Story Title: Breathe Again by ysar
Chapter: 35. Honesty
Genre: Twilight – Romance / Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence,
Post Word Count: 6856
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!”
As if I didn’t already have enough trouble concentrating in class, the surprise visit from Alice and Emmett had me completely distracted. Between old feelings and completely unexpected new ones, I didn’t know what to feel.
I honestly never thought I would see them again. They were too thorough to leave behind any clues, and staying under the radar was something they were simply too good at. They could have been anywhere in the world, living under newly assumed names, reinventing themselves as just about anything. I had thought I knew them so well, but once they were gone I realized I didn’t know nearly enough to stand a chance at finding them.
I’d often imagined accidentally running into one of them somewhere. Maybe I’d go away to college and a roommate would drag me to a mall where we’d stumble upon Alice. Maybe I’d be on vacation and end up in the ER, only to find myself face to face with Carlisle. Or maybe twenty years from now I end up teaching in some small town where they were once again posing as high school students. Whatever the case, I’d never imagined that it would happen like it did…or that I would lash out at them like I did.
To be honest, I felt a little bad about it. It wasn’t their fault Edward insisted on leaving. Sure, the way it played out was terrible, but they were a family. I couldn’t expect them to just let him leave without them, and I certainly didn’t want to be the reason their family fell apart. But as hurt as I still was, and as angry as I’d become, I still missed them all so much that I was grateful for even the few hours Alice and Emmett had spent with me.
I had missed Emmett’s booming laughter and Esme’s kind, motherly ways. I missed Carlisle calm compassion and Alice’s infectious happiness. I missed Jasper’s quiet understanding and Rosalie’s fierce but loyal disposition. And even though he hurt me, and even though I had a million questions for him, I still missed Edward.
I pulled into the driveway and rushed inside, leaving all my things in the truck in my hurry to get to the phone. I stood there for a second, staring at the numbers on the handset, and closed my eyes. Taking a deep breath, I told myself that today would be the day. Today I would call Emily and she would tell me Jacob was on his way home.
“Hey, Emily, it’s Bella,” I said, knowing there was no reason to explain my call.
“Is everything okay?” she asked.
“Ah…yeah,” I replied. Why would she ask me that? “I just wanted to see if…maybe you’ve heard from them?”
“Oh…ah…well…” she stammered. “They’re not here.”
“Okay,” I sighed. “Thanks anyway.”
I normally felt a little guilty after I called her. Even though she was probably one of the nicest people I knew, it’s not like we talked a lot or hung out or anything. But she was my only connection to Jacob right now, and we both knew that he was the only reason I was calling. It seemed a little selfish of me, but I hoped she understood. After all, Sam was out there, too, and for all that she appeared to simply accept things the way they were, I couldn’t imagine she wasn’t consumed by the same kind of worry I was dealing with.
Today was different, though. Today she actually seemed a little surprised to hear from me—which was odd because I’d been calling her every day since Jake left. And then it was like she didn’t know how to answer me. Every other time I’d called she’d apologetically told me no and then assured me they would be fine and would be home soon. Her hesitation today had me worried, but short of calling her back and bothering her some more, there was really nothing I could do.
I dragged myself back outside to retrieve by bag and books from the truck and settled myself in the living room, spreading my homework across the top of the coffee table. But the books and blank sheets of paper just sat untouched while my mind wandered again.
I wished I could have told them about Jacob. I had enough secrets to keep, and having a boyfriend shouldn’t have been one of them. I knew it would be a little weird to talk to the Cullens about him, and maybe they would have been a little sad that I’d had to move on, but it’s not like they would have been upset with me. After all, God only knew what Edward had been up to these past several months. Emmett probably would have teased me, and Alice would have wanted to know everything about him. And that was the problem.
As much as I loved the Cullens, I loved Jacob, too. It was only because he already knew what they were that I was able to talk to him about them. I hated that he thought of them as soulless monsters, but at least I didn’t have to hide things from him. Unfortunately, the Cullens had never even hinted at the existence of werewolves, and while I knew they had a treaty with the Quileutes, I had no idea if they knew that there were wolves living here now. And it’s not like I needed to warn them or anything. They abided by the rules of the treaty, staying away from La Push without any interference from me, and that meant none of the wolves could touch them. Maybe if Alice kept her word and stayed in touch with me I could think of a way to ask her about it without really divulging anything I shouldn’t.
