Story Title: Breathe Again by ysar
Chapter: 6. Surrender
Genre: Twilight – Romance / Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence,
Post Word Count: 2127
Status: Work In Progress
Summary: “If Alice hadn’t seen Bella cliff-dive, what would have happened? Would Bella have given in to her feelings for Jacob? Was she even capable of moving on? Victoria’s hunting, Edward’s coming back—and that’s just the beginning!”
“So tell me about Arizona,” Emily prodded. “I can’t imagine living somewhere with no rain!”
We were on our way to the bonfire in La Push, and I was beginning to feel a lot better. Jacob would be waiting for me, I knew, but I wasn’t scared of facing him. I was a little nervous about facing the rest of the pack, since they obviously knew every detail about us, but Emily had assured me that they were all used to knowing way too much, and they wouldn’t make a big deal of it. I was embarrassed enough about what they must know of my time with Jacob. I couldn’t imagine what it must be like for Emily since she and Sam were clearly living together. Either it didn’t bother her at all, or she was really good at hiding it. I got the feeling she just accepted it as part of life with her werewolf.
She’d convinced me to change before we left. Well, not change completely, but she got me to ditch the shapeless look I had going. The flannel shirt was too comfortable and warm to give up, so we agreed to leave it unbuttoned. It didn’t reveal much of the tank top underneath, so I didn’t argue. But apparently the ratty old jeans had to go. We settled on another pair, equally baggy, but a decidedly better cut. The boots were unnecessary, too, as I wasn’t going to be doing any hiking, so she tossed a pair of slip-on sneakers at me, and we were good to go. I was happy that I was completely covered, and she was happy that I wasn’t dressed like a man.
I told her everything I could think of about my old home in Phoenix: the dry air, the constant sunlight, the open deserts. She was fascinated by the weather, but what she really liked were my stories about Renee. By the time we got to the party, we were laughing about the time Renee reported her car stolen because she’d forgotten where she parked at the mall.
I’d assumed we would be at the beach, but apparently this bonfire was being held in her backyard. She drove around and parked near the back door as I my eyes searched the crowd around the fire for Jacob.
“Don’t worry, Bella. If they’re not here yet, they will be soon.” I guess my anxiety was obvious. “Let’s go inside and you can help me in the kitchen. Unless you were looking for someone other than Jake?” she teased.
Definitely not. I followed her inside, and we threw ourselves into the finishing touches on enough food for an army. If we were lucky, it might just be enough for the enormous boys who made up the pack. We were practically in hysterics over my latest Renee story when I heard the door open. Emily stopped laughing, and I turned around to see Sam walk in, followed by Jacob.
“Sam, help me take all this out,” she said quickly, turning around at the door to wink at me.
I spun back around to pull the bread out of the oven, suddenly not sure if I could face him, and I heard the door close again. Had Jacob walked back outside with them? Would I ever get up the nerve to turn around and see if he was still there? I set the bread on the counter and slowly exhaled. How long had I been holding my breath? Then he was there. I could feel him—rather, his astonishing warmth—right behind me. I turned the oven off and waited.
“Bella?” he whispered.
What was I supposed to say? I turned around, staring at the floor. I don’t know if I can do this…
“Sam told me…he said Emily thinks…” he started, trailing off quietly.
At least I wasn’t the only one having a hard time with this.
“Bella, I’m so sorry. I didn’t…I should have…Tell me how to fix this” he begged.
I wanted to look at him, but my eyes weren’t cooperating. I brought my gaze up slightly, but I was frozen there. Then I couldn’t help but smile, even if it was weak.
“You’re wearing a shirt,” I marveled. I didn’t think I’d ever seen Jacob dressed like this before. It was a dark, long-sleeved, button-up shirt, the kind Charlie wore when he had to look nice but didn’t feel like dressing up. It wasn’t tight at all, but there was no mistaking the shape of all those muscles beneath it, and he’d left it untucked. The sleeves were pushed up to his elbows, and the top few buttons were undone, revealing dark copper skin beneath. Jacob looked all grown up. Then again, I guess he was now.
“And you’re wearing two,” he countered, snapping me back to the moment.
“I’m not as warm as you are,” I answered faintly.
“You have to forgive me, Bells.”
So much for small-talk.
“You have to,” he pleaded.
“I don’t know what Sam told you, but it’s not… I’m not mad anymore, Jake. I just think…” I trailed off, looking up at him. What did I think? It was hard to remember when he was right there, so close to me. We should just be friends. I knew that. But when I looked at him, when I saw everything his eyes were saying, I couldn’t believe that.
“Do you still want…?” Stupid words. They were never there when I needed them.
“More than anything,” he whispered.
His eyes were so soft, so sad. He looked guilt-ridden and miserable and scared. And so beautiful. I stepped forward and laid my head against his chest, wrapping my arms around his waist. His heartbeat thundered in my ear and I felt his arms hesitantly close around me. It felt like home.
“Does this mean I’m forgiven?” he asked after a moment, his voice shaking.
“On one condition,” I replied.
I raised my head to look into his sad eyes again and placed my hand on his face.
“Kiss me,” I said, almost too quietly.
