Companion story for Breathe Again. Written as a side to Posts 39-54. Rachel’s having a tough time adjusting, and she’s been taking it out on Bella. One-shot.
~ So I was jealous. I could admit that. I just couldn’t admit it to her. ~
It wasn’t fair. I spent my whole life trying to be more than just one of “the girls.” Mom and Dad lumped us together so often, and while I loved Rebecca, we were more than just mirror images of each other. She made it worse by being all perfect…perfect grades, perfect boyfriend, perfect everything. And then there was Jake. He was a good kid, but he was a major pain in the ass. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, Embry practically lived with us, and together the two of them made my life hell.
They cut my hair off once while I was sleeping. I wanted to stab them to death with the scissors, but Mom made me settle for an expensive haircut at a salon in Port Angeles. Jake and Embry spent the next month earning five dollars per lawn to pay her back, but it hardly made up for what they’d done. When we were older, Embry told on me for sneaking out with my friends to meet boys. What business he had being out at three in the morning, I’ll never know, but it’s not like his mom would have cared anyway. I tried to deflect attention by ratting Jake out for everything from that stash of porn in the garage to the time I caught him in bed with a very naked, very skanky Lisa Campman. But Dad just muttered something about condoms and grounded me for a month. And then my senior year, Jake and Embry rigged my car so that it wouldn’t go faster than forty miles an hour. Try driving forty on the highway and see how many times you get flipped off. Dad made them fix it, but mostly he just thought it was funny.
When Mom died, Dad started treating Jake like he was a grown man, and Embry like he was some kind of honored guest. I got treated like a little kid who had to clean her plate and go to bed early while the guys stayed up half the night and did anything they wanted. I loved home, but I couldn’t have been happier when I finally got to move away for college.
I decided to come home for spring break, not because La Push was where the party was or anything, but because I was kind of worried about Dad. Leah and I had kept in touch for a while, at least until Sam broke up with her and she got all weird. Embry had stopped coming around for a bit, too, and every time I called, Jake was out with friends. Dad insisted they were doing fine, but I knew from Leah that they were living off the frozen food aisle and letting the laundry pile up. There wasn’t much I could do about the food situation, but I could at least check in on them and make sure they were okay.
“Umm…hi?” I replied, not making eye contact.
Since when did Jake’s friends think I wanted to talk to them? I really didn’t even want to be at the stupid bonfire, but Dad acted like it was required or something. And I guess it was nice to see some of the Makah girls. It had been a while since Maria and I had talked. Unfortunately, she was more interested in talking about my little brother than anything. Stupid Jake, always getting all the attention.
“Want some help with that?” he asked.
“No, I’ve got it,” I said, trying not to roll my eyes. I balanced my plate on top of my drink and turned my back on him, reaching to grab a napkin. Faster than I could blink, the plate slipped, and I sucked in a breath, just waiting for the chili covered hot dog to slide down the front of my shirt. But it didn’t.
A very large, very muscular arm was in front of me, a strong hand holding the plateful of food I thought I’d be wearing. I turned slowly, following the lines of muscle and vein up to the incredibly broad shoulders and chest they connected to.
“Where are you sitting?” he asked, a smug grin on his face.
He looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. He definitely wasn’t one of Jake’s friends. Even with their crazy growth spurts, none of them were half as hot as this guy. I didn’t know what to say. I certainly didn’t want to point out my friends, where I was sitting. One look at Maria, and this guy would forget I existed.
“I was going to eat inside,” I lied. “There’s bugs out here.”
“You don’t remember me, do you?” he asked.
I held up a finger, signalling him to wait a second while I tried to swallow the huge bite I’d just taken. “Should I?” I finally managed to ask. If this guy was just being nice, I didn’t want to seem too interested. And if he was interested? Well, I didn’t want to make it too easy for him.
“Paul,” I said, rolling the name around in my mind, “Paul…” Oh, shit. ”Paul? From high school?”
No way. Paul was that skinny kid who was a year behind me and about a foot shorter than me. He was a devious little shit, too, always playing mean pranks and thinking he was better than everyone else. Hell, even Jake didn’t like him. This could not be Paul. This was the cover model from a romance novel-without the stupid ponytail. Or maybe he was a professional baseball player. Or a sex god.
“Yes,” he said softly, leaning in toward me. “And you’re Rachel.”
I knew who I was. I just couldn’t believe who he was. “So…um…what are you up to now?” I asked lamely.
“That depends,” he replied. “What are you up to?”
Anything you want, I thought. “I…I just came home to see Dad…you know, check in,” I stammered.
“You’re done eating, right?” he asked.
“Yep,” I said, hoping I didn’t have food on my face. It was bad enough that he’d just sat there watching me scarf down a chili dog.
“Wanna get out of here?”
Well, if he was going to look at me like that. All I could do was nod my head.
