The Twilight Saga

Author:  EMHW_Bear

Pairing: Jacob/Bella

Genre: AH, Romance, Angst, Tragedy, and Comfort

Rating: PG13

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!                      

Tags: Bella, Boxing, Jacob, Seth, Tragedy

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Chapter 14

Jacob

When Seth told me he and Bella had made-out a couple of times, I was in shock. She'd flat out lied to me.

I stared at the mound of scrambled eggs and greasy bacon lying on my breakfast plate, my stomach twisting nauseously. Excusing myself, I half-mindedly wandered to the infirmary and told the nurse I thought I was coming down with the flu.

All I did for the rest of the day was hide in my room like a wuss. I lay on my bed in the dark, doing nothing but hurting and thinking. Did she feel that damn sorry for him that she had to make him feel better by kissing him? Why would she do that?

I tossed and turned restlessly all night long and didn't get an ounce of sleep. They'd kissed, and she had pretended that she had no idea Seth even liked her. That didn't make any sense, especially since it happened more than once.

The more I agonized about it, the worse I felt. I'd been made a fool by supposedly the sweetest, most genuine person in my life. Who'd have thought she had it in her? Not me.

Come morning, I was stone-cold angry.

As for Seth, after I managed to get over the enormous urge to pound the crap out of him, I decided that I couldn't blame him for finding a moment to kiss her because I knew I would have done the same. In fact, I did do the same. Nope, that was all Bella. While Seth wasn't completely forthcoming, because she'd asked him not to tell anyone, Bella had straight-up lied. Twice.

Betrayal blistered red-hot; it felt like the worst pain in the world, worse than being dumped or suffering a wicked and humiliating loss, even.

I didn't want to talk to her at all.

A couple of times when Bella called, I told myself to give her the opportunity to explain. But come on, what could she really say?

I was too pissed off. Pissed because she had me feeling stupid and depressed and patheticthe way I saw some guys after they'd been played. Most of them were dumb asses who went back for more. I never understood that sort of guy; pride refused to let me be one.

I didn't stay mad at her for long, maybe a few weeks a couple of months at the most. I missed her...  really, really missed her. But by then, enough time had passed that I didn't know how to break the ice between us. I didn't even know how to go about beginning a conversation with her about it or any other subject, for that matter.

It seemed like the situation was too big of a problem to fix over the telephone. So, ultimately, I let the problem of her kissing him and then lying about it go, and I let her go in the process.

Now Seth was telling me it wasn't true.

Crazy thing was, I wouldn't have cared if I died believing his story. I didn't care anymore. The moment I got a close view of Bella while she was leaning up against Seth, eyes clinging to him, cozy in the bonfire light, I realized that it didn't matter what had happened between them. I still wanted to be with her.

I stood there, watching for a moment. They were sitting pretty close to each other, isolated from the crowd, absorbed, like two people who were about to hookup for real. Something primitive flared inside of me, the something that caused a guy to stomp another guy's guts out over his woman. I headed straight over there with nothing on my mind, except for taking her away from him.

But those feelings didn't surface in time to keep me from making another misinterpreted decision and acting on it.

Earlier, when I had first arrived, I saw Seth and Bella from a distance. They were traipsing from car to car, visiting people, hanging out together, and going about their business. Same old, same old.

No big deal.

I told myself it didn't bother me, but even still, I left. I never considered that Seth and Bella were looking for me, and because I had already been thinking about going back to California for the summer, that was what I decided to do. I needed the more diverse training if I even hoped to do a good job at the national tournament. Billy had been sober for a few years; he got along just fine without me, and since Bella and I were long over, there were no more reasons to be in La Push.

Once my parents agreed, I felt like I could breathe easier, and I came back to the party.

I could have waited until after I had a chance to talk with Bellato see her face to face, at leastto find out if there was anything left between us.

What the hell. I huffed. Always an idiot.

Slowly, Seth sulked away. He was heart-hurt and crumbling. He looked the way I'd felt all those months ago. We were in such a screwed up situation.

It took a lot of guts for him to tell me the truth.

Nah, I wouldn't blame him to repair my relationship with her. It was my dishonesty with Seth and my misjudgment of Bella that brought us to this point. I had to find another way to make Bella and me right without using him as an excuse.

She never kissed him, not on purpose. Taking a harsh breath, I ran a tight hand down my mouth and chin and turned toward Bella. She was no longer sitting on the car but standing by it, and her attention was on the crowd.

