We drove for hours.
At least, that's what I was told later. I don't remember much of it at all – I was really out of it. I wouldn't let go of Jacob's suit jacket, so he took it off and handed to it me to use as a blanket. He promised me that if I held his hand and kept his warm, musky-smelling jacket close, that I would be okay. It was the only way to get me to get in the car.
Oddly enough, despite my overwhelming pain and remorse, I knew what I was doing was right.
Well, logically it was terribly wrong on a thousand different levels. I was running away from my own wedding (after it had already occurred, no less) with a guy who was theoretically seventeen years old. I'd offered no explanations or goodbyes and brought next to nothing with me. To say the least, this was not at all how I'd imagined my life turning out. There was only one thing that made me say that it was right, but it was a big, important thing. I was finally telling the truth. Not only to Edward and Jacob, who deserved it the most, but to myself.
I dozed in and out, hearing the radio play softly. One time, however, we passed a very brightly-lit advertisement, and the striking neon lights jarred me awake. Seeing my eyelids flutter, Jacob immediately began to ask questions. His voice was soft and very sweet, but the genuine concern only served to ignite more guilt within me.
"Bella, honey, are you cold? Are you hungry?"
"Don't fuss over me, please," I replied, groaning a little as I turned to face him. My eyes felt sore and sticky from all the crying earlier, and I blinked them impatiently.
"I'm not fussing, Bella, I just know you well enough to know that you wouldn't tell me if you were freezing or starving or something. You're an obstinate little thing, you know that?"
"Bella, you've got to be hungry. Two bites of wedding cake just won't stick with you very long."
Though I knew that he had only been making a factual statement and not intending to hurt me, I immediately had a memory of licking the frosting off of Edward's cold fingers and giggling at his grimace as he swallowed his own portion. Had that happy, carefree girl really been me – me two hours ago?
"Bella, talk to me," Jacob persisted. I could tell he was going to pester me until I replied, and then he would insist on stopping and eating. But I wasn't going to fess up to how hungry I was. Discomfort could wait – getting as far away as possible was the most important thing to me right now.
"I'm fine," I tried to lie. My stomach chose that moment to growl loudly.
"Case and point," Jacob said, winking and swerving to just barely make the exit ramp. Someone honked, but I was too anxious to care.
"Jacob, why can't we keep driving?" I demanded, waking up and getting more alert as the adrenaline started leaking into my system. "I want to get away."
"We're practically in Aberdeen, Bella. We're going to have to stop sooner or later. One hundred miles is a pretty good distance, if you ask me," he said.
I couldn't help but acknowledge his logic. Aberdeen? That was halfway to Portland. I'd slept longer than I thought. I really felt like staying silent, but I knew I was being unfair and childish.
"Where are we going to stop?" I asked quietly.
"There's my girl," Jacob replied, his smile making me feel momentarily better. "Our choices look pretty slim, though. Seems to me that we've got a few burger joints, a pizza parlor, and one of those places that serves breakfast all day and all night. What sounds good?"
"What time is it?" I asked, realizing how strange it was that that would affect my choice.
"It's about one AM," Jacob replied evenly. I gave him a look of shock, and he laughed.
"Told you so. Now go ahead and let me know what you want before the light changes and I have to turn."
Well, there was no decidedly correct variety of meal for the wee hours of the morning, so I guess I really could just get what I wanted.
"Breakfast," I decided.
"Breakfast it is," Jacob replied, turning right and pulling into an almost-deserted parking lot. "Do you want a second to freshen up before we go in?"
I gave him a blank look.
For some reason, I had imagined him getting the food to go. I wasn't sure if I could handle walking into a restaurant full of normal people living out normal lives. They'd smile at my beautiful wedding dress and ask all kinds of personal questions that I didn't have remotely acceptable answers to. Jacob's sigh, however, broke my reverie.
"Bella, I need a second to sit down and eat. I know you're used to being driven around by immortals, but some of us need actual food and a few cups of coffee if we're going to drive all night long."
His words stung a little in a weird way, but they didn't hurt, necessarily. It was almost like a little jolt to get me going again and bring me back (at least temporarily) to reality.
"Okay," I finally relented. "Yeah. Um, just let me wipe off my face or something."
