Story Title: Breathe Again by ysar
Chapter: 10. Damaged
Genre: Twilight – Romance / Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence,
Post Word Count: 4076
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!”
I opened my eyes to gray light streaming in through the partially closed blinds and realized I was unusually warm even though I’d kicked the covers off in my sleep. Jacob. I was curled up against him in Emily’s guestroom. Wow. What an incredible night, I thought to myself. It felt like a million years ago that I’d been nearly crying in my bedroom, determined to throw the friendship clause at Jacob. Instead, he’d come to me with such sincerity and love, he’d completely ignored that freakishly beautiful Maria, and he’d come running to my rescue when I’d had a nightmare. I cringed inwardly with embarrassment at the memory of ‘the shirt incident,’ partly because I’d been stupid enough not to button the shirt up, and partly because I’d completely lost all sense of self-control. Jake was never going to let me live that down. But he had been the perfect gentleman, buttoning up the shirt when I was too weak to think straight. That wasn’t what made me so happy, though. What really warmed my heart was the reason he’d done it. Unlike Edward, who always held back because he thought it was what was best for me, Jacob had held back because he knew that was what I really wanted. For once, what I wanted was important.
And right now I wanted food. The smell of breakfast wafted into the room, and I tried to slip out of bed, but a heavy arm pinned me to him.
“And where are you going?” he asked.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you,” I said, rubbing my eyes.
“I’ve been awake,” he said, rolling over me. “I was waiting for you,” he whispered, leaning in for a kiss.
The instant our lips met, I thought back to the night before and realized I only had a few seconds before I forgot where I was again. I pushed him away.
“Aren’t you hungry?” I asked. Jacob never had any trouble devouring every crumb of food in sight. He was probably starving.
“MmmHmm,” he mumbled, crushing his mouth against mine.
It was a good thirty seconds before I remembered I was starving, and I finally managed to push him away again.
“What’s wrong?” he asked with a smirk. “Haven’t I proven I can behave?”
Yes, but I can’t. “I’m hungry,” I insisted.
He raised an eyebrow and just leered at me.
“Food,” I clarified.
“Then breakfast it is,” he said dramatically, kissing me again before hopping out of bed. “Here,” he said, tossing me my clothes.
They landed in my lap, and I snatched them up quickly, glad to see my bra was nicely hidden somewhere in the bundle. Wait. No it wasn’t.
“Looking for this?” I heard Jacob say.
I should have known better than to look up. There was my bra, dangling from his finger. I felt the color rise in my cheeks again.
Jacob just laughed and tossed it to me, then sat down on the opposite side of the bed with his back to me.
“Don’t even think about peeking,” I warned him, pulling my jeans on.
“That’s impossible, Bells,” he chuckled. “How about if I just think about it but don’t actually do it?”
I’ve never gotten dressed so quickly in my life.
I didn’t realize the entire pack, plus some, had descended on Emily’s kitchen. Rachel was there, and Seth had joined them. They all turned to look at us as we walked in. At that moment I wanted to run back into the bedroom and hide. But Jake had a pretty tight grip on my hand, so I had no choice but to face them. Embry didn’t make it any easier for me.
“Soooo…I take it you both slept well?” he asked with a smirk.
But before I could even blush, Sam’s hand came out of nowhere, slapping him hard across the side of his head.
“Eat!” he told him, then turning to us, his voice softened. “Bella, you’d better grab a plate before these guys go back for seconds.”
No one else dared say anything, although Jared looked like he was choking, and Rachel was giving me some kind of death glare, so I let go of Jacob’s hand and hurried over to Emily. She was hovering over three skillets at once. Seeing her there, playing mother to a group of enormous teenage boys, I had a hard time believing she was only a couple of years older than me.
“Can I help with anything?” I asked.
“No, I think I’ve got it all,” she said. Then she glanced back at the table. “But if you want to pull that stool over you can eat at the counter and talk to me.”
