A/N: Hi again. I'm so sorry it's taken so long to get this final chapter up. A combination of factors was to blame. Still, it's here now and it's a monster of a chapter. I hope you enjoy it.
On a side note, Emilie (Pierard85) has been translating 'Babies' into French. So if any of you French readers want to have a look, go to her profile and check it out.
Outtake 2: Jacob and Victoria
Jacob lay awake in the pre-dawn gloom and watched her chest gently rise and fall with each breath she took as she lay sleeping. He could feel each exhale as it brushed over his skin like a lover's caress. The warmth of her body, curled around his, caused his skin to burn where ever they touched. He could almost feel the imprint of her hand where it lay against his chest.
As he watched Victoria sleep, Jake thought back to the events of the night, and of the last six months. He was having trouble believing that they were really here, together. That finally his dream was coming true. It was why he was awake; he was afraid of falling asleep and waking up to find that it really had only been that, a dream. He'd waited patiently for months for her, waited for her to decide if he was worth taking a chance on. It would rip his heart out if none of this was real.
Needing reassurance, his hand lightly skimmed over her back, his tanned skin contrasting sharply with her velvet, alabaster skin. Moving up, he took hold of a lock of her hair, marvelling at the colour and softness of it. Taking a deep breath, he savoured her scent, a mixture of freesias and roses. He could also smell himself on her as well as the lingering scent of their lovemaking.
As he gazed at her, Victoria stirred and slowly opened her eyes. Jake sucked in his breath at the love and desire in her blue eyes as they stared into his nearly black ones. With a soft smile, Victoria slowly cupped his cheek before burying her fingers in his short, black hair. Pulling his head down towards hers, their lips met eagerly. The kiss was slow and tender, passion temporarily at bay as they savoured the wonder of being together, in each other's arms.
They slowly drew apart, their faces only inches apart. Victoria smiled at the sheer adoration on Jake's face.
"Hi," she whispered, her fingers caressing his brow as she looked at his beautiful face. He was the most beautiful man she'd ever seen, matched only by his beautiful soul.
Jake smiled back, his white teeth gleaming in the dim light. "Hi, yourself." Cupping her cheek, his thumb rubbed over her bottom lip. "Happy?"
Victoria kissed his thumb, enjoying the way his breath caught in his throat. She was still coming to terms with the power she wielded over this amazing man. She still had so much to learn about how to be in a loving relationship, but at this moment in time, she felt confident that Jake would teach her what she needed to know.
"Happier than I've ever been," she replied.
"I love you," he declared.
"I…I…think, no, I know... I…love you…too," she said slowly.
Jake's smile widened as he looked at her uncertain face. He could understand her hesitation in trusting this feeling between them after all the hardships in her life but he was determined that he would prove to her that she could safely put her heart and trust in his care. He knew he would never intentionally hurt her or her son, Robbie. He had the rest of their lives to show her how much he loved her.
"I promise you'll never regret giving us a chance. Never regret loving me," he promised.
"I think I already know that," she replied. "You've been showing me since we first met."
Jake nodded slowly, thinking back to that momentous day.
Watching Bella marry Edward, Jake couldn't help feeling envious. Not because of Bella; she was his best friend and like a sister. No, he was envious of the obvious love between them, the sheer devotion in their eyes and voices as they spoke their vows. He was happy for Bella, he didn't doubt that. He only wanted the best for her and it seemed she had found that in Edward and they were eagerly looking forward to the birth of their baby.
He wanted what Bella had. Someone to love and be loved in return. Someone to start a family with. Someone that would end the loneliness he felt at night, alone in his house. He wanted to feel that special connection to someone. He knew love like that existed; Bella and Edward were proof of that as were his parents. He just didn't know where to find it.
Female companionship was never a problem. Jake wasn't vain but he knew he was attractive. Genetics and looking after himself meant that girls had been throwing themselves at him since his early teens. And there was no denying that he had taken advantage of that, not denying himself willing bed partners when he wanted it. Eventually though, that had palled and he found himself going for weeks or months without a sexual encounter. Currently, it had been nearly six months since he'd last slept with anyone and he could honestly say that he wasn't missing sex.
Maybe he hadn't yet recovered from Billy's death. His father's death had hit him hard; harder than he expected. Watching his normally robust father battle his cancer, seeing him wither away to a shell of the man he knew had been devastating. Jake missed talking to him, laughing with him, even fishing with him. The overwhelming emotion he felt was loneliness. Despite his Bella and his sisters, the loneliness was always there. Jake didn't really know how he was going stop feeling this way. The only thing that helped was his business and he was spending more and more time at the workshop, not having anything to go home to.
As the wedding party continued Jake found himself joking around with Bella and her sister-in-law, Alice. Edward was dancing with someone else while Bella took a break, her feet aching from all the dancing. At four months pregnant, she tired easily. Jacob saw her eyes filled with love as she watched Edward and turned to see who he was dancing with.
Wow! He thought as he saw her. The first thing he noticed was her glorious mane of red-gold hair. It was long and wavy, hanging down her back and Jake could imagine tangling his hands in it. Then he saw her face and he felt a jolt of desire run through him. She was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. She reminded him of a porcelain doll his sister had as a child. Smooth, alabaster skin topped off by blue eyes. Her rosebud lips begged to be kissed. She looked so delicate; like she would break if handled roughly. He had to know who she was.
"Who is Edward dancing with?" he asked Bella, dragging her gaze from her new husband.
"That's Victoria. She's living with Carlilse and Esme and her baby, Robbie. I mentioned her, remember?" replied Bella, looking at him curiously.
"That Victoria?" Bella nodded. "You didn't tell me she was so beautiful."
