Genre: AH, Romance, Angst, Tragedy, and Comfort
Beta by: Project Team Beta
Work In Progress
Featuring: Bella & Jacob, along with Seth, Leah, Jasper, Emmett, Edward, Alice, Rosalie & several of the cast from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga.
When first love goes from wonderful to tragic, embodying every other emotion in between, it becomes nearly impossible to get over. Bella discovers just how difficult a love eternal can be.
Jacob Black, an Olympic boxing hopeful, dreams to be great. Bella Swan, a lifetime romantic, dreams to be his. After an unexpected tragedy occurs, everyone close to them is left pondering the outcome. Starts at the awkward ages of preteens & follows through to young adulthood.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
This lovely Banner was created by Cat (Rhodes11)
A/N First and foremost, I would like to give a special the staff of Project Team Beta for their help and fine tuning. This particular story was inspired by a friend of mine very much like my Jacob character. The situations are intended to be relatively relatable, true to life so to speak. The story is told mainly from Bella and Jacob's POV's, but other characters will share their POV's to shed light on the situations. Thank you for taking the time to read. Enjoy!
Yeah true...but things were looking up for them and now it's all down hill again...grr.
You're welcome :) post as much as you like. It's your story lols :) I am always look forward to some more
Thanks for the support =)
You're welcome :) support is vital if a story wants to work. That's why I am glad for having royal readers such as yourself when it comes to my story
Nice touch with Riley as the guy who fought against Seth. I wonder what happened with Jasper and Maria? Emily certainly isn't very nice in this story!
Thank you. I thought Riley was the most fitting character to play the role of Seth's opponent. Jasper and Maria decided to formally date and probably did a little making out to seal the deal, lol. Emily plays the bad girl in this piece. She was and will be the bane of Leah's existence, and then some. =)
The long awaited Christmas break had finally arrived. I was devastated to learn that Jacob had decided to return to California to spend his winter vacation there instead of coming home.
When he suddenly dropped out my life without giving me so much as a clever explanation—or so little as a two-bit pathetic excuse—I had no idea he would go to such lengths to keep it that way.
No, that's not really fair to Jacob, I told myself as Emmett and I drove to the Clearwaters' to collect Leah and Seth for a spur-of-the-moment welcome-back excursion to Port Angeles, but that was the way I felt.
After surgery and a few courses of chemotherapy, Jacob's mom had beaten the bout of ovarian cancer she had been diagnosed with last summer. She was now tentatively in full remission. No longer was she frail and sick, the way he'd last seen her. He had taken a real scare, and if I were honest with myself, it was understandable, and also quite noble he'd want to go back and spend his Christmas vacation with her since she was feeling better.
I was conflicted as to why I had been eager to see him in the first place.
Maybe it was just for a chance to snub him the way he had snubbed me. Give him a nice, controlled, icy welcome home—make him think his return didn't impact me in the slightest. Heaven knows he deserved to feel every bit as unlovable, as defective, and as ugly as he had caused me to feel, the lying ass.
Or, was it simply because I missed him and wanted to see him again? Possibly to hear from his own lips how he'd missed me just as much. How his world stopped spinning when I was no longer a part of it the way mine did when we suddenly stopped speaking. For the opportunity to have his strong, wanting arms wrapped around me tightly once more—holding me. Perhaps even kissing me so well that my head spun again with the clean scent of mild soap from his freshly scrubbed skin, while having the feel of his damp hair between my fingers, just the way it had been when he'd sneak over after boxing practices.
I sighed wishfully then faked a cough when I thought Emmett might have heard it.
The biggest reason I wanted to see him, though, was my endless need to know what went wrong between us. I wanted to know why he disappeared from my life so mercilessly. I felt I deserved nothing less than an open and honest answer straight from him ... regardless of how much his words of rejection might hurt me in the end.
We skidded into the Clearwaters' driveway—Emmett was a terrible driver—jerking to a halt. Seth was the only person to come out of the house. We had already lost Jasper to Maria's self-centered whining, and it currently looked as if Leah was going to bail on us, as well.
"So much for a Swan-Clearwater Christmas reunion," I mumbled to an obviously chagrined Emmett.
Seth had grown taller, and his shoulders were visibly broader. I was somewhat surprised, though, at how much his face appeared to have matured since last fall. Elements of his personality often reminded me of Jacob, but I never noticed before how much of a physical resemblance they truly shared.
Squinting as he brushed a feather of wavy, black hair from his eyes, he shined a bright grin.
Like his older cousin, Seth's natural cheery smile had a similar capacity to pale the clouds in the sky, ushering in a sprite charge reminiscent of feeling a bright sky after bad weather. I couldn't help but to grin in return.
His eyes locked on me for the tiniest instant. Sensing the rapid warming of my face, I looked away, clearing my throat and grabbing a tight rein on the startling spark of enthusiasm that easily surfaced.
I was no longer mad at Seth, but I had awkwardly shied away from him ever since the locker-room incident.
Losses had always put Emmett and Jasper in bad moods, so I didn't think too much of Seth's remoteness.
