Story Title: Breathe Again by ysar
Chapter: 16. Unease
Genre: Twilight – Romance / Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence,
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!”
It wasn’t even ten o’clock yet, but I decided not to push my luck. I told Jacob I should be getting home, and even though he didn’t want me to leave, he knew I was walking a fine line with Charlie after ditching school. I reluctantly got up from the chair and made my way around to say my goodbyes, carefully avoiding Leah, who scared me a little, and Rachel, for obvious reasons.
“Going home already?” Emily asked.
“Charlie will probably be waiting up for me,” I explained.
She laughed. “I’m glad you came,” she said. “And if you can keep yourself from getting grounded, you know you can come over anytime. Even without Jake.”
Emily’s warm smile told me she genuinely liked me for me, not just because I was dating Jacob, and it was nice to know I had another girl to talk to without worrying about lies and secrets. I hadn’t had anyone like that since Alice. And even though I knew Emily would never throw lavish parties or force me into designer clothes, having her in my corner helped to fill a place that had long been empty.
“Thanks,” I said. “I really like it here.”
“C’mon, Bells!” Jake yelled.
Emily laughed and rolled her eyes, and I walked over to Jacob. He was standing in the doorway talking to Embry, but my presence seemed to have suddenly killed the conversation.
“What? Did I interrupt some secret werewolf meeting?” I asked.
Embry laughed and actually hugged me. “See you later, Bella,” he said.
Jacob laced his fingers with mine, and we walked outside toward my truck.
“What was that about?” I asked him.
“Which part? The secret meeting, or him touching you?”
“Oh, no you don’t!” I scolded. “Don’t go getting all possessive…on…” I faltered when I looked up and saw the amused smirk on his face.
“You’re adorable when you’re mad,” he said, pulling me close and dropping my hand to wrap his arms around me.
“And you’re annoying,” I said as he lowered his lips to mine. Once again, I was lost somewhere in a world where nothing existed but the two of us. I found myself dizzy when he stepped back and opened my door for me.
“Oh,” I said, a little disappointed that I was actually leaving. “So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow?”
I hopped up into the truck and he closed the door behind me.
“Wait!” I exclaimed, leaning my head out the partially open window. “I have to work tomorrow.” I’d almost forgotten about my job at Newton’s Outfitters.
“I’ll be there when you get off, then,” he said.
“Nine o’clock,” I told him.
“I’ll be waiting,” he said with a sweet smile. He leaned in and kissed me once more. “‘Night, Bells.”
The lights were still on when I pulled into the driveway. I was right. Charlie was waiting up for me.
“You’re early,” he called from the living room when I walked in.
“The movie was over,” I said with a shrug.
He looked pleased with my answer for a second, but then a shadow of something more serious passed over his expression.
“Come sit down for a minute. I want to talk to you about something,” he said.
This couldn’t be good. Having a real conversation with Charlie was a rare occurrence, but one that required sitting down was a whole different story. I mentally braced myself and sat on the sofa across from him.
“I’m sorry about tonight, Dad,” I said, hoping to stem whatever lecture or punishment was coming. “I don’t know why I didn’t think to call you.”
“That’s fine,” he said dismissively. “I wanted to talk to you about…something else.”
Something else? He was ignoring the fact that I ditched school? He was a parent. What could he possibly think was more serious than that?
“Okay…” I said skeptically.
“How serious are you and Jake?” he asked.
No. This can’t be happening. Charlie wanted to have the talk with me—the sex talk. I was going to die of embarrassment. I could feel my skin flush. My eyes widened and I just stared at him.
“Not that!” he practically shouted. “Unless…we don’t need to talk about…that…do we?” He looked a little scared.
“No!” I said, shaking my head wildly.
Relief washed over his face, and we just sat there for several seconds, avoiding each others eyes and shifting uncomfortably in our seats. If this wasn’t about sex, why was he asking me how serious Jacob and I were?
“Well?” he finally prodded.
Oh, right. I’d never answered him. “I don’t know,” I said with a shrug. Quite honestly, I didn’t know. We were serious enough that I hated being away from him, and that the thought of losing him was unbearable, but how serious was that? Was there some kind of scale used to rate these things?
“It worries me,” Charlie said.