Now what?

She smoothed her hand through her hair, gathering an arm full, and swept it all to the front of her shoulder. My eyes lingered on her, casual and alluring with a detectable pout on the soft curves of her cherry lipsattractive far beyond anyone and everyone. I wet my lips. How had I managed to let a misunderstanding obliterate our relationship and keep me away from her?

Admiring her, I found the bright side of the situation. She was here; so was I!

Super invigorated, I grinned.

Before Seth's interruption, we had been sitting together uncomfortably close and forcing dull and meaningless talk. It was terrible to be near her and experiencing such a strain between us. My palm had rested flat against the trunk of the car mere centimeters behind her. If she had leaned back just a smidgen, she would have been leaning against me. If I had leaned forward just a tad, I would have been holding her. But there was an obvious gap of cold, unfriendly space separating the two of us as solid as a marble wall.

She looked up at me as I approached. Examining her expression, I sought a place to start, some words to say. But the only thoughts coming to mind were: I love you. I miss you, I'm sorry, and ... "I was a prick," I blurted.

Pulling her eyebrows together, she stopped me with a hard, unforgiving stare. "Why did you do that, Jake?" she asked with a very serious tone, lifting her chin and glaring directly into my eyes.

She'd been waiting for this discussion.

Somewhat startled by the scorn that appeared on her face, I rubbed my lips together and rose up and down on my tip toes, unable to articulate an explanation. It was too bad I couldn't just skip past this portion of the night.

"I'm sorry, Bella." I started to explain,  "It was just that ... Well, we weren't together for so long, and I forgot what it was like between us. How good we were together. How perfect you were ..." I didn't get the chance to say "for me."

She scowled, bursting, "Don't you dare do that to me, Jacob Black!" Her voice was trembling. "Don't give me some absurd guy line to try to confuse me. I'm not a fool. It's ridiculous, and it's insulting!"

My eyes shot open. I didn't expect this much animosity.

But as hostile as she sounded, it didn't quite mask the wounded note imbedded in her voice.

I glanced over her head for a moment to gather my thoughts. How was I going to do this without bringing Seth's name up? I could kiss her ... She'll probably smack me. "I know it sounds ridiculous, Bella, and maybe it doesn't make sense to you. But if you'll just listen ..."

She was turning away from me, gazing at the raging fire some kids newly stoked, her eyes narrowing angrily and raging just as fierce as the fire. "Don't make anything up on my account," she grumbled sarcastically.

I was the one who should have been furious. Another guy had kissed her while we were going out, my cousin to boot, and she intentionally kept it from me. Here I was on the verge of begging her to forgive me for being upset about it. I hated to argue with her though. I just wanted to be with her. I wanted to touch her again, hold her again, and kiss her again. "I know I messed us up, Bella," I conceded. "I did it because ... I did it because ... because I was jealous."

I reached deep inside for that answer, and as soon as I said it, I knew it was completely true.

"Jealous? Jealous of what, Jake?" she asked, her voice insisting.

"Of everybody," I explained. "I was jealous of every guy who got to be here with you when I couldn't." Her face didn't show any emotions, but she was listening. "I was afraid we might not be able to last, being so far apart and everything. Then, once I messed up, I didn't know how to go back and fix it."

"You messed up?" she questioned, eyes large and round. "Jake." She frowned, looking crushed. The lower rims of her eyes began to glisten.

I reached out, placing my hands on her shoulders. She attempted to pull herself away. "Not like that, Bella. I never messed up like that," I quickly corrected. "I didn't cheat on you." It had been over for a few weeks before I went out with someone else. But now wasn't the time to bring that up. The conversation we were having was difficult enough. "I just didn't talk to you is all."

"Because you were jealous," she reiterated, flat and thick with ridicule. Fighting tears, she blinked and refused to make eye contact with me.

"You're right. I'm not making any sense, but it's true. Look, you wrote to Seth." It was impossible to keep his name completely out of it. "I got pissed off and jealous of your friendship with him."

She turned and glared at me in disbelief. "Seth?" She scoffed. "It was just a birthday card, Jacob, and it was Seth!"

Angered by her display of innocence, I pursed my lips and buried the urge to summon what I knew for reprieve. It took an ocean of control not to fire back.

Her tone dropped, soft and sad sounding, and she choked, "I wrote to you, too, you know?"

Damn it, Seth!