I got worried when he closed his eyes. It was possible he had a concussion and was trying to fall asleep. Leaning over him, I gently touched his shoulder. "Seth."
He opened his lids, his eyes lazily floating about my face.
Then, as quick as a hawk, wings spread wide and swooping at its prey, he had me in his clutches, unexpectedly forcing one bombshell of a kiss. It was kiss I didn't want—a kiss that I never could have imagined.
I was riled to the point of wanting to smack him silly. And I almost did the next day when he came sneaking up behind me as I stood in the front yard, inventing possible reasons for his uncharacteristic caveman behavior and wondering what on earth he could have possibly been thinking.
Fortunately, for his sake, he grabbed me in a defensive bear hug before I even got the chance to whirl all the way around and raise my hand to slug him.
"Stop it, Seth! Let go of me," I demanded. Forcing myself the rest of the way toward him, I stubbornly broke free from his clasp, swatted at his forearms, and shoved him away from me. "What's wrong with you?"
Withdrawing, he retorted, "Sor-ry ... my bad." He grimaced as if I'd completely overreacted to the way he shamelessly wrapped his hands around my shoulders.
Fury burst within me. "It is your bad!" I scowled, gritting my teeth to control the rising of my voice. "You think what you did is excusable? Forgivable?"
A swift and surprised broadening of his eyes was quickly followed by a genuine apologetic gleam. He quieted his voice. "I know, Bella. I know. I really am sorry. Give me a chance to explain."
I glared at him, folding my arms over my chest and tapping my foot in impatience as I waited for his explanation.
"Honestly, Bella, I thought I was..." He paused indecisively before giving up a loud breath of surrender and beginning again. "I thought you were..."
"Yes?" I impatiently coaxed, arching my eyebrow incredulously.
Slightly averting his gaze over my head in a moment of thought, he blushed and smirked. But it wasn't a humored, taunting smirk. It was more of a shy, wary smirk. He was definitely stressing over the incident as much as I.
"The point is: I didn't know. I didn't even realize what was happening ... I ha-hardly remember anything, anyway," he justified.
Submissively tucking his chin down, avoiding direct eye contact like a remorseful child who had just been scolded, he pleaded, "So, please, please just don't be mad at me, Bella."
His injured tone, and the quiet desperation barely concealed, were what caused me never to tell a soul about the occurrence, not even Jacob.
However angry I was at the time, Seth was my friend; I cared about him. I didn't want to hurt him, and I wouldn't embarrass him like that.
Pulling away from him instead was better, I decided. It was an appropriate act of loyalty to Jacob and a penance to ease my guilt over my decision to keep Seth's kiss from him.
After Seth unexpectedly left to Chemawa, choosing to attend the boarding school his freshman year, I ended up waving a white flag of forgiveness in the form of a birthday card I mailed to him while sending a special Miss You card to Jacob.
Seth was the person I turned to when everyone else was too busy; he always had time for me. He always made me smile. I couldn't deny the fact that I would miss his company in the cold and empty months to follow.
Warm, heavy air flowed over my skin, contributing to the nervy goose bumps prickling up on me as Seth casually tugged the car door open. "No Jasper?" he asked cheerily whilst climbing in the backseat.
"Nope. No Jazz," Emmett answered, talking to him through the rearview mirror. "Said he might show up later if Maria's up for it. I hope she's not. Kind of defeats the purpose, you know? I take it no Leah, either."
"She just now changed her mind. Too busy." Seth tapped me on the arm with the back of his hand. "She wants to talk you before we leave, Bella. She's in her room."
I entered the house, taking a purposeful inhale, relishing the faint smell of sweet grass that Harry routinely burned each night in order to keep the bad spirits away, and recalling how I had once loathed the scent when I was younger. These days, I found it pleasant, so much so that I even kept a sweet grass braid of my own in my bedroom at home.
Turning from the hallway into Leah's doorway rather happily, I was flabbergasted to see her normally tidy bedroom practically torn in shambles. A sturdy, silver footlocker lay open on the lush foam-green carpet. A couple of smaller pieces of luggage nesting on the star-quilt dressed bed cried out to me like grating sirens.
I gasped, not her too, my mouth falling open, and the sensation of advancing calamity already settling in my stomach.
Leah exaggerated a sad frown the way babies sometimes did prior to bursting into tears. "Don't, Bella. You're going to make me cry, and I'm having enough trouble with the whole business of going away to school already."
I obeyed, grabbing hold of my lip with my teeth before I could involuntarily replicate her frowning expression, if I wasn't already doing it. "Okay. But why didn't you tell me you had made this decision?"
"Because I wasn't sure. I mean, I signed up a few weeks after Seth left because I missed him. My parents said I could have until now to change my mind. I thought I did, right up till last night."
I cleared aside a pile of clothing and sat, settling into the bed. "But if I had known, I could have prepared and gotten used to the idea. Now, it feels like there's no time left for us." Christmas vacation always flew by far too fast, as it was. "Are you totally sure?"
She nodded with certainty. "I'm wasting here, Bella. And ever since Sam, I don't like the person I've become. I feel so stupid."