“What does?” I asked, now thoroughly confused.
“I just…you’re young and…” he stammered.
Where was he going with this? And how was this not the sex talk?
“Bella, I just don’t want to see you get hurt,” he said.
“Jacob’s not going to hurt me, Dad.”
“Yeah, well…” He looked as if he was searching for the right words. “He’s young, and you’re about to graduate and go to college and…if things don’t work out, I just don’t want to see you fall apart again.”
He wasn’t just talking about Jacob. He was talking about Edward.
“Don’t worry, Dad. It’s not like that,” I told him. Jacob wasn’t Edward. In the bottom of my heart I’d always known that I wasn’t good enough for Edward. And though Jacob definitely had some too-good-to-be-true moments, he felt real to me. Plus, I couldn’t very well explain to my dad that Jacob was a werewolf, and just packing up and leaving probably wasn’t an option for him. Jacob might be able to break up with me, but he could never really leave his pack.
Charlie didn’t say anything more, and I got the feeling the conversation was over.
“I need to get to bed now, okay?” I said.
He nodded and turned his attention back to the TV, apparently satisfied with my answers.
Too bad I wasn’t.
Another day of school, another day of missing Jacob. And to top if off, I had to go straight to Newton’s after school, so it would be hours before I saw him. I didn’t have a lot of room to complain, though. Mrs. Newton had given me all of spring break off as well as the weekend. I hadn’t had to go to work in well over a week, and if nothing else, I needed the gas money. At least Jacob would be waiting for me when I got off. No wonder Charlie was worried. I really was getting too attached.
I spent my morning classes in a daze, too preoccupied with what Charlie had said the night before to really pay attention to my teachers. I’d been so upset when I’d arrived at Jacob’s yesterday, and he’d handled the whole situation more perfectly than I would have thought him capable of. The evening at Emily’s had been even better, despite my embarrassing lack of self-control. Spending time with Jacob was wonderful, and even though we weren’t alone, the whole evening had felt like it was just the two of us. The pack was like a huge, loving, slightly dysfunctional family, and I was starting to like them more and more. It was going to hurt like hell if there was any basis to Charlie’s concerns.
He was right; I’d be graduating soon. And I had to go to college. There was no question about that. The only question was how was I supposed to reconcile going away to college with having a boyfriend whose mythical creature status would probably forever keep him tied to the reservation? It’s not like he would be joining me away at college in two years.
The truth was that I hadn’t even decided on where to go. Charlie had nagged me into submitting applications months ago, and some acceptance letters had already arrived. My options were a bit limited by finances, but they would still all take me miles away from Jacob. Private colleges were too expensive, and the only out-of-state options I had were in Florida, where I could claim residency with Renee and Phil. I had originally balked at the idea of ever leaving Forks. It was the one place that I felt I could be near Edward, and maybe the one place he would look for me if he ever changed his mind. But after grieving for so long, I’d decided that maybe getting as far as possible from here was a good idea—until Jake. Even my Washington choices weren’t so great now.
The closest major college was Evergreen in Olympia, but even that was nearly a four hour drive from the Quileute Reservation. It wouldn’t make it impossible to visit, but it would make it inconvenient. Even Peninsula College, the one big school in our area, was in Port Angeles, over an hour and a half away from Jacob. It seemed that our little corner of Washington was so far removed from civilization that every choice I had was a painful one. I knew that my selection of college really shouldn’t revolve around who I was dating, but I couldn’t help it. I was happy with Jacob. I didn’t want college to change that.
“Penny for your thoughts,” Mike prodded.
I’d been so wrapped up in my college dilemma that I hadn’t even noticed him catch up to me in the hallway.
“Just thinking about college,” I said. And wondering where I can fit a werewolf into my plan.
“Oh, yeah?” he asked. “You got accepted?”
I was momentarily offended, as if he’d implied there was a question as to whether or not I’d even get into college. But I reminded myself that this was a guy who probably hadn’t even applied anywhere yet. I doubted he meant it as an insult.
“A couple of places,” I said, “but I haven’t decided yet.”
“Maybe you could go to Peninsula, and we’d have some classes together.” His tone was a little too hopeful.
