Jacob straitened and stretched. "Ugh," he groaned. "I need to get away from this for a minuet. Every time I think I've fixed something, I find three more things wrong. And now I'm filthy, too." Jacob pushed away from the Chevy's hood and wiped at some oil on his upper arm to demonstrate his point. When he looked to me again, he said, "Let's go to the beach."
"My dad hasn't said I could leave your back yard yet," I reminded as I set my book aside.
Jacob shrugged. "So don't tell him," he said dismissively. My eyes widened at my young friend's willingness to disobey our parents and go behind their backs. "Come on, this is the first time the rain has let up this summer." Jacob pressed. "Everyone will be out there, and we haven't stopped working on the truck in two weeks."
"I've hardly touched the truck," I pointed out. "You've done all the work."
"You're in the garage as much as I am," Jacob told me. "You deserve a break just as much as I do." He took my hand and pulled me off my butt. "Let's see if Rachel can take us. I'm sure she's got some friends at the beach who she can hang out with."
I followed Jacob into the house as he yelled for his sister.
"What do you want, numskull?" Rachel asked as she came out of the bathroom. When I saw her, I was reminded of Alice. Rachel was only an inch taller than me, but she was much more developed, and she was very graceful. Her long hair was wrapped in a towel, she wore only short shorts and a revealing tank top, her toes and fingers were freshly painted, and she wore a green mask over her face. When she came closer, I found that she still smelled like her bubble bath. Alice looked just like that whenever she tried to have girl time with me. However, love of self pampering was the only similarity between Rachel and Alice. While I thought of Alice as a fairy, I thought of Rachel as a beautiful troll. Rachel talked about bodily functions more often and in greater detail than Jacob, Quil and Embry combined. She had no table manors, she told crude jokes, and she was the rudest person I had ever met. Still, she was a nice girl, and most people who met her liked her.
"Can you take us to the beach?"
Rachel laughed. "You trying to break Bella out of jail?" she asked. She threw her arm over my shoulder and ruffled my hair.
"Stop it!" I cried. When I moved away from her, I tried to straiten my hair and untangle a few knots that had been formed by her hand.
"You'll take us though, wont you?" Jacob pressed.
"Sure," Rachel said with a shrug. "But if Dad asks, you have to tell him that you lied to me and said that Charlie knew you were going."
"Right," Jacob agreed.
"Can I borrow one of your swim suits?" I asked Rachel.
Rachel began to laugh. Jacob and I met eyes. When he looked back to his sister, he raised an eyebrow in question.
"Bella," Rachel finally said as her laughter died, "You have to grow bigger tits before you can wear one of my swim suits."
My eyes widened, my face grew hot, and I shoved Rachel, and then Jacob as he began to laugh with his sister.
"You can wear one of my shirts," Jacob told me. "I'm sure you could fill that-"
"Jacob Black!" I hollered. This time, when I pushed him, I made sure to put enough force into the shove that he actually stumbled a bit.
Rachel found her friends almost immediately. Three girls were sunbathing close to the water. They were turned onto their stomachs, and they flipped through popular magazines while making plans to drive to Port Angeles the next weekend, when the weather was supposed to be bad again. Rachel threw her towel down next to the pretty Quileute girls and joined their conversation without so much as a hello. Jacob kicked sand onto his sister's towel as he sat on the beach next to her. When I sat down, I sat my back to Jacob's so we could lean against each other.
The Quileutes talked about school and their friends. I recognized most of the names, and I enjoyed hearing about what everyone had been doing over the school year. Jacob put in his two cents every now and again, and he finally caught the older girl's attention.
"What grade are you going into, Jacob?" one of Rachel's friends asked.
"Eighth," he answered simply.
"What?! You're still a baby! How did you manage to score with Bella?"
"He hasn't scored with anyone," Rachel told her friend. "Bella only hangs out with him because she can't handle my sister and I, and she feels sorry for Jacob."
I rolled my eyes and wondered how Rachel could manage to fit so many insults into one sentence.
"Actually," Jacob said behind me, "Bella always chose to hang out with me because you bullied her and made fun of her when you played games. I remember when you put a spider in her hair once."
I laughed when I remembered that morning. I was in forth grade at the time, and I had only been playing with the twins because I was mad at Jake. The spider horrified me, and even though Jake and I were mad at each other, he still got really upset when I started crying. Billy ended up giving the two of us ice cream to calm us down.
"We haven't bullied Bella in years," Rachel told Jacob snidely, and she turned her nose up at him.
"You told me I had small tits this morning," I pointed out.
The girls laughed, and Jacob snorted behind me.
"Well you do have small tits," Rachel grumbled. When Jacob continued to laugh, Rachel reached over and pushed him into the sand. Without Jacob's back supporting mine, I fell back over his legs.
"You two go cause problems somewhere else," Rachel demanded. She smacked her little brother with a magazine she had stolen from one of the other girls when he didn't move fast enough.
Jacob stood and stuck his tongue out at his sister as he helped pull me out of the sand. I waved good-bye Rachel's friends as Jacob and I started walking down the beach.
"Okay," Jacob said, "Truth or Triple Truth?"
"What?" I asked. "What about Dare?"
"You can't get in trouble," Jacob reminded me. "Neither of our parents said you could leave the house."
"Oh. Right. Truth, then," I told him.
"Okay," he said, and he bit his lip in contemplation. "How much do you really like the Cullens?"
I rolled my eyes. "The Cullens are great, Jacob. You know that! They take care of me and-"
Jacob rolled his eyes as well. "Are you honestly comfortable with them, though? I mean, even though you know they drink blood and everything?"