I was more than a little relieved at her suggestion, though I felt bad ignoring Jacob. But when I looked back, he’d already piled his plate high with food and sat down with the others. He smiled at me before shoving an entire muffin in his mouth, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I grabbed some toast and a couple of pieces of bacon and pulled the stool over by Emily. It was impossible not to appreciate the scene in her kitchen. The pack truly was a family—an unruly, loud, sometimes obnoxious family, but a family nonetheless.
It was a bittersweet reminder of the Cullens. I had so wanted to be a part of their family, different as they may have been. But breakfast with them would have consisted of me eating while they busied themselves with other things. For a moment, I could almost hear Emmett’s roaring laughter, Esme’s motherly chiding, Alice’s musical lilt, Edward’s… I felt a small pang at the thought of him. But breakfast at the Cullen’s could never have held a candle to what I was witnessing in Emily’s small house. Whether they were capable of morphing into furry giants or not, there was something about the group of them gathered for breakfast that was beautiful. I nearly fell off my stool when Sam plunked a cup of coffee down next to me.
“Decaf,” he muttered.
“Thanks,” I said, unable to hide my surprise.
“See? He’s not so bad, is he?” Emily laughed as Sam went back to the table. “Now tell me…how did last night go?”
“Ah…fine. I didn’t have any more nightmares, but I guess you know that…no screaming.”
“So, Jake behaved himself?”
“Better than I did,” I mumbled. Crap. Did I say that out loud?
“Oh!” she exclaimed, smiling brightly. “Well, then I guess things really are all worked out.”
“We didn’t really talk much,” I said, then quickly added, “I fell asleep pretty fast.” I didn’t want her to get the wrong idea. “But yes, I think we’re okay.”
She went to drop off some more food at the table, and the boys descended on it like…well, a pack of wolves. Paul seemed to be the only one who didn’t care about getting his fill. His eyes were locked on Rachel, and his expression held so much more than just idle interest. He looked completely infatuated. That’s odd, I thought. What happened to Laura? My confusion must have been written on my face.
“He imprinted,” Emily said, nodding toward Paul and Rachel.
“Oh,” I mumbled. What did that mean? Paul had been smitten with Laura the night before. After some initial shyness, he’d stuck to her side all night—at least when I’d been paying attention. Yet now he was eyeing Rachel like she was the only woman in the world. I wondered if Laura knew about this. I was about to ask Emily, when the phone rang.
“Hello?” said Emily, stretching the cord over the counter to continue cooking while she talked. “Yes, she’s right here. Bella, it’s Charlie,” she said, handing me the phone.
“Hi, Dad. Is the power back on?”
“Yes, Forks is officially back on the grid. When are you coming home?”
“Ah, I guess when I finish eating. Is something wrong?”
“No, everything’s fine. Do you need me to come get you, or do you have a ride?”
“I’m sure I can get a ride. You probably need to get some sleep, Dad.”
“Ok, Bells.” he said. “I’ll see you later.”
“So I guess we should get you home?” asked Emily.
The ride home was quiet, and Jacob seemed to be lost in thought. He’d borrowed Sam’s truck and wasted no time in taking advantage of the bench seat, immediately pulling me to the middle and keeping an arm around me while he drove. But I couldn’t ignore the weird tension in the air. And every time I glanced up at Jake, he just stared straight ahead. It was like he was trying too hard to pretend everything was normal. The sudden change in mood was a terrible contrast to the way he’d been when we were at Sam and Emily’s.
Jacob helped me out of the truck and walked me to the door. I knew he’d have to get back, having borrowed Sam’s truck, not to mention spending the night with me when he should have been “working.” I turned to kiss him goodbye, and was surprised by the peculiar expression on his face. He looked–and felt–distant.
“Is it okay if I come in for a minute?” he asked.
“Of course,” I said, wondering why he suddenly felt like he had to ask permission. Something was definitely up.
