A/N: My writer's block is thick. Like a perfectly blended milkshake. Can't even think of a title for this one, but maybe it'll come to me.
A continuation of the last chapter. Probably helpful to read that one first.
Jake drove behind Bella back to Charlie's. His eyes constantly scanned the road and trees. It was habit, even though they hadn't had any issues with vamps in years. After all of this time, he'd imprinted on Bella Swan. That made the alpha wolf in him rear up like he hadn't since first phasing. It rankled him that Paul had it bad for his imprint. The way he'd attempted to mark his territory at his house no less.
When he got out of the car in front of Charlie's house, Eli ran over to him and grabbed his hand, telling him to come into his house. Then he started listing all of his favorite movies that they could watch. The adults just grinned at each other, enjoying the young innocence.
Bella told Eli that they would watch one of his movies (a short one), and then he had to go to bed. So they enjoyed a half hour of little boy cartoons that Bella had already seen 30 or 40 times. Jake noticed that she kept glancing over at him to see if he was watching. He was a guy, of course, he liked cartoons. He hadn't heard of this one before but it was worth watching to spend time with Bella and her son.
While Bella got Eli ready for bed, Jake scrolled through the TV guide to see what movies were on TV. Naturally, Charlie had every cable channel possible and Jake mentally listed some possibilities he thought they'd enjoy together.
Eli came out and gave Jake a good night hug and asked him if he wanted to come in his room for story time. Jake glanced to Bella, who lightly nodded her head in approval and he agreed. Eli led the way upstairs and Jake realized that they were sharing what was obviously Bella's old bedroom. The preteen butterflies on the walls didn't seem like the décor a young woman would choose.
"We're doubled up for now," Bella shrugged. Under Eli's bed was a bin filled with books and Bella pulled it out so he could choose the story. Holding up a very thick book, he smiled extra wide to Bella.
"One story from that book, Eli," she told him firmly. His bottom lip puckered out and his chin fell onto his chest. Jake almost caved and promised to read a second story, but Bella gave him a look. He understood what she was saying, don't give in to the pouty face.
"One or none, big boy. What's is going to be?" She asked him.
Bella and Jake sat on either side of Eli as Bella read a story from the compilation book. Jake loved listening to Bella's voices as she read enthusiastically to the little boy. Together, they tucked him in and Bella felt a little misty-eyed that Eli was getting tucked in by a mom and dad figure.
She caught herself in the middle of that thought. She'd learned the hard way that not all men that were nice to her son could be trusted. She was terrified of Eli getting attached to someone that didn't want to stick around.
Bella and Jake sat on the couch watching a romantic comedy. Both of their heads were churning with thoughts, neither really paying much attention to the movie. When they finally noticed the credits rolling, Jacob stood telling Bella that he needed to get home. He didn't want to leave his dad unattended too long or he'd drink too much.
Standing in the front doorway, she watched him leave. When she could no longer see his taillights, she closed the door. After she finished cleaning up the few things in the family room, she started to head upstairs. There was a knock at the front door. She debated answering it since it was a little late and she wasn't expecting anyone. Though, she thought it might have been Jake.
Peering through the peep hole, she saw Paul on the other side.
"Hey," she smiled when she opened the door. He gave her a wicked smile back. "What's going on?"
"I wanted to apologize for how I acted at the party. I'm sorry for being a douche. Jake said something that got to me."
"What'd he say?" she asked, wondering what the other man had said to rile him.
"Nothing you need to worry about, beautiful."
"Do you want to come in?" she offered.
"No, I can't stay."
She stepped out onto the porch. It was then that she noticed how tall and huge he was. It made her feel tiny next to him. He stood in front of her and grabbed the fingers of one hand. The burning heat of his skin surprised her, so she commented on it. He jerked his hand back.
"Did you and Jake have a nice movie night?" he asked, bordering on sarcasm.
"We just watched a movie. It was nice," she shrugged.
Paul stepped the last half step into her personal space. He placed his large hands on either side of her face. Without hesitating, he leaned down and kissed her. He tried to deepen the kiss but when he opened his eyes, he saw that she was staring at him.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
Bella stepped back and wiped her mouth discreetly with her fingers. Clearing her throat, she took a minute to collect her thoughts.
"Um, Paul. I, uh, I am a single mother. It's not just me I need to think about, I have Eli to think about too."
"I know. He's an awesome kid. I'd like to get to know both of you better."
"I'm not sure I'm ready for a relationship yet," she admitted. She was reeling from the kiss. It felt wrong, like kissing a cousin or something. It was strange because she'd done her fair share of kissing in high school and he was a great looking guy. Never before had she felt that way after kissing a guy.
"All right. Well, I better go," he spoke softly. He reached out and gently tapped her arm, before jumping down the steps.
Bella walked back into the house, shaking off the kiss and finished getting ready to head up to bed. She replayed it over and over in her head as she put her nightgown on and climbed into her childhood bed. She'd been so lost in thought while Jake was there and then the weird kiss with Paul. What was it that Jacob had said to him to make him act in such a way at the party? Why was kissing Paul so odd? What made her feel incredibly comfortable with Jacob and Eli?