Barely holding in my growl, jaws clenched, I breathed deeply to calm myself. "Like I said, Bella, I really messed up. I should have told you how I was feeling, what I was thinking, but I didn't." Caught in the moment, I leaned, pressing a kiss to her forehead. She closed her eyes. I gently brushed my thumb across the shiny damp spot on her cheek as she opened them back up, disgusted with myself and Seth for hurting her. "After I pouted and acted like a prick, I didn't know what to do. I couldn't admit it. I didn't know how to, and I didn't want to talk about it over the phone. Where would it have led? To a fight? To us breaking up?"

"We broke up anyway," she mumbled.

" I - I know we did," I said, lowering my head, sorry.

"So, what was the point then, Jacob?"

The point was, I didn't have to be afraid of losing her anymore. I stayed quiet for a second. "I guess there wasn't one."

Over in the party crowd, someone spoke my name. Turning in their direction, I caught sight of Embry, Quil, and Emmett with a group of female partygoers making their way down the hill.

I abruptly scooped my arm around Bella's hips to usher her away before they spotted us. She had curves she didn't have last summer. A brief image of her without her zip-up sweater claimed a moment's attention.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

I grabbed her by the arm as she started to protest. "Come here," I said, tugging her to a nearby pickup truck. "It's Emmett and them. I don't want them to see us."

"So what? All we're doing is talking." Looking behind us, she tried to pull her arm from me. I held on to her. "Besides, Emmett doesn't care."

"I know he doesn't. I'm not done talking to you, though."

She bit her lip, leery.

"Just ..." I released her arm and scrubbed at my forehead with my fingertips. "Can I talk to you alone for a little while longer, Bella? Please."

Jared bellowed my name. "He was standing right over there," he told Emmett and the guys, pointing at the car we'd moved away from.

I ducked below the window of the pickup truck's cab, yanking Bella down with me. Our eyes met. I raised my eyebrow. The hint of a smile that softened her features was as welcome as a green spring morning. She nodded her approval. Brushing my hand over hers, warm and soft and slightly trembling, our fingers locked together, and we swiftly crept away.

Upon reaching the dark cover of the trees, Bella spread her fingers rigidly. I flinched a little, but I instantly let her hand slip from mine.

"I don't know what I'm supposed to do or say, Jake," she said in quiet voice of question.

I frowned, my mind refusing my mouth some urgently needed words of charm, of poetry, or of just a freakin' logical explanation, so she could find in her heart to forgive me. All I could hear was my heart pounding in my ears like a drum.

"What do you want from me now? I mean, where do we go from here?" she asked.

There wasn't the smallest indication she wanted anything more to do with me, none that I could see.

Maybe my hasty decision wasn't so hasty after all.

I gulped, the realization sinking in that she didn't want to be with me anymore. What did I expect? "Can we at least be friends again, Bella? I don't know ... just talk sometimes or something?" If that was all I could have from her, so be it. Girlfriend or not, I wanted her in my life.

She glanced down at the ground for a minute that felt like an hour, a very long hour. When she lifted her head, she was smiling. "We can do that."

So much relief washed through me that my level of energy completely drained. I felt exhausted.

Even though I wasn't excited with the idea of just being friends, I planted a wide smile on my face. I could take it or leave it, and I was taking it. "I'm glad," I said.

We stood in awkward silence a moment or two longer. Clearing my throat, I asked, "Well, shall we go back to the party then?"

"Okay." She tucked her hands into her sweater pocketsI guess she didn't want me to try to hold her hand againand took a couple of steps. A dull thud came from her shoe hitting against something. She buckled, tumbling to the ground, her thick, dark hair whipping through the air close behind.

"You all right?" I asked, instantly reaching for her.

I couldn't hold back my grin as she rolled her eyes, her color flaming. She nodded, allowed me to lift her up, and quickly brushed the muck from her jeans.

We gazed at each other, trying to control our smiles. Spreading my fingers wide, I held out my arm, offering her my hand. She grinned and accepted.

Stopping once we reached the bottom of the crater, we let go of each other's hand. Seeing her wipe her palm on her jeans like she was somehow wiping away my touch made me think about just how hard she'd have to work simply to be friends with meanother blow to my ego.

I tried to conceal my grimace of frustration as I said, "I don't see Emmett down there anywhere. Are you ready?"

"Yep," she said and took a step forward.

I wasn't ready. She was the only person I wanted to hang out with. I dreaded leaving things as they were.