I hadn't witnessed anything different about her since she and Sam split up. I thought she got over it fine. In fact, I admired how strong and levelheaded she was throughout the ordeal. "What are you saying, Leah?"
She casually lifted a sweater from the bed and began folding it, presenting obvious, bleak loneliness.
Suddenly, the problem became crystal clear. Me.
I'd been a terrible, egocentric friend. Always withdrawn and too caught up in my own hopes and heartaches, I didn't bother to look around to see how life's ups and downs were affecting others. Not even the people I loved and cared about the most. I was unforgivably self-centered.
"Half the time, I don't know whether I'm coming or going, and it's been months, Bella. I have to force myself to hate him. Most of the time it helps, but sometimes"—she paused to minimize the emotional crack in her voice—"all I want is to be back in his life. I miss him so much. And it's not right. It's not good for me to be so fixated."
The more she spoke, the more ashamed I became.
She was speaking a language I had full capability of understanding. We had so much in common and could have leaned on one another through our painful situations. Yet, I was barely just discovering it. "I had no idea, Leah. I should have been there for you. I'm so sorry," I said, blinking back tears. "Some best friend, huh?"
She shrugged. "It's not important. What is important is that I get far away from here. From him. Start over. Get some perspective on things."
"But do you think running away is really such a good idea?"
"I do. No offense, Bella. I know you've loved Jacob since, like, forever, but your relationship was nowhere near the level of mine and Sam's."
Relationship level? What on Earth was she talking about? Then, it hit me. "Oh, no, Leah! You and Sam didn't ... Please tell me you didn't."
She was way too young.
She pushed a piece of hair behind her ear, revealing the reddened rim; a trait she shared with Jacob and Seth, that I'd come to learn was indicative of a blush. "Of course not," she softly replied.
However, it didn't escape me that she didn't look me in the eyes.
"I just believed him when he said he loved me. He told me he loved me, and I wholeheartedly believed him, Bella. What an idiotic fool I was to ever trust him."
I was leery of her answer. At any rate, I let her off the hook. There was no point in me dredging up something she almost certainly realized, with great amounts of devastation, was a huge mistake she couldn't undo, no matter how much she might have wished to.
Although, if I had been paying closer attention to her, or known of the possibility of Sam taking advantage of her sooner, he would have gotten a mega beat-down. I was sure Jacob or Emmett would have loved the privilege and still would—if they ever found out my fear.
"And to top it all off," she added, summoning me from my reverie. "I've found that I have twisted stalker tendencies."
"What? You're stalking him?" I probed, before slapping my forehead. Where have I been all this time?
"Not literal stalking," she explained, lifting finger quotations. "And ... not Sam, either."
She reached down, pulling open the drawer of her bedside table. "Take a look at this."
She held up a photo of her, Sam, and Emily. I recognized it had been taken the night of the bonfire. Leah was in the middle, cheeks pressed close to Emily's, smiling cheesily.
"You kept this? Why?"
"See what I mean? I'm obsessed with her. I take it out and stare at it at least once a day. I've memorized every single, obvious to subtle facet of her face, always comparing it to mine. Wondering what she has that I don't. Wondering exactly what Sam saw in her."
"You mean, besides braless boobs and a phony smile?" I tried to make light of the situation.
She laughed a little. "Really, Bella, how sick is that?"
It's pretty out there. I didn't answer out loud because fearing you may be crazy is what made you sane, in my opinion.
Reaching over and putting my arm around her, I gave her a small hug, briefly thinking about what Renee might say in such a situation. "We know what he saw in her, sweetie ... same thing they all did."
She gave me a slight roll of her eyes, as if I were merely placating her. I thought how Renee must have hated whenever I gave her that look.
"I'm serious, Leah," I insisted. "Emmett told me all about her."
Emmett told me a lot of things about girls like Emily, and he told me a lot of things about the less than honorable tendencies of—what one might call—a "typical" guy. A little too candid at times, I'd often thought. "Believe me, it's nothing to be proud of."
"I know that, Bella, but it doesn't make it hurt any less."
I pulled together an understanding smile. "Well, if change is what you need, I'm all for it. But the healing process begins here."
I took the picture from her hand and lifted it before her eyes, my fingers meeting in the top-center for the beginning of a split. "Do you want to do the honors, or should I?"
She gathered her lips, holding back the start of a smile. "I'll do it."
The first split in half was thoughtfully slow. But her eyes brightened with each additional rip, until the entire photo was shredded into a hundred tiny pieces.
It was a job well done. Simultaneously sighing, we exchanged grins.
Leah would be fine; she was tougher than I was. She was certainly able to hide things better than me, although, I was having trouble deciding if that was a good characteristic or not.
A/N: Sorry Jake didn't come back for vacation, but if he did, this chapter would have been 3x the length of my usual chapters. As it was, I had to separate this one into two chapters. Bella will tell you more about what happened between her and Jake in the next update. =D
Poor Bella :( she misses Jake yet she is angry at him. I don't blame her as he left without saying goodbye and what not.
I wonder what'll he'll say when he gets back.
Lovely moment between Bella and Leah :) sad but lovely
Hi Infinite Love,
She's confused about what went wrong between them, but she does still miss him and just wants to see him again.
