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AN: this is an alternate universe. He has to be 16 to not break any sex laws in Washington State and she has to be 21 to be in a bar legally. But wolves still exist so it's not AH.
Three thousand one hundred and sixty eight miles. Literally from one side of the country to the other. From Jacksonville, Florida to Forks, Washington. It would be so much quicker to fly but she has worked a lot of poorly paid jobs and scraped up every cent she had to buy this crappy second hand car and she is damned if she will leave it behind and get on a plane. The car was her independence and she isn't losing it or selling it. They are in this trip together. She and the car.
It should take forty eight hours if she didn't stop at all, but hey, she is going to allow a week. Or maybe longer if she sees a sight worth stopping at. She just told her dad that he will see her when she gets there.
The problem is that there kind of isn't anything she wants to do. She does look at a few touristy things but tourists always seem to come in pairs or families, and she is neither and the fact that she is neither still hurts. She reads her favourite books in her motel room at night and a couple of times she slept in her car when she couldn't get a room. Her father would have a fit if he heard about that.
The drive allows her to think. She has moved out of the total zombie stage she went through for probably too long. Long enough to fail all her college classes when she couldn't seem to care enough to even get out of bed and go to final exams, let alone study for them. Her once faultless GPA cracked into little pieces.
What does she have to think about?
Kenneth Washington. He has an adorable southern drawl and abs to die for and a head of permanently tousled blond hair. And she loves him. He is smart and he plays lead guitar in a band. They had been together for years and they were the kind of couple that everyone pointed to as the example of the perfect couple.
So, she had to think about where she went wrong. How could he have been cheating on her for so long and she had never noticed? She wasn't an idiot, but she felt like one now.
And he did it with Cassie Richardson. Her best friend.
Doing it with her best friend is bad enough. (And she has always thought they got on so well.) But worse, two other friends had to tell her about it; neither her boyfriend nor her alleged best friend had the guts to be honest with her. And worse still, as she sat there and had her still beating heart ripped out of her chest in a bleeding mass, she had to thank the friends for telling her.
Thank them! For destroying her life! For a second she has the strongest impulse to hurt them. But a tiny part of her know they are telling her the truth. Not only have those two betrayed her, but they have done it in front of her friends. They have polarised her group of friends into two groups; one who thinks she doesn't know and the other who thinks she does know and is okay about it.
What do her friends think of her? Do they really think she would put up with that?
Yes. They do. Well, at least half of them do. She feels ashamed and she doesn't know why.
And when they do have the awful, horrible screaming argument that Kenneth has so hoped to avoid, all he is worried about is Cassie. It is abundantly clear to her that he cares more for Cassie now than he has ever done for her.
So that explains the zombie phase and the plummeting grades.
She is now officially a college dropout. Her father Charlie is so proud. Not. Her mother is more fatalistic as she always is about life.
Oddly, because Charlie insists that she phone him every night so that he knows she hasn't been kidnapped by the hook man or whatever serial killer is on the police bulletin board this month, they are talking more than they ever used to. Charlie tells her all about his new girlfriend, Sue Clearwater. Her husband, Harry, had been one of his best friends until a couple of years ago when he had died of a heart attack. He and Sue had spent so much time together after the funeral that they had started dating.
It is funny to hear her father talk about dating, but he sounds really happy. As far as she knows, he hasn't done much dating at all since her mother has left. She wonders if he has held a flame for this woman for a while.
She is glad for him and she tells him honestly, that she can't wait to meet Sue.
But it scratches at her. The realization that he is happy and she is heartbroken. She has just crossed the state line into Washington and she makes the rational decision to get blind drunk and drown her sorrows.
State road 904 ran right through Four Lakes, Washington. Population five hundred and twelve people. Jeez, it was even smaller than Forks. She supposes that she had better get used to small towns. The small community has its own post office, water district, and volunteer fire department or so the sign says. Not a lot of businesses, but it does have a convenience store, a hair salon and a tavern. Bingo.
She pulls over and parks in the area of cleared gravel that served as the tavern parking lot.