I sighed and tried again to focus on my homework. I hadn’t heard a word in class, and studying now was the only way I was going to absorb any of it, but it was pointless. After a few more minutes, I just gave up, leaving all my stuff where it was and going upstairs.
My room felt strangely empty after having had company the night before. The empty rocking chair and my unmade bed bore no sign of last night’s visit, and I almost had trouble convincing myself it was real. Had it not been for my almost yelling at the two of them, I would have thought my memory of Alice and Emmett’s visit was nothing more than another daydream.
A soft breeze blew the room, the curtains fluttering in its wake, reminding me that my window had been left wide open all day. I was normally pretty good about closing it, and even when Edward used to sneak in at night, I’d always kept it only a few inches open to keep out the constant rain. I guess I was lucky that today had been one of those rare overcast but clear days. I certainly didn’t need to push my luck, though, and I walked over to push it shut, only to be stopped short by the sight of Jacob. He was standing just at the edge of the yard, back near the trees, watching me.
I don’t remember closing the window or running down the stairs. I’m not even sure if I made it across the yard without falling. The only thing that registered was the comforting warmth and earthy scent of his skin as I pressed my face into his chest. He was home and in one piece, and I was in heaven.
“I missed you,” I tried to say, my words muffled against him.
He didn’t say anything, but he really didn’t have to. Just having his arms wrapped so tightly around me, pulling me up so that my toes barely brushed the ground…it was enough. We stayed like that forever, his lips pressing into my hair every so often, both of us just breathing each other in. Finally, after what felt like forever and not nearly long enough, he loosened his hold enough for me to slip back to the ground and look up at him.
He looked…sad. There I was, thrilled beyond words that he was finally back, and though I knew he was just as happy to see me, something in his eyes was just off.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied. “Maybe we can take a walk, though?”
He nodded his head toward the trees and tugged at my hand, and I took a step forward before every instinct I had shrieked in protest. I’d been here before, made this same walk before, faced the end of everything that mattered before.
“Bella?” he prodded, his eyes now filled with concern.
I just shook my head and dug my heels in. I felt that tension, that atmosphere that screamed that something wasn’t right. I remembered those words, those cold eyes, running and falling and losing myself among the thick walls of trees. No. No way was he leading me into the woods, under the guise of talking, just to leave me.
“Come on,” he said. “There’s nothing out there that I can’t protect you from, and there’s something I want to talk to you about.”
“Can’t we just go inside?” I asked, my words coming out shaky and soft.
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” he said. “Come on,” he urged, “We won’t go far.”
But I just couldn’t. “No,” I said. “I don’t…I can’t go there.”
“What?” he asked, sounding genuinely surprised. “Why would you think…oh.”
I was glad he understood because I really didn’t have an explanation that would make much sense. Just because one boyfriend had dumped me in the woods didn’t mean it was now an official break-up spot. It just wasn’t a memory I wanted to revisit. “Can’t we just go inside?” I asked again.
He tensed and gave me a look I couldn’t quite decipher, but then he nodded and we walked toward the house, his grip on my hand tightening with every step.
The second we were inside, his gaze darted around anxiously, almost like he expected someone to suddenly jump out at us. He pulled me closer and stayed right behind me as we walked upstairs, his body almost curled defensively over me. I supposed it had something to do with Victoria, and since he hadn’t come home grinning from ear to ear and wanting to celebrate, I feared maybe she had slipped past the pack and was already planning her next attack on me. But talking about her would have to wait.
I walked over to the bed to sit, scooting up to lean against the headboard and moving over as far as I could so he could join me. But he didn’t. Instead, he started pacing, staring too intently at everything his gaze landed upon, and finally walking over to the window and yanking it wide open.
“There’s something I need to tell you,” he said, his voice sounding defeated and resigned.
I knew it had to do with Victoria’s probable escape, and I honestly didn’t care about that. I just wanted to get the Cullens’ visit out in the open. For one, someone in the pack was bound to pick up on their scent sooner or later, and I didn’t want any of them worrying more than they had to. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t want to keep it from Jacob. He probably wouldn’t be happy that they’d been by, but he still needed to know.
