"I'm telling you dude, it's not going to fucking fit."
"Of course it will, you just have to jam it in harder!"
"Just like that…okay, do it again."
Bella followed the grunting and cussing around to the front of the unfamiliar brown truck. Though old, it was still a distant, more evolved relative of her own vehicle. Two huge bodies fought for space in the narrow gap beneath the raised hood.
"Shit, its dripping."
"That's perfectly normal, keep going…"
Supernatural senses aside, the pair seemed oblivious to her presence. "Am I interrupting something?" Bella teased, dropping her backpack loudly. Two heads simultaneously shot up and slammed into to the hood. In perfect unison, two voices began swearing. For the first time in a while, Bella felt laughter bubbling up in her chest. Nothing like watching else being clumsy for once…
Quil and Embry finally emerged from the shaded eves beneath the garage, each rubbing a rapidly healing goose egg.
"Bella," Quil said. "It's been too long – I knew you couldn't stay away." He had the balls to shoot her a none to subtle wink.
"From the sound of it, you two have been keeping yourselves plenty occupied in my absence," she shot back. "Did he jam it in hard enough for you there, Quil?"
Emby cuffed his friend on the shoulder to keep from falling over, laughing.
Quil remained unfazed. "Hey, I take what I can get," he muttered, shrugging Embry off. "I'm up for round two, if you're willing…"
"Not a chance. I'm actually just looking for Jake, I promised to help him edit that history paper. Is he floating around here somewhere?"
"Yeah, he's in the house cleaning up after Quil had his manly way with him earlier," Embry managed to gasp, still slumped against the truck and wiping the tears from his eyes. "You missed quite a show."
"Apparently," Bella agreed, scrambling out of range as Quil lunged, taking a good natured swipe at his friend. The swing was answered by another, and a scuffle ensued. Bella grabbed her bag and tried to beat a hasty retreat towards the house, not wanting to be present when the boys starting destroying Jake's precious garage.
She was almost at the door – home free – when two voices behind her cried out, "WAIT!"
Embry, using his height to his advantage, had Quil in a headlock that he seemed blissfully unaware of. "You have remarkably skinny arms, Bella," he said in a complementary tone.
"Small hands, too," Embry added, sacrificing his grip on his friend.
Bella clutched her bag to her chest nervously as both boys eyed her like a prime cut of beef. "So…?"
The boys grinned at each other wickedly. "You want to help us out for a minute?"
"I think Embry's right--"
"--it's not going to fit."
The light flickering through the engine block of the truck dimmed as Quil stuck his head back beneath the hood. Under the vehicle, Bella wheeled the dolly a few inches to the right to see him better. A wire dropped down between the pipes, and Bella watched it tap idly against a bundle of unidentifiable tubing.
"Well you're both wrong, and I know this because the damn belt fit 20 minutes ago when I first took it of the car. You see these?" He tapped the tubes with the wire again.
"Well, you need to move those about six inches towards the back of the truck. Then I can get my hand down there and stretch the belt back on."
"And you couldn't do this yourselves…why?" Bella ventured to ask.
Embry squatted down on his haunches and peered at her under the bumper. "Cause both of our arms are too big to get the pipe in far enough." He rolled a small, skinny piece of plumbing pipe to her, and Bella snagged it before it disappeared beneath her dolly. "It's too tight in there to just grab them, even with your tiny hands."
"All you have to do, Bella," Quil called down through the mechanical mayhem, "is reach up as high as you can, and then jam the pipe against the engine housing." He tapped the wire against what Bella assumed was the housing.
Despite having little to no idea what he was talking about, Bella took the pipe and began to push it through the mess of cables and wires and pipes that crossed and tangled in every direction.
"Try very hard not to break anything while you're at it," Embry added helpfully, and Bella felt him grab the edge of the dolly to keep her from rolling all over the place.
"Dully noted," Bella muttered sarcastically. She was beginning to realize why the boys had had trouble. It was a tight fit, even with her skinny wrists and narrow arms. She couldn't see her hand or the pipe anymore, and her wrist was bent at a 45 degree angle around a pipe somewhere in the fray. But finally her upward mobility was stopped, and she felt a tremor as the pipe found purchase against something solid. "Am I there?"
"Spot on," Quil called back. "Now, I just need you to pull towards the back of the truck as hard as you can. That'll move the tubes without me having to disconnect the entire electrical system."
Easier said than done. Bella might have gotten her arm to fit into the mess, but that didn't mean she had room to move. Still, she braced against the dolly, and pushed as far as the awkward angle would allow.
