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.

Chapter 16

Bella

When he at last decided to surface, Jasper sauntered toward us, grinning. "Jacob … dude, it's good to see you finally home."

"Jabbing Jazz Swan," Jacob said, greeting Jasper the way guys do, with a hand shake and a fist bump and some other gestures that ended just shy of a hug. He tipped his chin at Jasper. "Where've you been hiding yourself all night?"

Jasper made a sour expression, suggesting he didn't want to talk about it. He switched the subject. "What the hell they been feeding you guys in Chemawa, giant pills? Seth too … he gained at least another inch on me."

"Ah, you're coming along just fine … except for this …" Jacob gibed, reaching out and ruffling Jasper's golden-brown locks. "Better be careful or pretty soon you won't be able to fit that mop into your headgear."

Jasper laughed and shrugged. "Guess I'll just have to braid it then."

When the pause in their conversation came, Jasper asked me, "Where's Emmett? I came to check on him to make sure that he's sobering himself up by now."

"I don't know where he went." I had been searching the crowd for Jasper and Emmett throughout the night. When I didn't see either of them, I became a little worried that maybe Emmett got angry because Jacob and I were together, and maybe Jasper was somewhere with him, trying to keep him calm. I mentioned it to Jacob, but he pointed out that if Emmett had seen us together and was upset about it, we'd know it, no holds barred, and that Jasper wouldn't have been able to calm anything down. "We saw him earlier from a distance. He was with Quil and Embry, but that was a long time ago," I told him.

"Embry? I just saw him." Jasper pivoted and pointed. "He's in that car over there."

Using one of his arms, Jacob made slow wide waves at the vehicle. The door swung open and Embry climbed out. He stalked over to us.

"Do you know where Emmett went?" Jacob asked.

"Yeah, he and Quil headed out with some blondes we met. They were looking for you before they left. They wanted you to go with them. Then they tried to take me, but I had my eyes on someone else already." Embry took a quick look over at the car he had exited. "He said he'd catch up with you later."

"Did they say where they were going?" I asked.

"Nope. Those girls weren't from around here. I think they had a boathouse or a rental cabin or … a tent or something." He shrugged.

Tent? Gross.

It baffled me how easily strangers, a lot of them who were girls, found their ways to our local gatherings.

Not much later, the party-crowd began to steadily disperse, leaving a nice quiet ambiance. The air stayed gentle and warm and the clear sky was sparkling festively. The only problem was Emmett still hadn't resurfaced, and he had the truck keys.

We were sitting on the ground along with a few other small groups of people, next to the fire pit that was surrounded by a ring of boulders built for protection. The bright pyramid had lessened to the size of a well contained campfire. Low rolling flames lifted and slithered, licking at the dark remains.

Jacob caressed little designs into the palm of my hand while we chatted and laughed with Leah.

Slouching, Jasper sat quietly on a small stump, barely smiling if someone said something funny. He chucked a rock into the fire, impacting the flaming bundle hard enough to cause a puff of glowing red embers to scatter into the air. "Emmett better show up soon. I'm tired, and I'm ready to go. I knew I should have taken the keys from him."

Jacob placed his arm around my hips, scooting nearer to me. I cuddled up against him.

Tipping his shoulder, he gave me a nudge. I turned my head, lifting my chin. Oh, how I had missed those striking features. Lowering his head, he placed a subtle, mouth-watering kiss on my lips that raised my temperature and made me wish we were alone. Staring into Jacob's beautiful dark eyes afterward, I casually replied, "He knows we're out here. He couldn't have just forgotten about us."

"Yeah, well, he was drunk, you dummy," Jasper spouted irritably, catching me by surprise.

He had been in a cranky mood ever since he had appeared. Maria was the only person with the ability to affect my typically outgoing and even-tempered brother that way. She was the controlling type and didn't like when Jasper showed he had a mind of his own. I didn't think she appreciated Jasper attending a party without her and, presumably, had done her best to make sure he didn't enjoy it. Jasper was too nice of a guy to be with a girl as skilled as she was in the arts of persuasion and control. There were all kinds of guys who vied for her affection; she didn't need him, but he was in love with her.

I was about to tell him to shut up and to stop taking his miserable relationship out on us, when Jacob intervened, tightening his grasp around my hips. "So he met a girl … He'll be back. He's probably parked somewhere nearby or held up in one of those hotel rooms on First Beach."