Of course he had heard of her. She had been in the local newspaper when her former partner had held Bella hostage and had been killed. Bella had subsequently told him a little of what she had gone through. Jake couldn't believe that anyone would want to hurt someone that looked like an angel.
"Would you like me to introduce you?" asked Bella with a knowing smile on her face.
Jake could only nod eagerly. He couldn't take his eyes off her. Bella led him to the dance floor and watched as she interrupted Edward's dance.
"Victoria, I'd like to introduce one of my best friends, Jacob Black," said Bella, giving her new husband a sly wink.
Without any premeditation, Jake took Victoria's hand and lifted it to his lips. He couldn't remember ever touching skin as soft as hers. He watched, entranced, as Victoria blushed prettily at his gesture. Close-up, she was even more beautiful, her skin flawless. Jake's heart was thundering in his chest.
"H…hi, Jacob," she said, his name flowing over him like a caress.
"Please, call me Jake," he replied. "Would you like to dance?" he asked, holding his breath.
"I'd love to," she replied.
Not giving her time to change her mind, Jake led her out into the crowd. The music was fast and loud and didn't really give them a chance to speak much. He made small talk while they danced, delighting in her laughter. She admitted that she didn't really know how to dance, Jake grabbed her hand and spun her around, making her giggle as he pretended to dance really badly. For song after song, they continued dancing until it was time for Bella and Edward to leave.
Shortly after the newlywed's departure, Victoria thanked him for their dance and excused herself to go and feed her son and put him to bed. The other guests were leaving and Jake couldn't find any excuse to hang around. Lying in bed that night, he relived every moment of his time with Victoria.
He tried to recall what he knew about her, which wasn't much. She had a baby son and she had been in an abusive relationship. The baby's father was dead, a situation Jake was heartily glad about. She was now living with Edward's parents, who seemed to have 'adopted' her.
When he thought about that bastard hurting her, Jake could feel his fists clench in anger. The woman had been pregnant, for fuck's sake! What kind of asshole did that? He suddenly wished the bastard was still alive so that he could beat the living crap out of him and let him know what it felt like. Jake doubted he'd be such a tough guy when confronted with someone bigger than him.
That made him wonder if Victoria would ever trust another man after what she'd suffered. What if she was forever turned against men or relationships? Would she ever consider giving him a chance to show her how a real man treated a woman? Would she ever learn to trust again?
Jake thought about her son. He'd only seen him at the end of the night when Victoria left to feed him. Her having a child didn't bother him in the least. They came as a package and Jake was fine with that. Besides, he liked children and wanted some of his own one day.
For the next weeks, thoughts of Victoria rarely left his head. Her face would pop up in his dreams. If he saw anyone with red hair, she would come to mind. He just wanted to see her again but didn't know if she would want to see him again. Jake had never felt like this before; pining over a woman who may never feel the same.
In desperation, he went to see Bella to seek her advice. Bella knew Victoria and would tell him straight whether he had any chance with her. As expected, Bella told him the truth; he would have his work cut out for him but that if he was patient, hopefully Victoria would come to see that he was worth taking a chance on. Bella's advice was to be her friend. Victoria had had precious few friends in her life.
When Bella asked him a couple of days later if he wanted to go to Esme's house for Sunday lunch, Jake jumped at the opportunity. Sitting in the back of Edward's car, he was ridiculously nervous and had to ignore Edward's knowing smirks. After a while, even Edward felt sorry for him and tried to get him to relax. Jake felt like he was going on his first date and was terrified he'd say something stupid or worse, scare her away.
In a way, she reminded him of an injured young deer that Billy had found when Jake was a teenager. The animal was in a lot of pain but wouldn't let anyone near without a fight at first. It skittered away when Billy tried to treat her. Slowly her wounds healed as Billy showed tremendous patience. Every movement he made was slow and measured, wanting to reassure the deer that he could be trusted not to hurt her. Over the course of several weeks, Billy slowly gained her trust until he was finally able to hand feed her. She even took to following him around when he was nearby. When she was finally healed, Billy set her free, a few tears in his eyes. Amazingly though, the deer often returned, as if to see Billy, before heading back to the forest. Jake knew his father treasured those moments.
Jake decided to follow Billy's example. He would be whatever Victoria needed him to be; friend, confidante, babysitter. Maybe someday…lover, boyfriend, husband. Jake knew he was in this for the long haul. Hopefully Victoria would one day feel the same.
The lunch went better than he'd hoped for. Though shy and a little nervous, Victoria had started talking and laughing with him over their meal. Jake knew he'd been purposely sat next to her and silently thanked the others for their support. That they trusted him to do the right thing by Victoria touched him. He also got to know little Robbie and honestly thought the baby was adorable. It was easy to like the little guy.
Jake was making Robbie smile while holding him and didn't notice the look on Victoria's face. It was one of pleasure and surprise. She couldn't help but be affected by the easy, natural way this huge, handsome man played with her baby son.
Victoria couldn't deny that she was attracted to Jake. How could she not be? He was stunning. Tall, well built, he had a face that could have graced the big screen. When he smiled, his whole face lit up, his dark eyes crinkled and his impossibly white teeth stood out against his honeyed skin. Short, black hair topped it all off.
Her pulse raced when he looked at her and when he smiled, she found it hard to breathe. She couldn't help feeling nervous around him. He had such a strong effect on her. When they'd danced at Bella's wedding, she'd felt like a teenager again; or at least how she imagined a teenager would feel. Her own teenage years held no pleasant memories for her. She'd never really had the chance to just dance and enjoy a boy's company and just let herself enjoy the experience. Jake was a good partner that night, and the night had passed way too quickly.