Skinwalkers. They changed into wolves, just like in the legends. How was that even possible? Surely it had to be a joke. He had insisted, and I had slapped him. And damn, it hurt. Sure, he was huge…and really hot (in both senses of the word)…and strong…but that was the biggest load of crap I’d ever heard. I thought maybe he was saying it to impress me so he could get me into bed. But…well, we’d already gone there, and he was still making up stuff.
I got him out of the house before Dad woke up, and I immediately called Leah.
“Can you believe that?” I asked her. “Skinwalkers? Werewolves? Where do they come up with this shit?”
I was greeted by silence.
“Leah? Are you there?”
“Yeah,” she said softly.
“What? Did you fall for that line or something?” I asked.
“Listen, Rachel…we need to talk.”
So I was jealous. I could admit that. I just couldn’t admit it to her. I was leery of her at first. Jake was all head over heels for her, and according to Paul, she’d actually dated a vampire. Our enemy! And no one seemed to care. They all welcomed her and treated her like she was one of us. And she definitely wasn’t one of us. She was little and pale and quiet, and she looked like a strong wind could break her in two. What did Jake see in her?
And they were always so hell-bent on placating her. Don’t give Jake a hard time about Bella. Don’t upset Bella. Don’t do anything because Bella is more important than anybody else. It was stupid. Jake acted all sweet and in love. He went out of his way to make her happy. Sam actually hit Embry for teasing them. And Dad treated her like she was his own kid.
And the preferential treatment didn’t stop there. Jake was higher up in the pack than Paul was-and Paul had phased first! And Paul said Jake could have been Alpha if he wanted. But no, Jake had to act all humble and defer to Sam. I guess I could be happy about that, though. My little brother certainly didn’t need to be running the show.
Last night had been the worst, though. A bunch of bloodsuckers had attacked Forks, hell bent on finding Bella, and it took the whole pack to stop them. And she just had to make me look bad. I was upset. I was scared. I was worried about Paul and Jake and everyone else, so of course I cried. Who wouldn’t? Bella wouldn’t. She just sat there, all silent and strong like this was normal. I don’t know. Maybe for her it was. After all, the stupid vampires were after her anyway.
I tried to accept her. Really, I did. We’d all watched a movie together, and Bella and I had talked afterwards while the guys were outside doing wolf stuff. She really did love Jake, and I couldn’t very well hold that against her. I mean, he was definitely in love with her, and I wanted him to be happy. And when Sam acted weird about spilling any details about the vampire attack, I defended her. I did. That had to mean something, right?
But then Paul had to go and ruin everything. I tried asking him questions, things that as his imprint I had every right to know, and he just blew me off. But Bella knew. She knew they’d killed a vampire before. She knew the name of the one that they’d gone after tonight. She knew everything. All I knew was that Paul was deflecting my questions and trying to get my clothes off.
And of course, Bella just had to show me up again at breakfast. For some reason, she and Jake had both slept on the sofa, and since they were still crashed when I woke up, I took it upon myself to cook. But then Paul had bothered me and distracted me and just messed everything up so that when Bella finally got up it looked like she’d come running to my rescue.
I didn’t know why she was being so nice to me, but she was. Of course, she was ruining my chance of making a decent meal by taking away my sauce-in-a-jar option, but at least she’d offered to help. If you’d asked me a month ago if I thought I’d be in my dad’s kitchen cooking dinner with Bella Swan, I’d have laughed in your face. We didn’t have anything in common when we were little, and not much had changed. But she cared about Jake, and she obviously cared about the pack, so maybe we were kind of on even ground.
To say I was surprised when she gave me full credit for dinner would be putting it mildly. I hadn’t exactly been pleasant toward her. So I was thrilled when she pointed out how much work I’d put into cooking for everyone. I just couldn’t believe no one would even try it. It was so embarrassing! When she made Jake take a bite, a part of me hoped it was awful. But the bigger part of me was thrilled when he took another bite. And Paul and I were definitely going to be having a little talk later. It was one thing for Jake to be an ass about my cooking, but Paul should have at least been willing to try it.
What really shocked me, though, was the way Bella was when her dad was talking about the attack. Of course, he didn’t know it was an attack, but he knew something weird was going on. And Bella just kept her mouth shut. I would have thought she would give him a hint, maybe say something to lead him in the right direction. Instead, she looked as nervous as I did that he’d figured out so much, and she just played dumb with the rest of us. It would have only been natural for her to tell her dad what had really happened. I mean, he was her family. I would have told if I was in her shoes.
I had the feeling I was going to like her whether I wanted to or not. I wasn’t dead set against her or anything. I was just in a weird place. My life had changed so drastically in such a short amount of time, and it was hard to wrap my head around it. And in the middle of it all, there was this girl, this one person from outside the rez who took it all in stride and accepted all of us. I couldn’t hate her for that. If anything, I wanted to be like her. Well, not exactly like her. I didn’t want to be all pale and in love with an imbecile like Jake. I guess what I really wanted was to be someone that mattered.
So there you have it. That’s whats up with Rachel. A little concern about Jacob and a lot of jealousy.