"Passed out," Leah grumbled. "I say we try to find another ride to Uncle Billy's before it's too late and everyone we know is gone. I didn't even recognize half of the people here tonight."

She had a point; there were just a few familiar faces left.

"Emmett will have a freaking heart attack if we abandon his baby," Jasper warned, sulky sounding.

Indignant, Leah snapped, "So what? He abandoned us, and his truck is a piece of crap!"

Emmett drove a used older-model extended-cab pickup truck. Because of the rough exterior, it wasn't much to look at, but it was his first vehicle, there was room enough for six, and he paid for it all by himself.

Mike Newton and Tyler, another boy from school, were collecting empty beer cans and bottles that were littering the ground and placing them into a pile for easy morning-cleanup, a clear signal that the party was over.

More motors revved to life.

"I'll have Embry take you guys back to La Push if you want," Jacob offered. "But I'm staying." He glanced at me from the corner of his eye.

Recognizing the invitation, I eagerly volunteered to stay with him. "I'll stay too. I'm sure he'll come back soon. His truck may not be anything special, but Jasper's right. It is his baby. "

Jasper made a disgruntled groan. "Me too … I'll be in the truck, though. This could take the rest of the night." He stood up and stretched, yawning. "I'm tired as hell."

"I guess we're waiting then." Leah pouted. Moping, she rose to her feet and followed Jasper away, complaining, "I stayed sober for this?"

Several vehicles had formed a mini caravan on their way back to the highway. The area was practically empty. I watched Jasper and Leah as they climbed into Emmett's truck which was parked on a bank, only about half the length of a football-field away. It appeared to be a lot closer now that there was nothing left between it and us.

Mike brought out a shovel from the back of his truck and began throwing dirt on the fire to put it out. The fire crackled and sizzled, letting off hefty clouds of smoke.

"Do you know that guy?" Jacob asked, getting to his feet.

I stood up beside him, dusting off my rear. "His name is Mike Newton. He's one of our recent High School graduates."

Jacob lifted his voice. "Hey ah … Mike, is it?"

Mike quit shoveling and approached us questioningly. "Yeah?"

"I guess we're going to be here for a little while longer. If you don't mind, we'll make sure to put the fire out before we leave."

Mike stared at Jacob distrustfully without answering. Jacob added, "We're waiting for Emmett to pick us up. You know him, right?"

Mike ran his hand over his mouth and turned his head, glancing over his shoulder at Tyler and a few others who were still standing around. He glanced at me then looked back at Jacob. "Yeah, I know who Emmett is," he answered, patronizingly.

A corner of Jacob's mouth lifted, conflicting with the anger that appeared in his eyes and, although he was relaxed for the most part, his posture vaguely tightened. "So you know we'll put the fire out when he gets back then."

Mike let out an artificial chuckle and asked, "Have you been drinking, dude?"

"Have I been drinking?" Taking offense, Jacob's irritation unmistakably surfaced. "Hey, man, is this even your property?"

I didn't know why Mike was acting like such an a******, but if he kept it up I intended on asking him just that.

"It's not my property, but it is my home a mile south of here. I'm not about to trust some half-shot guy that I don't even know, who probably doesn't give a rat's ass what happens beyond the reservation line. I don't care how many fights you've had."

"Are you f****** kidding me?" Jacob said, straightening up to his full height. He was so tall and broad and built compared to Mike. Since Mike was the State's Senior Football Athlete of the year that said a lot about Jacob's body. It was very nice.

My attention was directed to the shovel Mike was holding when he slightly lifted it, and if he wasn't frightened by Jacob's facial reaction to the provocative movement, he should have been.

I hastily hopped in front of Jacob, confronting Mike and angrily asserting, "We'll take care of it!"

Mike lowered his eyes at me. Neutralizing my voice, I told him, "I'll make sure the fire is out. It's already dying by itself anyway. You know me, Mike, and you know my family and you know you can trust us."

Mike stared at me long enough to give me the impression that he knew better than to make eye contact with Jacob again.

"All right, Bella" he said. "I'll leave the shovel here for you." He released the shovel, letting it thump on the ground and stomped away.