Now he was here in Esme's house and Victoria was experiencing mixed emotions. On one hand, she was enjoying his company, his conversation putting her at ease. He drew laughter from her when telling her stories of his father, who he'd lost some months earlier. She wasn't oblivious to the approving looks of the others in the room. On the other hand, she was nervous and scared. It hadn't been that long since she'd seen James killed in front of her eyes. She still had nightmares about some of the beatings he'd inflicted on her.
Victoria couldn't help a sense of self-loathing at the way she'd allowed James to abuse her the way he did for so long. That she had been so weak as to just put up with it. He'd made her feel so worthless for so long, that it was difficult to believe that any man would want to be with her. If a man knew the degrading things that James had subjected her to, he would be disgusted.
Having lived in Esme's house for a few months now, Victoria knew that love, real love, did exist. Not the pitiful excuse for love that she had felt for James. It was evident every day with this amazing family. Carlisle still treated Esme like his bride despite having been married for over thirty years. At first, Victoria had been both embarrassed and intrigued by the open displays of affection between the couple. Now she was used to it, finding it endearing.
Yet, the long buried romantic part of her soul wanted a love like Esme and Carlisle's, or like their children's. She wanted to feel loved and cherished. She just didn't believe she deserved it. Certainly a man as beautiful as Jake wouldn't want her that way. He could have any woman he wanted. He wouldn't want someone who was damaged goods and who had a child.
Robbie, her precious baby, was another consideration. Her most important consideration. Never would she allow him to be subjected to the violence she had been. She would sooner die than allow that. He was her ray of sunshine, her redemption. Everything she did now would be for him. She would have to trust a man implicitly before she trusted him with her son.
When Jake left, he kissed her cheek and Victoria nearly gasped at the thrill of sensation that ran through her at the touch of his lips. It was thrilling and terrifying at the same time.
Despite her confused emotions, Jake came around again a few days later, ostensibly to see Esme but ended up spending most of the time playing with Robbie and talking to her. Victoria couldn't help liking Jake as well as being attracted to him. He was such a sweet, lovely guy. He told her about his family and business and seemed to sense that she wasn't ready to talk about her past, for which she was grateful. He also never crossed any physical boundaries, would just kiss her cheek when he left. He did the same with Esme so she couldn't read anything into it.
Victoria needed to speak to someone about Jake. She sensed that he liked her as more than a friend and it made her nervous. Bella was his best friend so it seemed logical to speak to her. Bella confirmed that Jake was a good person and that she could do worse than have a friend like him.
To Jake's delight, Victoria accepted his overtures of friendship. Carefully, never overstepping the boundaries, he slowly gained her trust. It helped that he really came to love Robbie. He looked forward to spending time with Robbie nearly as much as his mother. His little face would light up when Jake came in the room. Victoria couldn't help her heart melting as she watched them together.
In late September, Jake invited Victoria over to the Quileutte reservation for a birthday party. Leaving Robbie with Esme, Victoria couldn't help feeling a little nervous. Without Robbie, it almost felt like a date.
"Hey, what's up?" asked Jake as they drove.
"Nothing. I'm just not used to parties," replied Victoria.
Jake reached out and squeezed her hand reassuringly. "Relax, Vic. You've met a lot of the guys already. I'll look after you." Victoria couldn't help the zing of pleasure when he smiled like that.
As promised, Jake made sure she had a good time. The party was outdoors and a bonfire had been lit to keep them warm. Having expressed enough milk for Robbie for several feeds, Victoria allowed herself a few beers and was dancing with Jake when the music suddenly changed to a more romantic ballad. With her inhibitions lowered, Victoria threw her arms around Jake's neck and began swaying to the music.
Jake's heart nearly stopped at Victoria's actions. He knew she was buzzed but he couldn't stop himself from doing what he'd wanted to do since he'd first seen her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and drew her close, sighing with pleasure as her soft curves pressed against his. He rested his face against her hair, breathing in her scent and tried desperately not to let her feel what her closeness was doing to his body.
When Victoria brushed her lips against his neck, Jake's arms tightened, pulling her flush against him. His heart was thudding in his chest and when Victoria looked at him, a dreamy smile on her lips, he had to kiss her.
Victoria felt like a bolt of lightning struck her when Jake's lips touched hers. They were soft and warm and brushed slowly over hers. She didn't know if it was the beer, the night or if she was just giving in to her suppressed desire, but she opened her mouth and deepened the kiss. With a small groan, Jake sought entry to her mouth, lost in the feel of her. He'd wanted this for so long. Oblivious to anyone else Jake's mouth caressed her, his tongue tasting her mouth, devouring her.
Victoria was lost in a haze of sensation. Her pulse was racing and she could feel herself getting wet. She'd never known a kiss could be like this. James had always been rough when they first got together and later, he didn't even bother. He just took what he wanted.
The memories caused Victoria to pull back with a gasp, completely sober now. What was she doing? Jake deserved better than her. "No, Jake!" she cried as she pulled away from him. Without thinking, she turned and walked away from the bonfire, trying to stem the tears.
"Victoria, wait!" Jake called out as he followed her. Taking hold of her hand, he stopped her and turned her around. They were away from the others, only the moonlight giving any light. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you," he pleaded.
"Why are you sorry? I'm the one who threw myself at you," replied Victoria.
"No, I'm the one who went too far. I just couldn't help myself. You're so beautiful," admitted Jake.
Victoria looked at him, her eyes wet. "I'm not beautiful. I'm broken, damaged. I'm used goods. You're too good for someone like me."