When she took another step, a moment of desperation prompted me to spout, "Bella." I urgently grasped the sleeve of her sweater with my fingers. She paused, turned, and tilted her head toward me. Thoughts of rejection clashed with passionate feelings as I looked into her eyes. "I missed you." My breath, along with a stutter, caught in my voice. "I ... I always miss you, Bella."

I felt like I ceased functioning while I waited for her response.

She just stood there looking at me with a blank, hard-to-read expression on her face.

Discouraged and afraid to say anymore, I thought, I love you, Bella.

Then, almost as if I had said it out loud, her eyelashes fluttered, her face brightening to emphasize an emerging smile. "I missed you, too, Jake," she said, and in a blink, she was pressed against my chest, her arms tangled around me, her breath wonderful and sweet on my neck.

I wrapped my arms around her waist just as tightly and buried my face into her hair.

Awww :)

I feel so bad for Jake and Bella-as much as their moment was sweet. Things really are messed up between them because of the whole Seth thing.

I hope they get back together and Seth backs off...or else-lol I'll kick his butt myself

Hi Infinite love,

Lol, "Seth, beware!" Thanks for the review.

Due to a crazy busy time in my life, I'm still behind in reading but I'm planning on doing some this weekend, so expect to be hearing from me =) Thank Goodness for the weekend!

Poor Jacob had to work hard to get anywhere with Bella without implicating Seth.  So many misunderstandings and hurt feelings to overcome.  Hopefully they can now move on together.  I wonder what will happen now that they seem to be getting back together...

Hi Seugnet du Toit,

Poor Jacob is right. This one was really hard for him. Because of his big brother role where Seth and Leah are concerned, he wanted to protect Seth. So he manned up and took the entire blame, which is a good display of the type of person he was and wants to be. Thanks for the review!

A/N Hi All! I have been super busy at home and work so I haven't had much time to post, let alone read. I apologize for that, but without further ado here is the next update. I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 15

Bella

Leah’s breathless voice popped suddenly from the shadows. “There you two are.”

I gasped and Jacob gave a soft groan, letting his taut arms and warm hands that had been applying a slight pressure to the flesh above the low hips of my jeans slip away the moment I pulled back.

The mutually enthusiastic embrace had been like a sigh of alleviation. I underestimated how much I’d wanted it and how good it would feel.

“We’ve been looking for you all night,” she said.

“Who’s we?” Jacob asked with little interest. His eyes remained on me a moment longer before he let out a disgruntled breath and turned to face Leah.

“Everybody. Where’d you two go anyway?” she asked. One of her eyebrows lifted as she directed her question from him to me with a glance.

“Just for a little walk,” I replied.

Her lips turned down regretfully. “I interrupted something.”

“No,” I exclaimed. She only helped me do what I couldn’t find the strength to do myself, which was to pry my telltale body away from his.

Even within the most realistic daydreams I had entertained, I made Jacob grovel for forgiveness for days before I gave him the time of day. Occasionally, I even cut the conversation short with a slap—but leaping into his arms after a simple I missed you?

I quietly cleared my throat. “We were just on our way to join everybody.” My eyes flicked to Jacob for confirmation.

“Are you sure?” she asked him. “Cause it wasn’t on purpose, Jake. I was just passing by.”

Though he appeared annoyed, he smiled. “Bella’s right. We were just headed over there.”

“If you say so …” She crossed her legs then uncrossed them. “But first, you have to come with me to the bathroom, Bella.”

Hooking her arm with mine, she began to tug me away. I dawdled, about to turn my head back to see him, but before I could, Leah huffed, yanking me forward in a rush and hollering, “Meet you at the fire, Jake!”

She was rattling on about who had hooked up with whom and how wasted certain individuals were as we scurried past people, vehicles, and trees on our way to find some acceptable form of cover, but I could care less.

I had thought I was over Jacob. With all my heart, I tried to be. Then I realized with an aching sureness that I wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

But once I saw that infuriating, presumptuous grin on his face after he had come back from speaking with Seth, all I could hear was Emmett’s voice in the back of my mind warning me against being stupid.

“You have to decide right now how you’re going to let girls treat you.”

Emmett had been talking to Jasper at the time and we were only in grade school, but it was a sound piece of advice, and I had gotten the message too. 

Pride and anger  surged to the forefront of  my feelings, and I had to fight the urge to tell him that I hated him. Even though it wasn't true.

The door to being with Jacob had been just about to close, and—stubbornly—I had been just about to let it.