She has to show her ID to the bartender before he would pour her a vitamin R. Rainer beer. Her father's favourite. She doesn't drink beer often, it made her gassy, but in a small town like this they don't have a big range of more exotic drinks. The glasses are cold and the beer is fresh. The first one goes down quickly.
The second is placed on the bar in front of her before she orders it.
The barman jigs his head to a man sitting at the end of the bar to tell her who is paying. He sits sideways on his stool and leans his back against the wall. He is watching her, but not in a creepy way.
She lifts the glass to him in a salute and he smiles at her.
He has a beautiful smile; it lights up his face.
She gives him a definite second look. He is Native American. That's not unusual around these parts. His hair is long, maybe shoulder length and tied back in a scrappy ponytail. Some bits of hair that are too short to fit in the tie hang around his face.
He brushes them back with a palm and gives her a second look as well.
She smiles at him and they simultaneously pick up their drinks and move to meet halfway.
"Hi," he says. His voice, is deep and husky.
He is extremely tall.
"My name is -"
She cuts him off by putting her hand over his mouth. "No names," she hisses at him.
His skin feels incredibly warm. He blinks at her.
"Okay," he says when she lets him speak.
"Are you a local?" she asks him. "See, that's a safe question. No names."
"No. I just work on a farm nearby. You?"
"I am finding myself." She doesn't know why she told him that.
He raises an eyebrow. "Why? You don't look lost."
"I am reinventing myself." She almost sounds like her mother. Ugh.
"So you don't have a new name, yet."
"I agree that I shouldn't tell you my name - it wouldn't be fair."
They order more drinks, they chat, still without names and she realizes that she really likes him; like likes him. "I don't need any more beer," she says. She gives an odd little shiver as her body starts to react to her thinking of other things she does need.
"What do you need?" he asks as he leans closer to her across the scratched and grimy bar table. He looks eager and a little dangerous, as if he somehow knows what she is thinking. Maybe they are on the same wavelength.
The beer makes her brave. "You," she whispers to him.
"Nice," he breathes at her, low and soft. "That sounds like a great idea."
They finish their drinks in one gulp, stand, and leave the bar together.
"Can I drive?" he asks her.
"Good idea. I have had a bit to drink but you seem pretty sober."
"Larger body mass," he replies.
Sitting in the passenger seat of her own car, she suddenly feels nervous. This is rash and impulsive. It has been years since she had even flirted with anyone let alone gone home with them. She twists her hands together. She isn't looking where they are going. Her father would grouse at her for not noticing landmarks. She fidgets in her seat.
"We don't have to," he says.
"I-I want to try… it's just-" She stops.
He glances at her, and then when she doesn't speak, he says, "Tell me."
"Cheating ex. It has kind of dented my self-esteem."
"He was a fool."
He smiles at her and it lights his whole face up again. She remembers why she is doing this.
They pull up at a small house off the main drive to a larger building.
""Do you have housemates?" she asks nervously.
"Wouldn't have brought you here if I did."
"So that's a no?"
"Yes, it's a no." He chuckles. "Just me," he adds.
Inside she gets nervous again. She places her bag down on the kitchen table and then picks it up again and holds onto it as if she is going to take it and run.
He notices. "Did you want a drink?"
"Ah… I don't know." She almost flaps her hands. "I'm sorry. I'm so nervous."
"It's okay… stop worrying," he croons at her. He reaches out and takes the bag from her and then he holds her hands in his. She notices how warm he is again; it might be her nerves making her hands cold. She takes a shaky breath. He brushes very gently over the backs of her hands with his fingers.
He takes a step in closer to her. He is so tall that her face is level with his shoulder. She can smell him now; he smells smoky and musky from the bar.
His hands lift to her shoulders and he helps her out of her jacket. He hangs it on the back of the kitchen chair.
Her heart is beating so fast.
"You're staying, even if we don't do anything. I can sleep on the sofa if you want me to."
"I didn't book a motel. I have nowhere else to go." She looks up at him.