Taking her face in his hand, Jake forced her to look at him. "Don't you dare say that about yourself," he replied angrily. "I don't care about your past. You're a terrific person and mother, a great friend and you're good enough for anyone. You deserve only the best, Victoria."
"You don't know anything Jake!" she cried, tears streaming down her face. "You don't know how worthless I am."
"Then tell me," he pleaded. "Tell me. I'm your friend Victoria. You can trust me with anything and I'll never judge you. Please, don't shut me out."
As she listened to his plea, she found herself wanting to tell him everything. She wanted to let the pain out and share it with someone. She knew that he'd probably turn away when she told him about her past, but she figured it would probably hurt less now than if he turned her away after more time had passed. Like ripping off a bandaid, painful but quick.
"Can we go somewhere?" she asked. He suggested his house nearby and she followed him quietly, preparing herself for his rejection. She just shook her head when he asked if she wanted a drink, unable to stop her hands nervously wringing together. Jake wisely sat across from her, sensing she needed the distance.
"Victoria, before you say anything, I just want you to know that nothing you say will change how I feel about you."
"You don't know that. You don't know what my life has been like. The only good thing I have from 22 years of living is Robbie. I've done horrible things." Her voice trailed off as more tears fell. She couldn't look at Jake, couldn't bear to see the disgust in his face that would surely be there as she told him the unvarnished truth.
"Tell me Victoria. Let it out. You're safe with me, I promise."
Taking a deep breath, she began. "I don't remember my mother at all. She was a prostitute and a drug addict and she OD'd in while working one night. Apparently, I wasn't discovered for two days, hungry and in my own filth. I've been told I was underweight and neglected. I wasn't found straight away because I didn't cry. Babies that are ignored tend not to cry because it doesn't do any good."
Jake couldn't help the anger rising as he imagined the state she must have been in. His hands tightened into fists as he tried to keep his emotions from her.
"I was placed in foster care and I moved from house to house until I ran away with James when I was sixteen. A couple of families were really good but I had to leave because the mother was pregnant or they were moving state. As I got older and angrier, I also made it harder for them to want to keep me. I trashed a couple of houses, stole money and started taking drugs with the money. Depending on where I was at the time, I was either beaten or moved on."
"They beat you?" asked Jake incredulously.
Victoria snorted cynically. "They were the good ones. It was preferable to the alternatives."
"What alternatives?" Jake wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"One of the foster fathers was a paedophile and enjoyed nothing more than punishing me by sneaking into my room at night and molesting me. Other's preferred their own form of torture; leaving me in cold water in the bath all night in the middle of winter, for example."
Jake could feel the bile rising in his throat at the thought of her suffering. He wanted nothing more at this moment than to find these sick bastards and kill them, or at least maim them for life. He felt murderous. Taking deep breaths, he attempted to calm down for her sake. "Did...did you tell anyone these things were happening?"
"Yeah right. Like anyone would believe the girl that had a reputation like mine. They all thought I was an obnoxious bitch and a troublemaker. It was only when a couple of the other foster kids complained that the authorities took notice. Then it was off to another hell hole." She didn't say anything for a while as the memories became too painful.
Jake wanted to take her in his arms and promise that nothing would ever hurt her again but he knew she would flee from his touch at this moment. She was too raw from the memories.
"So anyway, I met James when I was sixteen. He seemed like a god to me. He was hot, older and seemed to want me too. He thought my troublemaking ways were funny and encouraged me. He even showed me new ways to break and enter in houses and shops. After only a couple of weeks, he told me he was leaving and that I could go with him. Of course I said yes. What was there to hang around for? I was almost certain to be arrested soon and no-one gave a damn if I was gone anyway. He encouraged my drug use and I was high when he took my virginity."
He didn't know if he really wanted to hear this part, but Jake kept quiet.
"Sometimes he hurt me when we had sex but I didn't know any better. All my experiences of a sexual type were painful. My foster father used to hurt me, even if he never actually raped me. James got rougher over the weeks but I was too 'in love' with him to protest. I figured that's what it's like for everyone. I didn't have any girlfriends to compare notes with or anything. A few months later he hit me for the first time. He was sorry and blamed it on the drugs. Then it got worse and worse. He broke my jaw once."
Jake stood up then, unable to contain his anger. Victoria stopped talking but still didn't look at him. "It's okay. I just need to move around a bit," he explained.
Eventually she continued. "We moved around all the time and his drug habit got worse. We needed the money so he broke into houses, held up stores, mugged people; anything to get money. It wasn't enough so he used...me." She stopped, drawing deep breaths, her limbs shaking.
Knowing what was coming, Jake wanted to urge her to stop, to not put herself through it again but talking seemed cathartic to her in a way. "What happened?"
"He... he...made me... prostitute...myself," she whispered. Jake wanted to cry at the pain in those few words. "He would sell me to whoever would pay for me. When I protested, he bashed me. Even when I did what he wanted, he still bashed me. I hated it. I hated their hot, sweaty hands on me. Their breathing on me. The worst was when James watched. He charged extra for that." Taking a peek at Jacob's face, she saw anger and assumed it was at her. She wasn't surprised. The memories disgusted her too.
"I'm getting a drink. Do you want anything?" he rasped. Victoria nodded, taking a long swallow of the beer he gave her.
"When I fell pregnant the first time, he beat me so badly that I lost it. I never really knew who the father was. It could have been any of those men. After that I didn't care what happened to me. I just wanted to die. If James told me to mug an old man, I did it. If he wanted me to have sex with a couple of perverts, I did it. I became the slut all those foster parents had assumed me to be."