While I guarded the tree Leah was squatting behind, she casually asked, “So what was going on back there?”

My feeling was that if Jacob and I had made it to the fire without saying another word to each other, we probably never would—at least not on any level I would ever be happy with, let alone, satisfied. I knew this, and I was panicking inside as we moved forward, but I didn’t know how to stop us. So when he interrupted that progression on his own, I completely caved.

Now we were …

What were we?

Choosing not to speculate, I said, “Nothing really … he just gave me an apology for what happened between us.”

“It looked like he was giving you more than that.”

Though she couldn’t see me, I rolled my eyes. “He wasn’t. I was just accepting his apology.”

Twigs crunched and crackled underfoot as she wandered out from behind the large misshapen tree, slapping a low hanging branch out of her path. She poured liquid sanitizer from a small bottle into one of her palms, slipped the bottle into her back pocket with her free hand then washed the sanitizer throughout her hands. “It looked like you were accepting more than that,” she teased, using the same contradictory tone.

“Well, I wasn’t,” I snapped testily. The innocent comment wasn’t meant to make me feel ashamed and embarrassed, but it did. I spun around and started back to the party.

Hurrying along side of me, she laughed then joked, “Somebody’s thong is twisted.”

I ignored her, making myself hurry.

She matched my stride. “Hey … what’s wrong?” Now her voice sounded concerned. “I thought you’d be happy to be back with Jacob.”

“I’m not back with Jacob,” I spat. “So just … shut up about it.” I didn’t turn my head to see her reaction to my unusually hostile outburst, but I assumed she was caught off guard.

Deep inside, I did want to get back with Jacob. Except, I didn’t want everyone to know it was what I had wanted. I didn’t want him to know it was what I had wanted. Telling Seth turned out to be a colossal mistake.

“Bella,” Leah said. I looked back and forth from the ground to directly ahead of me, paying particular attention to where I was placing my feet rather than paying attention to her. “Bella,” she said again, her tone the forceful urging of a caring best friend. “What’s wrong? What did he say? What happened?”

Needing to unload my frustration, I abruptly stopped walking and faced her. “I’m just so damn angry at him, Leah …” It was difficult to explain it to her when I could barely make sense of it myself. I paused. Taking a deep breath, I blew it out extra slowly. “Actually, it isn’t even him I’m angry at.” I managed to admit. “It’s me. I’m angry at myself because I’m not angry at him. Not as angry I should be—as angry as I’d like to be.”

I really wanted to be able to forget that he heartlessly dumped me with no good reason and just be his girlfriend again. But I also wanted to be strong, as strong as I would have wanted another girl in a similar situation to behave, and have the guts to walk away without looking back.

“I wish …” I reached for the words. “I wish I didn’t want to be with him anymore. But at the same time, I can’t let go of him, either. I don’t want to give him up, Leah. Does that make any sense?”

“After Sam—” she made a choking noise— “It makes more sense than you know.”

“I can’t let him think that he could dump me whenever he feels like it without any consequences. I just can’t.”

She looked at me sympathetically, and I could see that she more than understood. “Look, Bella, you don’t have to decide anything tonight. Make him sweat a little. S***, make him sweat a lot if that’s what you think he deserves. You have every reason, and if he doesn’t understand that you need time then … too bad.”

I tossed around the notion of making him sweat as I dropped behind Leah to let her lead the way. The longing and the truthfulness in his eyes when he’d said he missed me made it clear that the ball was in my court, but I’d never known Jacob to play those types of games. According to Emmett, there were just too many hot girls out there.

Thinking out loud, I muttered, “Jake’s never been the kind of guy to chase a girl.”

“Not usually,” she replied.

 

Jacob had a crowd of friends surrounding him when we got back to the bonfire and I was still stressing, so I hid myself amongst Leah and the girls from La Push. Though we locked eyes through the crowd several times, he never made any attempts to approach me, nor I him. Maybe he needed some time too.

At one point during the party, Leah nudged me. “Look at that skanky thing!” She exclaimed, her eyes narrowing in disgust as several obscenities spilled from her mouth. She had developed quite a tongue in Chemawa and her attitude was a lot more brazen then before she had gone away; living independent of her parents for those months seemed to have hardened her.

I turned to where she had indicated and saw Lauren and Jacob standing together.

“First she tries to burn my brother … now she wants my cousin? She better get away from him before I go over there and drag her away … by the hair.”