I pulled down the visor to look in the little mirror there, and was surprised at what I saw. It was darkly ironic. My eyes had black circles under them; both from tiredness and from all the makeup that I'd forgotten would have run down my cheeks in weird little rivers. My face was pale because I hadn't eaten in a while, and my eyes were a little red from all of the crying.
I looked like a vampire. How funny. Hardly thinking, I threw back my head and laughed. Jacob gave me a concerned look.
"Bella, I'm glad we stopped when we did. You're downright slaphappy, you know that? Sit still for a second; I'll wipe off the makeup mess. The sooner we get food in you, the better."
"I look like the corpse-bride," I said through giggles as he patiently wiped off the greasy black smears on my cheeks. Suddenly, I sobered up and sharply swallowed.
"I almost was the corpse bride," I echoed myself, the horror in my own voice causing another tear to roll down. Jacob sighed.
He stopped talking and simply pulled me close again. After a minute or two of sobbing into his warm chest, I was okay again. Or at least however close to okay I'd been before my random little breakdown.
"Okay, no more nonsense, we're getting food," Jacob announced.
I grabbed my purse from the floorboard, surprised somehow that it was still right where I'd thrown it when I left the reception in my practically comatose state. Opening it briefly, I leafed through the roll of bills that Renee had slipped me for my honeymoon. I obstinately swallowed the persistent tears and straightened the neckline of my dress.
Dinner was essentially a non-event. I was still being morose and overly quiet, but Jacob didn't try and push me. I actually almost wished that he had. He did make me eat, though, which frustrated me. I hadn't planned on ordering anything but fruit or maybe French toast, but he informed me that I wouldn't leave until I ate at least my weight in pancakes and eggs and bacon.
As much as I hated to admit it, that might have been the best meal I've ever eaten in my life. I had been completely oblivious to how hungry and weak I'd gotten. I stopped counting the number of pancakes I'd eaten around four, and that wasn't even mentioning the piles of eggs and bacon. I'd also had about three glasses of orange juice, which I ordinarily didn't even like.
After having eaten, I could feel my headache ebbing a little, which was quite a mercy. But that didn't change the fact that I still could barely keep my eyes open.
"Do you want to stop for the night, Bella?" Jacob asked me softly as he accepted the check, even though I'd already told him I would pay.
I bit my lip.
On one hand, I was exhausted. And Jacob had been right about the food. But on the other hand, travelling was bordering on the obsessive with me. The further away from Forks we could get, the faster we could go, the better I would be. At least, that made sense at the time.
"Bella, you're about to fall asleep on your plate. I think you should get some sleep – in a real bed," Jacob said softly, lifting my drooping chin with one finger. I hesitated but finally nodded slowly.
"Is there a hotel off this exit?" I asked. Jacob nodded.
"I looked at the options. There's a few random ones, but they seem to be in our price range."
"Cheap as dirt?" I inquired. Jacob nodded, laughing a little.
"Okay. You lead the way."
I allowed Jacob to half-carry me back to the car and drive a mile or so down the road to one of the hotels. It didn't look like much. One of the neon lights in the sign was blinking on and off, and it looked like a few of the shutters were hanging onto the windows for dear life.
"Is this livable – for one night?" Jacob asked, making sort of a face. I nodded vigorously.
"It's perfect. If it has a bed and a bathroom, I'm there."
"That's what I was thinking."
Feeling as though I should have been carrying some kind of luggage or suitcase, but at the same time relieved that I wasn't, I walked inside with Jacob.
My first impressions of the lobby were not particularly noteworthy. It wasn't anything special, but at the same time, it didn't look like any gangbangers would be setting up housekeeping. The wallpaper was peeling and the lights seemed too bright, but the lady at the desk was agreeable and courteous. She also seemed a little concerned at our lack of luggage, but Jacob assured her that we'd be fine.
Our room was about like the lobby had been. Old and worse for wear, but very clean. It was darker than the downstairs, though. It didn't have fluorescent lighting; there was just a lamp in the corner. The shadows in the room were large and sweeping, and made me feel like I was staying somewhere kind of edgy or breaking some kind of rule.
I guess I was doing both of those things.