Inspired by the song Almost Lover by A Fine Frenzy
Four Years Earlier:
I could slowly feel myself slowly awaking into consciousness. I let my eyes flutter open and then shut them back quickly against the sunlight coming in through a window in the far side of the room. Where was I? My throat was dry and scratchy from the salt water. I tried to open my eyes again, slowly this time, allowing my eyes to adjust to the light. I let my eyes wander around the room stopping on familiar objects before I realized I was in the living room of the Black’s house. I could feel warmth radiating all around me. I tried to sit up but I could hardly move. Something was holding me down, tucking me securely into the sofa. I could hear Jake’s soft snores just behind my head. He was lying beside me on the couch with his arms tight around me, and he was fast asleep. I tried not to move, afraid to wake him. How did I end up here?
The last thing I remembered was being in the freezing water. The waves were crashing around me fiercely and my arms and legs were going numb from the cold water. I remember fighting, I tried to swim. I could still hear Edward’s pleads echoing in my head. Then I remembered I didn’t want to fight anymore. I wanted to let go. I was tired and I didn’t want to have to bare the pain anymore. I gave up fighting, I gave up swimming. I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into the dark water. I remember deciding to let go of the last breath of air I was hanging on to. And with my final breath I said goodbye.
I chocked back a sob building in my throat and I could feel the hole in my chest begin to ache at just the thought of his name. I struggled to pull my arms around my torso to hold myself together and then remembered I couldn’t move. The weight of Jake’s arms around me would have to suffice. I tried to think of something else, anything else, so I wouldn’t start to fall apart. How did I end up here on the couch in Jake living room? My eyes felt heavy, and I could feel my body aching all over. I don’t know how many rocks I had smashed into in the violent water. What happened after I…drowned? It slowly started to come back to me. I remembered feeling a pounding on my chest and Jacob shouting my name. I remember the horrible convulsions that rocked through my body as I coughed the salty water up from my lungs. I remember hearing someone else’s voice telling Jake to get me back to the house and to keep me warm. Then that was it. I couldn’t remember anything else. I must have fallen asleep, or passed out. Jake must have carried me all they way back to his house. How long had I been sleeping? My head began to ache and I decided to give all the thinking a rest. For now it felt good to be wrapped in the warmth of Jacob arms, his snores creating a soft lullaby in my ear. My eyes were getting heavier and heavier and I decided not to fight it anymore. I let myself quickly fall back into a peaceful and comfortable unconsciousness.
When I awoke I wasn’t as comfortable as I had been the first time. I was cold, so I knew Jake was no longer laying beside me. I rolled over to check anyway, and sure enough he was gone. I could hear muffled voices coming from somewhere across the room and I sat up to look around for him and that is when I did I felt it. A terrible pain throbbed through my chest causing me to involuntarily gasp in agony. I grabbed at my torso, and immediately curled into a ball where I laid.
“Bella?!” Jake said urgently and rushing to my side. I couldn’t believe I was letting myself fall apart in front of him like this. Not now, not in front of Jake, please. The pain was overwhelming. The tighter I squeezed the more it hurt, which was unusual. It normally soothed the pain a little, but this only intensified it. Again another involuntarily cry slipped through my lips.
“Bella, what’s wrong?” Jake said worriedly. Right! How was I going to explain this?! The pain was distracting me and I couldn’t think straight.
“It hurts, Jake!” I cried against my will. Apparently being in excruciating pain causes you to loose control of your brain filter.
“Where Bella? Let me see.” he said, gently trying to pull my arms away from my torso. See what? There was nothing to see. My pain was all on the inside. I was falling apart, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
“No, Jake, stop!” I groaned, pulling away from him.
“Bella, don’t be ridiculous! You could have a broken bone!” he scolded.
Yeah right! I wish this pain that was ripping me apart inside was that easy to fix. I stared at him with begging eyes silently pleading for him to understand. He didn’t. He kept trying to pull my arms down by my side. This pain did feel different from the other times. Similar, yet different. It wasn’t brought on like it usually was; from a thought or mention of him or them. I still couldn’t bring myself to think their names. Either way, Jake was too strong and I couldn’t fight him off any longer. He managed to untangle my arms from around my waist and pushed them down at my sides.