At first, I wondered if Lauren might be trying to get back at me for going to the holiday dance with Seth until I realized that almost nobody knew about me and Jacob. I wondered what else she might be up to. Lauren being Lauren, I didn’t put it past her to be hitting on him, but I couldn’t see Jacob being interested in someone as high maintenance and fake as she.

Besides, all they were doing was talking. “He’s a big boy. I’m sure he can handle Lauren.”

“He doesn’t know that she’s the Lauren who broke Seth’s heart.”

“Just leave them, Leah. Jacob will figure it out.” I looked away, trying to be mature and sensible about the situation. “He’s not stupid.”

“Bella … he’s a guy,” she contradicted.

And Lauren knew how to play them. Seth hadn’t even been immune to her manipulations. I shuffled my feet to a position where I could see the two of them better, then pretended not to be watching.

In the five to ten minutes they’d been talking, Jacob kept smiling, and she kept playing with her hair. It made absolutely no sense to me how he could stand her for any length of time. They had nothing in common, and her conversation was always so self-centered and so petty.

I annoyingly heard the answer in my head. It’s a guy thing.

Then, Jessica, a part of Lauren’s entourage, who had been standing near them and chatting with some friends moved into position. She took a big step backward. The hard bump she purposely flung sent Lauren colliding into Jacob. It was a well-executed scheme.

Oh God.

Lauren latched on to him as an attempt not to fall but in reality was probably a disguise to cop a feel and end up in his arms. Jacob staggered, his hand on her back, taking her with him a few paces before catching himself upright.

From where I stood, I couldn’t see their expressions, but I could see his hands gripping her elbows. The positions of their heads made me think that they were staring into one another’s eyes. After all, Lauren was very beautiful.

I scowled. The urge to punch her expanded inside me like a fragile balloon, ready to rupture all over Miss. Wannabe Center of Attention.

“I’m going over there,” slipped from my lips a little too angrily.

Jake belonged to me. He was my Jacob. Maybe we weren’t together at the moment, but so what.

I stormed toward them to bust up their little soiree with Leah close on my heels.

Advancing, I cheerily said, “Hello, Lauren.” I was grinning wide and not caring how phony I sounded.

Leah inserted herself in the group containing Jessica, Angela, Eric, and Ben who were still standing directly behind Lauren. Leah’s posture was rigid, and although she wasn’t facing our direction, she was very aware of the conversation about to take place between Lauren and I.

As for Jessica, Leah and I liked her. She made us laugh and was always friendly and nice to people whenever Lauren wasn’t around attempting to corrupt her.

Lauren seemed to be standing right in front of Jacob’s face. I stepped close beside him. “Are you having a good time, Lauren?”

“A great time,” she replied, batting her lashes at him while barely acknowledging me with a slight turning of her head. “Jacob was telling me he won the Regional Championship this spring, and now he’s on his way to Nationals.”

I could have kicked myself for not having congratulated him on it yet; Lauren didn’t know the first thing about boxing.

“I’m really happy to finally meet you, Jacob, and proud to be able say that I personally know Jacob Black, our own local boxing hero.”

“Thanks,” he replied with a flattered grin. “Same here.”

Filled with jealousy, I unexpectedly seized Jake’s hand. “Thanks, Lauren. I’m really proud of him too.”

“Oh,” she squeaked, backing away a little … and not a half a second too soon. “You two?” she questioned, eyeballing Jacob for the answer instead of me.

“Yes, me and Jake,” I possessively snapped, remotely considering how he would have responded if I had given him the chance.

She laughed. It was a mocking gesture.

Surprising me, Jake lifted our intertwined hands to his mouth and pressed a soft kiss into my skin. My tension eased as I looked up at him.

His eyes were on Lauren. “For months.”

He stated it so casually that I almost believed him.

She skewed her eyes in skepticism. “Really...” Her voice was annoyingly sweet as she dropped her gaze from Jacob to me and said, “Funny … I never realized you were into guys, Bella.” She glared at me with a vindictive smirk on her face.

“Witch,” Leah hissed.

The noisy party conversations had lulled to whispers.

A quick survey of Jake and I noticed he was a little stunned at the moment as well.

“Just this guy,” I bit back.

Clenching my fist, I tried to smile the rage away. I ached with a passion to hit her—hit her hard. Emmett and Jasper had taught me how to throw a solid punch a long time ago. I wondered about them. Were they among the nosy spectators, watching us in anticipation of a catfight?

