all the fluttering that normally occurred when she was near. She didn’t choose him. It wasn’t him. It wasn’t him. It wasn’t…
“I’m sorry, Jake. It’s just…”
“Don’t, Bella. I don’t need to hear it.”
“I don’t want to hear it. I can’t deal with it. I don’t need the details. Let’s just… enjoy this last day together.”
She twisted around to face him. “Last?” He just looked at her. He didn’t want to explain how much it hurt to look at her now that he knew she didn’t want him. This had been their last chance. He searched her eyes, speaking without words. Both sets of eyes held only resolve. She nodded, understanding. She twisted back, leaning into him. She would make up some excuse to go soon. But it was fine for now. He’d let her go later. Not yet. Not yet. There had to be a little something left. It had been such a perfect day…