“Okay,” I said, “But can I go first? I just…I don’t care about Victoria right now. Something happened while you were gone.”
He was still facing the window and staring outside, and I couldn’t see his expression. But his posture didn’t change, so I took that as a good sign and let the words rush out.
“Alice and Emmett Cullen were here, just to check on me because they were worried because Alice’s visions aren’t working, and they’re gone now, but Alice might call me sometime, and I just don’t want you guys to notice their scent or whatever and think there’re more vampires around because there aren’t.” There. That wasn’t so hard after all. “Oh, and I didn’t tell them anything about the pack because I know that’s a secret,” I added. “Um…Alice might call me, though. At least she said she would.”
“What about him?” Jacob asked, still not turning around. Maybe he was more upset than I thought.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “I mean, Emmett and I get along just fine, but I was always closer to Alice. I guess he could call,” I conceded, “But he doesn’t seem like someone who likes to gossip on the phone, you know?”
His shoulders fell then, but before I could just ask him what his problem was he asked the one question I should have expected.
“What about Edward?” he asked, finally turning toward me, his words little more than a whisper.
“I…I don’t really know anything about him,” I replied. “He’s on another continent, if that means anything. And apparently it’s his fault that everyone left without telling me goodbye.” I really didn’t know what else to tell him.
He walked over to the bed and sat down next to me, let out a huge sigh, and then dragged me into his lap. “I’m sorry,” he said.
“For what?” I asked, trying to pull back and look at him. But he held me too tightly for me to move.
“I’m so stupid,” he mumbled. “I shouldn’t…I…”
“Jake, what’s going on?” I asked. “If this is about Victoria, I don’t care. I’m safe with you,” I said, hoping to ease his worry.
“I got home last night,” he admitted quietly.
This time he let me go when I pulled back, and had he not quickly grabbed my shoulder, I would have tumbled right off the bed.
“You what?” I asked, hoping I’d heard him wrong. He just nodded sheepishly. “You were back and you didn’t…didn’t come see me or call me or anything?” I asked, my voice rising with each word. Last night. Last night when I needed to know he was safe, when I wanted to know what I could tell Alice and Emmett, when I missed him so much it hurt. He was home last night, and he stayed away.
“I swear there’s a good reason,” he pleaded, “And a really stupid one, too,” he added quietly.
I just looked at him, waiting for him to explain.
“You know Jared stayed behind to watch you, right?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “I mean, I assumed someone would stay, but I didn’t know who.”
“Well, it was Jared,” he said. “And he did a shitty job of it. He was supposed to be here, but instead he snuck off to meet Kim, and when he came back, they were here.” He paused for a minute, a flash of something that looked a lot like pain overtaking his expression until he took a deep breath and continued. “I saw them, Bella. I saw them in his mind, and I thought maybe…I thought he was back for you.”
“And I know we talked about things before, but I couldn’t help it,” he said pleadingly. “I just …I can’t lose you, and seeing them just made it seem…it made it seem like it was happening. And I was so far away that I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t tell you I love you or beg you to stay….” He trailed off, swiping his hand across his eyes quickly, and though I didn’t see any tears, I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was just barely holding them back.
“I know it was dumb,” he continued. “I know you wouldn’t just leave like that, but it still scared me, you know?” He waited for me to nod before he went on. “I came straight here, and I saw you. You were talking to the little one—“
“Alice,” I interjected.
“You were talking to Alice, and you were so happy. And it just made me so mad because they hurt you. They hurt you and they left you alone with that crazy leech after you.”
“They didn’t know that,” I said, as if saying it out loud would somehow make it make sense.
“But that’s what happened. And here I was trying to protect you from all the trouble they caused, and they just come back, and you’re all happy to see them. I wanted to kill them, Bella,” he admitted. “I wanted to destroy them for what they did to you.”
“But you left,” I said, needing him to explain more.
“I didn’t have a choice,” he sighed. “I was freaking out, and I was too mad. If I’d…I could have hurt you. I could have lost it, and I just couldn’t take that chance.”
His entire posture just drooped down, his chin nearly touching his chest as he hung his head in apparent shame. I wanted to reach out to him, reassure him that he wouldn’t hurt me. But at the same time, his explanation didn’t change the fact that he’d left me to worry about him when I just needed to know he was okay.