Quil blocked the light completely as she heard him fumbling above her. "I need a few more inches," he grunted. Bella leaned into the pipe with all her might, bracing against what felt like Embry's forearm with her foot. A few drips of something oily and greasy splattered beside her face, but she ignored them.
"Quil…" she called out in warning. Her hand was beginning to slip.
"Just two more seconds."
She leaned in harder, to no avail. "QUIL!"
"…Done!" There was a resounding snap and clunk above her, and Bella took it to be a good sign. A split-second later the pipe slipped from Bella's fingers, and ricocheted against the engine housing with a loud TWANG!
"WHAT, IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S HOLY, IS GOING ON HERE?"
The shout rang out across the yard, followed by the slamming of a familiarly, balky screen door. Embry grabbed her ankles and quickly hauled her out from under the truck. He plopped her onto her feet, dusted off her back with a few quick swipes of his arm, then spun her around just in time to face an irate Jacob who was storming across the grass.
"Down boy," Quil said sharply, slamming down the hood. "We haven't irrevocably scarred her or anything..."
Jake ignored him, but he seemed calmer now that she was out from under the vehicle, and clearly uninjured. "Whatever they did, I'm so sorry," he said to Bella.
"Relax," she said, shooting him a reassuring smile. "I was just--"
The sound of an engine roaring to life behind them cut Bella off, and before she could protest Embry let out a whoop, sweeping her up into his arms and twirling her around. Coming to his senses, he shot Jake a furtive glance before sheepishly dropping her to her feet.
Dizzy, Bella slumped against Jacob's shoulder, wearing a Cheshire grin. "I helped," she finally managed to say, with all the pride and enthusiasm of the old Shake n' Bake girl.
"Yes, I can see that," Jake replied, unable to keep a straight face of his own. He touched her cheek, where the oil had splattered against her skin. "The look suits you."
"Damn right it does!" Quil proclaimed, jumping out of the cab and rejoining the group. "Jake likes a woman who can work under his hood."
Jake took a halfhearted swing at him, but Quil danced nimbly out of the way. "Heel, boy!" he shouted. "Before you go off on us, Embry and I fully intend to pay Bella for her services."
"And not in the way you're thinking," Embry quickly added. "So get your mind out of the gutter and don't try to beat us to death or anything."
Jacob sighed under his breath, and pulled Bella in tighter against him even though the dizziness had long since faded. She didn't protest the way she usually did.
She didn't want to.
"Since Bella was such a trooper, and in our hour of need no less," Quil said, waving his arms about dramatically. "We've decided that it's only fair she accompany us tonight!" He paused dramatically, waiting for Bella's reaction.
"Um…" she hesitated, and Quil's enthusiasm seemed to deflate. "Accompany you…where, exactly?"
"On a mission of danger, mayhem, and general teenage stupidity," Jake leaned down and whispered. His breath tickled against her cheek, and despite herself she felt herself returning the boys' grins.
"So…are you in?" Embry asked.
Bella poked Jacob in the ribs. "Definitely."
The boys refused to tell her much, only that they'd pick up at 8pm, and that she should dress in warm, and preferably flame retardant, clothing. And seeing as how her NASCAR jumpsuit was back in Phoenix, she hoped they were only kidding about that last part. Still, at 8 on the dot there was a knock on the door, so fire or not there was no turning back even if she'd wanted to.
Bella opened the door in a bathrobe, with a toothbrush planted firmly in her cheek. Jake lounged in the doorway, looking strange in that he was fully clothed.
"Oo're fweakshly pfunctual 'or a guy," she muttered around the toothbrush, retreating back up to her room.
Jake let the door close behind him and followed, trying hard not to stare at her bare legs. "I'm sorry?" he replied with a chuckle. "I'll be sure to work on that. You, on the other had, seem to have mastered the whole punctual thing…"
He flopped down onto the edge of Bella's bed while she disappeared back into the bathroom. The sink ran for a moment, followed by the sound of gargling before she shouted something under the door that sounded faintly like, "get bent!"
"Your bathrobe already took care of that…" Jacob muttered under his breath.
"WHAT WAS THAT?" The hairdryer was running now.
"Nothing!" he replied quickly. "Are you almost done yet? The guys are waiting…"
The bathroom door creaked opened and Bella appeared in the doorway, fully dressed and pulling her hair back. "Sorry, I'm hurrying." She brushed past him and dug through the closet for a moment, a rushed glow on her cheeks. She looked…better, Jake though. Delightfully rushed. Unburdened. The last few weeks had been especially good to her. Normal. Safe. Bordering on happy, even.