That last misunderstanding really messed things up between Bella and Jake. He is hurt and she is hurt and they did not talk to each other. Will they be able to fix things between them if and when they see each other again, or will they be too stubborn?
Poor Leah is also struggling with her own heartbreak.
Can't wait to read more!
Its difficult to set records straight when they aren't in the same place, its so much easier to just drift away. They will have to work extra hard if they really share the same feelings for one another. Sam was a jerk to Leah but it will make her wiser in the end. Thanks for the comment.
Emmett and Seth's quick exchanges of humor had me laughing practically all the way to Port Angeles. I was in a far bubblier mood by the time we reached the mall.
Excited and chatty people moved in and out of the busy mall theater, and captured by the alluring smell of white buttered goodness wafting through the air, taking in a holiday movie seemed like the perfect plan.
As we stood outside the show hall studying the posters and discussing what to see, the doors opened up. A few more giggling females filed out. Emmett and Seth's heads mechanically turned to ogle.
Please. I rolled my eyes, appalled by their behavior. Guys were so obviously about one thing.
"Hey, Emmett," said a tall, slender, tendril-haired redhead with cool, ice-blue eyes, overemphasizing the swinging of her hips as she approached him. "What a lucky day."
"Victoria." His face lit up in a ridiculous smile, exhibiting deep, happy dimples.
Annoyed, I shuffled a few more feet away, so I wouldn't be forced into any small talk with her and focused my interest on the posters. The way she seemed to be drifting back and forth between Emmett and this rough biker guy named James earned her a top spot on my people-I-don't-care-to-pretend-I-like list.
"Bella," she greeted.
I lifted my hand, acknowledging her over my shoulder without turning to see her directly. I didn't welcome the sight of the pointed stare she usually gave me, as if I was merely an insignificant ant she'd love to squash.
"I take it you don't like her very much," Seth said, gesturing to Victoria with his chin.
"About as I much I like cold, slimy snakes."
"Wow," he said, chuckling gently. "I'm almost afraid to ask."
"Bella, Seth," Emmett called out. "Victoria and her friends are heading over to The Rack to play some pool. What do you think?"
The rack was a grungy pool hall located a few blocks from the mall, the kind of place frequented by stoner types, bikers, and teenage wanna-be-thugs. I didn't much care for the crowd or its wild atmosphere.
Seth shrugged. "Whatever, dude, I'm up for anything."
I glared at Emmett. He knew I wasn't a fan of Victoria or her mindless followers.
"What?" he retorted, defensively.
"This was supposed be a reunion," I reminded him.
"Tell it to Jasper and Leah. I'm pretty sure it was a bust when they decided to blow the rest of us off. We'll all hang out together later."
I glanced at Victoria who stood about three feet away. She didn't smirk, but her expression was gloating. "No thanks," I replied, shifting my gaze back to Emmett. "You two go on without me. I'll see a movie by myself."
Emmett squinted and groaned quietly. "Don't be a brat, Bella."
The spark of anger inside of me flared. "I told you to go!" I snapped sharply.
"Go ahead, Emmett. Go with them." Seth calmly intervened, always the gracious mediator. "I'll see a movie with Bella."
Emmett turned, gazing at Victoria, his eyes all over her figure. She sucked her bottom lip between her teeth, batting her lashes seductively.
Ick. I cringed, feeling a little grossed out and biting my tongue to keep myself from saying the word out loud.
"We'll meet you when the movie's done," Seth suggested.
Another second passed. "Fine, but I'll meet you two here when the movie's over, instead. I'm not planning on staying there long, anyway," he revealed, beaming at Victoria as she grinned back.
The way they were looking at each other, it was evident they now had other plans.
Aggravated at the sight of Emmett reaching for Victoria's hand and strolling away with her, I grumbled, "Let's get the tickets, Seth." I looped my hand around Seth's arm and tugged him to the busy ticket counter.
"I just don't see what he sees in her," I said as we moved into the snack-bar line. "Rosalie was so classy. And Victoria? Well, she's just trashy."
Seth looked about to disagree.
"Don't you dare say it!" I cut him off before he could get any words out.
The right corner of his mouth turned up knowingly, but he innocently asked, "Say what?"
Making my voice deep and sarcastic sounding, I mocked, "It's a guy thing."
Seth chuckled. "I wasn't going to say that but..."
Still riled, I cut him off again. "Emmett spends all his time hammering me about the kind of girl I'm not supposed to be, but the minute one of those very types bats her eyes or shakes her ass, even the best guys turn to mindless pups. Morals and self-respect, who honestly cares?" Guy's don't.
"A small buttered popcorn please and a medium orange soda," I ordered from the familiar-looking Native American girl behind the counter.
"And I'll just have a Coke," Seth added.
She hastily turned away from us to retrieve our orders.
"Dime-a-dozen-girls according to Mom and they're really not my type," Seth stated flatly.
"Dime-a-dozen-girls? Cheap, right?"
