Chapter 2 – No Rest for the Weary



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Escaping the death-grip Ness's legs and arms had wrapped around my body, I made my way to my small kitchen for some orange juice, then reclined on my sofa and powered up my MacBook.

After scrolling through several random emails, there it was.

I excitedly clicked on the fifth row from the top and pulled up its content in my browser, scanning the text.

Blah, Blah, Mr. Jacob E. Black...

Blah, Blah...HCI Technical Enterprises, Inc. is pleased to offer you a position as PI&CS Advanced Control Systems Engineer. We trust that your knowledge, skills and experience will be among our most valuable assets...

My heart was soaring.

Watching the cursor on the screen blink past the last sentence. I crossed my legs at the ankle, and re-read the letter for the third time...

...Should you accept this job offer, per company policy you'll be eligible to receive the following beginning on your hire date:

* Salary: Annual gross starting salary of $67,500, paid in biweekly installments by...

* Performance Bonuses: Up to three percent of your annual gross salary...

* Stock Options: 500 HCI stock options in your first year, fully vested in four years at the rate of 125 shares per year...

I could feel the corners of my mouth involuntarily tugging upwards in a smile, escalading into an outright grin.

I was ecstatic.

Though HCI had been courting me since the beginning of my senior year at UW, with company towncar rides to Seattle to visit my future condo in Belltown, club seats with the VP of Development to a Seahawks game, and even a privileged sampling of the newest version of World of Warcraft, it was an entirely different thing altogether to see the actual offer with my name on it. Sixty Grand!? Shit!

Glancing up as I heard Ness stir in my bedroom, my attention was immediately refocused on the sunlight peaking through, casting lines of light and shadows across her body and beaming reds and golds in her hair.

I felt almost voyeuristic, watching her through the small opening of the door I'd left ajar.

My lime green comforter slid leisurely from her breasts as she stretched and yawned, rubbing her eye. She stepped silently from the bed and out of sight for a brief moment, coming back into view in a pair of my old boxers and an undershirt that just barely kissed her firm nipples.

My soaring heart stopped momentarily.

"Jake," with a pout, she gracefully glided towards me, "why aren't you in bed? I hate waking up without you. What are you doing in here, anyway?" she said, as I lifted my legs so she could take a seat on the sofa beside me.

"Good morning to you too, grouchy," I teased, kissing her soft neck, "I just got an email from Jon over at HCI."

Her eyes immediately lit up, "You did! What did it say?"

"They gave me an offer. Sixty seven, benefits, a BlackBerry, plus the company condo we went to see back in January."

"Aw, shit Jake! That's great!," she said moving my laptop and climbing into my lap. She was happy, I could tell, but I saw something else in her eyes. Uncertainty? Hesitation?

"What, babe? What's wrong?" I asked, kissing the corner of her mouth.

"Nothing, Jake, nothing. I'm so happy for you! All that, straight out of college!" she said with a smile.

I wasn't convinced.

"Ness, baby, tell me."

"I dunno, Jake, I mean, you know I'm happy for you...It's just, you know, we've been together, like every day since forever..... and... well, with my classes, and your new job, I don't know how we'll be able to see each other as much..." she said twirling stands of my hair in her small fingers.

I smiled, somehow happy at her admission; she really did love me. "Baby, I want you with me. I know you're still at UW, but of course I want you to stay with me. We'll both have to just make time, plus we can take trips back here together a lot to visit."

"Yeah... I already don't see my parents enough. Mostly the only reason I come back here as much as I do is because of you. What are we gonna do? What are you gonna do? " I knew she was referring to my pack. She knew what was going on-- well, as much as I could rightfully tell her.

"Well, I have to do what's best for me right now and that's what I'm focusing on," I began, rubbing her thigh soothingly, "There's been peace for these last few years, and I think if there was a time to make this move, it should be now," I said looking down. "I'll try and split my time between Seattle and here."

I didn't believe it, even as it was spilling from my mouth. All those hours working and getting settled and time with Ness, I mean, how was I going to work this thing out?

She ran her fingers across the elaborate tribal tattoo that was etched across my upper arm and shoulder.

I continued, "We haven't gotten a scent that we didn't recognize in our area in over six months, and even then, they were passing through."