Jacob just smiled, and continued to push his luck. "I mean, I expect this kind of behavior when there's makeup and curling irons involved, but you're so low maintenance Bella. I can't imagine what it must be like waiting for you to get ready for a party or wedding or something actually requiring effort…"
He ducked suddenly as Bella hurled a shoe at him. "I made spaghetti for dinner so that Charlie could eat before going to work," she explained more rationally, pulling a blue hoodie from the fray and yanking it on. "He likes the night shift better if he gets to tackle it on a full stomach. But there was a 'sauce malfunction' and let's just say that a change and shower were required. Lay off."
"Fair enough," he conceded with a laugh. He shut off the light and held out a hand for her to take. "Now let's go before the guys get bored and do something stup--"
They were interrupted by the sound of mad cackling from the backyard, followed by the sharp sound of rocks ricocheting off of glass.
Only they weren't hitting Bella's window.
"Did you tell them that Charlie's at the station tonight?" Bella asked Jacob. She navigated her room in the dark and pressed her nose against the glass of her dark window.
"Nope," Jake said.
Bella slowly opened her window a crack, and felt the cool night air rush in to greet them. Through she couldn't see them in the dark, she could clearly hear Quil and Embry on the north end of the lawn. Another handful of rocks hit glass.
"What light through younger window breaks?" Embry called. Bella could vaguely see him on bended knee, his arms outstretched to the window with the flickering light filtering through it. "It is the east, and Quil's mom – she is the sun!"
"Embry, so help me God, do you really want to declare open season on mom jokes? You, of all people?" There was no response other than the sound of a fist meeting flesh.
"Hey Romeos!" Bella called at them. There was a long pause while the boys processed just where she was calling them from. "My room's over here. But if you're so eager to seduce Chief Swan I can just have him meet you at the front door…"
Jake chuckled as the two boys scrambled over each other and sprinted from the backyard. "Whatever you do, don't tell them your dad forgets to turn off the TV in his room, kay?"
"Wouldn't dream of it," Bella replied. She took Jake's hand and led him from the room. "Where's the fun in that?"
The guys had moved the truck down the street, killed the lights, and were hunched down in the front seat trying to look as inconspicuous as possible when Jake rapped lighty on the window. "We're ready, let's go."
Bella was preoccupied, staring at the seating arrangements and trying to figure out how three huge teenage werewolves and herself were supposed to cram into the narrow cab. "I don't get it," she said finally. "Why don't we just take the rabbit – we can all fit in there. Well, mostly."
"Because," Jake said, helping Quil and Embry move something large and flat around in the truck bed, "while my car may be a feat of fine German engineering, it's not the best when it comes to going off road."
"Off road?" Bella repeated nervously.
"Don't worry, Bella-baby," Quil purred, climbing back into the cab. "You're gonna ride up here with me, where it's nice and safe." He stroked the vinyl seat seductively.
"What about me?" Embry protested.
"Oh, sorry man but three's a crowd, especially with this lot. You'll have to ride in the back with Jake like the mutt you are I guess."
"Ha. Ha." Jake put his arm around Bella's shoulder. "Sorry Quil, but I'm calling veto. You and Embry can snuggle in the front all you want. We're riding in the back."
"We are?" Bella parroted again. "Jake, maybe you've fallen on your head and forgotten, but seatbelts and I are really, really, really good friends--"
"Relax," he assured her, lowing the hatch and giving Bella a leg up into the back. "I'm safer than any seatbelt."
"You'd better be, cause if I get maimed I'm telling Charlie it was all your fault…" He laughed at the threat and hopped cleanly into the back. The truck bounced when he landed.
"Shocks, man!" Quil called through the open window, and started the truck with a roar. Jake ignored him, instead he spread a musty blanket on top of what felt like a stack of plywood, and collapsed against the back of the cab. He pulled Bella down beside him as the truck started to move, swirling the chilly air about them both. She leaned into him, warm beneath the weight of his arms as he held her close, tucked beneath his chin.
They roared down the street. The lights from town eventually faded from view as they kept going, until finally only the moon lit their path on the dark roads.
"What a view…" Bella muttered, taking in the millions of starts that seemed to explode into view as the lights of town dimmed behind them.
"You're telling me." Only Jake wasn't looking at the stars.