“Oh…well, I was thinking more like Washington State or something,” I said. The only thing I was really thinking about Washington State was that it was too far away. Mike seemed to think so, too, and I tried not to laugh as his expression fell. We were in the lunch line now, and I was looking everywhere for Angela. But our usual table was completely empty.
“But that’s like nine hours away,” he complained. “When will we ever see each other?”
Never. “Isn’t there a class reunion or something?” I asked, purposely misunderstanding.
“Yeah, sure,” he muttered.
Was he finally getting the hint?
“There you are!” said Angela, grabbing my arm. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you! It’s warm and sunny, so we’re all at the picnic tables today.”
I took my tray and followed her outside, leaving Mike alone with his disappointment.
“I’m telling you they must have said, ‘Just send us the ugliest ones you have,’” Jessica whined dramatically.
She’d spent the last twenty minutes complaining about P.E. From the sound of it, today was swimming, or as I liked to call it, water torture.
“I don’t know why they don’t just let us wear our own,” Lauren said. “I look so much better in a two piece anyway.”
As soon as I’d seen her, I thought about lunging over the table and strangling her. But with my luck, I’d probably break my arm. And as much as I wanted to call her out on her lies, I didn’t want to cause a scene. I especially didn’t want to give her any reason to think I’d felt threatened by her, which was exactly what she would think if I lost my temper. I settled instead for the coward’s way out, sitting there quietly while she and Jessica droned on and on about things that were only important to them.
Normally I’d have been annoyed with their shallow conversation, but today’s subject had me in knots. I didn’t care at all about the swimsuits they seemed to find so hideous. I only cared about the fact that I’d have to swim. Not only was I a terrible swimmer, but I often inhaled half the pool when I tried. An hour spent flailing around in the water in front of everyone I knew was not something I looked forward to. Too bad I couldn’t ditch again.
“Bella?” Angela said quietly, a look of kind concern on her face. “Did you get everything figured out? After yesterday, I mean?”
She had to be referring to the whole Lauren debacle. And she must have been really worried about me if she was actually asking about it. Angela wasn’t usually one to pry.
“Yeah,” I said. “Everything’s perfect.” I couldn’t stop the grin that spread across my face as I said it.
“Good,” she said, grinning right back at me. “I was really—”
Whatever she was about to say was cut short by a deafening roar, and everyone turned to see where it was coming from. My heart leaped at the sight of a black motorcycle and the large, dark-haired, copper-skinned figure astride it, but just as quickly, I was brought back down to earth. It was definitely his bike, but the tall, muscular boy swinging his leg off the bike and scanning the crowd was not Jacob.
16. Unease: Jacob
Even though it was nowhere near her curfew, Bella wanted to go home. At first, I thought she was upset about something, and I guess in a way she was. But she was just nervous because Charlie knew she’d ditched class. I knew Charlie wasn’t going to do anything, but she wanted to face the music, and I had to let her. While she went off to say goodbye to everyone, I waited by the door. Embry saw that as the opportunity to finish our earlier conversation.
“So? The blonde?” he asked.
“She told Bella we hooked up or something,” I said.
“Shit! No wonder she was pissed when she showed up,” he laughed. “I take it everything’s cool now?”
“Yeah, we’re good.”
“Just good? From what I saw—”
“Don’t say it,” I growled. The rest of the pack could think and talk about the girls they went out with, and obviously didn’t care about, any way they wanted. But I wasn’t going to let them talk about Bella that way.
“I’m just saying—”
“New subject. Now.”
“Okay, okay,” he said, throwing up his hands in mock surrender. “I won’t mention that her tongue was down your thr—”
Punching him in the chest seemed to do the trick, but from the way he laughed, I knew he was just waiting for another chance.
“So that’s it? You’re not gonna do anything about it?” he asked.
“Bella and I are fine.”
“Yeah, someone’s trying to convince your girlfriend that you’re cheating on her, and that’s just fine with you. Dude, for a guy with two sisters, you’re pretty clueless.”
What was taking her so long? “C’mon, Bells!” I yelled.
“And you’re the expert?” I asked him.
“You know it.”
Bella walked up, and we immediately shut up. Embry grinned smugly, making way too obvious we were hiding something.
“What? Did I interrupt some secret werewolf meeting?” she asked.