"Yep ... and common. It's what she calls those girls with bad reputations. Damn. I'm forced to hear the lecture of how that kind of girl is worth ten cents a dozen, right along with Jacob, every time someone like that calls the house asking for him."
Taken aback, I blinked, wondering just how often that was.
"You'd be surprised at how much my mom hears from her quilting circle," he said.
"Well, at least she cares." Which was good to know. "And do you both listen?" I asked.
"I do," he said matter-of-factly with a bit of a lecturing tone. "You should, too. Emmett's only trying to protect you. Jake and I would do the same for Leah." His voice dropped a little. "If she'd ever listen."
I realized then that Seth must have known what had transpired between Sam and Leah. Of course he did. They were twins.
The girl behind the counter returned and handed me the popcorn and the soft drink.
"Seth, it's good to see you home," she said, handing his Coke across the counter to him with a brilliant smile plastered on her full, naturally dark-lined lips.
At first glance, she was rather plain looking, wearing her straight, light brown-sugar shaded hair—which matched her skin tone so perfectly, she was almost one color—in a loose ponytail down her back without the slightest bit of makeup to accentuate any of her features. The sparkle of her eyes when she smiled, though, brought out all of the natural beauty she possessed.
I squinted. I knew that smile—flirty.
"It's good to be home," he reciprocated in his routine friendly fashion.
Feeling oddly possessive of him, I slapped the money on the glass display counter. "I'll get it, Seth." Rushing him away, I thought to myself, the nerve! She had no idea if Seth and I were "together, together" or not.
Once seated in the cool, softly lit theater while waiting for the movie to begin, I proceeded.
"Perhaps if you ... er ... Emmett," I swiftly corrected, realizing I was being presumptuous. "Emmett. If he wasn't so hypocritical with his advice, commands, or threats..." I trailed off, attempting to word it right. "Or whatever it is he's trying to do—scare me away from guys, I guess. He'd carry more credibility. Maybe then I'd be more apt to listen to him."
Though, I did listen, and I believed his warnings about the philandering ways and sometimes deceitfully rotten motives of guys, more often than not. Why wouldn't I? He hung with enough of them. He was also more the model of a typical male than I cared to know, and he seemed proud of the fact.
Seth brushed a flake of popcorn from my lower cheek. "He just wants you to be wiser than the average girl."
I scoffed. "What does that mean? Like, smarter than the average bear?"
"See? Now you sound like Leah. I just meant better than the rest."
Pure was the term he was referring to.
"Well, I'm not better than the rest." I raised my napkin and wiped my mouth. "I'm just the same."
And why shouldn't I be?
Eyes doubtful, he gave a small smile. "No, you're not. Trust me, Bella. You're nowhere near the same."
Tinged with embarrassment over my lack of experience and my utter lameness, I rolled my eyes and glanced away. "So, I don't go out with a lot of different guys. That's not a bad thing."
"Never said it was. It's actually a great thing."
I grinned away the uncomfortable compliment, trying to figure out how we went from Leah not wanting to take advice from Jacob and Seth to my social life—or lack of it. Hurrying to change the subject, I inquired as to his dating life. "So, are you seeing anyone?"
He ran a casual hand through his mass of wavy hair. "Not at the moment. I mean, I have had a couple of girlfriends, but I'm not with anybody now."
"Still holding out for little Miss Special, I presume."
He smiled, or tried to, but it came out empty appearing. "Nah." Then with a thinly veiled faraway look in his eyes, he furthered, "Not anymore."
I lifted my eyebrow, pressing for him to continue, and he gave a quick shake of his head as if he'd just woken himself from a daydream.
"It's just that the guys over there change girlfriends like they change their shorts."
Jolting involuntarily, I practically choked on the orange soda I was slurping. I lightly slapped him on his thigh, laughing at his crude analogy.
"No lie," he said. "I'll tell you what. There's probably not a girl in the entire freshman class that hasn't been with at least one of my friends already."
"And whose fault is that?" I asked, immediately wanting to place blame on the wandering-eyed male.
He appeared puzzled. "I don't think it's anybody's fault. That's just the way it is."
His face puckered, giving my question more careful thought. He pensively followed up his answer with, "But if I had to blame someone, I'd have to say it's all those amorous, boy-crazy girls' fault," emphasizing the entire last portion of his statement.
Antagonism rose inside me. Seth broke with laughter, letting me know he was only teasing me.
"Hell." He chuckled. "You're not very happy with my gender these days, are you, Bella?"
My angry flush switched to a duped blush. "I guess not." I smiled, embarrassingly nibbling on my lip.
"In all seriousness, though," Seth went on to explain, "the school is really not that populated. It's way bigger than the high school in La Push. But it's not very much bigger than the one in Forks. So, it's easy to get to know everyone right away—to determine quickly if you'll like any of the girls more than just a friend. After a while, it just gets stale."
"Dating gets stale?"
"Dating for the hell of it gets stale. I mean, I like to go out with certain girls. But what's the purpose in pretending that you like them more than that if you already know your heart isn't in it?"
I couldn't agree more. "Aww. You're just a closeted romantic, aren't you, Seth?" I commented, using a sweet, teasing voice.