"I got pregnant again and something happened. I had something to live for again. I refused to have sex with strangers any more. I threatened to go to the cops if he made me. I was bluffing, but it worked. I kept the pregnancy secret for as long as possible. When he found out he went to bash me but I fought back. I grabbed a kitchen knife and threatened to kill him. I would have done it too. I wasn't going to lose this baby. He believed me and let it go. He still bashed me, trying to make me lose it but it didn't happen. I was in survival mode. Then we ended up in Forks and you know the rest. I will love the Cullens forever for what they did for me. I didn't know people like them existed. I don't deserve their kindness but I'll accept it for Robbie's sake. I want him to have what I didn't."
"Yes, they are wonderful people. But you're wrong. You do deserve their kindness. You deserve good things to happen now. You deserve...love," said Jake softly.
Victoria shook her head. "No...I don't. Didn't you hear what I just told you? I robbed, lied, took drugs, prostituted myself. I'm used goods. You should be disgusted by me," she cried, covering her face with her hands as she began to sob.
He couldn't take it anymore. He stood up and went to her side, wrapping his arms around her, trying to comfort her. She flinched slightly but didn't protest, too lost in her sorrow. Unconsciously, he rocked her while she cried, whispering soothing words. It took almost ten minutes before she calmed down. When she realised his arms were around her, she tried to pull away but Jake wouldn't let her.
"Stay, baby. It's okay, I just want to hold you," he soothed. When he felt she was calm enough he spoke. "Victoria, I want you to know that nothing, absolutely nothing, you've told me makes me think any differently of you. You could never disgust me. You weren't responsible for what happened to you. Any of it. You were the victim in all this. That you survived all that and still be the person you are, is remarkable and a credit to you."
"Jake, I don't know how many men I've slept with. How can you want to be near me when you know that?"
"You were forced to do that," replied Jake. "You were beaten up and beaten down. You couldn't fight back. You had no family, no support. No one could have withstood the type of coercion he used. But you stood up to him for the sake of your baby. You were determined to do the best for him and that proves that you're a good person. You could have stayed and put up with it, endangering Robbie but you finally took the chance."
"Only because the Bella and Edward urged me to get help," interrupted Victoria.
"Yes, and you could have refused their help, but you didn't. I'm sorry, more sorry than I can say, for all the horrible things you've been through. If I could wipe it all away, I'd do it in a heartbeat."
Victoria looked into his dark eyes, astonished again at how beautiful he was. "Why? I know you're my friend but..."
"Victoria, I'm not going to lie to you. I want to be more than just your friend. I want to be your friend, lover, boyfriend, partner. I want it all with you." He couldn't help but notice the way she shrunk back slightly at his words and his heart sank but he was determined to be whatever she needed him to be and if it was only as a friend, then that would have to be enough, no matter how much he longed for more.
"But more than anything, I want you to know that I'll always be here for you. If you can only ever see me as a friend, then I'll accept that. I just want to be in your life, in Robbie's life, in any way I can."
Pulling away from his arms, Victoria instantly felt colder, lonelier. She looked at him with her eyes red and puffy from her tears. "I…I…don't know if I can give you more. I want to." Jake's heart leapt again before her next words. "I do. But I don't…know…if I'll ever trust a man again. After all those men…"
Jake took her hand in his. "It's not always like that. I want to show you how it should be between a man and a woman. How special it can be between two people who care about each other." He could see the doubt in her eyes.
"I want what the Cullen's have, but I'm terrified. I can't hurt like that again. For Robbie's sake."
"Victoria, whatever happens between us I will promise you one thing." Victoria looked into his eyes, so earnest and sincere. "I will never, ever hurt you intentionally. I have never, and would never, raise my hand to a woman and certainly not you. I will always be your friend and take care of you and Robbie, in whatever way you want. I will help you battle your demons and support you, whatever you do with your life. I hope, I pray, that one day you'll see your own worth and believe that we could be incredible together, but I won't push. If you ever feel you're ready for more than friendship, I'll be waiting. I'll wait forever, Victoria."
The tears streamed down Victoria's face and she felt a piece of her broken and battered soul repair itself silently. Without even realising it, she wrapped her arms around Jake and felt his go around her, holding her tightly. She felt so safe in his arms and a part of her knew that she could trust him, but a larger part was still too afraid.
They sat like that for ages and Jake sensed when Victoria fell asleep. His hands had been gently rubbing her back, feeling the tension slowly seep out of her. He looked down and saw her face, softer in sleep, the memories gone for now. He debated whether to wake her and take her home but decided to let her sleep.
Carefully, he picked her up and carried her to his bedroom and placed her on the bed. She didn't wake when he took off her shoes or turned down the covers. Jake climbed in the bed and pulled her close, wrapping his arms protectively around her waist. This might be the only time he'll ever have her in his bed and he wanted to stay awake and savour the experience but he too succumbed to sleep.
Things changed between them after that night.
Victoria couldn't help seeing Jake as a desirable man now, instead of just a platonic friend. She'd been attracted to him before, but after that kiss and waking up wrapped in his arms in his bed the following morning, the feeling was intensified to the point where she began having erotic dreams about him. Knowing he wanted the same thing made it worse.
They spent all their free time together now, along with Robbie. Watching him with her baby, made her want him even more. The first time he'd taken his shirt off to cut some wood, she'd been unable to stop the gasp leaving her lips. He was the hottest guy she'd ever laid eyes on. He was like a sculpture, except he was warm flesh and blood. Her fingers itched to trace each of the indentations on his chest and abdomen. Her mouth actually watered at the thought of running her tongue over every inch. Not even James, at the very beginning, had this effect on her. His head turned as she ogled him and she couldn't help blushing at the tiny knowing smirk on his face. And she never blushed.