But when we went inside, he settled himself on the couch, propping his feet on the coffee table, and flipped on the TV, just like he always had. Then he turned and looked expectantly at me, the odd expression still on his face. He was clearly waiting for me to sit down with him, but the thought suddenly lost all appeal for me. I wavered for a moment, not sure if I wanted to avoid whatever was coming or just go ahead and get it over with. I decided on avoidance.
“Ah, do you mind waiting while I take a shower and change?” I asked. “I’ll be quick.”
“No, go ahead,” he said. He opened his mouth to say more, but I rushed upstairs without giving him a chance.
I hurried to the bathroom and turned on the water, then headed to my closet. I settled on a t-shirt and jeans, and laid them out on my bed before returning to the bathroom. I was shivering the second the water hit me. Whether it was because the water hadn’t had time to heat up or because I was filled with apprehension, I couldn’t be sure. I only knew that there was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, like something terrible was about to happen. I tried to stamp it down as I washed my hair, but the nagging sense of something awful on the horizon wouldn’t be suppressed.
It wasn’t that Jacob had looked upset. He didn’t even look unhappy. He just looked…concerned. And after waking up next to him, feeling almost blissful, I couldn’t stand the feeling that something wasn’t right. A new possibility knocked the wind out of me. What if Jacob had imprinted too? What if I was about to be cast aside just as Laura had been? What the hell was imprinting? If I could have stayed in the shower all day, I would have gladly hidden there, but avoidance was only making it worse. I turned off the water and dried off quickly, working the towel over my head just enough to stop the dripping. I yanked on my clothes and practically flew down the stairs, nearly falling twice on the way.
“Maybe Charlie should consider selling this house,” mused Jacob as I sat down on the sofa.
“What? Why?” I asked, now very confused.
“You should be in a one-story, Bells. Those stairs are going to kill you,” he laughed.
Maybe I was imagining things. Maybe Jacob and I were okay, and I was just being paranoid. Maybe Edward’s leaving had made me wary. I began to relax, only to be filled with a renewed sense of dread when he spoke again.
“We need to talk,” he said quietly.
I knew it. I knew this was too good to be true.
“Hey, don’t look so worried,” he said, evidently noticing my panic. “And why are you sitting way over there?” he asked, tugging at my hand until I scooted closer to him.
I tried to calm myself, tried to ignore the familiar pain. This was exactly what Edward had done. He’d told me everything was fine, all the while acting strangely around me. Then he’d left me. There was a crushing weight on my chest, and the hole I thought was healing began to rip open. My lungs failed me.
“Bells, stop it. Whatever you’re thinking, don’t. Nothing is wrong.”
“Nothing?” I asked, weakly.
“Nothing,” he assured me, then he cocked his head to the side and looked at me like he was studying something. “He really screwed you up, didn’t he?”
I felt like I should have been offended, but I wasn’t. Jacob knew me too well. I shrugged, not sure what to say.
“We just never talked about…what happened,” he said.
10. Damaged: Jacob
I woke up in heaven. Bella was sleeping at my side, her head on my chest. I could hear noises coming from the kitchen—probably Emily making breakfast and everyone else making a mess, but I didn’t ever want to leave this bed.
I glanced down, careful not to move enough to wake her, and my heart stopped. She was perfect. Her face was tucked into the curve of my neck, and I could feel her warm breath fanning across my skin. One arm was wrapped under mine, her hand clasping at my shoulder, and the other was resting against my neck. Even in her sleep, she was holding tightly to me. My shirt was long on her, nearly reaching her knees when she stood, and the color accented her milky skin perfectly. But sometime in the night, the covers had been thrown back, and she’d drawn her knee up to wrap one leg around mine. The shirt had bunched up high on that leg, exposing one perfect thigh. I reached down with my free arm, wanting to touch it, but I caught myself, tracing the contour of the knee she had hitched up nearly to my waist instead. If there was ever a moment I wanted time to stop, it was now, when the rest of the world was on the other side of the door, and she was here, her tiny body pressed to mine while she slept.
