Chapter 18: Humanity
I woke up early on Sunday before Jacob. I hoped to sneak downstairs and have breakfast ready for him as a surprise. He slept like the dead, but you could never be too careful when food was involved, it was a sixth werewolf sense. I went into the kitchen, turned on the coffee pot and began gathering things for eggs and pancakes. I'd always enjoyed cooking, I enjoyed it even more now knowing that something as simple as pancakes could make Jacob so happy.
I threw the batter together and knew I'd have some time before the griddle was hot enough to flip them so I walked to the front door to retrieve the Sunday morning news paper. Being the editor, I knew what all the stories said, but Jacob always enjoyed reading with his coffee. His comments on the "superior editing" always made me swell with pride, even if I knew he only said it because he was dating me. I bent down to pick up the paper only to find a thick manila envelope beneath it. In familiar, flowing script was my name. No return address or stamp, but there didn't need to be. I knew who's handwriting this belonged to.
My hand shook as I reached for the envelope. I held it in my hands trying to will my mind into making them open the envelope. A million scenarios ran through my mind as to why now I was being contacted. It had been years, not a single phone call or letter. Someone could be in trouble, left, died... Anything was possible.
There were days I had convinced myself that it was all just a very elaborate dream. I was able to overlook the heartache and just see the parts were everyone was happy. Most days, I preferred it that way. I had been happy as part of the Cullens, particularly before my 18th birthday. I had a fairytale love, the kind of things most people only dream about. It was so easy to look past all of my fears and what drove me away and only see the magic.
But this struck me to my very core that there was currently an envelope sitting on my front porch, on a Sunday when there was no postal service. I knew Edward had a tendency to be over cautious when it came to my well being but I never gotten the feeling that I was being followed or watched. A strong sense of shamed washed over me. I was still married and had been shacking up with another man. What was between Jacob and I was nothing but honest and pure but knowing that Edward knew made me feel cheap. This was wrong.
As scared as I was to open the envelop, it was imperative that I did. A million different things could have gone wrong. It had to be something huge for him to decide to contact me after all these years. With a shaking hand I reached down to pick up the envelop. My legs buckled under me and I slide down the door frame. I carefully slid a finger under the flap of the envelop and began to open it. I closed my eyes as I pulled out a stack of papers. I took a few slow breaths to calm myself. Come on Bella, it can't be that bad. If it was urgent don't you think they would have came to see you directly?
I finally found the courage to look. Legal papers. I stared at them for a full five minutes before I was able to comprehend what they said. Blah blah, State of Washington, blah blah, my full name, annulment. Divorce papers. I had been served divorce papers.
I thumbed through them carelessly. He could have been asking for the rights to everything I owed and it wouldn't have mattered. He had finally moved on. There was yellow highlighter on the lines in which I needed to sign. I knew instantly that I would sign them. I didn't need to read over the document. The Cullens had never done anything to intentionally hurt me before, this would be no different.
Divorced. I never thought it would happen to me. Renee and Charlie hadn't stayed together very long. Ever since I was a little girl I knew I never wanted to be in the position Charlie and Renee were. When I got married I wanted to be absolutely sure we were compatible in every way. In fact, they actually lasted longer than Edward and I. If that isn't an epic failure, I don't know what is. Any tie I could claim to the Cullens was officially severed.
I hadn't even noticed that I had started crying until the teardrops appeared on the papers. I couldn't even explain why. I love Jacob. I love him with all of my heart. I knew deep in my heart I didn't want to go back to Edward, even though in my loneliest times I allowed myself to fantasize about him. I would often wonder where he was or what he was doing. In college I found myself wanting his approval and validation for my decisions Even though I had left him, I still loved him and missed him. But the papers in my hand erased any connection the two of us had.
Jacob had been standing at the door for a few minutes before I realized that I had an audience. It was only then that I could smell the distinct scent of burning pancakes that it occurred to me I had neglected the kitchen. I rose to take care of it when Jacob stopped me.
"I turned off the stove. It'll be a crispy mess to clean up but otherwise no harm done." Jacob explained. "What's all of that?"
An alarm went off in my head. Jacob and I avoided talking about the Cullens like they were the plague. I know he still harbored some resentment towards their involvement with my life. Things would have undoubtably gone differently with Jacob and I had it not been for them. That's not to say their existence had been a burden, at least in my eyes. I see my time with them as a very defining moment in my life. Jacob has very different feelings, the word leech comes to mind...
"I got a letter." I replied simply. He frowned at me.
"I can see that Bella. Who's it from?"
"A lawyer. They are some legal documents." I said. It was true, just not the whole truth. Unfortunately for me, Jacob wasn't buying it.
"Let me see." He said as he reached down and took them from my hands. Being the coward that I am, I let him. It was easier to let him see for himself than to argue with him about the Cullens contacting me. The word 'Cullen' was sure to send him into a fit of rage. At least this way he was going to get to the proper conclusion a little faster.
He looked them over much more carefully than I had. I was more interested in watching his face than trying to read the papers over his shoulder. He appeared to be struggling with his reaction.
"Bells, these are divorce papers." He said calmly as he flipped through them.
"I know." Was all I could reply.
"Did you look through all of this?" He questioned.
"Not really. I know what they are. I know what they'll do. What else is there to it?" I asked.
"Well, there's a letter for one..." He trailed off. His eyes already skimming the letter.
