My bed was too small.
I sighed and tried to shift, but found myself blocked by a massive leg on one side and a muscular shoulder on the other. How had I managed to get so thoroughly pinned?
I flailed my arm over the side of the bed and fumbled for my cell phone. The display showed 3:32 in bright, block numbering. Go figure.
This was the third night in a row I had been unable to do much more than toss and turn. It didn't help that my boyfriend, Jacob Black, had a habit of stretching out diagonally on my double bed, effectively limiting the space I had available to me. He was a good foot taller than me, so I guess he was entitled to his share of the bed, even if "his share" ended up being substantially more than mine.
I extricated myself from Jake's tangled limbs and tumbled out of the bed. As I straightened up I looked down at Jake's face, smoothed out and slack with sleep. He always looked so beautiful when he was asleep. His black hair was rumpled, tangled on the pillows. His arms were wrapped securely in my sheets, hands fisted in the comforter he invariably stole from me when he spent the night.
Jake never did anything halfway: school, play, work, love, and especially sleep. I tugged the covers more securely over him before grabbing my cell phone and sneaking out toward my living room. I didn't want to deprive him of the little sleep he was able to get, and I knew that I wouldn't be sleeping anymore this evening… well, morning.
I lit the stove and got a coffee mug from the cupboard. I grabbed a teabag and spooned some sugar into my mug. As I waited for the water to boil, I wandered back into my living room and booted up my laptop. With any luck, Alice would be awake. She was always up obscenely early, and it would be 6:30 in New York.
Once I had my tea, I settled down into my armchair and opened up my instant messenger program. Sure enough, there she was.
allknowing_alice: bella! what are you doing up so early?!
HellzBellz84: no sleep for the wicked alice… you know that.
I wrapped a quilt around my shoulders and settled back into my chair. Alice always made me feel better, even if I had no idea what was wrong. She had been my best friend for as long as I had known her. Actually, I had met her and Jake the same year, when I was 16 years old. That was the year I moved to Forks, Washington. My dad is the police chief there, and had been begging me for years to give living with him a shot. When my mom remarried that summer, I decided to take him up on the offer. The newlyweds didn't need me hanging around, and I wasn't terribly excited about the thought being constantly exposed to the mushiness that Phil seemed to inspire in my mother. I packed my bags and left Phoenix, Arizona, for the rainiest town in the United States. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my young life.
allknowing_alice: seriously, you need to get this insomnia thing checked out. go to a doctor already!
HellzBellz84: no big deal alice, I told you. it's not like I never sleep. plus, isn't this why God invented coffee?
Alice never needs coffee. She may be tiny, but the girl packs a punch. And she's got an unlimited store of energy. I swear she's solar powered.
allknowing_alice: what's wrong bella. don't lie. you haven't slept more than a few hours for the last few nights. tell me!!!! Alice will fix it.
HellzBellz84: *sigh* things with jake aren't great. he's never around, I guess I'm just fixating. anxiety. you know me.
allknowing_alice: bella it's his first year in law school. give him time to adjust. relax, the kid loves the crap outta you.
I smiled and giggled softly. Alice was never one to mince words. She was right of course. Jake and I had prepared for this, we had made schedules. Grids that revolved around "date nights" and (I would not make this up) scheduled sex. I had organized calendars, class schedules and study schedules. And I wasn't the one going to school.
Starting in September, our lives had gone from spontaneous and relatively carefree to an endless cycle of reading assignments and outlines. He was always at the law library or with his study group. We had been working really hard to keep up our relationship, and he promised me that things would be better once his first semester finals were over. It was almost Christmas, and it felt like he had been studying nonstop since Labor Day. The last few weeks had been particularly stressful, but it would be over soon. He had one last week of classes and then a week and a half of tests. After that, we could throw the schedules and calendars out the window for three whole weeks before we had to start the whole damn thing over again.
My job teaching high school English sucked up time too, of course, and I had taken on the drama department this year. That meant time spent after school with auditions, rehearsals, and whiny teenage girls who thought they were the next Audrey Hepburn. I love my job, for the most part I even love teenagers, but sometimes they make me want to tear my hair out.
HellzBellz84: how's jas? has he come to his senses and run screaming for the hills yet?
allknowing_alice: smooth subject change, dork. jasper whitlock loves the crap outta me, too. Plus, if he ever tries to run I've always got my handcuffs to make him stay. jasper loves him some handcuffs :)
HellzBellz84: my eyes! my eyes!
allknowing_alice: well you brought it up
HellzBellz84: thanks alice. I can always count on you to make me think of something that totally blinds my inner eye.
allknowing_alice: of course you can. I'm awesome like that. are you sure this is just anxiety bells? you haven't been yourself lately
Damn best friend with her damn long distance psychic powers. Since she moved to New York to kick start her design career, Alice and I have had a phone relationship, with actual visits being few and far between. Despite that, she had an uncanny sense that told her when things weren't going well with me. Once, not long after she moved away, I had had a particularly horrible week: I fought with Jake twice, my principal yelled at me, and I shrunk my favorite blue sweater in the wash. I got to my apartment on Thursday night to find her sitting on my building's stoop, ice cream in hand. We hadn't spoken since Sunday, but she knew. She always knew.