"What a douche," Jacob concluded. He sneered as Mike, Tyler and the last of the partiers piled into his jeep, spotlighting areas of the night when they backed around to find the dirt path that led to the road. "Way to protect him, though," he said out of nowhere.

I couldn't decide if he was being serious or sarcastic or what he even meant by his remark.

"Mike Newton. Now let's see … didn't you go out with him before?"

The question was irrelevant, so I totally disregarded it, instead explaining. "I wasn't protecting him, Jake. I was protecting you."

"Me?" He smirked. "Oh yeah, the shovel … right." He casually lowered himself back to the ground, making himself comfortable in the trampled grass beneath our feet.

I sat down beside him. "Not because of the shovel. I just didn't want you to get into any trouble if you like … broke his face or something." Guys like Mike tended to run their mouths once in a while, yet when they couldn't back themselves up, they were the first to complain to the authorities. And Mike had unquestionably been about to bite off more than he could chew.

"Wow, fighting over me and protecting me all in one night," he teased. "I should be flattered."

Curious, I asked, "Aren't you?"

He studied me, his eyes thoroughly tracing my features as if he was taking in everything about me. Seizing the moment, I leaned to kiss him. "Very flattered," he whispered against my lips as our mouths touched.

Sinking deeply into the kiss, I pressed against him, becoming a little self-conscious as I felt us slowly beginning to recline. Leah and Jasper might have been watching. Jacob removed one of his arms from around me to keep us propped up, and I gathered that that hadn't been the idea.

Sensing tightness in his lips, I quickly realized his mouth was less giving than it had been at first. Something was wrong. I was certain of it before the kiss waned and Jacob let go of me.

Opening my eyes, we parted. I stared at him quizzically as we adjusted ourselves upright.

No longer comfortable, I fiddled with my hair.

"Bella, before anything more happens … I've got to tell you something important, and I hope that you'll understand."

I wasn't in the mood to wast any more time on the past or to hear any other reasons for our breakup. "Don't ruin it, Jacob," I muttered, biting at my lip and shrinking away from him when I noticed the amount of dread he was exhibiting on his expression and in his body language.

"I don't want to … but I have to get this out tonight, Bella … and better late than never."

Willful and frowning, I crossed my legs, loosely in the style of meditation, propping an elbow onto my knee and resting my cheek against my fist to avoid looking at him.

His acceptance to the aversion was short-lived. "Would you look at me, please?"

Grimacing, I had to force myself to comply. Hooding my eyes as my head rotated toward him, I asked, "What is it, then?"

"All it is, Bella, is that … I'm not going to be around here for the rest of the summer, and I thought that I should tell you before we did anything more."

"What?" I blinked as his words sunk in. "You're going back to California?" It was the obvious conclusion.

He nodded.

I wasn't sure what I had expected him to tell me, but it wasn't that, and the revelation sort of shocked me. "No, Jake." I practically wined, briefly thinking that he had to be joking, yet asking, "When?"

"Two weeks. I promised my dad that I'd give him the same amount of time that I spent with Mom every summer."

I was stunned that he would work so hard to get me to forgive him only to come back a little while later with this and with such lousy timing on top of it. But then again, I would have hit the roof if he had broken the news after we had made out.

"I'm sorry, Bella, but I really thought I was making the right decision when I asked to go, and now … I don't know what to do … because of you." He sucked in his breath and let it back out loudly, his shoulders slumping. "I want to stay here with you at the same time."

"Jake," I said, my tone chiding. "You couldn't have mentioned this to me any sooner?" After everything we had gone through earlier, I felt messed with somehow.

"Why? Would it have made a difference in you being here with me now?"

"I don't know, but you should have told me, anyway."

"I never had a chance. We were surrounded all night. This is actually the first real opportunity that I've had."

That was true. "Okay, I'll give you that, but why do you have to leave?"

"It's not so much that I have to leave here as it is that have to go there." He attempted to explain. "Billy and I … No, scratch that. This is pretty much all me. I honestly believe that I wouldn't have made it through to Nationals if not for the time I spent in California last summer. The training there was just so much better for me, Bella."

"But you can't know that for sure. You're really, really good, Jake, and such a hard worker. You probably would have won anyway."