Her eyelashes fluttered against my skin and she stirred. I couldn’t let her go. Not yet. I waited, while she lay motionless for a minute, then she tried to pull away.
“And where are you going?” I whispered.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you,” she said, rubbing her eyes.
She has no idea how cute that is. “I’ve been awake,” I said, shifting to lie over her. “I was waiting for you,” I said, bringing my lips to meet that perfect uneven pout. For a moment, she practically melted against me, and then all too quickly, she was pressing against my chest, pushing me away.
“Aren’t you hungry?” she asked.
Starving. “MmmHmm,” I mumbled, capturing her lips again. And again, she submitted, only to push me away again.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, unable to conceal a smile as I thought of the night before. “Haven’t I proven I can behave?”
“I’m hungry,” she said petulantly.
So was I…for her.
“Food,” she said quickly.
“Then breakfast it is,” I said, and I started to get up. But I couldn’t resist just one more kiss. Before she could push me off again, I forced myself out of bed and grabbed her clothes from the little pile on the floor. “Here,” I said, tossing them to her. Well, not all of them. I couldn’t resist hanging onto one thing. Pink cotton, no lace. Very Bella.
It took her a second to notice, but I knew the moment she did. Her cheeks flushed, and she gasped.
“Looking for this?” I teased.
She looked up and her blush deepened. I laughed and tossed her bra to her. She was being awfully modest considering the way she’d been dressed last night. I sat down on the opposite side of the bed with my back to her. I had slept in my jeans–not the most comfortable option, but it was that or nothing. I had known better than to try nothing. But she needed to get dressed. And since the bathroom was across the hall, in plain sight of the kitchen, there was no way she was going to go out there. Not modest little Bella. Not when everyone would see her wearing nothing but my shirt. I could have made it easier on her by just leaving the room, but where was the fun in that? Of course, that meant I had to sit there, knowing that Bella was practically naked right behind me.
“Don’t even think about peeking,” she said, trying to sound threatening.
As if I can think of anything else! “That’s impossible, Bells,” I laughed. “How about if I just think about it but don’t actually do it?”
We walked into the kitchen holding hands. I felt her hesitate and pull back a little when she saw everyone gathered there. She was probably thinking everyone was jumping to conclusions. And she was right.
“Soooo…I take it you both slept well?” Embry asked, smirking.
Bella gasped, and I would have gladly punched him, but Sam beat me to it, slapping him upside the head the moment the words were out of his mouth. Sam could be a pain sometimes, but I had to hand it to him. He was on my side when it came to Bella.
“Eat!” he growled at Embry before looking at us. “Bella, you’d better grab a plate before these guys go back for seconds.”
Bella pulled her hand from mine and went straight to Emily. At least she wasn’t trying to hide behind me anymore.
I grabbed a plate and filled it with two of everything, then sat down and watched Bella while I ate. She looked back at me and smiled shyly then laughed as I shoved a whole muffin in my mouth. She was happy. Because of me.
She pulled a stool over to the counter by Emily and started talking, so I turned my attention to the table.
“Well?” whispered Embry.
“Don’t even think it,” I warned him.
“What’s the deal with you two?” my sister asked, suspicion in her tone. What did she have against Bella?
“She’s…my girlfriend, I guess,” I said. It sounded weird to put a label on it like that. And ‘girlfriend’ didn’t even begin to describe what Bella was to me. But ‘reason for living’ would just give them more ammunition.
“And you slept with her? In Sam’s house?” Rachel asked incredulously.
“No! Well, yes, technically, but not like that,” I said.
“Don’t tell me you chickened out,” teased Paul.
“Bella’s better than that,” I hissed said, glaring at him.