True to his word, he didn't push for more than she was prepared to give. Yet, she became more and more aware of every touch, every look he gave her. Her skin would tingle when it touched his and tremble when he placed his arm around her shoulders. She would find herself daydreaming about his lips, remembering how they felt against hers. She couldn't help breathing in his clean, masculine scent when he kissed her cheek. Her pulse would race and she found breathing difficult when he was close.
Talking with Esme helped. Esme encouraged her to confide in her and that no subject was off limits. Needing to understand these feelings, Victoria worked up the courage to ask Esme about what she considered a normal sexual relationship to be. Esme knew about her past and understood what Victoria was asking.
"What you know sex to be is just a travesty of the act. It really shouldn't even be called that. I wish you never had to experience that. But between two people that care about each other, sex can be the most wonderful experience you'll ever have. With the right person, you can experience pleasure that's out of this world."
"Is that what it's like for you and Carlisle?" asked Victoria, already knowing the answer.
Esme smiled coyly. "Yes. When Carlisle and I are together, I forget about everything else. But it's not just about the pleasure; it's about the closeness we feel, the connection. It provides the anchor that holds us steady even when things around us are going wrong. And I would like nothing more than to have you experience that with someone." Taking Victoria's hand in hers, Esme continued. "I know that Jacob would like to be that person for you. I see how he looks at you, the devotion in his eyes."
Victoria nodded, her eyes damp. "I'm scared, Esme."
Taking her in her arms, Esme gently rocked her. It felt like a mother's embrace. "I know, dear. How could you not be? But do you want to be a prisoner to James for the rest of your life? Or do you want to experience a wonderful new life for you and Robbie? James hurt you enough, don't let his memory keep hurting you. You won't find a better man than Jake to help you battle those memories. Give him a chance. Give yourself a chance. I know it won't be easy, but it will be so worth it. I want all my children to be happy, and I consider you one of my children now."
Victoria hugged Esme. "I love you, Esme."
"I love you too, dear. I'll be here every step of the way if that's what you need. We all will be."
Esme's words kept running through her mind over the next few weeks. She decided to start taking baby steps. She and Jake were watching a movie together one night while Esme and Carlisle were out. She was leaning against Jake and could feel the warmth radiating from him. She looked at his profile, admiring his strength and felt the urge to kiss him, to feel those lips again. Before she could chicken out, she reached up and took his chin in her hand, turning his face towards hers. She could see the mixture of confusion and desire in his eyes before pulling his face down to hers.
It was like a jolt of electricity passed through her as their lips met. Jake just rubbed his lips against hers, letting her set the pace. Victoria soon needed more and pressed their mouths tighter, opening her lips and tentatively running her tongue over his bottom lip. She felt more than heard his groan of approval, and all thought fled when his tongue touched hers. The kiss went on and on, and her body was heavy with desire.
So this is what a real kiss is like, she thought. She decided she really, really liked it. He tasted of mint, cola and Jake. His hands were kneading her shoulders as she threaded hers through his short, black hair.
Eventually they pulled apart, both breathless from the heady rush. Jake rested his forehead against hers. "Victoria?"
She knew what he was asking. He didn't pull his arm from around her as she sat back and took hold of his free hand. "Jake, I...want to be more...than your...friend." His smile was beautiful. "I'm still scared, but I want to...try."
"I'm so happy, Victoria. I know you're scared, but we can go slow. You can set the pace. I promise I won't push. You can stop whenever you want. I'll do anything for you, you know that."
Victoria nodded. "Can...can we kiss...some more? I really like...kissing you," she asked shyly.
Jakes face broke out in a delighted grin. "Anytime you want to kiss me, just ask. I really, really like kissing you too."
With a little giggle, she launched herself at him and they spent the next half hour kissing. As much as he longed to, Jake didn't touch her anywhere intimate but he was satisfied with kissing for now. He'd take care of his massive erection when he went home.
That night seemed to release the floodgates in Victoria's mind. She went on the pill, already having been given a clean bill of health from Edward. In the weeks leading to Christmas, things got more and more heated between them. Jake thought he was going to jizz in his pants the first time she asked him to touch her breasts. He blissfully massaged them, loving her excited pants on his neck as she sucked on his skin.
They progressed to him taking her top and bra off and actually tasting her. Victoria had never experienced the pleasure she got from him sucking on her nipples. She couldn't help grinding on him, feeling his hardness against her.
He was so loving and careful with her and always stopped when she experienced a bout of panic, however hard it must have been for him.
A week before Christmas, Victoria had an epiphany. Jake was over, as usual and after enjoying a long, hot hello kiss, he picked up Robbie, swung him around before kissing his cheek and holding him close. As she watched, Jake closed his eyes and rubbed his cheek on the baby's head, a smile on his face. In that instant, Victoria knew that she was in love with Jake. Really in love. This feeling was stronger, deeper and more powerful than any she'd ever felt. Every other consideration flew out the window. She loved him and wanted him in her life forever. She'd be lost without him.
Jake opened his eyes and saw the look on her face. There was surprise and wonder, but most importantly, he saw the love in her eyes. He felt like crying with joy but he didn't say anything. When she was ready to tell him, she would. She'd already come so far.
It was Christmas Eve and they were spending it together at his house. Jake was making dinner and had set the table up for a romantic dinner for two. They were having lunch with the Cullens the following day so this was a chance to spend some time alone.
As they drove back to his place, Victoria took his hand in hers and smiled shyly up at him. Jake lifted her hand and kissed the back of it and placed their entwined hands on his lap. Victoria leaned back and sighed blissfully. Esme had assured her that Robbie would be fine if she wanted to stay over, giving her a cheeky wink. Victoria advised her that she would probably be taking her up on the offer.
