A/N: Hi everyone! *waves* Here is the fourth installment of a series that began with Learning to Live Again. I highly suggest starting there, because A LOT has happened since I wrote that story.
Here is a brief synopsis: At the end of Our Destinies Revealed, Jacob leaves Bella and his family in order to avenge the deaths of Billy, Sam and Colin. Peter, who is Jasper's friend and also a thorn in Jacob's side, insists on coming with Jacob so that he can get some revenge of his own. His wife, Charlotte, was killed at the same time as Billy and the others.
I really hope you enjoy this story, and please don't forget to review!
Disclaimer: I own NOTHING of Twilight, the franchise, or the characters. I DO, however, own the plot of this story, and that characters I have created on my own.
I sat on the beach in the back of my house, trying to take advantage of the abnormally warm winter day, and turned my face to the sun. It barely registered to me, as did most things these past months since Jacob left.
I wrapped my arms across my chest, trying so hard to hold myself together. I thought about him every second, of every day. I even dreamed about him, resulting in very little cumulative sleep at night. I had to force myself to take naps during the day, in order to get the rest that I needed now.
"Isabella! I see you listened to me and came down to the beach. This is good, because you are much to pale for my liking," Angelo said as he walked over to me. His shimmering skin barely registered to me anymore, because Since Jacob left, he had made it a personal thing to take care of me. He was constantly at my side, pretty much at my beck and call at all hours of the day. I argued with him constantly, telling him he wasn't my personal slave, but he was as stubborn as Alice. So, I gave up.
"Yep! I'm being a good little patient, listening to my doctor's advice," I softly said, giving him a slight smile.
Angelo and I had grown close over the months that Jacob was gone, almost the way Jacob had been there for me, when Edward left. It was different with Angelo and me, because I had zero attraction to him. My heart, soul and life belonged to Jacob, even though he left me behind.
I felt a crushing feeling, as well as painful fire flare up in my chest, and tried so hard to hide it. Angelo was extremely worried about my emotional state, because the stress of everything began taking effect on me physically, something I couldn't afford to happen. My emotions won, as usual, and my body began shaking with gut wrenching sobs. Sobs that would not go away until I either cried myself to sleep, or got physically sick.
"Oh, Bella, please don't cry. Jacob will be back soon," Angelo said, pulling me into his cool embrace.
I felt so guilty leaning on him all the time, leaning on everyone, as a matter of fact. Here I was, in my mid thirties, and unable to control the emotional pain that threatened to consume me. I felt like that pitiful, weak eighteen year old girl, whose world got shattered when the first love of her life walked out on her.
I was pathetic.
True to form, after a long time of crying all over Angelo, comforting darkness surrounded me, enveloping me in its temporary serenity. My reprieve was short lived, because my dreams were of Jacob, holding me, kissing me, loving me….then of him being drained by a faceless vampire, or his neck being snapped, or his body being torn to shreds while I looked on, helpless to protect him. And each time, I would awaken the same way, screaming, soaked in sweat, yet chilled to the bone.
And Angelo was always there when the dreams came, either to soothe me, or to make sure nothing happened to me in my current condition.
Yes, I was pregnant once more, with twins. I conceived the last night Jacob and I were together, and they were the only things keeping me from fully giving in to my depression and grief.
The darkness always beckoned me, trying to seduce me away from my torment. I couldn't give in, because the children I carried inside of me were my last connection I had to Jacob, to our previous life together. Sure, I still had my other children, but all except Kaylee were grown, with lives of their own to live.
Kaylee….now there was a force of nature. She was almost a year old, but looked more like she was nearing three. She, like my other children, grew very quickly, although I hoped she would have grown at a slower rate. Jacob and I wanted to enjoy her being a baby longer this time, and for while she did grow at an almost normal pace. Recently though, she and the other babies born at or around the same time, were starting to grow faster, making all of us parents concerned that another war was approaching. So far, there were no signs of it though, both locally and through the deep connections we now shared with the other shifters in the world.
In the eight and a half months that Jacob had been gone, everyone really pulled together in order to get the Council off the ground. Everyone except for me, that is. I just trudged through each day, only feeling pain and loss from him leaving me to go find Irina. A large part of me was mad as hell at him, for being stupid and going off alone, but a smaller part also understood why. The largest part of me missed him so terribly that it physically hurt.
I had heard stories about Imprinting, how physical pain would come about if soul mates were apart for too long. I never understood it, until now. Not only was I going through my own pain, but I watched Emily go through hers as well.
When Sam was killed, I expected her to curl up and pretty much wait for death. I thought that because I reacted to pain a certain way, everyone else would react similarly.
