Story Title: Breathe Again by ysar
Chapter: 9. Redemption
Genre: Twilight – Romance / Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence,
Post Word Count: 2121
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!”
“Y-yes,” I stuttered, grabbing the front of the shirt and holding it closed. “I—”
His arms were around me as he cut me off with an almost violent kiss. Jacob was kissing me like he was hungry and sated all at once, alternating between rough and tender, and my legs were turning to liquid.
His hands were at the small of my back, not moving, but pressing me close against him, pinning my arms awkwardly between us. I was still tightly gripping the front of the shirt. For a moment, I forgot what I was doing, and I let go, wanting to slide my arms around him, too. Then I felt the heat of his skin upon mine, burning down the center of my chest, and I realized what I had done.
He growled against my lips, kissing me harder, and I started to pull away. But I hesitated. Pressed against him, the shirt didn’t fall open, and his hands hadn’t moved from my back. But the warmth of his skin on mine was doing funny things to my body. My skin was tingling, and my muscles were tightening, and my head was lost in a dizzying fog.
Suddenly his lips were softer, brushing lightly against mine, and he was no longer crushing me to him. I realized too late that his hands were between us, pulling at the open front of the shirt. I started to protest but my words were silenced by his tongue against mine.
Was this what I wanted? Every nerve in my body was screaming yes, but somewhere in the back of my mind a shred of sanity remained, if only I could hold onto it.
I could feel his fingers brushing against my stomach, pausing, then slowly making their way upward, and pausing again. I couldn’t seem to break my lips from his. Not because he wouldn’t relent, but because I was melting into him. My ability to reason was drowning in the sensations coursing through me.
I finally managed to regain control of my arms, pulling them from his back and catching his wrists just as his hands were at the center of my chest.
“Don’t,” he breathed against my lips, and what little resolve I had crumbled.
Was I ready for this? Were we ready for this? I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t think at all.
“There,” he whispered. “Now get in bed before I change my mind,” he said inching away from me.
I was frozen for a moment, not sure if I should scramble into bed or run from the room.
“Bells, please, you’re killing me,” he groaned.
I dropped my gaze to the floor, not sure what to do, not sure if I could move. Then I saw it. Jacob had fastened nearly every button.
I scurried onto the bed and yanked the covers up.
“I’ll be right back,” Jacob said with a pained smile, and he slipped out into the hallway, flicking off the light as he left.
I heard the murmur of voices, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. And I was too stunned to care.
I closed my eyes and tried to catch my breath. A small part of me was disappointed, wondering what it would have been like if Jacob had shown as little control as I had, imagining the warmth of his hands on me, wishing I knew more of his touch. But a bigger part of me was relieved. Relieved that I didn’t have to face that decision yet, glad he’d had some willpower when mine had failed me. Willpower like Edward always had.
Edward. Where did he fit into my life now? His voice in my head had abandoned me as suddenly and unexpectedly as he had. And no matter how much I loved him still, he was gone. He’d left me. Why didn’t my chest rip open at the thought? Where was the soul-shredding pain that crushed my lungs and weighed so heavily on my shoulders? I took a deep breath, surprised the air came so easily. Was it Jacob? Had he filled the emptiness, healed the hole in me?
No, not entirely. It was still there, but it no longer ached. It hardly twinged.
I felt the bed shift as Jacob crawled in beside me.
“If you’ve undone even one of those buttons, I’m going to make Sam sleep between us,” he said.
I giggled, imagining Jacob having to explain this to Sam. Sam didn’t strike me as a ‘feelings’ type of guy.
“Come here,” Jake said softly, and I snuggled up to him, laying my head on his chest.
“Is Emily okay with this?” I asked.
“Sure—anything to keep you from waking everyone up again,” he chucked.
“And what makes you so sure you’re the solution?”
“Don’t I always take care of you?”
I nodded against his chest, smiling to myself.
“Besides, I didn’t tell her you were trying to seduce me.”
I looked up to see a smug grin on his face that even the darkness couldn’t hide.
She grabbed at the front of the shirt, yanking it closed. She might have been speaking, but I could only hear my own thundering heartbeat.
Sam’s advice resounded in my head, finding dark amusement in my new predicament. Bella was perfect. And it would only take a second to rip off the shirt that barely hid all of her from me. But I couldn’t. Not now. Not with what I now knew. Even if the opportunity was there, torturing me, she wouldn’t want this. Not yet.
But I couldn’t turn away. One second I was staring at her, drinking her in, and the next I was kissing her, pulling her against me, unable to get close enough. What had she been thinking? Didn’t she know how much I wanted her? Why had she worn my shirt? Why had she looked so perfect in it? Why had she chosen now to test my resolve?