"This? You guys went to all that trouble for…this?" Bella threw her hands out wide at the cliff expanse before them. "I mean, don't get me wrong, the view is lovely. But so is First Beach, and I can get there without losing the ability to sit down for the next week and a half." She tried to rub her sore posterior discretely.
"I offered to let you sit on my lap…" Jake offered helpfully, laughing in her ear.
"Yes, with the purest of intentions, I'm sure."
"Well I never said that."
"And for your information Bella," Quil interjected. "We didn't come here for the view. We came here for this." A sudden spark lit the night, and before Bella could see what was going on Quil hurled a flaming object out into the night sky. It sailed past the break-line, and splashed somewhere beyond the surf. A second later a BOOM reverberated against the cliff face, a jet of water shooting up into the sky.
"What the hell was that, an M80?" Embry asked. He stuck his hand into the duffle bag Quil produced from under the front seat and rifled around.
"Yes, yes it was."
"Sweet," Jake and Embry echoed in unison, bright teeth flashing in wide grins.
Jake grabbed one himself and handed it to her. "C'mon Bells," he said devilishly. "Haven't you wanted to blow something up lately?"
He had no idea.
It took several attempts for Bella to get the lighter to flare, and then her hand was shaking when she held it to the tip. In another lifetime, one not so long ago, she would never have been permitted to play with explosives.
For her own good, of course.
"Throw it fast once it catches," Jake muttered in her ear. "Charlie'll kill me if you come back missing a hand." The wick darkened, smoldered, and then burned brightly. Bella ran up to the cliff's edge and hurled the firework out into the darkness…
…only, she didn't have the strength of the average male, teenage werewolf apparently, and the bomb plopped down into the sand on the beach below.
Jake grabbed her hand roughly and pulled her back from the edge, and straight into his chest as the explosion shook the precipice. Sand rained down on them, sticking in their hair and clothes. After a few moments Jake seemed to realize he was still holding her, and relinquished his grip.
"Clearly we need to work on your arm," he sighed, shaking the sand from his hair.
"Does that mean we get to do that again?" Bella demanded with far too much enthusiasm.
Quil tucked the bag of explosives under his arm, and shot Bella a worried look. "Just keep crazy there away from my truck…"
"So how exactly does your cousin get all this stuff over the border?" Bella was clinging to Quil's arm as they made their way down the narrow and slippery path to the beach. In the dark she could barely see, but Quil seemed to know where he was going.
"No clue, but he goes down to visit friends in Mexico City about once a year and somehow he always manages to come back with loot. I don't look a gift horse in the mouth, if you know what I mean."
Bella's misaimed dynamite had created a pretty sizeable crater in the sand, but the boys were putting it to good use.
"Bombs away!" Embry bellowed, and a minute later something wide and flat hit the sand with impressive force.
"And that came from Mexico too?" Bella murmured, watching the sky for more falling objects. Upon closer inspection she noticed that Jake and Embry were tossing pallets, those wooden crate things that the forklifts moved around in warehouses. Apparently that was what she and Jake had been sitting on in the truck bed.
"No," Quil corrected her. "We stole those from the loading dock outside the Piggly Wiggly."
"Stole? I though you guys were supposed to be role models on the rez?" She didn't need to be able to see in the dark to know that Quil was rolling his eyes.
"It's lumber, Swan. Try not to get too bent out of shape about it." Another pallet hit the ground, and fractured into pieces. "They'll just throw the old ones in the garbage. We're putting them to good use – being green and all. Hippies love us!"
Bella had a sneaking suspicion she knew where this was going. "And, praytell, what good use are we putting them too?"
Quil lit a match in the dark, holding it up to his face where it illuminated his features in strange and grotesque ways. He grinned wickedly. "We're going to burn 'em, duh."
Before the flame could reach his fingertips, he touched it to the end of a roman candle taken from his bag of tricks. "Now c'mere and hold this thing Swan, so I can get the rest of the show going."
Bella felt strangely satisfied aiming the fireballs, and watching them burn out over the dark water. She could think of worse ways to go out, than exploding into a blaze of glory.
When they couldn't get the bonfire going properly, Embry suggested they use some driftwood as tinder. Bella eagerly offered to help him, wanting to put a wide berth between herself and the bottle of lighter fluid that Quil was waving about. They left Jacob to focus on disarming the pyromaniac.
Embry carried the driftwood in the crook of his arm like a baby, Bella adding a new stick to the pile every few feet. They walked in comfortable silence. Away from the guys, Embry was the quiet type, more content to observe and understand than to contribute.
"You know he likes you." Okay, he was the quiet type in most situations, anyway.