He pressed his lips into a tight line, taking a moment to consider. "Maybe so, but I don't want to risk it. I've been working toward this tournament since I can remember, and I'm expecting each fight to be tougher than tough. I want this Championship so bad—" he balled his hands into fists, his forearms flexing— "my knuckles hurt … I know that if I don't do absolutely everything within my power to succeed, I'm going to wish I did, because Regionals is cake compared to Nationals."

"There's got to be another way, Jake." I tried to argue. "Jasper once told me that Old Ben is one of the best coaches out there and that he was one of the most talented and greatest fighters of his time. How did he do it? If he's such a great coach then I don't understand why you need to go somewhere else to be able to win."

"The coaching's not the problem, Bella. It's the lack of worthy sparring partners. My teammates are good, but I've been there, done that. I'm not learning anything more training with them. And as far as good competition goes, around the state—the rest of the guys in my division aren't any better." He leaned back on both of his hands, crossing his long legs at the ankles, focusing on the fire. "Besides, Ben's a bad example. I mean, he is a great coach, but he's not such a great role model for me to follow."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Did anyone ever tell you that story about Leon Spinks?" he asked, turning to look at me. I shook my head. "Well, Leon Spinks was this Light Heavyweight Champion boxer of the 70s. He fought his way to the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games and brought home the Olympic Gold. One time, when they were just amateurs about my age, Coach met up with him at a minor boxing event." He smiled." Coach Tko'd him early in the second round. I heard from some of the elders who actually witnessed the fight that he stopped Spinks easily. Just think about it, Bella. Old Ben fought this talented and successful boxer and he beat him, easily." Jacob appeared in awe of his words. "That's how good Ben was … Leon Spinks went on to take an Olympic Gold Medal, turn professional, and even fought against Muhammad Ali a couple of times, winning once. And Ben? Well, he went on to coach us."

"But was that because he never left Washington to train elsewhere?" I asked, doubtfully. He was getting through to me, but I couldn't stop myself from arguing about it.

Shaking his head, he said, "Nah … that was actually because of Tia." Whether Jacob meant it or not, he had spoken Tia's name with dislike. "They fell in love, got married, and had kids. Before he knew it, all his priorities had changed. Once his life became about working to support his family, there wasn't any more room in it for boxing … Whenever someone asks him why he never fought in the Olympics, he tells this lame story about being afraid to fly in airplanes back then: 'I never would have made it out of the U.S.A because I was so afraid of flying that my plane would have crashed, and I'd be dead.'" Jake rubbed his temple tensely, a ghost of a smile surfacing. "It's actually kind of funny."

I didn't think I liked what I was hearing; Jacob was blaming Tia for Ben's decisions. "So, are you saying that Ben falling in love and having a family was the mistake of his life?"

"Not at all. I'm just saying that he could have waited. I mean, he's got to wonder what it would have been like for him if he'd have put everything he had into boxing. If he had let that be his main focus, at least long enough to see how far he could have taken it. Even I wonder what it would have been like for him."

Jacob's aspirations had always been clear, but I was discovering a little more about what actually drove him.

He repositioned himself. "There's never been a shortage of promise and potential in La Push. People there just don't know how to use it. Sometimes I think that being our own Sovereign Nation is almost a detriment. We're a little country within a big country. We're living in a world of our own out in La Push and people get stuck there ...Take Sam for instance. Last year, the University of Washington offered him a full track scholarship to sprint for them. He didn't even last one semester away from the Rez. How pathetic is that? People get stuck, and still, they go around happy as clams. I don't want to be one of those wastes of potentials, getting sauced—like Billy used to do—and bragging to their kids about their glory days."

Because I cared about him and loved him as much as I did, Jacob didn't have to work so hard at making his point, despite what he may have thought.

Silence interrupted our debate. I twirled my hair, biting my lip and staring into the fire. It was barely glowing, but what was left looked healthy.

Jacob had claimed he didn't know what to do, but it sounded like he knew exactly what to do. Numbness settled over me as I accepted that he had to go. No matter how much I hated it or how much it would hurt, he truly had to go.

Surrendering out loud, I sadly mentioned, "That won't ever happen to you because you're different, Jacob, and I think that regardless of where you go or who you train with, you're going to be successful … but if you want to go, then go."

I didn't think I had spoken with any animosity—if I did, I didn't mean it—but Jacob responded by saying, "I suppose you're pissed at me now."