Embry laughed and hugged her. “See you later, Bella,” he said.
The look of shock on Bella’s face as she half-heartedly hugged him back was almost worth seeing someone else’s arms around her. But not quite. Embry smiled a little too brightly at me, obviously satisfied that he’d irritated me, and walked off.
As I was walking her out to a truck she asked, “What was that about?”
“Which part? The secret meeting or him touching you?” I asked.
“Oh, no you don’t!” she said, trying to sound mad. “Don’t go getting all possessive…on…”
She must have noticed I was trying not to laugh at her. I couldn’t help being a little possessive of her. And if she was going to be all cute and flustered about it, I had even more reason. “You’re adorable when you’re mad,” I said, pulling her into my arms.
“And you’re annoying,” she pouted just before I kissed her. She leaned in closer, pressing herself to me and slid her hands up over my shoulders. I held her more tightly. It didn’t escape my notice that she seemed more comfortable, almost assertive now when we were close like this. But I knew if we didn’t stop soon, I wasn’t going to let her leave. And Embry would probably just interrupt like he always did.
“Oh,” she said, as I pulled back. “So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Definitely,” I told her as she climbed into the truck.
No sooner had I shut the door than she stuck her head out the window and said, “Wait! I have to work tomorrow.”
Just another reason I hated that Newton kid, even if he didn’t make the schedule. “I’ll be there when you get off, then,” I said.
“I’ll be waiting,” I said. She smiled back at me, and I just had to kiss her once more. “‘Night, Bells.”
Rachel was arguing with Dad when I got home. She was still trying to get the old house, and he was still refusing. Her attempts to convince him were quickly becoming attempts to burst his eardrums with her whining, and I definitely did not want to be a part of that. I still had a few hours before I had to go on patrol, and hiding out in the garage sounded like the best—and quietest—option.
“About time you showed up.”
Embry was sitting on my car, and Quil was leaning against the toolbox when I walked in. So much for quiet.
“Shouldn’t you be on patrol?” I asked them.
“Sam says I’m too green,” Quil replied. “He’s taking the night off, so I have to, too.” He sounded disappointed. He really seemed to be taking being a werewolf better than the rest of us had. He actually enjoyed it.
“And I already finished mine,” added Embry. “Besides, we have trouble to make.”
“Trouble?” I was almost afraid to ask. “If this is about Lauren, you can forget about it,” I said. “It’s over, and I don’t want to upset Bella.”
“Then you have to do something,” he argued. “It’s your fault for leading her on anyway. And Bella’s too nice to do anything.”
He was right about one thing. If I hadn’t been so determined to make Bella jealous, that stupid girl wouldn’t have nearly ruined everything for us. I just really didn’t need the two of them reminding me what an idiot I was.
“Man, she tried to break you two up,” said Quil.
“Yeah, what would you do if some guy was lying about Bella that way?” Embry asked.
“Rip his throat out,” I said.
They both laughed as if I was joking.
“Well?” asked Embry.
“Well, nothing,” I said, knowing he wasn’t going to let up.
Quil rolled his eyes and looked at Embry. “He really is clueless, isn’t he?”
Embry nodded and turned to me. “Just hear me out,” he said.
“I’m not sure I want to,” I told him. I could almost see the rusty little wheels in his head spinning. He may have once been the quiet, almost shy one, but all that changed when he started phasing. Now he was always up to something.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said. “Blondie was all over you at the bonfire—”
“This is between Bella and me.”
“Uh-huh,” he said. “So she was all over you, and she told Bella you hooked up, and now you’re gonna let her get away with it?”
“Dude, she wants to get rid of your girlfriend,” Quil added, egging him on.
“What do you know about her?” Embry asked.
“Real helpful, Jake. She was at that party, right? With all the kids from Forks?”
“Yeah, and Newton,” I replied, scowling a little at the memory of his arm around her.
“So she goes to school with Bella?” asked Quil.
“I don’t know…maybe?”
“What’s she like?”
They were getting on my nerves. “Annoying. And real full of herself.”
“Well, we can—” Embry started.
“Just leave it alone, okay?” I snapped. Bella hadn’t said anything more about it, and for all I knew, she just wanted to forget it. She certainly didn’t need a couple of trouble-making werewolves getting involved. I didn’t either.