I blinked. I thought specifically of the morning after my false date with Daniel, when the reminder of Edward's abilities kept surprising me. "I guess not," I answered grudgingly. "I mean, I do get really, really comfortable with them. I get so comfortable that sometimes I forget they're vampires, you know?"
"I… What?" Jacob asked, a small crease appearing between his eyes. "No, I don't know."
"I love them," I said plainly. "When my dad first said I couldn't come to La Push anymore, I was so upset. But Alice, she knew I was upset, and she was just automatically there for me every moment I needed her. Then Edward and Emmett started helping her distract me, and I grew closer to Esme and Carlisle… I started spending a lot of time with them at their house, and they were kind of like a replacement for you, and your father, and the reservation. I found myself thinking of the Cullens as family, and I suddenly started just… forgetting that they were vampires. But they kept reminding me. Like, they would demonstrate their super speed, or Edward would say something about somebody's thoughts, or Alice would comment about the future, and I would be startled. It was like… I stopped remembering that they're more that I am. And when they display that they are more than me and I'm not expecting it, I get uncomfortable."
Jacob was silent as he continued to walk next to me. He frowned, and the crease between his eyes deepened as his eyebrows grew closer together. I wondered if he had even been listening to my entire little speech, or if he had been distracted by something and hadn't bothered to interrupt me while I tried to explain how I felt with the Cullens.
Finally, I said, "Truth or Triple Truth?"
"Truth," he said automatically. He was pulled from his thoughts and he looked towards me.
"Okay," I said lightly. "Who's Susan Chitto?"
Jacob blushed. "She's a sophomore."
My eyebrows rose. She was even older than me. "And?" I pressed.
"Well," Jacob lightly stuttered, "You know the middle school and high school combine their dances, for budget, you know-"
"Susan Chitto," I reminded. I knew perfectly well that the middle school and high school dances were combined, and Jacob only mentioned it because he was trying to stall.
"Well, I was dancing with my sister's group of friends, and she was with them. At one point, it was just me and her because everyone else was either distracted by food or the games. There was this really cool picture booth, too, so everyone was-"
"Susan Chitto," I reminded, unwilling to tolerate Jacob's stall tactics.
"She came out of nowhere!" Jacob declared. The red flush on his cheeks began to spread down his neck as he continued to talk. "I mean, we were just dancing, and then we weren't in the gymnasium at all, and she had me cornered. She tried to kiss me, but I didn't… I mean, it didn't happen." Jacob's hair fell from its place behind his ear, and he let it hang in front of his face. I couldn't see his eyes, but his head was tilted towards the ground. I wondered if he was embarrassed or ashamed. Then, I wondered why he would ever feel ashamed. I decided that he was embarrassed. He had to be embarrassed. He couldn't be ashamed that a girl had come onto him, after all.
Jacob suddenly straitened. He pushed his hair back behind his ear, and when I saw his face, I couldn't find any trace of what he was previously feeling. "Truth or Triple Truth?" Jacob challenged.
Jacob stopped walking. Startled, I stopped with him. I watched his face for a moment as he gathered his thoughts, then I looked around. I realized we had reached the edge of the beach and cliffs. We stood under the cliff's shadow, so there were no sun bathers anywhere near us. And there was no one on top of the cliff, because people only went up there at night, for the bonfires.
When I looked back to Jacob, he was chewing his lip.
"What?" I asked.
"What did you mean?" he asked. "You said the Cullens were a replacement…" He tapered off, as if unsure. It took me a moment to realize he was referencing my last truth, when he asked me about the Cullens.
"Well," I said slowly, "Just that. I was really upset about not coming out here, and they distracted me from myself. I mean… for a couple of weeks, I really didn't know what to do with myself." I laughed at the memory. "And at that time, nothing had even changed, you know? I was still going to school, like I always did, and I saw all the same people, like I always did, and I still talked to you on the phone all the time. And really, nothing was going to change until the summer, but I was already freaking out about what I was going to do."
But Jacob shook his head. "You said they were replacements…"
I laughed outright at this. "Yeah right! Like anyone could ever really replace you! I'm great friends with them, and I love the Cullens, but I only got to be such great friends with them because they were distractions. They were your replacements, but they were only temporary replacements. They just… I… I hung out with them because I couldn't hang out with you. And by then, I had already spoken to Billy, and he promised that I would come back this summer, so I was just waiting for the time to pass. That's the only reason I didn't freak out more, Jacob. If your father hadn't already promised that I would still come out for the summer… And – And you know what?! When I told the Cullens that Charley didn't want me coming out here, Carlisle almost called Charlie to offer me a place at their house for the summer. If Charlie knew that was an option, I never would have gotten back out here! He would have taken them up on their offer in a heart beat-"
Jacob stepped forward and wrapped his arms around me. The hug effectively silenced me, and I leaned against him. He had grown another couple inches since I'd last seen him, and my jaw rested against his shoulder. When I put my arms around him, my hands rested in his hair, against his back.
"I'm glad they're only a distraction," Jacob said quietly. I almost pulled away to remind him that yes, the Cullens had been a distraction, but that wasn't all they were. They were much more to me. However, I think Jacob understood this to some extent, and I didn't want to ruin his momentary relief. So instead of moving away, I moved my hands and cheek so that I was more comfortable to stay in the hug for a while longer.
Annoying Note: Ta-da! It's another chapter. Hope you liked it. Review and tell me what you think about it.