He grinned. "Whatever. But if anyone else gets wind of it, I'll be forced to claim you're the biggest BS'er in the world."
Chuckling, I promised him, "Your secret's safe with me."
"What about you, Bella? Anything ever happen between you and Mr. Forks Wonderful?"
I shrugged, holding my composure, so he wouldn't think a topic of discussion I had fashioned made me uncomfortable and impassively replied, "That ship sailed a while ago."
The impression dawned on me—by the way he referred to Jacob as Mr. "Forks" Wonderful—he had no clue about Jacob and me.
Jacob wanted to be the person to tell him, and he never did. Why?
"And now?" Seth probed, bringing me back to the conversation at hand.
"Now? Oh. I go out sometimes, friendly dates. But like you said, I know every guy in school. It's a sure wager my Prince Charming isn't amongst them."
A few moments later, I fidgeted uneasily, struggling not to ask the question I outlandishly wanted the answer to more than anything. I finally conceded to myself that I had always intended to take the conversation there from the moment I embarked on the discussion in the first place.
"And Jacob? Is he seeing anybody?"
"Seeing anybody?" Seth made a noise that resembled a begrudged choke or huff. "Psh, you know Jake!"
I pulled my brows together, curious. "What's that about, Seth? Why did you say Jake's name like that?"
"Like ... resentful or something."
"I did?" He shrugged, oblivious. The innocence of his reply convinced me there wasn't any heat behind the tone I'd thought I'd heard. "I just meant ... Jake's Jake."
"Jake's Jake, the player Jake?" I cautiously asked.
Seth penetrated my eyes with an investigative stare. I tried to act casual, transparent with nothing to hide, hoping my tendency to blush didn't betray me. He finally answered with a shade of hesitance. "Nah, I just meant Jake's Jake. He's like a robot with only one operational program. And right now, that program is to take the Regional Championship and then move on to Nationals."
I blew out a breath of relief.
"Every girl knows he's not boyfriend material," he tossed in, I thought, minutely sarcastic. "But some girls love that, I guess," he said, smashing the empty paper cup of his soda rather forcefully.
Lifting his eyes over my head and behind me, he whispered, "Jazz, over here!"
I turned to the right of me, and Jasper and Leah were squeezing their way over to us, drawing my attention to the packed theater that seemed to have miraculously filled without my knowledge.
"Dude, you made it."
"Ah, sure did," Jasper said in a fake southern accent he was fond of using. "Bros before ho-"
Leah slugged Jasper in the arm, glowering a warning of don't you dare say it!
"-ly crow," he ended with. He plopped down in a seat in front of us, rubbing his arm and wincing. "That hurt."
She sat down beside him. "My dad brought us. We called Emmett to find you."
As the soft lighting dimmed darker and the previews began, in view of the discussion Seth and I had been having, I drifted back to the days when Jacob first left to California.
Nearly two entire weeks had gone by still without any word from him.
Each additional day fading past without a phone call made it that much harder for me to leave the house. I could glance down at the cell phone a million times to see I hadn't any missed calls. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to glue myself to the home telephone, just in case.
It didn't help matters knowing that he had been in touch with Leah a couple of times already.
I was beginning to feel like he purposely didn't want to speak to me, and I didn't understand why that might be. To say I was becoming neurotically worried and miserably sad would have been an understatement. I felt like a lovesick zombie with no will to eat, or sleep, or do much of anything else, aside from staying near the phone and trying with all my might to give the appearance to others, and to pretend to myself, everything was okay, and that I had nothing to worry about.
If I had known all it would take to get him to call was for me to force myself to walk out the door with a determined and true intention of leaving, I would have done it much sooner.
I halted on the porch when I heard the phone ringing, waiting for someone to answer it. I overheard Emmett say, "It's about time. Been wondering what's been going on," to whoever was on the other end. "Glad to hear it ... No problem; don't even worry about it ... Bella?"
Practically breaking the door down, I flew back inside as he was saying, "You just missed her," ready to wrestle the receiver away from him.
"Who is it?" I blurted, witnessing the surprised, yet baffled look on Emmett's face.
He narrowed his eyes like he thought I was crazy. "Justin Beiber. Who do you think?" he jeered.
Jake! I answered back wordlessly. Biting my lip, I held myself immobile a partial second and took a quick, calming breath while I reached for the telephone.
Emmett turned his back to me a little, curling the phone into his chest as if he wasn't going to give it up. Angered and roughly reaching around him, I was just about to start struggling for it when he let go, playfully grinning at me before he sauntered out of the living room and into the kitchen.
"Bella, you there?" I immediately recognized antagonism in Jacob's tone.
"Going to Seth's," Emmett bellowed.
I waited until the back door creaked open then shut. "I'm here, Jake."
He made a sighing sound of relief. "Emmett?"
"He just went out the back door. Is everything okay?" I asked, concerned about the strong heaviness I perceived.
"Now it is. I didn't think he was going to let me talk to you."
"What did you say to him?"
"Just that I didn't have a whole lot of time and that I was calling to talk to you. He tried to tell me you weren't home."
"I wasn't. I mean, I just left to go to the library when I heard the telephone ringing."