“Fine. Then can I use your bike tomorrow?” Embry asked.
“I need a ride, and you’ve got two.”
“If you put a single scratch on it…” I warned him.
“Don’t worry, man. I know it was a present from your girlfriend.”
I only got two hours of sleep before I had to get up for school. Patrolling all night was really starting to wear on me, but I’d sooner give up graduating than leave Bella unprotected. It didn’t help that Sam was on my case, too. He’d assigned Seth and Leah to watch Bella’s house, and I didn’t trust them. I knew Seth would do his best, but he was still so young. The only reason Sam let him go out unsupervised was because Leah always stayed with him. And she was just crazy. She had good reason to be, but it didn’t change the fact that anyone else in the pack would be more reliable protection for Bella. Then again, any vampire who tried to go up against Leah would definitely regret it. She had enough anger in her to take on a whole coven. Still, I spent half the night watching Bella’s house when Sam wanted me in town, and he was pissed. I had phased back halfway home just to get his voice out of my head.
I would miss her, but it was probably a good thing Bella had to work tonight. At least I’d be able to get in a nap after school. I just hoped Newton wasn’t going to be working with her. That kid got on my nerves.
I fell asleep during my first three classes. I was so far behind I wouldn’t have learned anything anyway. Ever since I’d first phased, my grades had slipped. At first, it was because Sam thought I was too unstable, so I had to stay home several days until he could see that I wasn’t going to maul anyone. Then it was because I was so freaked out about being a wolf and having to stay away from Bella that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. After that, my grades didn’t stand a chance. I was always patrolling, always sleeping through my alarm, and homework was a lost cause. If it weren’t for Bella, I probably would have just dropped out. Lots of other kids on the rez quit school when they were my age. The elders said it was a ‘cultural problem’ and that we should take more pride in being Quileutes and get our educations. But I was pretty sure the only cultural problem I had was four paws and fur.
Leah only had a few weeks left until she graduated. The rest of us were going to be stuck here for two more years. Poor Seth probably wouldn’t even make it into high school. I still couldn’t drop out, though, even if I was close to failing. Bella would understand, but I knew she’d be disappointed, and I also knew she deserved better than to be with a dropout. I might not be able to go to college, but I could at least get a diploma. Maybe Embry had the right idea doing that online school thing.
“So what’s going on tonight?” Leah asked me between classes.
“Nothing that I know of,” I told her.
“Embry told me we were all doing something,” she said.
“He didn’t say anything to me.”
“You look like shit, by the way,” she sneered.
“Like you care.”
I really didn’t. She had a mouth on her, but it was no worse than any of the rest of us. Hell, we probably contributed to it. “Wanna get out of here?” I asked. She looked just as worn out as I felt.
“Yeah, but I can’t go home. Mom would freak,” she said. Sue Clearwater still had no idea both her kids were werewolves.
“Just come to my house. Dad won’t care. I don’t know how Sam expects us to do school after keeping us out all night anyway.”
I was right. Rachel raised an eyebrow, but Dad took one look at us and didn’t say a word. He just turned down the volume on the TV, and we went straight to my room.
Leah grabbed one of my pillows and all the covers off the bed and spread them out on the floor, kicking all my junk out of the way to make room. Then she curled up on the bed.
“My room, I get the bed,” I told her.
“I’m not moving,” she replied.
That’s what she thinks. I walked around to the other side of the bed, sat down, and shoved her off the side. She let out a yell when she hit the floor, and I guess Rachel thought that was a good excuse not to knock. The door opened and she poked her nosey head in just as I was sprawling out across the whole mattress.
“Your brother’s an asshole,” Leah said to her.
“Yeah, I know,” Rachel replied before stepping back out and closing the door behind her.
I was so exhausted I didn’t even take my shoes off. I just lay down and closed my eyes, feeling myself start to drift off immediately.
“What?” We were supposed to be sleeping, not talking.
“What’s gonna happen to her?”
“Who?” I asked.
“Bella. When you imprint, what’s gonna happen to her?”
“I’m not gonna imprint,” I said.
She didn’t say anything else, but I knew what she was thinking. She was wondering if I’d dump Bella like Sam had dumped her.