Jake had gone all out with dinner, admitting that dessert had been supplied by Bella, who had donated the cheesecake for what she considered a good cause. The wine was making them feel mellow and with the soft music in the background it was scene ripe for seduction. If it was someone other than Jake, she may have thought that was his motive, but she knew better. Jake was honourable above all else. He just wanted to make the night special for her. She couldn't love him more for it.
After dinner, they sat on his couch, kissing gently for a while. Victoria loved kissing. She could happily do it all day, but only with Jake. He was so good at it. He could give lessons although she'd kick any girl's ass if they so much as tried it. Jake was hers. And it was time to let him know.
"Hmm?" he replied, kissing the nape of neck, making her moan softly as his tongue licked the delicate skin.
Pulling back, she took his face in her hands and looked deeply into his black ones. "Jake, I need to tell you something."
"What is it, baby?"
Victoria thrilled to hear the endearment. "Jake, I want you. All of you. I want to make love with you. Tonight. I've never 'made love' before and I want tonight to be my first time."
He closed his eyes and swallowed hard. He needed to keep control of himself now. "Are you sure? I didn't do all this in order to seduce you."
"I know and yes, I'm sure. You are the most wonderful, beautiful man I've ever known and even though I don't really deserve you, I want to be with you more than anything I've ever wanted."
With that, Jake scooped her up into his arms and carried her to his bedroom, their lips never leaving the other's except to draw breath. He followed as he laid her gently on his bed, pressing his body against hers, letting her know how much he wanted her too.
"I'm going to worship you tonight. I'm going to wipe out every bad memory you ever had and I'm going to love you the way you should always be loved. Until my face is the only one you'll ever associate with making love."
As he talked, his hands began roaming over her body, feeling every curve and placing kisses on every inch of bare skin he could find. Looking into her eyes, he slowly began unbuttoning her blouse, kissing newly revealed flesh. Her chest was rising and falling rapidly and he could almost hear her heart thumping in excitement.
Groaning as his lips encountered the material of her bra, he kept going down until each button was undone. He didn't pull open the blouse yet, instead he delicately traced a finger up and down the strip of exposed skin, from her stomach to her throat and followed it once again with his tongue.
Victoria felt every nerve ending leap in response to his actions and she felt like her heart was going to burst out of her skin and he hadn't even exposed her breasts yet. Kissing her lips again, his hand pulled apart the material, so that her black, lace-covered bra was visible. She knew that Jake loved her breasts, which were bigger now than before she had Robbie.
Jake sucked in his breath as she was revealed to him. He'd seen her breasts before, had even tasted them, but it was different tonight. Tonight, neither was going to stop until they were sated.
"You're so beautiful, baby," he whispered reverently. "So pale, like alabaster. So soft." His finger traced over the edge of her bra cup, teasing her.
"Touch me," she pleaded, her sex heavy and dripping with desire.
Unsnapping the front clasp, he pushed the cups back, baring her glorious breasts. Smooth and pale, they were topped by plump, pale pink nipples. Jake was so damned hard it hurt. His thumbs gently flicked the peaks, feeling them get even tighter. He needed to taste them like he needed air. Massaging one, he traced the other with his tongue before blowing on it then taking it in his mouth and sucking on it.
"Oh god, that's good," she gasped, grabbing his hair and anchoring him to her chest.
For several minutes, Jake just feasted on her, moving between each peak, nibbling and suckling. Victoria was unconsciously grinding her hips, seeking relief for the ache between her legs.
Eventually, Jake let her over-sensitised nipples go and began kissing and licking all the way down her abdomen until he came to the button of her jeans. Before undoing it, he sat up and took off his shirt and pants, remaining only in his briefs which were straining at the seams from his massive erection.
Victoria couldn't help licking her lips as she watched him. He was beyond gorgeous. He was perfection. His smooth, tanned skin looked good enough to eat. Unable to resist, her hands moved to his broad shoulders, kneading the skin before moving down over his chest. Her fingers flicked his nipples and she heard his soft moan. Down went her fingers, tracing each indentation, unconsciously teasing him as she kept licking her lips when she reached his fly.
Pulling her hands away with a gentle smile, Jake lay on top of her, their skins melding. They both sighed in relief at the sensation and Jake kissed her ravenously, his fingers skimming the sides of her breasts. He reached her pants and pulled down the zip and snaked his hand inside. He ran his finger over the edges of her panties, drawing gasping breaths from her.
"You're really sure about this?" he asked one more time.
Victoria nodded. "Yes, damn it! I need you."
Jake couldn't help the chuckle that left him at her desperation. He felt about ten feet tall knowing he'd made her like this and they weren't even half way there yet. Sitting back on his haunches, he pulled her jeans down and off, leaving her lying there in only her black lace panties.
"Fuck, you're hot," he burst out. He was going to have to exercise all his control tonight.
"So are you," she giggled, amazed. She'd never giggled during sex before. Then again, she'd never had reason to.
His lips skimmed her legs, amazed at the softness of her skin. He moved up and kissed each hip before nuzzling her sex. Her underwear was dripping wet. He'd done this to her, he thought proudly.
Looking up at her with desire-glazed eyes, he pulled down her panties, revealing all of her. He thought he'd died and gone to heaven. He stared in awe as he opened her legs. Her glistening delicate, pink pussy was framed by a small strip of strawberry blonde hair.
"Oh baby, you're perfection," he breathed. "I need to taste you more than I need air."
Victoria bit her lip nervously. James had hated doing that so she didn't have much experience with this part of sex. But Jake was looking at her like she was his very own candy machine and she felt another gush of wetness.