I was dead wrong.
Emily went through a week or so, deep in grief. She had Kim and Jared take her children, because she knew that she was in no shape to care for them until she was able to get better control over her loss. Then she came back with a vengeance.
Emily had taken Sam's place on the Tribal Council, and totally launched herself into its affairs. She was a major driving force, as well, with getting things kicked into gear with the Council. Because Leah was left in command while Jacob was gone, she and Emily teamed up and got everyone organized, sending teams out to different locales all over to world.
Sarah and Seth were sent to Europe, to deliver the blue prints and to meet with the shape shifters there. Once the business portion of their trip was concluded, they decided to take a week for themselves, as a late honeymoon. Because of what happened the day of their wedding, and the consequent fallout afterwards, their honeymoon was put on indefinite hold. They both fell in love with the countries, and the culture, making future plans to visit as often as possible.
Josephine gave birth to Elizabeth Hope in the early fall, and she was a total pistol. She had her parents green eyes, although they were ringed in gray. Her hair was a dark brown, nearly as dark as Joey's. The strange thing about it though, when the sun made any kind of contact with it, it would immediately shift into Edward's copper color.
It was the strangest thing I had ever seen.
Well, other than vampires and shape shifters.
I was present for her birth, and the joy of holding my first grandchild burned through my depression, although temporarily. Carlisle and Angelo both assisted in her birth, and the first thing she did was hit Angelo in the face. At first we were all shocked, because she had incredible strength for being less than a minute old. Our surprise was short lived, changing into boisterous laughter when she gently touched the cheek she struck, and began giggling like a little manic.
Yep, Joey and Edward were definitely going to have their hands full when she got older. I could see it already.
Alice and Jasper moved out of Carlisle and Esme's house in late summer, opting to buy a trendy, three bedroom condo in Port Angeles. It made sense, especially since it was closer to the boutique she had opened, as well as a baby free zone.
Don't get me wrong, Alice and Jasper loved their 'nieces, nephews' and 'brother', but they were going to wait to start their own family and wanted the peace a quiet. They still visited almost every single day, but loved the fact that they could escape nightly to a world free of spit up, dirty diapers, and middle of the night crying.
Rosalie and Emmett completely loved being parents to their twins, Dawn and Ryan. They still argued on a daily basis about their children's futures, wanting only the best for them when they grew up. Dawn immediately bonded with Emmett, and as she grew, you could tell that she was a little tomboy. Ryan, on the other hand was quiet, clinging constantly to Rosalie, who loved every single minute of it.
Between Carlisle, Esme, Rose and Emmett living together in the same house, none of the children wanted for anything. They were like a well oiled machine with changing's and late night feedings, and because everyone took turns, nobody was stretched too thin and got the rest they needed.
"Isabella, please wake up. It's just a nightmare," I heard Angelo call to me during my nightmare, his voice sounding as if it came from miles away. When the terror finally began to release me, I tried to calm my breathing before opening my eyes.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered, rubbing my eyes as I willed the tears away.
"Please stop apologizing. It is understandable, and you shouldn't feel shame for missing Your Jacob. I just want you to try to keep yourself calm, because this pregnancy hasn't been too easy and I worry about you and the babies," he said, smiling at me. When my eyes finally met his, understanding reflected back, as well as longing. I felt my stomach knot up at the affection he held for me, because even though he was a wonderful man, I could never reciprocate his feelings.
"I'm ok now. Thank you, Angelo," I said as I struggled to get out of bed. My stomach was huge now, so otherwise easy movements were getting extremely difficult.
"Here, let me help you," he said, slipping his hands under my arms and gently lifting me to my feet. I gave him a smile, then placed the palm of my hand against his cheek.
"You do so much for me already, Angelo. You are a good friend," I said, noticing how his face slightly fell at the word 'friend'.
"Come, it's time for the human to eat," he said, quickly recovering.
I knew I was going to have to sit down with Angelo, to set more strict boundaries, as well as let him know that regardless if Jacob returned, my heart couldn't love anyone again.
"Wait. Angelo…," I began, but was quickly cut off when he placed his cool index fingers over my lips.
"You do not even have to say it, Isabella. Your heart only belongs to your Jacob, and I understand that. I do not expect you to return my affection for you. I am, how do you say… 'a glutton for punishment'? Just, let me admire you from afar, and be your friend, because you really need that right now," he said, his eyes filled with sadness and understanding.