The thoughts ran through her head like a broken record all night. Unfortunately, she felt it in the morning. She trudged down the stairs, mostly asleep, but looking forward to a cup of coffee. She startled when she realized she wasn't alone in the kitchen.
"Morning," Jake mused at her reaction. He hid his smile as she crossed her arms tightly over her chest, the cool air giving evidence to her state of near undress.
"I didn't expect you here this morning," she said, as she went to the coffee maker. Thankfully, he'd already brewed it, so all she had to do was pour a mug. She stirred in some creamer and sugar, before turning around, firmly holding her arms over her breasts.
"Charlie had a lot of fun last night. I didn't want you to worry about him when he wasn't here this morning. He'll probably be sleeping on the couch until noon," Jacob chuckled lightly as he remembered his father's best friend the night before. When Jake returned, the old men decided to sing some old country songs-badly.
"Oh, that's okay. I wouldn't have worried. He's a big boy," Bella lifted one shoulder. "I'm going to go check on Eli. I'll be back in a few. Will you still be here?"
"If you want me here, I'll stay," he answered.
"Please, stay. I can make you breakfast for coming to check on us."
With that, Bella rushed up the stairs and started searching for something to wear. When she went in the bathroom to brush her teeth, she glanced in the mirror and practically shrieked. Quickly, she scrubbed her face and ran the brush through her tangled hair. What a sight she was! How embarrassing that Jake had seen her looking that way! He looked like he'd just come back from working out.
After looking herself over to make sure she didn't look too made up, she went back into her room to check on Eli. He was still snoozing, so Bella decided to let him be.
When Bella came back in the kitchen, Jake's eyes followed her every step. The tight black jogging pants she was wearing hugged her legs and butt perfectly. She had on a tank top that covered everything, but fit in an alluring way. He and the wolf both loved it.
"Hellloooo? Anybody in there?" Bella waved her hand in front of Jacob's face.
"Sorry, I was lost in thought. What'd you ask?"
"I wanted to know if you'd rather have bacon or sausage with your eggs."
"Both. I'd like both with my eggs. How many eggs are you going to make? I usually eat a lot."
"Yea, what's up with that? I noticed you had two plates at dinner last night and so did a bunch of other guys. I really thought Leah was kidding when she said you guys were a bunch of pigs."
Jake bellowed out a laugh. "I work out a lot. I need the extra calories. Can I do anything to help?"
"No, I've got it under control. How many eggs will you eat then? Four or 5?"
"How about you make the whole dozen? I'll bring you some eggs later from the res. Emily and Sam have a bunch of chickens. They have more eggs than they can stand right now."
"Jake! You're still here!" A happy Eli trilled from the living room. He went over to Jacob and gave him a hug, and then walked over to give Bella a hug. Her hands were gross from the eggs, so she told him to go sit down while she got breakfast made.
Eli turned around and climbed up on Jacob's lap. He started talking to him about everything he could think of. Bella was surprised when she turned around with a plate of food to find Eli there, so comfortably, but she was happy too.
"All right, Eli, let Jake have space to eat his breakfast."
Eli hopped down and sat in the chair next to Jacob, drinking the cup of juice Bella had placed in front of him. They ate in a comfortable silence, each eating their fill. Bella watching suspiciously as Jake finished off every bite of the food she'd cooked. She couldn't decide if she was impressed or disgusted by how much food he ate.
"What do you guys have planned today?" Jake asked.
"Not much. Why? What's up?" Bella asked as she stood with the dirty plates in her hand.
"There's this beautiful place on the reservation I wanted to take you guys today."
"Sure. Sounds like fun," Bella smiled and rinsed the dishes off.
Later that afternoon, Bella and Jacob watched as Eli ran through the forest, pointing to everything. He was used to Florida's flora and fauna, so he was surprised to find everything so green. Bella kept her eyes on her son, trying not to be terrified that he would fall and get hurt. Of course, she tripped on a root and fell. Jake carefully picked her up and settled her on his bent knee, as he assessed her ankle.
"Are you okay?" He asked her as his fingers smoothed over her skin.
"It hurts a little, but I think I'll manage. We should probably head back toward your car though."
"Good idea," Jacob agreed. "Come on, Eli. We've got to get Mommy back to the car."
Suddenly, there were several eerie howls in the forest. Bella's eyes darted around, looking for the animals. Goosebumps rose on her skin, and she told Eli to come hold her hand.
"Can you go any faster?" Jake asked her as his eyes danced around the trees.
"Okay, hop on my back. I'll give you a ride back to the car."
Jacob squatted down so that Bella could climb on his back. Then he scooped up Eli and started walking briskly back to his car. He opened the car door and helped Bella in as quickly as he could. Running around, he got in the driver's side and started the car. The howl was closer now as Jake spun the car around and drove away.
"That was creepy," Eli stated.