A letter? I hadn't seen that. My stomach began tying itself in knots. In my mind, there was only one person that letter could be from. Perhaps he wanted to give me an explanation as to why now. Perhaps there was someone else. My head began swimming.
"Let me see it." I replied, keeping my voice unnaturally steady.
Jacob handed it over and gave me an encouraging look. I prepared for the worst.
I know I'm the last person you expected to hear from, especially in light of recent events. I know we were never close, as far as family goes, and I am truly sorry for that. Despite what you may think, I would have been honored to have you for a sister. You made my brother happy and for that I am grateful.
I don't want you to feel guilty for leaving, none of us recent or blame you for that, and I do mean none of us. You have a beautiful opportunity for something the rest of us never will. Embrace your humanity Bella. Enjoy all the things in life that we cannot. Grow old, marry, have children. Do it for yourself because you deserve to truly live your life. Please don't worry about what we think. All any of us wanted was what was best for you. We may have had differences on what that was but you figured it out in the end. You'll always be my sister and I am happy for you, whatever path you choose. Be sure that you make it a choice, because you have that freedom.
Strangled tears ran down my cheeks as I collapsed into Jacob's arms. I knew I was being ridiculous. I had made this choice years ago. I shouldn't have expected anything else. "I'm a divorcee. Damaged goods" I said through my tears.
Jacob chuckled. "A beautiful divorcee. I'm honored to be able to call you my own. You could never be damaged goods Bella."
"Are you going to be ok, Bella? Is this what you want?" Jacob asked carefully. He was trying hard to keep the pain out of his voice but I knew better.
"Of course Jacob. I left him years ago. I made that choice. I'm just being... silly. It's weird to have this chapter of my life so formally closed." I shrugged.
"I can imagine." Jacob said comfortingly. I knew it was difficult for him to see me cry over another man for the millionth time in our lives. I've never been so grateful for his undying love and devotion towards me.
I was positive I wasn't crying over the loss of my marriage. I had thrown that away years ago. I was upset that my fairytale, however deviated it had become, had officially come to an end. I cried for the loss of my second family, even though I hadn't spoken to them in years. It was silly, absolutely absurd. I decided to let myself cry out all of the confusion of emotions running rapid through my system and never look back. He continued to cradle me in his arms and sooth me until the tears ceased.
I looked up at Jacob and saw a bemusing look on his face. It was almost as though he was fighting to keep some sort of satisfaction from surfacing. He caught me looking at him and quickly composed himself.
"Jake, what were you thinking just then?" I almost dreaded the answer. It was no secret that he had longed to finally "win" against Edward.
He looked flustered and almost embarrassed that I had caught him. "I'm not trying to be insensitive Bella, I promise. It's just... do you realize what this means?" He said incredulously.
"Other that I'm divorced, I'm afraid I'm not seeing it Jake." The annoyance crept into my voice and I immediately hated myself for it.
"No Bells, it's nothing like that." He replied quickly, obviously catching on to my though process about his competitive nature. "I always knew you were still married to him. I know that you keep your wedding ring in the drawer by the bed. We hadn't ever really talked about it but I assumed that you were holding on to those things just in case he came back. This makes you mine, Bella."
The way the word mine rolled off his lips gave me butterflies in my stomach and ignited a fire in my heart. I couldn't imagine being upset at closing that part of my life when I had such an amazing man standing in front of me. He wasn't being smug or doing a victory dance. I didn't blame or resent him for thinking like that. Jacob had waited so long for me. It was incredibly selfish of me to stay married to Edward in the first place. I was in love with Jacob Black.
All doubts had been erased from my mind. "Jake, would you mind getting me a black pen?" I asked confidently.
Realization spread across his face and he practically sprinted into the house. I could hear him rummaging through my purse and I just smiled. Jacob and I could start over. It was just the two of us. I would be able to legally sever myself from my uncertainty and demons. He came back out onto the porch with more composure.
"Bella, you don't have to do this right now if you aren't ready. I understand this is sudden." He said cautiously.
"No, Jake. I've put this off long enough. I've chosen you. This is right." I said with my voice full of conviction. I quickly found the highlighted lines and wrote my name "Isabella Marie Cullen" something I hadn't written in ages. I smiled to myself. "That'll be the last time I ever write that name."
Jacob gave me a million dollar smile and pulled me in close. He made a move to direct us back into the house when I stopped him. I knelt down and picked up the manila envelope and placed all of the legal papers back inside. I stuck the note from Rosalie in my pocket and placed the envelope back in the center of my porch. I had no way of contacting the Cullens, no return address, but I knew the papers would find their way back.
Confusion spread across Jacob's face and then a flash of anger. Obviously someone would be back to pick the papers up. "Jake, would you mind if we stayed at your place tonight?"
He immediately stopped trembling and kissed the top of my head. "Bells, nothing would make me happier."
A/N: Sorry, I take the LSAT on Saturday, I've been neglecting. However, I'm now the beta for a Paul/Rachel story called "Absolutely Absurd" by TwilightHeart21. It's pretty awesome, you should check it out and leave her some love. I love me some wolf pack stories. Leave me a review and let me know what you think. I hope I did alright with this chapter, I've been planning it since the beginning. I know where this is going, it'll get darker, this is your last chance to request happy moments between Bella and Jacob. I'd love to hear them.