His face lowered slowly toward mine, his eyes filled with uncertainty. This kiss was tender and better than I could have imagined. His lips were soft and warm, his mouth gently pressed to mine. My hands glided over his chest—-it was so odd to touch fabric there instead of bare skin—and around his neck. He was unbelievably tender..and hesitant. I traced his lower lip with my tongue and his hesitation faded. Finally. The taste of him filled my mouth, and I slid my arms around him, pulling myself to him. Maybe I was making another huge mistake, but would a mistake feel like this? He caught my lip between his teeth and I gasped.
He froze for a second. I moved closer, and his hands clutched my waist, pulling me to him. My head was swimming and heat surged through my veins. I slid my hand under the back of his shirt and shuddered at the smooth warmth at my fingertips. I couldn’t believe how quickly I’d changed my mind…but it felt right. He felt right.
“So now am I forgiven?” he breathed against my lips.
“I’ll have to think about it,” I teased, brushing my lips down where his chest peeked out of his shirt.
“Okay, you two, enough! I’m starving!” Embry announced as he grabbed a platter off the counter. Jared and Paul were on his heels, quickly disappearing out the door with all that was left.
“I guess we should join them?” Jacob asked.
“Do we have to?”
“I think so,” he replied with a smile. “Emily would kill me if I crossed any lines in her kitchen.”
They weren’t outside, so they had to be in the kitchen. I stopped just outside the back door, afraid to go in. What if Emily hadn’t been able to convince her? What if she hadn’t come? Sam could sense my fear.
“She’s in there, Jake. Trust me.”
I took a deep breath and followed Sam inside.
They were laughing when we walked in. Emily was facing us, and she stopped laughing when she saw us. Bella had her back to us but she turned around when Emily quieted. When she saw me she just stared, an unreadable expression on her face.
“Sam, help me take all this out,” said Emily, and in an instant, they had left us.
Bella spun back around to face the other way. She’s still mad at me. Maybe now’s not the time to talk. But surely she wouldn’t have come if she wasn’t ready to talk to me.
She took something out of the oven and set it on the counter, then just stood there with her back to me. She wasn’t going to turn around. I walked up behind her, not sure what to do. I wanted to hold her, but I was afraid to touch her. Touching her had gotten me into enough trouble already.
“Bella?” I said quietly.
She turned around, her eyes to the ground. At least she was facing my direction, even if she wouldn’t look at me. I had to go on before I lost my nerve.
“Sam told me…he said Emily thinks…” I felt like an idiot. I didn’t know what to say, or how to say it, but in the end it really didn’t matter. All that mattered was how sorry I was. “Bella, I’m so sorry. I didn’t—I should have—Tell me how to fix this.“
She raised her head a little, but she still didn’t really look at me, and I braced myself for the worst. This is it. I blew my chance. What if she doesn’t even want to be friends anymore?
Then she said, “You’re wearing a shirt.”
If I hadn’t been so scared of losing her, I would have laughed. Leave it to Bella to say something so random when the whole world was falling apart.
“And you’re wearing two,” I said, going along with her odd train of thought.
“I’m not as warm as you are.”
I couldn’t hold it back any longer. “You have to forgive me, Bells. You have to.” It sounded like I was begging, and I couldn’t help it. I was.
“I don’t know what Sam told you, but it’s not… I’m not mad anymore, Jake. I just think…” She paused and looked up at me.
I was afraid to say anything. She looked confused for a second, like she was searching for something. Then something indefinable in her expression changed.
“Do you still want…?”
“More than anything,” I whispered, not caring what I’d just agreed to. When it came to Bella, it didn’t matter what the question was. I just wanted.
She looked so lost and vulnerable. I wanted so badly to sweep her into my arms and never let her go, but I was still afraid to touch her. I held my breath as she stepped forward and lay her head against my chest. Her hands crept around my waist and I slowly wrapped my arms around her.
“Does this mean I’m forgiven?” I asked, waiting for the answer that it seemed my entire existence hinged upon.
“On one condition,” she said.
She looked up and placed one small hand on my cheek.
If she only knew how terrifying that condition was. I wanted to kiss her. I needed to kiss her. But I didn’t want to do anything wrong. I kissed her gently but with all the love I had. I felt her hands roam up my chest, then around my neck, and I began to relax. Her tongue slid over my lip and I deepened the kiss, breathing her in, tasting her. She pressed closer, and I nipped at her lip. She gasped.
Oh, God. Too much. I’ve done it again, I thought.
But before I could back away she pressed closer, throwing herself into the kiss. I grabbed her waist and closed the space between us as her hands slipped under the back of my shirt. Sam’s warning sounded in my head and I forced myself to pause. Don’t screw this up!
“So now am I forgiven?” I said, my lips still touching hers.
“I’ll have to think about it,” she said.
“Okay, you two, enough! I’m starving,” Embry announced, busting through the door. I was going to have to talk to him about his timing. Jared and Paul were right behind him, grabbing some food and then leaving again.
“I guess we should join them?” I said.
“Do we have to?” She sounded disappointed.
I had to smile. “I think so. Emily would kill me if I crossed any lines in her kitchen.”