“Since when do you know so much about broken bones anyway?” I said spitefully. I wasn’t sure why I was being so rude to Jake, he was only trying to help. Again, I guess my brain filter was gone. Thankfully it didn’t seem bother him. In fact it made him chuckle under his breath.
“Just hold still, would you.” He ordered.
He pressed his hand carefully around my ribs. As his hand reached my left side I hissed in pain.
“Bella, we should take you to the hospital.”
“No!” I whined. If I went to the hospital then Charlie was sure to find out about my cliff diving extravaganza.
“Charlie!” was all I could say to explain.
“Bella, don’t be silly. We’ll come up with some other story to tell him, but you can’t go around with a broken rib and who knows what else?!” With that he swept me into his arms and carried me to the door.
“Put me down, I can walk!” I ordered.
“Okay,” he said with a smirk on his face, setting me on my feet. My feet felt unstable beneath me and my legs wobbled a bit. I could hear Jake start to snicker next to me as he watched me try to take a step. Determined to prove him wrong I took one confident step forward and my legs gave out as I began to tumble to the floor. Jake snatched me up in his arms before I had a chance to hit.
“That’s what I thought.” He said smugly holding me tighter than necessary. I suppose he thought I would try to fight him, but I didn’t. Even having slept for who knows how long I still felt exhausted and weak. I guess drowning really takes it out of you. Jake drove us in my truck to the hospital, keeping one arm tight around me. He rested his chin on my head as we drove in silence for a while. I heard him sigh and I could just barely feel his lips press into my hair. Did he just kiss me?
Even with Jake radiating heat I was shivering. He rubbed his hand up and down my arm soothingly.
“Dang it, Bella. If you get sick I swear I’m going to kick myself for not taking you to the doctor sooner!”
“I’m fine, really. If I get sick it’s my own fault!” I encouraged through chattering teeth. How could he be feeling guilty after all he had done? I wrapped my arms tightly around him despite the pain it cause in my ribs. I wanted him to know I appreciated what he did for me.
“What were you thinking? Bella, if something had happened to you…” he broke off taking a deep breath before continuing. “Bella, I can’t …I can’t lose you.” He was silent a moment and then cleared his throat. “Just save the stupid stuff for when I’m around from now on, ok?” he pleaded fighting back the sadness in his voice. I nodded my head into his chest. I could tell he was honestly concerned for me and I could kick myself for almost hurting him. I couldn’t believe how selfishly I had acted this morning. Because of my pain I wanted to let go. I hadn’t considered what it would do to those around me. Even though I hardly considered myself a staple in anyone’s life, there were those that it would have grieved if I had died. It would have devastated my mother, it would have killed my father, and it would have destroyed Jake. We were all each other had.
At the hospital the doctor’s determined I had two cracked ribs on my left side. They curiously eyed and inspected all the other bruises that were now coming up on my skin. I wasn’t sure if they bought Jake’s story about us hiking the ridge when I slipped and fell into the ocean. He left the part out of how I actually drowned. I was certain they would want to keep me over night if they knew about that, so I was relieved when Jake skipped that part and simply explained how he pulled me out of the water before the under toe could get me. It probably would have been believable; it certainly was something I was capable of, except that Jake came out without even a scratch. He shrugged it off stating that he has always been a good swimmer and they didn’t question any further, though they eyed us incredulously. After issuing me a prescription for some mild pain relievers and instructions to basically not move for the next several weeks they allowed us to leave.
When we left the hospital I was a little more stable on my feet and was able to walk out on my own. I could see Jake watching me closely out of the corner of his eye with his hands tensed, and holding them slightly in my direction just waiting to catch me if I fell. I rolled my eyes at him. I was perfectly capable of walking all by myself! I did let him help me into the truck and again he drove.
“Let’s get you home.” He said sliding his arm around me and pulling me closer to him.