Her nod was all the invitation Jake needed before he dove down, breathing in her scent. Spreading her lips with his fingers, he delicately ran his tongue from one end to the other.
"Oh my god!" cried out Victoria. When he did it again and again, she became delirious with pleasure. She couldn't help the moans that left her mouth as he did incredible things to her body.
Jake felt like he could happily stay here for the rest of his life, feasting on her. She tasted like ambrosia and licked up every drop of moisture. He had to hold her hips down as she began thrashing around. She yelped when he thrust his tongue into her, feeling her heat. Then he moved up and sucked her nub into his mouth, while he inserted a couple of fingers into her.
"Fuck! Oh god!" she cried out, her fingers digging into his scalp. "I'm gonna come, Jake."
He took his mouth off her just long enough to urge her. "Do it, baby. Come for me. Let me show you how a real man loves his woman." He returned to his welcome task.
Victoria was moaning continuously now, lost in a haze of pleasure. Pleasure she hadn't known existed. When he gently bit her clit while sucking it, Victoria lost it.
"Oooohhhhh!" she yelled out, her hips thrusting into his mouth as wave after wave of intense pleasure swept through her body. She didn't even realise that she was squeezing his head with her thighs.
Jake stroked her through her orgasm, ecstatic that he had made her lose control. Her body slowly came down from its high and her thighs relaxed their hold. Victoria lay back, stunned. All these years, this was what she'd been missing. She honestly had not realised her body was capable of that much feeling and pleasure.
Moving up her body, Jake lay on top of her, his eyes shining. Victoria looked at him dazedly.
"I didn't know," she whispered breathlessly.
"It's only the beginning," he replied, kissing her hungrily.
Despite just experiencing her first real orgasm moments before, Jake's kiss and hands soon had her ready for more. This time though, she wanted him inside her. She wanted to experience an orgasm with his body consuming her. Her hands moved down and began pulling on his briefs. Jake's lips left hers and he moved to help her.
Victoria sucked in her breath as he was revealed to her. He was big. Deliciously big and hard. She could see his cock pulse with excitement.
"It's beautiful." She never thought she would ever think of a penis as beautiful, but Jake's was. And his was going to give her pleasure, not pain and humiliation like she had become used to.
Jake grinned. "It's all for you. You've made me this hard. God, I want to be inside you."
"Then do it. I want to feel you moving in me."
Groaning, Jake positioned himself over her, his tip just touch her burning core. Leaning on his elbows, he looked down at her face, a part of him unable to believe they were really here
"I love you," he breathed as he gently inserted himself into her.
Victoria gasped, at his words and at the incredible sensations he was giving her as he filled her. When he was fully inside her, he stopped. They both savoured the pleasure of their joining. Victoria felt like a lifetime's loneliness was wiped away.
Slowly at first, Jake began moving inside her and soon they were incoherent with pleasure as their bodies moved as if they had been doing this their whole life.
"Baby, oh baby. You feel amazing," he ground out as his hips pistoned in and out of her.
"Oh...god. Oh god. Harder. Please," she replied breathlessly. Her fingers were digging into his butt, wanting him as deep inside as possible. Her legs were wrapped around his waist and it was hard to tell where she ended and he began.
"Baby, are you close?"
She nodded. She could feel the coiled tension originating from where they were joined winding tighter and tighter.
Jake felt like he was going to explode any second. He didn't know how he lasted this long. She just felt so fucking good. Her skin was flushed and had a slight sheen of sweat. Her lips were parted as she gasped with each thrust. He'd never forget this night as long as he lived.
Because he couldn't help it, he took her mouth with his, his tongue mimicking what his body was doing to her. When he pulled back, the words burst out again.
"I love you. So damned much."
For a second they seemed suspended in time; then the coil snapped. Victoria threw her head back as she screamed in pleasure as her orgasm exploded through her. This one was even more intense than before, and she was struggling for breath as spasms wracked her body.
He felt the instant her body let go. He felt her inner walls clamp down on his cock, before rhythmically squeezing. It was too much and Jake cried out as he spilled himself into her, thrusting manically as he tried to extract every ounce of pleasure he could.
Not wanting to squash her, he rolled them to the side, still joined. Victoria buried her face in his neck, unable to hold back the tears.
Jake tilted her head up, alarmed. "Baby! Did I hurt you? Oh god, I didn't mean to hurt you." He became frantic.
Victoria shook her head, wanting him to calm down. "No Jake. No, you didn't hurt me. Not at all. I just never expected...that. It was so much...more." She looked at him. "It just came to me that I could have gone my whole life and never experienced something so...amazing and it made me cry." Leaning up, she kissed him softly. "Thank you Jake. Thank you for taking a chance on me. For not giving up on me."
"I'd never give up on you, baby. I love you," he replied, stroking her cheek.
She smiled back at him. "I know I've got a long way to go before I'm whole again, but I trust you and I know you'll stand by me."
Jake nodded. "Always. Together, we can overcome anything."
Victoria couldn't help the yawn that left her. Jake groaned as he pulled out of her. It wouldn't be long before he wanted her again but for now she needed sleep.
"Come on baby, let's get some sleep. We've got the rest of our lives to work everything out."
With his body curled around hers, Victoria felt complete. Nothing could hurt her while in his arms. Her eyes drooped with tiredness but she remembered that she never told him that she loved him, but somehow, she guessed he already knew. When she awoke, she would tell him.
They had the rest of their lives, after all.
A/N: Well, that's all folks! The very last chapter. Once again, thank you so much to everyone who's read, reviewed, alerted or favourited my story. It's meant the world to me.
See you all again soon.