"Really? Good thing, cause I'm not sure when I would have been able to call you again." He started to apologize for not calling sooner. "Rebecca and Rachel had the cell phones turned off. Money's been really tight since my mom hasn't been able to work and uh..."
"Stop, Jake. I understand. You don't have to explain anything to me. How is your mom?" Leah had been keeping us posted with what little they'd heard, but it wasn't a great deal. "Is she getting better?"
"She's much better. But she has to have chemotherapy to be sure they got it all."
He sounded so worried and so sad when he talked about Sarah that I said a silent prayer for her to get well soon, right there on the spot.
His mood changed dramatically, though, when he began to tell me what else he'd been doing while he'd been there.
"There's a huge, local boxing club in the area that I've been training at. A lot of really skilled boxers train there, too. Just the sparring alone I've been able to get in on is making a big difference. Some of these guys are so good, Bella, you wouldn't believe it."
He loved boxing. His excitement made me smile. I was glad he wasn't using all his time feeling sad and worried. "That's awesome, Jake."
"A couple of guys here in my weight class have already competed on the national level. I can really gain a lot of experience training with them. "
"I'm happy for you."
"What about you? What's been going on over there?"
"Not much." I wasn't about to let him know that all I'd done was sit around and wait for him to call. "The usual."
I made a quick mental list of what had transpired since he'd been gone. "Jasper's dating Maria now. He's behaving identical to the way Emmett was acting last summer. Totally love struck."
"Leah and Sam never got back together."
"That's good. And what about Seth?"
Seth and I hadn't talked since the day after the boxing match. I'd been avoiding him out of uneasiness and some leftover indignation. But I thought he had been avoiding me, as well, most certainly out of embarrassment. We didn't have to deal with it because Emmett started hanging out with him over at his house when Jasper began to occupy all his time with Maria.
"The last time I spoke to Seth was when he came over to tell me how his knockout felt. He was feeling, um ... pretty embarrassed about it. I haven't really seen him since, so I don't know what's going on with him."
"Does Seth know about us?" he asked.
My heart thumped hard against my chest, a sudden rush of alarm.
I quickly weighed the idea of telling him Seth had kissed me against not telling him. Gulping, I asked, "Was I supposed to tell him? I can if you want me to."
"Nah. I just thought the subject might have come up. That's all. You two spend a lot of time together."
I almost thought I heard a jealous ripple in his voice but then thought better of it. Seth and Jacob were too close. Jacob had to know Seth and I had always only been friends. The kiss was just a quirky accident that only happened because of Seth's knockout. It had to be.
"That's all right. I'll tell him the next time I talk to him," he said. "I really should be the one to do it." I furrowed my brows in wonderment as I listened. "I think he might have a thing for you."
"No!" I practically choked in protest, my heart quickening and my cheeks radiating like hot burners. He couldn't be serious. Did he really just..."Did you really just say that?"
A thick silence aired through the phone.
Exasperated, I stammered, "I-I thought he had a crush on some other girl. He's never told me her name, but he has mentioned her to me a few times. Hasn't he ever said anything to you about her, Jake?"
He chuckled. "Settle down, Bella." I could all but picture a humored, perhaps questioning, look on his face. I bit my lip, feeling guilty for Seth's kiss. "And yes. Now that you bring it up, he has mentioned her to me."
I brought my hand to my chest, sighing in relief. "And her name is?"
"I forget," he said. "Let's change the subject. I don't want to spend any more of our time talking about Seth." Neither did I. "Now what about Emmett? How pissed was he when he left?"
"I don't think he was," I answered. "He seemed like he wanted to tease me, but he wasn't mad."
"Hmm—well good. That's it then, I guess." He sounded happy and relieved.
I was, too, realizing everything would be fine for Jake and me to openly see each other from this point forward.
"Look, Bella, I have to go. I've already been on the phone way too long." He hesitated, and his tone hit that depressed note once more. "I don't know when I can call you again. It's..."
"I'll call you!" I interjected, now feeling welcome to do so. "Renee won't mind."
"Are you sure?" He sounded leery.
"Positive," I assured, and we made plans for the best times for me to reach him.
Emmett had made long distance relationship conversations sound difficult, stressful and fruitless. But talking to Jacob was easy.
I could listen to the boxing stories Jake shared with me to no end. There was a detectable exhilaration in his voice whenever he was on the subject that came across so passionate and pure, I was grateful he was allowing me to be part of his dreams.
And the confidence he held in himself left me sure he'd be as successful as he intended to be.
That was a beauty all of its own. It was like he was destined for greatness, and he knew it.
Although, once in a while, if he missed my phone call due to a late practice or a boxing match he had attended over the weekend, he acted guilty and behaved aloof. As if it incessantly troubled him. Hardly anything I'd say to get him to believe that I completely understood calmed him.
Those conversations became a little tense. I could never be angry at him for pursuing his dream as focused as he did, and we'd end up wasting half of our already too short amount of telephone-time with me trying to convince him of it.
His hopes and dreams were just as important to me as they were to him.