"So that's settled, then." He cradles her face; his eyes gaze down into hers. They look dark and faintly amused. "I'd prefer you to stay because you want to." His lips brush over hers. "And I'd prefer not to sleep on the sofa."
He kisses her again. She opens her mouth and closes her eyes, and she kisses him back.
"I don't want you to sleep on the sofa," she confesses.
His hands keep touching her; brushing across her flesh, tracing down her arms and he gently squeezes her hand. He takes a step backwards, and still holding her hand, he tugs her after him.
"Condoms," she says. "I haven't got any."
"I've got them. A variety pack. You wanna play lucky dip?"
He has the best tongue, the best fingers and lord save her, the best body she has ever seen up close. It must be all the farm work, although she has a vague idea that farm work these days is mostly done using machinery. He has muscles she is sure that she has never seen on a man before.
And observe them she does. At least when she can keep her eyes open. She comes twice before he even dips into the condom box. The first pick is a fluorescent yellow. She snorts at the sight and then panics that he might be offended, but he laughed with her and makes a joke about yellow dicks and eating too much macaroni and cheese.
She is lying flat on her back with her head off the edge of the mattress. It keeps her throat straight and she needs it because he is all the way down. Her hands hold him there; her fingers press into his ass and pull him towards her. She is dripping wet. His tongue strokes her clitoris. His very long fingers pump inside her and then the fingers of his other hand press against her ass and she loses it. Her legs tremble and she moans around his cock.
They take a break and go to the bathroom for clean-up and to the kitchen for food.
They talk and laugh as they eat, and sure in the knowledge that she will never see him again, she tells him all about her horrible breakup. She tells him how she had a semi- breakdown and how she is running away. She doesn't tell him where she is running to.
"I'm such a coward," she says.
"Some have been thought brave because they were afraid to run away," he says.
"Is that a quote? It sounded like one."
"Yeah. Thomas Fuller I think. The same guy who said that the darkest hour is always just before the dawn. It's something my mother often says."
"I suppose it means that running is smart sometimes."
"Exactly. You're not running away, you're finding yourself. You told me that."
"I couldn't stay there and see them together."
"Yeah… that's hard to watch."
He carries her back to the bed. The next condom was chocolate flavoured. She says she has to taste it to find out. Kissing her, he swears he can taste it, too.
She rides him at her own pace as he lies under her and watches her. She is covered in sweat, her hair is a tangled mess; her mouth hangs open, her eyes are closed. "That is sooo good," she mutters. She rides him until her leg muscle spasms.
"I'll do it. Hold still," he says.
He holds her face firmly in his hands. Stares at her intently and starts to lift his hips. All those muscles are put to good use as he fucks up into her. She almost screams as she orgasms. He holds her still for a few more pumping movements before he lets her fall. She collapses on his chest.
He moves her carefully over onto her side. She is worn out and ready for sleep. He slips out of bed and pads off to do something. She watches him leave but is asleep before he gets back.
When she opens her eyes again. It is morning. He is gone.
He probably had an early start on the farm and it does allow her to avoid the embarrassing morning after discussion. She feels really good. Sleeping with someone again felt wonderful even though she aches in places.
She finds the coffee made and helps herself to some toast and honey for breakfast. She resists the urge to search the house to find his name, address, or phone number. This is a quick hook-up; that is all. She doesn't need to complicate her life. But, wow it is tempting. He is actually in the same State, but then she remembers that he wasn't a local. Gosh knows where he comes from.
She sighs. She has never laughed so much in bed with someone. And never had such good sex. But it is the last leg of her journey. She has places to be. She stands in the doorway, nibbling her toast and stares at the rumpled bed for a long time before she remakes it. She decides that washing the sheets might be overstepping the boundaries. She catches herself inhaling the pillow.
He hasn't left a note; at least, not one that she could find and she doesn't even know his name.
She scrawls 'thanks' on the back of a diner receipt. There isn't much room to write anything else even if she knew what to say. 'Almost done running' she adds with a smiley face and then she feels like an idiot and wants to scrawl it out, but she doesn't have another docket to use.