Not this time. I wasn't sure what was wrong, and I wasn't going to drag Alice into it via instant message at 3:30 in the morning. Well, I guess it was closer to 4:00 in the morning now, but whatever. Semantics.
HellzBellz84: just anxious, promise. I'm going back to bed… don't want the students to run me over today in class.
I signed off before she had a chance to respond. I closed my laptop and stared out the window out the back of my building. I loved Seattle. Even in the dark, pre-dawn the city was beautiful, in a really reassuring way. Like a rainy Sunday morning, or a cup of coffee.
Speaking of coffee, might as well make some now that I was up. The tea obviously had not relaxed me, so I guess no harm in pumping myself full of caffeine. Jake wouldn't be up until 7:00, he had class at the UW at 9:00 on Mondays. I had some papers to grade, so after starting the coffeepot and grabbing a pop tart, I sat down at my kitchen table with a red pen and my school bag and got to work.
I groaned as I copyedited. My students, for the most part, had understood the material, but I had obviously not been teaching punctuation clear enough. The paper I was currently grading was written by a student who seemed to think that a comma was necessary at least twice a sentence, whether the sentence structure called for it or not. Less is more! I scribbled in the margins.
As I skimmed through paragraph after paragraph of reflections on Romeo & Juliet, I thought about my relationship with Jake. He was two years younger than me, and our dads were close friends. We had been friends for years before he finally convinced me to go out with him. We had never had great timing, and for some reason whenever I was single, Jake wasn't and vice versa. Plus I wasn't completely sold on the idea of diving headfirst into a relationship with my best guy friend.
He followed me to UW, and when he started as a freshman I was a junior. That was the year I finally gave in. Being with Jake was effortless. I had never dated anyone who knew so much about me. Since we had been friends for so long, we didn't have to do the awkward get-to-know you dating that I had dealt with in the past. He also knew how to handle my moods, and wouldn't let me push him around. Jake was anything but a pushover, and he made sure I knew it. I have a history of… tongue-lashing my boyfriends into submission. Get your mind out of the gutter, I just meant I can be pretty harsh.
We had been dating for nearly four years now. Our anniversary was just after New Year's Eve. Everyone, our fathers included, thought we would be getting engaged any minute now. My friends at school were always checking my left hand on Monday mornings.
It shouldn't bother me that Jake loves me this much. I should be elated. Ecstatic. And I love him, really I do. But thinking about forever with him, it makes me claustrophobic. He loves me so much. What if I stop loving him? What if we're married for a year and I realize it was the biggest mistake I've ever made? What if he always loves me more than I love him? What if I break his heart? What if…what if?
I heard Jake shifting in bed; he had noticed I was up. I frowned at the clock, only 6:00 a.m. He had an hour to sleep yet. What was he doing out of bed?
I felt his big arms wrap around me from behind. His lips brushed my neck and skimmed over my bare shoulders. "Good morning, sweetheart." His voice was still foggy with sleep. The claustrophobic feeling returned as his arms tightened around my chest. I shrugged away from the contact and turned to face him.
"What are you doing up? You should be getting all the sleep you can," I scolded. I didn't add that this was my time of the day to be completely alone and that I needed it in order to face the day. That was the one thing Jake never understood about me. He thought that when I was alone I was wallowing in anxiety or stewing over something stressful. He didn't understand my need to just… be.
Jake ruffled his hair and smiled at me, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. "I thought I could sneak in a little unscheduled … time with my girlfriend," he suggested slyly. Of course, the only thing that could wake him up from his dead to the world sleep was morning wood. I rolled my eyes and gestured toward the pile of papers in front of me.
"Jake, I promised my sophomores I would have these back to them by Tuesday, and I'm not even half done." He stuck out his lower lip at me, pouting in a way that was adorable and royally irritating at the same time. I tried a different tack. "You know you can't concentrate on anything afterwards, you have class in three hours, and you're meeting with your study group at 8 this morning. There's a reason we have eliminated morning sex from the schedule, Jake."
I was being ridiculous and I knew it. My beautiful, brilliant, drool-worthy boyfriend wanted to sleep with me, and I was doing everything in my power to get him away from me. Add that the fact that we had missed our last three scheduled "sessions" and I was starting to look downright certifiable. Padded cell for one please?
So I bit back the smartass remarks and caved. I let him scoop me up from my chair and carry me into the bedroom. I tried to be present when his lips made their customary route from my neck to my breasts and down between my thighs. Then, I did something I hadn't needed to do since dating Mike Newton my sophomore year in college. I faked an orgasm so the whole thing would be over quickly.
I'm not a spectacular liar, but I was counting on Jake's sex-clouded brain to hide any telltale signs. Plus, he would attribute the blush that was slowly spreading up from my chest to being excited and overheated. That was normal.
The whole thing took a grand total of fifteen minutes. Jake, predictably, was floating off somewhere between sleep and awake, and it was easy to leave my bed again and jump in the shower. Again, this was normal.
When I got into the shower, though, I panicked. What the hell was my problem? The tears streaming down my cheeks mixed with the water from my shower. I sat down in the tub, wrapped my arms around myself, and sobbed quietly.