Bella dragged a long stick behind her, making wavy lines in the sand. "I know."
"You like him too." It wasn't a question.
"Am I that transparent?"
Embry chuckled. "Let me put it this way: you're both about as opaque as polished glass."
His intentions were good, but Bella's retort was still a little sharp, annoyed. "Well then, Doctor Love, what's your point?"
"My point is this: please just jump his bones already."
Bella stumbled over her own feet in surprise. She crashed to the sand, catching herself on her knees and palms. "Excuse me?!" she yelped, looking disparagingly at the hand that Embry extended to haul her back to her feet.
"C'mon Bella," he said, a note of genuine desperation in his voice. "It's bad enough dealing with one horny teenager in your head, let alone a pack of them. There's just some things about your friends that you really don't want to know. I mean, I knew Jake was a leg man and all, but the things that float around that boy's brain--"
"Stop. Talking. Embry." Bella took his hand, but only because she was secretly hoping to pull him down with her in the process. But he didn't so much as budge, and so she reluctantly allowed herself to be hauled to her feet.
"Fine, but everything I've said, I've said for the greater good of my packmates," he replied like a martyr. Suddenly he threw his arms out and turned to defiantly face the waves. "I HAVE RISKED EVERYTHING AND I REGRET NOTHING!"
"Shhhhhh, shut up you freak!" Bella hissed, poking him in the shoulder with a stick. But he looked so ridiculous that she couldn't honestly stay mad at him.
He resumed walking, keeping a slow pace with her and sporting a sheepish smile. "Look, in all seriousness Bella, whatever you do…just go easy on him, okay?"
"Even when I'm 'jumping his bones?'" she teased, adding air quotes for emphasis.
"No, then you can be as rough with him as you want, and beyond that I don't want to know anything more, clear?"
The comfortable silence resumed, with only the sound of the waves between them.
"Although now that I'm thinking about it, Jake was right about your legs…"
Bella whacked him sharply on the head with her stick. Embry didn't so much as gratify her with a flinch.
"Fire in the hole!" Quil lit another firework, resting in an empty Coke can, and then retreated as far as he could. It scorched out over the water before exploding into a shower of purple sparks.
After spending about half an hour trying to teach Bella the difference between throwing from her wrist and throwing from her shoulder, they had run out of M80's and Quil had run out of patience. He seemed more than content to amuse himself with the bigger options now.
Behind him the pyre burned brightly on the sand. The heat was intense, and Bella stripped down to her tee-shirt while she sat in its glow.
"You get any closer and your eyebrows are going to catch fire," Jake teased, collapsing into the sand beside her. "If you were cold all you had to do was ask." He pulled her tightly into against his chest, and held her like that, tight and friendly and comforting. There was a bubble around them, and it was a moment, the kind where Bella felt her breathing speed up in a way that had nothing to do with the flames. But the bubble popped as Jake proceeded to give her, of all things, a noogie.
"Get off me, you beast!" she laughed, and hit him futilely in the chest. Not that he would feel it.
"Knock it off you two – don't make me come over there!" Quil ordered.
"Bring it, short-stack!"
"Don't be like that, Jake," he teased. "With an attitude I might not let you partake of my final gift."
"Awww Quil, that's sweet of you," he mocked back. "But I'm just not that into guys. I'm flattered though, really…"
"Cram it, Black! Or so help me…" The threat hung in the air while Quil dug in his bag, riffling through the mostly empty fireworks containers and shrink wrap.
"Please be marshmallows, please be marshmallows…" Embry whispered with his fingers crossed.
"What are we, nine?" Quil shot back. "No, I have something better."
"You fit a naked girl in that bag?" Embry pretended to be shocked. "Quil, I though we talked about this: it's still against her will, even if she's unconscious."
Quil pointed at Jake and Embry with his free hand. "You two? You're both dicks. Which is why only Bella gets to enjoy this with me!" Triumphantly he presented a bottle of tequila. "What do you say, Swan? Feel like a little underage drinking."
"You can ignore him if you want," Jake told her, softly. "It tastes like shit anyways."
But Bella took the bottle from him with steady hands. She'd never had anything more than a glass of wine with her mother, but it didn't matter – tonight she was feeling brave. Brave and wild. She put the bottle to her lips and took an eager swig. The tequila left a trail of fire down her throat and seemed to seep into her windpipe, making her sputter in cough in a way that was anything but cool.
Embry thumped her on the back and laughed. "Quil forgot to mention that his cousin is cheap, and so is his liquor."