She places it on the pillow.
A quick call to her father to tell him she is close and then she starts on the final part of her trip. After four hours driving, she aches everywhere and ended up stopping in Tacoma. She texts Charlie. She took a really long hot shower, allowed herself a small cry crouched in the bottom of the shower and then some hours of blissful sleep.
Sitting, driving, she kept having flashbacks. She'd be moving along, her mind would wander and the next minute her face would flush and she would be rubbing her thighs together.
Too close now to put it off, she felt nervous about seeing her father.
The key is under the doormat as previously arranged. The house has the air of an unoccupied place. There isn't enough food in the cupboards. She starts to suspect that he barely lives here. Sue must be a more serious girlfriend than Charlie has let on.
She teases him later about it.
"How did you know?"
"There's no food. Even for a guy who lives at the diner."
"Maybe you should be a detective."
She laughs. "When do I meet her?"
"Soon! We'll have a day or so together first."
She appreciates that. Her father hasn't been hers for a very long time. "Ooh. A whole day?" she teases.
"Watch it, kiddo. Or I will line you up a job."
"Crap. I do need one, too. Thanks for reminding me." She pats his hand. "I'm not so sure about your contacts, though."
"I'm the chief of police. I know everyone."
He has redecorated her room. The walls are now painted pale lavender, and the bed is covered in a new set of bedding in a deep purple colour. "It's nice," she tells him when she notices his nervous look. "I love it."
He lasts a day before he takes her out to meet Sue. She has never seen him so excited but the meal was a little awkward. She just didn't know what to talk about. Sue has a daughter, Leah, who looks about her age.
She likes her immediately; Leah is confident and outspoken and utterly beautiful. She is all the things Bella doesn't think she is.
Over the weeks, she starts to spend more time out there with Leah. They become friends. They talk and watch TV one night while drinking a beer or two. Sue and Charlie snuck off like teenagers, hours ago.
She and Leah have a bit in common. Leah has just finished telling her how she had lost her fiancé to her cousin, who used to be her friend.
"Jeez. Must be the season for it," she says, thinking of her bar guy and his comment that it was hard to watch that happen. "Me too," she adds in the spirit of sharing. "She wasn't my cousin, but she was my best friend."
"Men are dicks," Leah adds.
"Maybe not all of them," she says.
"Sure." Leah sounds sarcastic.
Bella decides to change the subject before she says anything she shouldn't. "I'm too tired to drive home and I don't think Dad is resurfacing."
"I hate sleeping on sofas."
"Don't have to, Seth's bed is available."
"My little brother. He's away."
Bella has an image of him being about twelve. "Okay." She yawns.
"Stay here. I insist."
Maybe it is thinking of the bar guy, but she has the strangest dream. She dreams that he is with her. That his hands are on her face and those eyes are looking into hers again. She wants to kiss him and when she does she realises that it is not a dream.
"Shit! You can't be here," she whisper screeches at him. She is panicking.
"Why not?" He looks oddly composed. He wriggles seductively on top of her, his elbows supporting his weight.
"My father will see you and shoot you! You're trespassing!"
"I am?" He kisses her neck.
She pushes at him. "This isn't your house. Did you climb in the window? And how did you even find me?"
"Door wasn't locked and it wasn't hard-"
"No. You have to leave."
There is a knock at the door. "Bells? You okay? I can hear voices."
"Dad?" says the bar guy. "Oh, fuck." He flips off her but still lays on the bed next to her. She pulls the sheets up to her chin.
The door lock clicks, slowly opens and Charlie stands in the doorway with his firearm lowered.
"See! Shoot you," Bella hisses.
"Seth?" Charlie asks. "You're back early."
"Yeah. Look what I found in my bed."
"Oh…I should introduce you, Seth, Bella, Bella Seth," Charlie says waving between them with his gun.
"Jeez, Dad, point that thing somewhere else."
"The safety's on."
"Seth?" Bella screeches. "Your bed? B-but y-you're twelve."