"I'm sorry," I said, my voice so quiet that a normal human couldn't hear. "You are a wonderful man, Angelo, and if things were different, maybe I could feel the same for you. I do care about you, but my heart cannot let you in like that. I don't want you waiting around for me, because regardless if Jake comes back or not, our souls are Imprinted and that will never, could never, be broken," I finished, staring down at my huge belly.
"Hey, enough worrying about my feelings. You have enough on your bowl to concern yourself. I promise that my affection for you will not interfere in our friendship. If it makes you the slightest uncomfortable, please let me know and I will leave, because the last thing you are needing right now is a love sick vampire following you around," he chuckled.
I searched his face for any hint of insincerity and found none. Angelo was a very honest man, and his eyes gave away any hints of dishonesty. The last thing I wanted was to lose his friendship. I then started chuckling, warranting a look of confusion from him.
"Plate. It's plate, Angelo, not bowl," I giggled, then broke out in boisterous laughter. Deep belly laughs that made the babies do flips in my stomach. I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face.
"You Americans and your strange phrases. I'm 'down with the jiggy' or whatever it is. Will Smith, he has some strange lyrics too. Andrea Bocelli, now there is a real singer," he scoffed, both teasing me and hiding his embarrassment.
"Come, silly. You have tortured American slang enough for one day. I need some food, because I don't want you and Carlisle threatening to hook me up to an IV again," I snorted, then yelped when he scooped me up and carried me downstairs. Joey, Edward and Elizabeth were just walking in the front door, their arms laden with food and their expressions confused.
"Uh, we got food?" Joey said, looking at Edward.
"Bring it to the kitchen, Josephine. Come here, Lizzy! Let me look at you," Angelo said, grabbing the now walking three month old once he sat me in a chair. Her little face scowled at her nickname, then broke out in a huge grin as she launched herself at Angelo.
"Good, maybe you can get through her stubborn streak, Angelo. She wanted to drag all of her toys with her today, and when I told her no, she proceeded to tear them all apart. Maybe we should pre-pay for boarding school right now. Either that, or she gets shipped off to a convent when she hits physical maturity," Edward joked as he looked lovingly at his daughter.
"Is that right, Elizabeth?" I asked as she bounced on Angelo's knee. My answer was a happy squeal, which made me laugh for the second time that day. Suddenly, a sharp pain ripped through my side, knocking the breath out of my body.
"Oh God!" I howled, doubling over and clutching myself, feeling as if I had gotten bit by a vampire, the pain of the venom spreading through me. Seconds later, the pain was gone, but I was feeling nauseous, and the prospect of food made my stomach turn.
"Mom! Are you ok?" Joey asked as everyone rushed to my side. Both Edward and Angelo looked me over, but looked at me skeptically.
"I'm fine, I promise. I think one of the twins must have kicked me pretty hard," I lied, running a trembling hand through my hair.
"Tomorrow, you get examined at Carlisle's house. End of discussion," Angelo firmly said.
I rolled my eyes at him, picking at the piece of fried chicken on my plate.
"Fine," I grumbled.
My stomach began to settle back down, so I took the opportunity to force some food into my system. My depression over Jacob leaving left me with no appetite, so after I dropped ten pounds, Carlisle, Angelo and Edward all threatened to intravenously feed me in order for the babies to get the nourishment they needed. So, rather than get poked with stupid needles, I forced myself to eat.
Jake…please come home…..I can't do this without you….I'm starting to lose this battle……
"Jake….please…." Bella gasped as I kissed my way down her toned stomach, tasting her salty sweet skin.
"Bells, I need you…" I moaned, settling myself between her trembling legs. She stopped me before I could taste her, and flipped me onto my back, kissing me deeply. She pulled away and smirked, then began moving downward, nearing the place I most wanted her to be. She took my hard length in her hand, but teased me mercilessly with her mouth, kissing across my stomach. She gave me the sexiest smile ever, then slowly began taking me inside of her mouth…..
"JESUS CHRIST!" I yelled when I was awoken by a sharp, burning sensation in my side. I jumped to my feet, and looked down, seeing a small bite mark and blood trickling down. I looked around crazily, trying to find what, or who, was responsible for biting me, and my eyes stopped on Peter, who was cracking up hysterically.
"What the hell is wrong with you? YOU BIT ME!!" I yelled, wiping away the blood.
"Oh please, Jakey. Every single night, for the last, oh… nine months? Yeah, well, I got sick and tired of hearing, 'Oh Bells, lower baby…that's right….Do you like that, honey? I love you so much'. It gets old, man. And for the record, I have been throwing pennies at you for the last ten minutes, and all you do is roll over and talk louder. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I made a judgment call. My sanity, or your pain…it's a no brainer!" he grinned, chucking a handful of pennies at me.