The tone he used stung; I wasn't a b****, after all. "I'll admit, I'm not happy with your decision, but I'm not mad." I could never have been. "It's not like I can convince you to stay, anyway."

His eyebrow cocked. "You don't think?"

I didn't think, but it was nice for him to imply it. I gave him as much of a smile as I could offer through the sorrow that followed the acceptance. "Thank you," I said.

"For what? Ruining everything, again?" His face was long.

I craned my neck and touched my lips to his cheek to show that he didn't ruin anything by being honest. "For making me understand. You're so much better at communicating than I am."

He laughed then licked his lips. "Is that your way of telling me that I talk too much?"

I grinned. "It's my way of telling you that I'm sorry for the way I acted tonight." I didn't always know what he was thinking, but he did try harder to express himself to me more than I ever did with him, and calling me out on it had been an eye opener. He'd never given me a reason to think that he would purposely hurt me. But for some reason, I was always preparing for that outcome. "What you said before, about me not being honest, was true. I guess I'm just not a very trusting person, and that's not your fault. I haven't been very fair to you."

"Well, I didn't communicate with you when it really counted and screwed things up royally because of it. But that's over now, so I'm sorry too. If I can help it, I'll make sure something like that doesn't happen between us ever again."

We fell silent, the two of us transfixed on the smoldering heap. It wasn't an uncomfortable atmosphere just a quiet one. "So … what's next?" he eventually asked.

Wondering about that for an instant, I softly sighed. "Well … I suppose we make it the best two weeks that we can possibly have."

Jacob reached behind his neck with both hands, clutching at the back of his nylon, button-up collared shirt and stretched it over his head. He was wearing a plain t-shirt underneath, but it rose along with the other one, allowing me a great view of his narrow, well-toned waist and incredible abdomen before he tugged the shirt back down. "I'm hot," he innocently stated.

I couldn't help but to laugh at his phrasing. Puzzled, he stared at me before he caught on and cracked a grin. "Funny, Bella."

"You said it. I didn't, but I have to agree."

He put his arm around my shoulder; I curled into him, and he kissed a place above my eye. "I can't believe Emmett's not back yet. I'm wasted. I've been up since six-o-clock this morning … yesterday morning, I mean."

He rolled his shirt into a ball and lay back using it as a pillow. Spanning his arm, he invited to me to join him. "I got a better idea. There's an old quilt in the truck. After what happened with Leah last summer, we came prepared this time," I said, as I hopped up to go retrieve it. "Plus, I'm really thirsty."

"Do you have something to drink?" he anxiously asked. "I could really use a thirst-quencher myself."

At the top of the bank, I examined where we had been sitting, realizing how good of a view Leah and Jasper had of us from inside the truck. We would have only appeared as dark shadows to them, but it was easy enough to get the picture. As far as privacy, that awareness watched over us like a chaperone.

Snuggled together on the shabby old quilt, which we had spread near the heat when we returned, we attempted to behave as discreetly as possible. It's not like we could have hid behind a tree or the truck, or some other place out of their sights, because that would have been too obvious.

More than once, though, immersed in passion, I discovered Jacob's hands brushing areas beneath my shirt; if I didn't control him soon enough, he'd freeze, exhale in frustration, and glance up at the truck, reminding me we weren't alone. Eventually, we just got really tired and Jacob fell asleep.

I lay on his shoulder with my arm flung across his chest, listening to him breathe, and trying to memorize every detail that was Jacob. His clothes smelled of smoke, but the skin of his neck smelled masculine and nice. The muscles on his arms appeared thinner, slacked. Completely relaxed and resting, he looked so innocent-teenager like but that wasn't the case. The skill of his mouth and hands and subtle way he nibbled on my jaw and neckline, making me want more was evidence enough. Not that it had come as a surprise or was even disturbing for that matter; this was just another facet of Jacob that I think I had already known.

Closing my eyes for a time, I didn't realize that I had drifted off until the wild sounds from the woods drew open my lids. Not wanting to disturb him, I crept out of Jacob's embrace and surveyed the area. The fire had died and all that was left was smoke.

The night had taken on a blue overcast, a sign of dawn approaching.

Without the fire, cold made its presence very noticeable. Trembling, I zipped my sweater then attentively placed Jacob's nylon shirt over him to keep him warm. I was considering going to the bathroom when echoes of movement sounded in the trees, along with strange squawks and growling noises.