"What the fuck is g- oh, hey, Seth," Leah says as she peers around Charlie.
Bella looks totally confused.
"Guys, can I just have ten minutes?" Seth asks. "We'll be out to explain in a minute."
Charlie frowns at Bella but goes. "Five minutes," he mutters as if he knows something is wrong but can't work out what it is.
Seth stands and closes the door and leans his back against it.
She looks at him in disbelief. He has no shirt on. It isn't fair.
"Y-you-" She has nothing.
"I thought I would never see you again."
"How old are you?" she ignores his statement.
"And here you are… after I let you go... just waiting in my bed as if the tribal gods had placed you here for me."
"How old? Leah said you were her little brother."
He is silent.
"I met you in a bar," she argues. "A bar that I am only just able to be in legally."
"Don't I look twenty one?"
"You look twenty five but answer the question."
"Sixteen. I never get carded." He shrugs eloquently.
Of course he doesn't. Dear God. Look at him. "Oh, my God. I have broken every law in the country."
"Not quite, our parents aren't married yet."
"Oh, my God. I'm the worst kind of cradle snatcher."
"Might be - but we are still not related."
She isn't listening. "A five year gap. Five years."
"Hey now," he approaches her carefully. "Stop panicking."
"You're a child."
He looks irritated by the accusation. "I am not a child. I showed you that."
Had he ever. "It doesn't matter. You are in calendar years." She waves a hand frantically. "My father will kill me."
"He won't. He likes me."
"Not when he finds out that we …"
She stares at him. "What are we going to do?"
"Did you miss me?"
"What?" She tries to clamber out of bed, find her clothes and hold the sheet over herself.
"Yes." It is a confession. She sits down with a thump. "I kept thinking about you. I kept having flashbacks."
He kneels in front of her. "Me, too."
She has to touch him. She strokes a fingertip down his cheek. He leans into her hand.
"I'm not losing you again," he says. His hands are behind her calves. He looks earnest. "What do you want to do?"
She shakes her head. "I don't know…"
"Talk to me. We are good at that."
"I…" She huffs out a breath. "Okay…" She tries to think it all out.
He waits for her to speak, his hands rubbing gently at the back of her knees.
"So come down here."
Sit on his lap? "Oh, no. That would be way too distracting. And this close to the bed? Uh-uh. No way."
"So you feel it, then."
"Feel it? I don't know what you mean… but I need to touch you. I don't want you to be upset or hurt and I don't know why that is. All we did was fuck."
"We did more than that."
"Okay… we fucked lots of times."
"Even without names."
"Have you finished running?" he looks as if her answer will matter.
"I don't want to run from you," she confesses.
"So we will work it out."
"I'm seriously weirded out by the age difference."
"I know. It won't matter as much, when we get older."
"How do you know what I feel all the time?"
"There's something… a thing that I thought was a burden and a removal of choice - a thing that made me run as well and then let you go without a name or any way to contact you."
"I don't understand."
"But in this case, it's a solution." He lays his head in her lap and wraps his arms around her hips.
She feels so much better when he touches her. As if it will all work out somehow. She brushes over his long hair; tucking the ends in, before her hands slide down his muscled back and holds him there.
They breathe quietly together.
"Charlie's coming. You need to get dressed."
"How can you hear him?"
"That's another thing I need to tell you. I will explain, I promise."
He stands and finds her clothes for her. He helps her get dressed.
"Just a second," Bella says.
Seth uses both hands to push her hair off her face. "We can do this."
"Nothing. I am just trying it out."
He smiles at her and when Charlie opens the door they are kissing.
That is when the shouting starts, but Seth holds fast to Bella's hand the whole time.
Sue wakes up, and then she makes them all sit at the kitchen table before she clears her throat and starts to explain a few things. Seth is still holding Bella's hand and she looks at him with new eyes.
Bella and Charlie both learn a lot more about the Quileute that morning.
Seth smiles at her and now she knows where that confidence comes from. She can be utterly certain of him. He will never cheat on her with her best friend. She will never need to run away again.