“They were only here to check on me,” I said instead. “And you could have called. I would have…I don’t know exactly what I would have done, but I wouldn’t have gone another day not seeing you. “
He looked up, visibly ashamed and a little more hopeful. “Did you tell them about me?” he asked.
The second the word “No” left my mouth, I could almost see something in his eyes die, and I immediately realized how that must have sounded. “I didn’t know what I could tell them,” I explained. “I wanted to, Jake. I really did, but I was afraid I was going to give something away that I shouldn’t. You know me,” I said. “I’m an awful liar.”
“Yeah, but you could have left out the pack stuff,” he replied.
“But that’s what you are, Jake. How am I supposed to explain us without that?” I asked. “You saved me from Laurent. And you keep saving me from Victoria. And what if they wanted to meet you? How was I supposed to explain where you were? Alice would have seen right through me.”
“I know,” he admitted, sounding disappointed.
“I don’t know how to explain it, Jacob.” Just trying to find the words with him was frustrating enough. I could only imagine how difficult it might have been explaining it to someone who wasn’t supposed to know certain details. “I wanted to tell them, but I didn’t want to cause any more problems. And you’re my best friend,” I said. “I’m happy around you. I can be myself around you, and when I’m with you, I don’t have to keep all these crazy secrets. You’re my…you’re my everything,” I finally said.
He reached for my hand and pulled me back into his lap, and I didn’t resist, curling up and resting my head on his shoulder.
“I’m an idiot,” he said, his hand moving in circles over my back. “I keep screwing everything up.”
I leaned back just enough to look at him and put my hands on either side of his face, looking into those sad eyes again. “I think this is normal, Jake,” I said. “We’re normal, but everything around us isn’t. We should be worrying about….I don’t know…prom and stuff like that, and instead we’re stuck with secrets and treaties and things right out of a horror movie.”
“So you’re not mad at me?” he asked.
“Of course I’m mad at you,” I said. “But I’ll get over it. And I love you.”
He nodded, and I dropped my hands from his face, not really sure what to say next. He leaned forward slowly and kissed me, then rested his forehead against mine. We both jumped a little when we heard a door shut, followed shortly by Charlie’s voice.
“He has the worst timing,” Jake whispered.
“Upstairs, Dad!” I yelled over my shoulder.
“Thought you had to work?” Charlie called from below.
I scrambled off Jake’s lap too quickly, this time succeeding in falling off the bad. If I hadn’t been so happy to see him smiling again, I would have been mad at him for laughing at me. He just folded his hands behind his head and grinned, watching me as I grabbed a change of clothes and ran to the bathroom to get ready. I collided with Charlie in the hallway and only managed to remain upright because he grabbed my shoulders.
“Whoa there, Bells. Slow down before you hurt yourself.”
“Sorry,” I mumbled, stepping around him. “Running late!” I called as I shut the bathroom door.
I changed as quickly as I could and took a look in the mirror. Big mistake. My hair was a disaster, frizzed and tangled, so I pulled it back into a messy ponytail and hoped that would do. I grabbed my shoes and ran back to my room to kiss Jacob goodbye. Only he wasn’t there. Instead, there was a note on my pillow, his messy writing scrawled across a torn sheet of notebook paper.
I was tempted to wait right there at the school for her, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we didn’t need an audience. She was probably going to be pissed once I told her I’d gotten home the night before, and when I told her the reason I’d stayed away from her for almost a whole extra day…well, I guess I was pretty screwed.
Yeah, I was still a bit scared she’d pick Cullen over me. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Sure, he was dead and all, but that never seemed to matter to her. And she was beautiful and smart and just…well,she was kind of perfect. In my head, I knew I was better for her than he was. I was breathing, I could protect her from his kind, and I would never leave her. But in my heart, there was always a nagging worry that she wouldn’t think that was enough, and I wondered if love was this terrifying for everyone or if it was just me.
I had no excuse. I should have had more faith in her, more faith in us. Of course, now I’d gone and messed things up so badly that I’d be lucky if she still even wanted to talk to me. I was pretty sure that once I explained why I’d freaked out so bad, she wouldn’t be too mad at me. As long as I made sure she knew that it wasn’t a matter of trust, that it was just me being…I don’t know…insecure? As long as I made sure she knew that, she’d probably forgive me. But staying away like I did was going to get me into some real trouble with her.