"Still, you didn't have to freakin' bite me, you asshole," I grumbled, hiding my embarrassment with irritation.
My dreams about Bella were an every night occurrence, but had been growing in strength and vividness over the last month.
I couldn't believe that I had been away from her for almost nine months now. Every minute of every single day was torture, but knowing that what I was doing would keep her safe in the long run kept me going.
Peter and I caught onto Irina's trail when we crossed over into Oregon, and it continued to lead southeast. In the course of our travels, we came across many nomadic vampires, and each encounter always ended up the same way.
Me torturing them for information, and them burning to death.
In the beginning, Peter had a hard time with my interrogation tactics, which were harsh to say the least. Granted, he had no problem getting into a heated brawl with the bloodsuckers, but he turned away when I took over and began my questioning. Now, he would hold onto them as I tore off little pieces, not even flinching anymore.
I was pissed as hell when he blackmailed me into letting him tag along. He was a pain in the ass, always tossing little barbs at me here and there. Against everything inside of me, somehow we had forged a tentative friendship. Dysfunctional to the highest degree, but a camaraderie none the less.
"Did you feed yet? Your eyes are turning black," I snapped as I reached into the small pack that held my limited clothing. That was another good thing about him being with me. He carried the backpack as we ran, undaunted by the miniscule weight, while I phased and ran with him.
"Not yet. I was going to grab something when we cut out for the day" he said, flicking through the TV channels almost too fast for me to see.
At first, I fought him about shelter arrangements, preferring to stay in wolf form rather than hotel it. He changed my mind…actually, he forced me into it, bitching about how 'if I wanted a dog around me all the goddamn time, I would have gotten one from the pound. Also, I like to think of myself as somewhat civilized, so staying in the woods all the damned time is NOT AN OPTION'.
So, we stayed at discount hotels each night.
My nightly ritual was always the same; checking in, staring at the phone for hours, fighting the urge to call Bella and tell her I was alive. It was absolute hell, and I was positive I had an ulcer because of my inner turmoil. I knew that if I called her and heard her sweet voice, my mission would be done, Irina would slip away, and I would be back in La Push with Bella in my arms.
So, I never called.
"Go shower, man, because you reek," Peter said, not looking at me.
"What is it with you and showering? I just took one last night when we checked in!" I growled.
"Just because you enjoy living like an animal doesn't mean I like to. My nose is really delicate," he sniffed, biting his lower lip to stifle a laugh.
"I'm about to break that nose of yours, FLEA," I said, slamming the bathroom door behind me. I started the shower and peeled off my clothes as I waited for the water the heat up. I looked in the mirror and cringed at the man looking back at me.
I looked like I had aged ten years, my eyes bloodshot with dark circles underneath. My cheekbones were more prominent, as were my ribs due to my lack of appetite. Peter had to practically force me to eat, under the guise that he didn't want to have to return me to Bella in a pine box because I didn't take care of myself. That always worked for me, so I ate what I could because my goal was to come back to her in one piece.
God how I miss you, Bells…..your smile….your kiss….your touch…..please baby, hang in there. I'll be home soon….Be safe….please, God, be safe…..
I let the hot water wash my tears away, but it was no use. They were coming much too fast, as well as the panic attack that was starting to crush my chest in its vise-like grasp. I sucked in deep breaths, trying to ward it off, but it was no use. Slowly I slid down the shower wall, until I sat on the floor, crying my eyes out.
"Jake, I'm running down to the diner to grab some food for you. Be back in a few," Peter called to me through the door.
He knew how hard I struggled with being away from Bella. At first, he didn't understand it, didn't understand the whole Imprinting thing.
Flashback…..3 months prior…….
"Dude, what the hell is this whole Imprinting thing, anyway? I don't get it," he asked one night after a long days travel.
"It's a soul mate thing…when your soul finds its other half in the person you are meant to spend your life with, the two fuse together and cannot be separated. It's physically painful for Imprints to be away from each other for too long. Imprinting also ensures strong offspring," I explained. His eyes got a faraway look in them, so filled with his own sadness over losing Charlotte.
"It's like your leech claiming thingy. You know who you are meant to be with forever, so you, ugh, bite each other. Like that," I finished. His eyes snapped to mine and hardened, making my hair stand on end.
"Charlotte and I were never claimed…," he murmured, turning his face from me.
"What? I thought you guys were together for a long time…married?" I asked, totally confused.