I couldn’t get enough of her, but I willed my hands to still, afraid to move them from their place at her back. Her arms were still between us, still mercifully clutching the shirt closed, holding her those few safe inches from me. Then they dropped and she slid her body against mine, her hands curling around me. It was only a thin line of bare skin, nothing really. I hadn’t seen anything I shouldn’t…everything I really wanted to see. But it was too much, and I was giving in. I wasn’t going to be able to stop. My lips were pressing harder into hers, meeting no resistance. If this was a test, I was failing miserably, and I didn’t care.
That scent. It was stronger and sweeter than before, and with every breath I took, I felt it slowly overpowering me. Then I heard her soft moan and I knew she would let me. I would press her down on the bed. I would rip through those remaining buttons. I would lose myself in the feel of her, the taste of her, the scent of her.
She wants this, I told myself. She’s mine. She trusts me.
It was that last thought that steadied me. Bella trusted me. If Sam and Emily were right about her, I had to stop while I still could.
I pulled my hands from her back and grabbed the front of the shirt, never removing my lips from hers, feeling my way to the lowest open button, her bare skin against my knuckles threatening to distract me from my new purpose. One down, too many to go. I inched up to the next one, and fastened it too. Then the next, and the next… my hands hovered over the last button, the hardest button. Her chest was rising and falling beneath my hands. If I just slid my hand over, beneath the shirt…
Just then her fingers closed around my wrists, pulling, as if she was trying to stop me. Whether she wanted me to stop buttoning or stop what I was so tempted to do, I didn’t know. But if I hesitated for even one second, it was all over.
“Don’t,” I managed to say, praying she would just listen for once. Her grip went limp although she didn’t let go. One more. Just finish this last button.
Finally! I was relieved and disappointed all at once. She was still in my shirt, still pressed up against me, still looking like I’d always dreamed. But she was dressed…kind of. Enough that I could walk away and bang my head against a wall somewhere until I’d convinced myself I’d done the right thing.
I managed to tear my lips from hers, breaking the longest, best, most tortuous kiss I would ever endure. I must really love this girl. “There,” I said shakily. “Now get in bed before I change my mind.”
She just stood there. Was she insane? Did she really think I had any semblance of control left?
“Bells, please, you’re killing me.”
She practically leapt into bed, considerately drawing the blankets up to her chin.
“I’ll be right back,” I said, anxious to escape. I was actually trying to get away from Bella?
I turned out the light and stepped out into the hallway, pulling the door closed behind me. Emily was waiting. She leaned against the wall, her arms crossed, but she couldn’t hide her amusement.
“You look like you’re in pain,” she chuckled.
“Oh, sure, Bella tries to kill me and you think it’s funny,” I said, taking out a little of my frustration on her.
“Oh, I don’t think you’ll die Jake,” she said, still grinning. “The water’s freezing right now. I’m sure if you do some midnight cliff diving you’ll feel much better.”
What a comedian. “Very funny, Em. Except I’m not leaving.”
“Oh, yes, you are,” she said, all humor gone. “If you hadn’t come out when you did, I was coming in after you, and from the look on your face, maybe I should have! Charlie is expecting us to take care of her and that doesn’t include you in her bed.”
“Can’t you just trust me?”
“No,” she said firmly.
“Emily, please. I’m not leaving her.”
“It’ll just be sleeping—I promise.” I pleaded.
“Jacob!” she hissed, but I could tell she was wavering.
“Emily?” I begged.
She glared at me and sighed heavily. “You know Sam has excellent hearing, right?”
“Then he can listen to me snore.”
“Fine,” she said almost angrily. “But he will be listening, and if you even try…,” she threatened, turning to go back to her bedroom.
“You’d better warn him that Bella talks in her sleep,” I called after her. “A lot!”
Maybe that swim isn’t such a bad idea, I thought. I took a deep breath and walked back into Bella’s room.
She was still lying in bed, almost completely hidden under the covers, with her eyes closed, but it didn’t look like she was sleeping. I eased in beside her, steeling myself for a very frustrating night.
“If you’ve undone even one of those buttons, I’m going to make Sam sleep between us,” I warned, much to her amusement. “Come here.”
“Is Emily okay with this?” she asked, curling up to me.
Not really. “Sure—anything to keep you from waking everyone up again.” I didn’t dare tell her Sam was practically spying on us.
“And what makes you so sure you’re the solution?”
“Don’t I always take care of you?” I asked. “Besides, I didn’t tell her you were trying to seduce me.” She didn’t really think I was going to let that go, did she?
In no time, her breathing slowed and she drifted off to sleep. She was talking in her sleep again, and every time she said my name, she sounded happy.
I lay there, not wanting to miss a second of it, replaying the night in my head. We had just let everything fall into place instead of talking about it. Not talking had nearly ruined any chance I had with her, and I couldn’t risk that happening again. Even though Sam and Emily had spelled it out for me, I needed to hear it from her. I did the right thing, I told myself. I actually held back. For Bella. She would probably never know how hard that was for me, but I hoped she understood that I loved her even more than I wanted her. If she only loved me half as much, I’d be happy for eternity.
Eventually I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, and not even her sleep-talking could wake me from the best dream I’d ever had.