Sam came back to the table, and they all shut up, but I knew they’d be ‘listening’ in the second we phased. I was going to have to figure out a way to keep my mind off Bella. I’m going to have to talk to Sam about that, I thought.
The phone rang and Emily grabbed it. It was probably Charlie calling to make sure Bella was okay. Yep. Emily handed the phone to Bella.
“Jake, take my truck,” said Sam, tossing me the keys. “Bella needs to get home when she’s done eating.”
Thanks, Sam. I was hoping you’d ruin my morning. “Okay.”
“I don’t need it till this afternoon, so if the two of you need to talk…”
Yes, I supposed we still needed to talk. It wasn’t something I was looking forward to.
Bella didn’t say anything on the way home, and that gave me time to try to get my thoughts together. We’d made up quickly last night, and I had managed to control myself even though she’d looked deliciously sexy in my shirt. But Sam was right. We needed to talk. What was I going to say? How was I supposed to bring it up? Why did I turn into a complete idiot every time I was with her?
How did girls talk about sex, anyhow? Did they have some cutesy name for it that guys weren’t allowed to know? Probably. All I had was ‘So, you’ve never slept with anyone?’ and ‘Ever get to third base?’ Yeah, that would earn me a good hard slap. Then again, maybe I didn’t want to know.
Why does she keep looking at me like that? She can’t know what I’m thinking, can she? Act natural. Act natural. Act… Crap! We’re here.
I pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine. At least she wasn’t looking at me anymore. I walked her to the door, and she turned to me.
“Is it okay if I come in for a minute?” I asked. Good one, Jake. Like you’ve ever needed to ask before.
“Of course,” she said, looking at me curiously. She was catching on.
I sat down on the sofa and propped my feet up, but Bella was just standing there, watching me.
“Ah, do you mind waiting while I take a shower and change?” she asked, looking a little nervous. “I’ll be quick,” she added.
“No, go ahead,” I said, and she ran upstairs before I could say anything else.
At least I had more time to think. About Bella being naked just up the stairs. No, I was supposed to be thinking about what to say. Maybe I didn’t have to actually say it, seeing as how there was no way I could word it correctly. Maybe I there was another way.
What did I really need to know anyway? Just if Sam was right, if Bella really was a virgin. Was I even allowed to ask something like that? What did it matter if she was? No, that’s not what I needed to know. That was just something I wanted to know now that I knew it was a possibility. What I needed to know was if all the yelling and crying was because I was moving too fast. Or if there was something else that was wrong. How fast was I allowed to go, anyway? Now there was a question I knew better than to ask. That would just make me sound like a jerk. Sam had told me to talk to her. The least he could have done was told me what to say. It was no use. I was doomed.
Bella came stumbling down the stairs and sat down—on the opposite end of the sofa.
“Maybe Charlie should consider selling this house,” I said.
“What? Why?” she asked.
“You should be in a one-story, Bells. Those stairs are going to kill you,” I laughed.
She didn’t look so nervous anymore. Too bad I was. “We need to talk,” I said.
She still didn’t look nervous. Now she just looked scared.
“Hey, don’t look so worried,” I said, reaching for her hand. “And why are you sitting way over there?”
She moved closer, and I could hear her breathing getting shallower. Then her arm moved across her chest and pulled tightly, like she was trying to hold herself together. She was more than scared. She was in a full-on panic.
“Bells, stop it. Whatever you’re thinking, don’t. Nothing is wrong,” I said, hoping words were enough to calm her down.
“Nothing?” she asked, like she didn’t believe me.
“Nothing,” I said.
She took a deep breath and loosened her hold on herself, but she didn’t let go. It was all that bloodsucker’s fault. Whatever he’d done to hurt her, the damage was permanent.
“He really screwed you up, didn’t he?”
She shrugged, but didn’t say anything. She just looked up at me with those deep brown eyes.
I exhaled slowly, and then said it before I lost my nerve. “We just never talked about…what happened.”