"Yes, we were married, but were not claimed. She wouldn't allow it….See, Char, she liked variety. Even though we were married and all, she still liked to take on multiple lovers. As long as I gave her that, she came back to me. I never participated in her little parties, and I hated the thought of someone else being with her like that, but I loved her. So I sucked it up like a good little vampire and let her have her toys," he said, his voice now hard as he recalled his life.
"That's enough about me and my screwed up marriage. I get the Imprint thing now. Just…let's go get that bitch before you go all psycho from being away from Bella, and I have to put you down like Cujo," he said, totally dismissing his feelings and going back into 'thorn in my side' mode.
Now, whenever I went into my episodes of falling apart and crying, he gave me my space, knowing how I hated people see me break down.
I picked myself off the shower floor and finished my shower. After drying myself off, I quickly threw on my shorts and T-shirt and walked back into the room. Peter was sitting on his bed once more, flipping through the channels. As my eyes moved over to my bed, they stopped on the phone, which was between us, on a little nightstand.
"Don't even think about it. Your food's getting cold, so eat," he said, not even looking at me.
"Thanks," I said as I sat down and opened the large Styrofoam container to reveal the contents inside. He got me pancakes, eggs, biscuits, fresh fruit, a bunch of bacon and ham, as well as an English muffin sandwich, loaded with melted cheese, sausage and eggs.
"You better eat it all, because it's going to be awhile before we stop once we get back on the road. I also need to hunt…and find some red contacts," he trailed off.
My head snapped up and I glared at him, wondering what he was up to.
"Relax, Jake. Look, while it's nice having a big, brawny wolf to romp around with, I might get more done…alone. From the rumblings we've been hearing, the vampires are planning on a revolt, so if I played the part…red eyes and all…maybe I could get deep inside and find some shit out," he said, still not looking at me and flipping through the channels.
"No. It's too dangerous. No," I said with finality.
"Too late, Bubba. That sexy chick at the diner gave me a card to a place that sells funky contacts. Either that, or I go eat some human blood to get them to turn back to red on their own…," he said, his lips twitching in a grin.
"Ha ha, real funny. Get the damn contacts, and when I see that they look real enough, then MAYBE I will consider your plan."
"Uh huh," he replied, lacing his hands under his head and closing his eyes.
It had taken me a long time to trust Peter enough for him to have my back, either in a fight or while I slept. When we first took off on the hunt for Irina, I stayed up for three nights straight, fearful that he would kill me while I slept. I finally passed out in exhaustion and delirium, and when I woke up, he was still there, with a heaping container of hot food for me.
Another time, we were in a brawl against six vampires, him having started it, of course. We did pretty well in the beginning, but when he started toying with a virulent male, taunting rather than finishing him off, he almost died. The burly male saw his chance, ripping Peter's arms off and picking him up over his head, ready to toss him into the raging fire. I quickly ripped the head off my opponent, then ran over and tackled the enemy vamp, tearing him to shreds.
From those days forward, a near unshakeable trust was formed, and remained intact many months later.
"I did some skunking around while you slept, and it seems like New Orleans is the most likely place that bitch is hiding out in. We can be there in a week's time, as long as we keep to a strict schedule," Peter said, his voice trailing off when a 'Girls Gone Wild' commercial came on.
"You are such a pig, sometimes! I guess your whole grieving thing for Char is over, huh?" I asked, rolling my eyes as he drooled venom from his mouth.
"Huh? Hey, I'm a guy, and I like boobs. What can I say? And yes, Mr. Virtue, I still miss Char, and will for the rest of my existence. That doesn't mean I can't ogle scantily clad women now, does it?" he grinned.
"Whatever. How did you hear about New Orleans?" I asked as I finished off my food.
"I ran into a vamp last night, and we got to talking. Let me tell ya, dude, I'm going to have to shower before I head out, because he was bitching the whole time about me reeking like a wet dog. Anyways, he said that some shit is going down in the Big Easy…so I think we should check it out."
"As if you smell any better. I'm going to have to bathe in a case of Brillo pads in order to get your stench off of me. New Orleans, huh? Well, if they are planning some kind of revolt, we have to be careful. Maybe sneak around until we find Irina….take her out quietly without drawing too much attention," I said, getting lost in thought.
If they are planning a revolt against the Council, there is no way we can handle all of those vampires alone….Maybe we can take out their leaders….
"Are you done? I'm thirsty as hell, so let's get this show on the road," Peter said, flipping the TV off and getting to his feet.
"Let's do it," I said, throwing away my container and tossing him the backpack. I took one more long look at the phone, wanting nothing more than to heal Bella's voice, then walked out the door.
Soon, honey. I promise you…….