As Jake held me securely in his side I allowed myself to simply enjoy it. I was always so comfortable here. It was almost like his side was shaped to fit me. I thought again about Romeo, Juliet, and Paris. Sure, Romeo and Juliet was the perfect love story just how it was. But what if the story had changed? What if Romeo realized he wanted more and decided he didn’t want Juliet anymore? What if Romeo left Juliet, devastated and heartbroken? He broke her heart and all she had left were the mangled pieces? And yet, she still loved him. With every piece of her broken heart, she still longed for her Romeo. What if Paris came to her rescue? What if he found a way to put some of the pieces back together, and eased some of the pain she was going through never asking for anything in return? Would Romeo be grateful to him? Wouldn’t Romeo, indifferent as he may be, still want for Juliet to be happy; as happy as she could be as damaged as she was? Would it be so wrong to take just a little of the love she had once given him, just a small echo of what she was capable of feeling and once so willing to give, love he didn’t even want anymore, and give it to Paris? Would it be so wrong to take what little she had left of herself and give it to the one person who did want her? Romeo had wanted it to be as if he never existed, he couldn’t begrudge Juliet for moving on.
I took a deep breath and then sighed. But could I do it? Could I really let Jake in? Could I really allow Jake to love me, or find it in me to love him in return? And ultimately, could I really and truly let Edward go? I had learned the most devastating lesson in my life; that loving someone gave them the power to break you, to destroy you. And it was terrifying to imagine ever giving someone that power over me again. I trusted Jake, and it would be so easy to love him. But I was afraid. I knew I was at a crossroads, one I never wanted to be at. If I decided to not love Jake, one day someone would, and take him away from me, forever. And the thought of that was unbearable. But if I decided to love Jacob I risked him destroying what was left of me. I knew all I would have to do was just say the words. I probably would not even have to do that much. All I had to do was just turn my head the slightest bit and touch my lips to his hot skin. One kiss would be all it would take, and he would understand. But could I do it? Could I risk all the heartbreak it would cause me if one day my Paris, too, decided he didn’t want me anymore? It would ruin me…it would surely due me in. I didn’t have anything left in me to survive if I lost Jacob. He was all I had left, and if I didn’t decide now to love him I would lose him. Then I heard it; the most exquisite voice in a painfully sad tone say “Be happy, Bella.” No! I wanted to keep fighting, to keep holding on, even though deep down I knew he was never coming back from me. I still never dreamed of loving anyone else. I felt like I needed to scream, I wanted to break down and fall apart right there.
We were getting close to Charlie’s house now, and I knew he would be waiting up for me. Dr. Mullins had called him before we left the hospital to tell him what happened and give him instructions. I knew he would be in hysterics when I got home. If I was going to do this it had to be now. But I had to really do it. I couldn’t love Jake still holding on to…him. It wouldn’t be fair. Jake really deserved so much more, but if he was willing to accept me how I was, the least I could do was give him all of me, holding nothing back and having no regrets. I knew this meant finally letting go of…him. I had to think his name, I had to do it. If I couldn’t even bring myself to think his name then I couldn’t prove to myself that I was truly willing and finally able let him go…to let Edward go. I cringed. Tears began welding up in my eyes against my will. No, dang it, I wasn’t going to cry. Not in front of Jake, not over him.
Jacob could feel my body becoming tense underneath his arm.
“Bella, are you alright?” he asked softly. “Does it hurt?”
“Yes.” I whimpered, choking back the tears that were threatening to overflow any moment. I knew he meant my ribs, but that wasn’t the hurt I was admitting to. I wanted to turn my head into his shoulders and really let myself sob. But I couldn’t do that to Jake. If I was going to love Jacob I couldn’t let him see me shed any more tears for Edward. I knew I couldn’t love both, so to love Jake I had to let Edward go, and it was tearing me apart inside. No more tears, no more illusions, no more crying out for him in the night. I had to entirely let him go.
“Bella?” Jake said sounding more worried. “What’s the matter?”
I shook my head, unable to speak. If I spoke I was sure to fall apart. But my whole body was shaking now, desperate to grieve over Edward. Letting go wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t something I was going to be able to do without completely breaking down and falling apart. I couldn’t do this here, not in front of Jake. I had to get home. I just needed to get home. In the safety of my room I could let it all out. I would let all the walls come down and I could sob the way I ached to sob now. It needed to happen, it had to happen for me to be able to let go, if I could just hold on a little longer. I knew what had to happen now. Today’s events were more emblematic than I had to die to Edward’s Bella. It was the only way I could become Jacob’s Bella. It was going to tear me apart…but it’s what had to happen. I felt the edges of the hole in my chest threatening to rip me apart. No, no please! I begged myself. Hang in there. My body was close to convulsing now and Jake was clearly beyond worried.