The loud ruffling seemed to grow more prominent while I poked at the fire with a branch, trying—of no use—for a rekindling. The ash was hot but the wood had been completely exhausted. I heard a disturbing crunch and stilled my movement so that I could pay better attention. It wasn't safe to be in the wilderness without a deterring blaze.

Straining my eyes, I attempted to see into the trees, but it was too dark and shadowy. It may have been my imagination, but I couldn't be certain we weren't being stalked by something ferocious.

After the commotion subsided, I lay back down, nestling into Jacob for warmth when another major episode of cracking branches set the hairs on my arms on end. "Jacob, wake up," I whispered, sitting up and pushing on him with my fingertips. "Wake up, Jake."

"Hmm." He didn't open his eyes.

"The fire's out … and I think there's something in the trees."

He stirred, lifting his lids partly, but they quickly fell closed.

Raising my voice a little louder, I repeated his name, continuing to shake him, and was relieved when he finally showed life.

His eyes were bloodshot and tired. He rubbed them then stretched, sitting up and hugging himself. "It's cold," he said. He began creating friction with his palms against his arms as he observed the surroundings, gawking at Emmett's lonely truck. "F***, I can't believe he actually left us here all night long."

Sweater or no sweater, the cold morning moisture had me wearing goose bumps and shivering.

"Why don't you go sit in the truck while I use the shovel to kill this thing for sure," Jacob suggested.

Leah made room for us, climbing into the front seat with Jasper.

Though it was a little warmer resting in the backseat, it wasn't any more comfortable. The seats were plastic and stiff and the area was tight, but I felt safe enough to doze.

Dreaming of strange ferocious animals and flowers, black houses, and green murky water, I never quite made it into a deep sleep. Muffled voices endeavored to invade my semiconscious state. A door slammed, I thought, but my eyes were too heavy to open. Gripping the quilt up and over me and Jacob, I continued to watch the images behind my closed eyelids.

Then a loud obnoxious bang on the window jerked me out of Jacob's arm.

Emmett was staring at the four of us, grinning annoyingly. Lazy to move, I slowly reached for the outdated handle and manually cranked the window down.

"Rise and shine," he said.

"Shut the hell up before one of us smacks you," Jasper quietly mumbled.

Jacob stretched his legs out as much as possible and shifted; he was really out. Gradually, he rolled his head in Emmett's direction.

Emmett's eyes enlarged. I wondered whose arms he'd thought I'd been in.

"You finally made it," Jacob tiredly muttered, taking his time opening his eyes. "It's about damn time too."

Emmett chuckled and incredulously revealed, "I must have been so blank last night that when I left I could have sworn Bella was with ..." He stopped talking and shook his head, "… crazy."

Hearing that remark, it amused me that Emmett initially thought Jacob had been Seth. I rolled my eyes. Like Seth and I would ever be cozies together. Emmett was dumb.

Opening the front door, he slid inside as Jasper scooted over next to Leah, who I was sure was awake, but probably too angry and too tired to pay him a sliver of attention.

Emmett turned the ignition, and the old-timer roared with enough zest any owner would have been proud. Placing his arm behind Jasper on the back of the seat, he turned and looked at us, really looked at us then he said, "So … back to your house, Jake?"

Jacob answered, "Yep."

As we drove away, Jacob folded his arms around my waist, tugging me so that the back of my head was resting against his chest. I tilted my head back, lifting up my eyes. Smiling, Jacob bent his head and gave me a peck on the forehead.

A/N Yikes, sorry for taking so long with this, but life has been taking its toll with me. I'm glad to be posting and hope this will be the trend until the end!

So sad that they will have so little time to spend together now that they finally got together again. I hope no other obstacles will arise!

Also: What kept Emmet busy all night and what was the commotion in the woods the next morning?

Hope you will update again soon!

S

Hi S,

It is sad but Jacob really wants to give his dreams his all.

It was as Jacob had thought. Emmett and Quil hooked up with two girls and ended up staying the night with them. Worrying about how the others would get home, was the last thing on Emmett and Quil's drunk minds. As for the noise, there was actually a small heard of antelope moving through the tree that morning, looking for a clearing of grass to feast from. Thanks for the review! =D

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