God, I was such an idiot! When that annoying Lauren girl lied to Bella about me, Bella had come to me immediately. She asked me about it, she listened, and she didn’t run away. But I did. I ran away twice—once when I found those stupid tickets, and then again when I saw the leeches.
I knew I’d done the right thing by not confronting her the second I got home. I was way too unstable to be around her right then, not really mad at her, but just mad in general. And she was in enough danger without me losing control and phasing right next to her. I couldn’t chance that. But I could have called her. It’s not like I would have put her in any danger if I’d phased while we were on the phone, right?
Emily was right. I needed to talk to her, and I needed to do it as soon as possible. The problem now was where to do it. I couldn’t very well walk into her school and pull her out of class. And I didn’t want to do it in the parking lot with a bunch of people staring at us. What I really wanted to do was go to her house and wait in her room, but the leeches might still be there. After all, they’d been there all night from what I’d seen. And it probably wouldn’t look good if we started a vampire-werewolf war in her living room. But what was I supposed to do? Go all the way back home and do it over the phone?
No, I needed to do this face to face and as soon as possible. I might not be able to wait in her room, but I could wait nearby. She’d go straight home after school, and I could catch her before she went in. Plus, if the wind cooperated, the leeches might not even know I was there until Bella and I had everything worked out. And we would work everything out. We had to.
I heard her truck before I saw it. It was kind of impossible not to. But then I chickened out. I hid like a coward in the trees instead of running up to her like I should have. Telling myself I needed to talk to her was a whole lot different than actually doing it. Doing it meant really admitting that I had done something stupid, and as much as I hoped it would all be okay in the end, it still scared the hell out of me. I just needed a couple of seconds to pull myself together, and then I’d go up to the house, knock, and keep my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t screw things up.
She cut the engine off before the truck had even stopped rolling, and the door slammed loudly as she jumped out and almost ran into the house. I wasn’t sure if she was running to them or running to the phone, but I knew which one I was hoping for. And then nothing.
Outside and in the woods wasn’t the best place for eavesdropping, not that I really should have been doing that anyway. But still, from where I stood, the house seemed empty. The downstairs shades were closed, blocking my only real way of knowing what she was doing. Well, I guess I could have just gone in, but that was too big of a risk, thanks to the leeches.
I could smell them. There were two distinct scents, faint but lingering around the house. I imagined it was only worse inside. And one of them had obviously come back here in the woods at some point, as there was a clear trail leading away from the house. But the fact that I could only detect two was definitely a good sign. I’d only seen two through Jared’s mind, and I’d only seen one of them with my own eyes. And neither was the one I had been so worried about. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but I was starting to think he hadn’t been here.
It was like time just stopped. I knew I needed to go talk to her, but I couldn’t force my feet in that direction. For forty five minutes I waited without a sign. I strained to hear voices, but there was only silence. Suddenly I caught a flicker of movement from the corner of my eye, and I stepped forward out of the woods, sure I’d seen something through the open shades of her bedroom window. Sure enough, she walked right up to it then, and she looked…sad. It didn’t look like anyone was with her—at least she wasn’t talking to anyone. I watched as she started to push the window shut, and then she froze, her eyes locking on mine.
In the next second she was gone, and I could make out the faint sound of her footsteps crashing down the stairs. She burst through the door, leaving it wide open behind her, and surprisingly enough, she didn’t even stumble as she rushed right at me. In an instant she was wrapped around me, her breath warm against my skin.
“I missed you,” I heard her say, and my heart swelled at her words.
I gripped her as tightly as I dared, picking her right up off the ground, wanting to never let go. I was almost too lost in the feeling of having her in my arms again to notice that she smelled just like Bella, no trace of vampire at all. My heart lifted a little at that realization, but then guilt for what I’d thought immediately weighed it back down. I finally let her go, making sure her feet were firmly on the ground again before stepping back just a little.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I told her. It wasn’t completely a lie. I was okay, but I’d be a lot better once I got everything off my chest. “Maybe we can take a walk, though?”