“Bella, what’s going on? Talk to me!” he pleaded. He rubbed his and up and down my arm more roughly now, trying to sooth me.
“Just get me home, Jake. I just need to get home.”
We pulled into the drive way and I didn’t even wait for the truck to come to a complete stop before I flung open the door and raced towards the house trembling.
“Bella?!” Jake called after me. I knew I had to face him. I couldn’t leave him like this, not knowing what was going on. If I walked out on him now without an explanation I would risk hurting him and losing him forever. Or worse, what if dying to Edwards Bella took all I had left? What if I couldn’t let go without truly dying? No, I couldn’t leave Jake standing here never knowing what was going on. I hesitated on the stairs of the porch before turned to face him. What was I going to say? What could I say? I could see the hurt and confusion on his face, and it tore me apart even more. I couldn’t bare hurting him, and it all came full circle now. I could love Jake, and furthermore, I wanted to love him. I wanted to be his, to be Jacob’s Bella. I couldn’t hold the tears back anymore as they began to spill over and run down my face. And I knew what I had to do. There were no words for this. Just an action. One, single action of love that would say it all. Without another thought I raced back down the stairs to where Jacob stood. I threw myself into his arms and pressed my lips into his. At first Jacob didn’t move and I thought I acted too hastily. I almost pulled away and run into the house. Before I could he wrapped his big arms all the way around my body and lifted me up, holding me so tightly to him. I could feel the warmth of his body all around me now and it sent chills down my spine. He kissed me back sweetly and passionately. And I held nothing back. I kissed him back just as passionately. I wrapped my hands around his neck and rand my fingers through is hair. He raised one hand to the nape of my neck pulling my face closer in to his. His lips were so warm and so welcoming. When I was certain the hole in my chest was about to rip me apart I pulled back breathlessly and he starred into my eyes with such love and such confusion. I had to break away from his gaze because I could feel the hole threatening to rip me apart any second now. I had to get inside. Jake set me back on my feet with a bewildered look on his face and took a staggered step backward. I didn’t have time to explain.
“I’m sorry Jake.” I choked out. “I have to go…I’ll talk to you tomorrow, ok?” I didn’t wait for him to answer before I turned around and ran into the house.
“Bella, is that you?!” I heard Charlie calling from the living room. He met me at the bottom of the stairs before I could make it up. “The doctor called, what happened?” he said almost angry and then stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the tears streaming down my face. He could tell I was in no condition to discuss what happen right now.
“Can we talk about it tomorrow?” I managed to get out.
“Sure, kiddo…um, get some rest, we’ll talk tomorrow.” he replied staring at me with such worry in his eyes it hurt. I turned from him and ran up the stair straight into the sanctuary of my room. I slammed the door behind me and collapsed on my bed. I didn’t have it in me to cry quietly. I completely fell apart. I sobbed loudly into my pillow. Hours passed as I laid in my bed weeping. If I tried to make myself stop I would only cry harder. I knew it had to happen…I knew it would hurt…I knew it would take all I had left. But to really be able to give myself to Jacob, even if all that was left were broken pieces, I had to relinquish all of Edward. I knew Jacob would accept me the way I was, and he would probably even help put me back together. So I let the pain rock through my body and tear me apart piece by piece. The hole in my chest was finally having its long awaited victory over me. I didn’t even bother to clutch at my torso to hold myself together. I screamed into my pillow with every tremor that shuddered through my body and I cried until I had nothing left. Until every muscle in my body was numb, and every emotion I was once capable of feeling was dead. I had no strength left to even open my eyes, but I could see the sunlight beginning to shin into the room. It was surely early morning by now. I had survived the night. There was nothing left to do but sleep now. And when I awoke I would be and could finally be Jacob’s Bella. “Goodbye Edward. I love you.” And with one final sob I let myself fall into a deep and dreamless asleep.