“Who’d have thought?” Another phony laugh made its way from Lauren’s forked tongue. “Anyway, Jacob Black, it’s been nice talking to you, too bad it couldn’t last.”

Her expression was that of it’s-your-loss as she turned, head held high, and meandered away. It was almost admirable, how well she handled being snubbed, but girls like her rarely acknowledged rejection, if ever.

“Sorry, Bella, I didn’t know,” Jessica said. “Lauren gets like that sometimes.” Her eyes deflected to Jacob, “Especially when she doesn’t get what she wants.”

Once Jessica departed, I didn’t have to see Jacob’s face to imagine his lips were pursed, probably muffling laughter. I was well acquainted with his sense of humor. I flicked my arm up and whacked him on the chest with the back of my hand without even looking at him.

“Shut up,” I warned, feral anger being replaced with mortification. I had literally been about to physically assault another girl because of him. I never realized I’d dare do such a thing. To make matters worse, Jacob was a witness to it all. Burning in humiliation, I spewed, “I should have just let you hookup with her!”

Racing back to Emmett’s car, the party was the last place I wanted to be. I had to get away from there. I was making a public fool out of myself.

“Bella!” Leah yelled.

Refusing to turn around, I sensed that someone was trailing me. By the thud of the steps, I knew it was Jacob.

“Bella, wait up,” he called out.

“Leave me alone, Jake,” I demanded. His fingers brushed my shoulder, beckoning for me to stop. I yanked my shoulder away, forging ahead. “You can’t keep doing this to me.”

He grabbed my sweater. “Just stop, Bella.”

Raising my voice, I whirled around and shouted. “I don’t understand you, Jacob. I don’t know what you want, what you’re doing. Why can’t you just say what you’re feeling for once?”

He tossed his head back, appearing appalled, and his expression angered. “Say what I’m feeling?” he echoed, contentiously. “You haven’t exactly been a neon billboard yourself, you know? Why don’t you try being honest for a change?”

I was about to open my mouth to argue, but honestly, what was there to say? He had me.

Concealing my feelings from him had become second nature. I had done it for so long, half of the time I probably didn’t even realize I was doing it anymore. I slipped my hands into my sweater pockets, wishing I could hide in there with them. I wanted to disappear. “Go away, Jake.”

“I’m not going away until you give me an answer,” he said. “My feelings haven’t changed, Bella. I want to be with you and I think … you want to be with me too. If you don’t, just tell me, and I’ll leave you alone.” Looking as if he was relieved to have gotten that out, he swallowed. Averting his eyes, he added, “No big deal.”

I hadn’t any thoughts coursing through my brain that could help me open up to him. Nor could I find the strength or the wits to simply say yes or no. Tears moistened the corners of my eyes. I turned away.

Then he touched my shoulder somewhat firmly, an insistence of attention, and when I looked back up at him, he drew me close and kissed me. It was soft, slow, and expressive.

His touch was filled with self-assurance. The motion of his mouth was filled with honesty. I loved that his behavior was without reluctance or confusion or awkwardness. He had always been that way. He was that person who knew exactly who he was, where he was going in life, and how he was going to get there. This was the Jacob I’d fallen in love with; the Jacob I couldn’t resist.

After he kissed me and I kissed him back, he took my hand in his and led me back to the party. No more words seemed necessary. The only other thing that was said between us before we rejoined the group with our hands clasped was for him to ask, “Is everything okay?” and for me to tell him that it was.

I hadn’t been capable of meeting him halfway to makeup—or to even come to a decision, for that matter—I was too tentative and too distrusting. Therefore, he crossed the divide for me, and the way I felt as we kissed is what made me decide.

It was insightful on his part that the party-crowd was the best place for us to be together as opposed to being alone together. It took most of the pressure off and helped us ease back into something more familiar with one another and more comfortable.

Jacob carried on so naturally with me at his side and, if I wasn’t reading him incorrectly, acted not only glad but almost proud to have me there, and I felt the same way.

Pride was a very sour pill to swallow, but Jacob’s kisses were sweet, and I was already looking forward to tasting his lips again later during the night.

Great!  For once circumstances helped them get together and bridge the divide.

Hi Seugnet du toit,

Bella went through a whirlwind of emotions here. She and Jacob, both.

Thanks for the review. =)

Well...that was interesting. I hate Lauren..she gets on my nerves

I hope Bella and Jake can finally sort things out.

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