The last thing I needed to do was go into a house filled with leeches. Okay, maybe “filled” was an exaggeration, but two of them, one of me, and one very breakable Bella was not a good combination. And since I didn’t want them hearing every word I said, I wanted to get a little further away from the house. I motioned toward the woods and took her hand, but after only one step, she froze. The look on her face was something I don’t think I’d ever seen before. It was fear, but it was worse.
She shook her head and her fingers dug into my hand. Did she think Victoria was out there or something?
“Come on. There’s nothing out there that I can’t protect you from,” I told her, “and there’s something I want to talk to you about.”
“Can’t we just go inside?” she asked.
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” I said. “Come on, we won’t go far.”
“No,” she said. “I don’t…I can’t go there.”
“What? Why would you think…oh.” The woods. The place where that damn leech left her, where she got lost, and where Sam found her. I just couldn’t do anything right.
“Can’t we just go inside?” she repeated.
I really didn’t want to. I almost asked if we could just drive somewhere or walk down the street. But it dawned on me that this might actually be good. So far I was handling myself just fine, right? And as much as I didn’t trust them, Bella felt safe around those bloodsuckers. And this way they would know she was mine, that I wasn’t giving her up. So I nodded, steeled myself for what was ahead, and started toward the house.
The stench wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it got worse as we walked up the stairs, and I could feel my body instinctively reacting. Every nerve twitched with the need to phase, the need to protect Bella from the danger. And it was Bella who kept me from doing so. I focused on her instead, holding my breath as I watched her hair sway with each step and feeling her palm rub against mine as she walked ahead of me. And they weren’t there. They’d been there recently, but they were gone—at least for now.
Bella sat down on the bed, but I couldn’t stay still. I was still too tense and the smell wasn’t helping. When I couldn’t stand it anymore, I yanked the window open, grateful for the clean breeze that instantly blew in. “There’s something I need to tell you,” I said, praying I could find the right words to make her understand.
“Okay, but can I go first?” she asked.
She wasn’t leaving me. I knew that much. And whatever she had to say couldn’t be worse than what I’d imagined, so I just waited.
“Alice and Emmett Cullen were here, just to check on me because they were worried because Alice’s visions aren’t working, and they’re gone now, but Alice might call me sometime, and I just don’t want you guys to notice their scent or whatever and think there’re more vampires around because there aren’t. Oh, and I didn’t tell them anything about the pack because I know that’s a secret. Um…Alice might call me, though. At least she said she would.” She spewed her words like she was anxious to get rid of them, and she sounded nervous, like she was afraid I’d be mad at her. Little did she know that I’d already gone through all my anger. Now I was just feeling desperate.
“What about him?” I asked, trying my hardest to keep my voice neutral. I didn’t want her reacting to my overreacting if I could help it, at least not before I’d had a chance to explain.
“I don’t think so,” she said. “I mean, Emmett and I get along just fine, but I was always closer to Alice. I guess he could call, but he doesn’t seem like someone who likes to gossip on the phone, you know?”
I didn’t actually know who Emmett was, but I was guessing he was the big one I’d seen. And while part of me was happy that she didn’t immediately think of him, I was disappointed that I would have to actually ask about him by name.
“What about Edward?” I asked, finally turning around to look at her.
“I…I don’t really know anything about him,” she said. “He’s on another continent, if that means anything. And apparently it’s his fault that everyone left without telling me goodbye.”
The leech smell was fading some, even though it still burned a little every time I inhaled. But I felt more in control now, not so ready to snap. I walked over to her and sat down. It was go time, and I was dreading her reaction. I pulled her into my lap and said the one thing that really covered it all. “I’m sorry,” he said.
“For what?” she asked.
“I’m so stupid. I shouldn’t…I…” I knew what I needed to say, but I just didn’t know how.
“Jake, what’s going on?” she asked. “If this is about Victoria, I don’t care. I’m safe with you.
That just made me feel worse. She trusted me so much, and it felt like I just didn’t deserve it. “I got home last night,” I practically whispered.
And there it was, the reaction I was dreading. She lurched away from me, losing her balance, and if I hadn’t moved quickly, she would have fallen to the floor. She stared at me with disbelief, as well as a bit of that anger I was hoping to avoid.
“You what?” she asked.
I nodded, knowing she’d heard me the first time. She just didn’t want to believe it.