Quil yanked the bottle from her hands and took a swig, as if to prove it was more than drinkable. But even he grimaced on the way down. "Okay, it sucks. But we'll make do. I propose a toast to make this shit legit!" he bellowed to the night.
Dixie cups emerged, were filled to the brim, and then raised to the sky.
"To friends," he said.
"To family," Embry added.
"To the future, whatever it holds," Jake said.
It was Bella's turn. "To the present," she said boldly. And in the darkness she found Jake's hand.
"Here, here!" And then the glasses were drained. The liquor burned beautifully on the way down now that Bella knew what to expect.
Quil threw the remainder of the firecrackers into the flames, and the four of them ran into the surf as they watched the fire erupt into a halo of sparks that danced out in every direction. The tide licked at their ankles as they watched the flames eat up the night.
"That was fun," Bella confessed breathlessly, using a bucket to throw more sand on the remnants of their fire. She was dead on her feet, and yet she longed to stay on the beach just a little bit longer. Above her the cliff face lit up in headlight glow, followed by the roar of the engine as Quil and Embry repacked the truck. "I mean everything – the truck and the fire and this whole absolutely pointless outing."
"Good." Jake picked up the last of their firework launching cans. "You deserved some - you don't get out enough."
"I have fun," Bella protested weakly, but it was a lie. And she was nothing if not a bad liar. "Okay," she said with a sulky expression. "But I'm trying to have more fun."
"Well then I'm glad I could help."
"You really did, you know?" Bella said. She stood there, staring at him dumbly as an epiphany of sorts welled up inside her. "I mean, I never really thanked you for everything but I feel like I should. Thank you, I mean, for…well, for everything." The bucket felt heavy in her hands, overloaded with her own awkwardness in addition to sand.
"Since when do you have to thank friends for being friendly?" Jake tossed the last empty can into his trash bag, then hurled it up over the cliff, back by the truck.
"Yeah, but we're more then friends, aren't we?"
A poignant pause stretched out between them. "Liquor makes you kinda blunt, doesn't it?" Jake finally said. It was a joke, but not much of one.
"Well…maybe a little," Bella confessed. She still felt a little flushed, but there was an ever more increasing chance that it had nothing to do with the tequila. "So, does my being forward intimidate you?"
"Bells, I'm 6'7", two hundred and seventy pounds, and I can turn into a giant feral wolf," he said with barely concealed amusement. "Not much intimidates me anymore."
Bella's curled her hands into tight fists, obstinate in the face of his laughter. "Well then, come over here and prove that."
"Prove it how?"
Bella didn't answer, just continued to glare at him, eyes blazing in a way that had nothing to do with the still smoldering embers at their feet. He closed the difference between them slowly, looking for a change of heart, a missed signal.
He brushed the hair back from Bella's face, but she didn't waver. "Fine, if that's what you want…"
He leaned over and kissed her, a warm rough hand cupping her cheek with a tremble. His lips were fleeting and soft and frantic and burning…and then they were gone. "Told you I wasn't scared of you…"
"Liar," Bella replied in a voice barely audible. "I felt you shaking…" His hand still on her face, they both seemed uable to move.
"Well then maybe I didn't make my point clearly enough," Jake muttered in mock confession. "Can I try one more time?"
Bella grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him back against her lips. They pinned themselves to one another, the initial fear being replaced with something more daring and bold and appropriately explosive. They burst like a firework, and Jake could barely contain himself when he felt Bella's lips curve into a smile against his own.
"Yeah man!! Now grab her ass!"
"Ride it like you paid for it!"
They broke apart reluctantly, glaring at where Quil and Embry were cat-calling over the cliff face.
"Please, don't let us stop you," Quil threw up his hands. "I love free porn!"
Jake pulled Bella in close once more. "I'm sorry, but I have to go kill my best friends right now. Can we maybe pick this up later?"
Bella just laughed. "Yeah. Go, it's your duty to go destroy them both. But I'm totally sitting on your lap on the ride home. Just throwing that out there…"
"THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!"
Jake shot her a reluctant smile, before tearing up the narrow path at top speed. Quil and Embry disappeared, and Bella heard what sounded like a truck trying to reverse at top speed, and failing.
Bella picked up her bucket and followed the sounds of the squabbling boys, her mind much farther away. Tomorrow was going to hurt, and sleep tonight was probably going to be impossible, but for the first time Bella found that she just didn't care.
She'd face tomorrow's problems tomorrow. In the meantime, she was content to live with today.