I wasn't going anywhere. I was "his" girlfriend. His girlfriend was all I'd ever wanted to be. There was no need for him to worry that I might want a "better" boyfriend, as he'd sometimes put it—one who was closer, who could take me out and spend more time with me—because I never would want anyone else but him.
It didn't matter to me how far apart we were. And once we were together again, and before the next time we parted, I was going to make certain he knew precisely how I felt.
Soon, fall descended, bringing the new school year along with it. Jacob and I had been discussing how we'd keep in touch with one another once he got back to the dormitory in Chemawa. He was anxious to get back to school, but he was also worried about leaving Sarah while she continued to recover from the aftereffects of chemotherapy.
"Her doctor said another treatment wouldn't be necessary, and that's good news. But she still seems sick. Weak and it's hard for her to keep food down. He told us she should feel better within the next few weeks, so hopefully."
"That does sound like extremely good news."
"Yeah. I wanted her to be completely well before I left though. I don't think she likes us seeing her sick. She tries really hard to pretend she's better than she actually is."
"I bet that takes a lot of energy, pretending. Maybe she'll rest easier once she doesn't have to pretend for anyone's sake."
"I hope so. Rebecca is going to take a semester off from college to stay here with her until she's all better. So, I guess I shouldn't worry too much."
We got back on the subject of phone calls and emails. Up until then, we had been talking once a week, sometimes twice if Jacob could manage it. He didn't have internet access, so emailing or chatting hadn't been a possibility. Once he returned to school, though, we thought we'd be able to message back in forth quite frequently, and we were looking forward to it.
"I know you're not the pen-pal type of guy, Jacob, but I think I'll write to you anyway."
"And I'll be sure to write back." His voice sounded eager with the idea. "I always would have, you know?"
I smiled. Renee had been right.
Just days before Jake was due to leave, he called me.
I felt antsy about the change, somewhat insecure with him living near a dorm full of girls who may have had more in common with him than I did.
"Jacob," I hesitated because, although I kind of wanted him to know what I was worried about, I kind of didn't.
"Never mind ... forget it."
"What is it? Tell me."
Undecided about sharing my insecurities, I paused. Then I asked, "This ... this long distance stuff, it is going to work, isn't it?"
"You think it won't?" he countered, sounding urgent. There was a tone of worry imbedded in his voice.
"No. I think it will," I explained. "It's just that ... you know ... it didn't work for Emmett and Rosalie." And they were in love, I opted not to add.
A moment or two passed between us. "Well," he said. "We're not Emmett and Rosalie. I want it to work. And I know you want it to work. So, we'll make sure it does. Because, Bella, I lul-" He abruptly stopped speaking.
The biggest smile I could have had popped onto my lips. I trembled with goose bumps. My heart battered my breast. He was on the cusp of telling me he loved me.
A deep sigh preceded a tremble of his husky voice as he continued, "I, uh ... really wish you were standing right here in front of me, Bella. I ... uh..."
Love you! He didn't exactly say the words, but I heard them anyway. I grinned in elation.
"I-I..." he stammered. "I just really need to be able to see you for this. I miss you, and I can't wait to see you again."
Being instantly consumed with happiness, and with such an intense love of him, I said in a haze, "I miss you, too, Jake."
Never did I imagine I could feel so overwhelmed in bliss, excitement, anticipation, and most of all, love, all at once. It was almost excruciating. I nearly cried from the swirl of concentrated emotions engulfing me.
I couldn't wait to see him again, either. The waiting would be agony. But it would be well worth it, hearing his words of "I love you" when I would be able to see the expression on his face as he said them and to feel him all around me while I tasted the soft, sweet kiss of his lips. And then, to witness his reaction when I spoke, "I love you, too," in return.
Everything after that moment was irrelevant. I lay on my bed, lost to the world with enough elation to sustain me for days.
Until I found out. He lied.
No more than ten days of him being back in Chemawa had passed when I realized he had lied to me. His claims were nothing but cruel falsehoods.
He didn't even try to make it work.
First, he stopped replying to my emails. Then, he didn't call at our agreed upon time. I tried to convince myself that perhaps he hadn't had the minutes to call or couldn't afford to. Or maybe he lost his privileges for some petty misbehavior. But after the third time that I contacted the dorm office, heard the paging of his name, and was once again asked to leave a message, I realized he was never going to take my calls. Nor was he ever going to write back.
My stomach twisted, my throat tightened, and tears readily filled my eyes. I shifted in my seat, blinking my lashes, resolved not to cry as I leaned my shoulder opposite Seth's, lest he sense the change in my mood and discover the quiet re-breaking of my heart.
Sinking into my chair, I folded my arms around myself, finding that it hurt just as much this day as it did the day I realized it was over, and I should stop trying to bother Jake.
Through the synchronized laughter of the audience, I hid in the darkness, attempting to rebury the pain. Feeling Seth's gaze move toward me, I turned away, leaning my head back against the seat. I closed my eyes and pretended I was sleepy, glad he didn't ask, until the weight of my sorrow literally lulled me into a light sleep.
A/N Next Chapter: Its summer break again. So you know what that means. Everyone, including Jacob, is back home again. =)