“You were back and you didn’t…didn’t come see me or call me or anything?” She was close to yelling, and I deserved it.
“I swear there’s a good reason,” I told her, hoping that she’d give me a chance to explain. “And a really stupid one, too,” I said…because that was the truth. She didn’t say anything, so I went on. I told her how Jared had stayed behind to guard her, how he’d left her unprotected, how we’d all seen through his mind and knew the second he did that the leeches were at her house. I admitted how bad my initial reaction was and how I was so scared of losing her. I was still scared of that, especially now that she knew just how foolish I could be, but I kept explaining.
I told her how I’d come running back and seen them, how her happiness with that little one, Alice apparently, made me so mad, how I was scared I’d freak out and phase and hurt her. I could tell with every word I spoke that it didn’t take phasing to hurt her, and that just about killed me. I’d promised myself I would never hurt her, and what had I done? I’d left her, just like he did. Maybe I didn’t leave her lost in the woods, but I left her lost at home, waiting for me when she shouldn’t have had to.
“They were only here to check on me,” she explained. “And you could have called. I would have…I don’t know exactly what I would have done, but I wouldn’t have gone another day not seeing you. “
The fact that she was still focused on missing time with me was a good sign, I hoped. “Did you tell them about me?” I asked her.
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I didn’t know what I could tell them. I wanted to, Jake. I really did, but I was afraid I was going to give something away that I shouldn’t. You know me,” she said with a weak attempt at a smile. “I’m an awful liar.”
“Yeah, but you could have left out the pack stuff,” I said, hurt that she hadn’t even mentioned me.
“But that’s what you are, Jake. How am I supposed to explain us without that?” she asked. “You saved me from Laurent. And you keep saving me from Victoria. And what if they wanted to meet you? How was I supposed to explain where you were? Alice would have seen right through me.”
“I know.” She was right. I felt like a caveman trying to stake my claim on her, but as much as I wanted them to know she was mine, that they couldn’t have her, it probably would have been a disaster if she’d started talking. As far as I knew, they didn’t know about us, the new pack. They knew about our ancestors, but they didn’t know that we, the wolves, were back.
“I don’t know how to explain it, Jacob,” she said. “I wanted to tell them, but I didn’t want to cause any more problems. And you’re my best friend. I’m happy around you. I can be myself around you, and when I’m with you, I don’t have to keep all these crazy secrets. You’re my…you’re my everything.”
I grabbed her hand and tugged her back into my lap. She shouldn’t have had to explain herself. I was the one who’d done everything wrong here. But here she was, trying to make me feel better. If it was possible, I loved her even more for it.
“I’m an idiot,” I said. “I keep screwing everything up.”
She pulled back a little, placing her hands on my face and making me look her in the eye. What I saw there was nothing that I’d expected.
“I think this is normal, Jake,” she said. “We’re normal, but everything around us isn’t. We should be worrying about….I don’t know…prom and stuff like that, and instead we’re stuck with secrets and treaties and things right out of a horror movie.”
“So you’re not mad at me?” I asked.
“Of course I’m mad at you,” she said with a little smile. “But I’ll get over it. And I love you.”
I felt like I’d dodged a bullet. Sure, I was the one that pulled the trigger, but getting out of this pretty much unscathed was not what I’d expected. I should have, though. Bella was good and forgiving, and I knew she loved me. Now I really understood just how much. I leaned forward and kissed her, unwilling to pull away again even after the kiss was over.
“Bells?” Charlie yelled up the stairs.
“He has the worst timing,” I said.
“Upstairs, Dad!” she yelled back.
“Thought you had to work?” he asked.
She jumped up, and this time I wasn’t fast enough to catch her. I could have been, and I should have been, but I was too caught up in everything that had just happened to react like I normally would have. She tumbled off the bed and looked back up to glare at me when I couldn’t hold in a chuckle. But her expression smoothed quickly, and I leaned back, resting my head on my hands as I watched her scramble around trying to get ready.
She grabbed some clothes and ran out into the hallway, apparently running right into her dad. I heard her say something about running late, and almost went downstairs to wait for her. But I had something else that needed to be taken care of first, something for her, and it couldn’t wait.
So I grabbed a half-written-on sheet of paper off her desk, tore off a piece of it, and scribbled a quick note before hopping out the window and bolting back to La Push.