"And Billy?"

"Well, Rachel's been taking care of him more, plus, he's got Charlie and Sue. I'll be back a lot. I think things will work out just fine..." I said, as I traced the darkening circles under her eyes. "Have you hunted this lately?"

"No, not yet, I've just been so caught up in the excitement of the graduation and all..." she trailed off.

"Okay then, let's go. Throw some clothes on and we can get us some elk, huh?" I said nudging her to rise to her feet.

As walked towards the bathroom, I heard the shrill sound of my house phone ringing and padded my bare feet to the kitchen.

"Jake," I heard Paul begin, "we're all going down to First Beach later. Surf's supposed to be decent and it's been hot as hell lately."

"Sam and Emily bringing Naya and Caleb?" I knew Ness would love seeing the new baby and her 'favorite niece.'

"Yeah, it's everyone. Coming with?"

"Yeah, we'll be out that way later. What time you guys heading over?" I glanced at my silver wall clock - it was almost 10.

"In about an hour."

"Okay, sounds good." We'd have time to head out to Olympic Park maybe. I glanced to my bedroom as Ness slid into some stretch pants and a t-shirt.

"You feel like going to the beach?" I said leaning against the door frame, crossing my arms against my chest.

"Oh, yeah," she said with a smile, "Who was that?"

"Paul. Says the pack's headed over there in an hour."

"Okay then, we better get going."

***

Ness stood next to me, pulling her hair into a high messy bun. Once done, she closed her eyes and tilted her head upwards. I began stripping off my cutoff sweats and boxers, allowing the slow vibration to roll and overtake my body. Her head snapped to the left. She'd caught the scent.

I nodded intently, squinting my eyes against the sun, as it broke through the forest, "There are two, a male and female."

I took off, jumping from a fallen tree for leverage, and exploding before I could touch the ground. Ness was already three yards ahead of me. We ran blindingly fast; Ness, jumping almost horizontally off the trunk of a massive White Oak.

She overtook the female with no real effort, slicing through fur and skin and sinew; draining her dry within a minute. The male had taken off moments before; Ness stood and darted to the west in pursuit.

I stayed behind, tearing at the flesh of the female, finishing her and gnawing her bones, as Ness drug the male back, dropping him before me. She hopped over to where I stood and scratched behind my massive ears, with a kiss to my head. I pulled my black lips over my teeth in a wolfy grin.

***

Thoughtfully, I stood on the edge of the water, the fresh salty sea air whipping my hair away from my face and soothing me.

I considered a good time to catch a wave as I clutched my board under my arm. I listened to the flow of the water, watched as the waves crashed against the sand.

Sighing, I took the board in my hands, and ran towards the water, dropping to the ocean's surface and paddling out.

Here, I could think, there was no one but me. No thoughts but my own and I relished in it. Relished in the sound of my own heartbeat, in tune with the rhythm of my body's fluid twists and jerks and dips when I stood atop my board.

I'd come here countless times over the years to, I dunno - think, escape. I guess I'd learned since my phasing began how to channel my nervous energy and anger into more productive outlets.

Sure beat buying a brand new wardrobe every 2 weeks.

Besides resting my back on a creeper, repairing nonexistent issues underneath my Mustang or bike, the surf saved me from myself.

I must have been out here for longer than I thought, because before I realized it, I saw Ness was waving me back to shore. I hoped it was for lunch; I could hear the ever familiar groan of my empty stomach.

"Geez Jake, you've been out there for, like, 2 hours," Ness said with a knowing smile, handing me a turkey sandwich. She understood though. Sometimes I'd get so far into my head, I would be out here all day without coming to shore.

She pressed a quick peck to my lips and continued chattering on with Emily and Rachel about whatever it is they always seemed to talk about. I glanced toward the parking lot where Sam stood; without a word, I knew he needed to talk. Yay.

Adjusting my board shorts on my hips, I strode over to him, water droplets already evaporating from my scalding body heat.

"So," he began.

"So."

"You know Jacob, I'll never tell you what to do. I've always given the pack a choice. And, even though you lead us now, I think you can appreciate a few things I gotta say." I immediately thought of his recent decision. Sam would begin the gradual process to stop phasing. He'd told me at the end of last year when he found out Emily was expecting Caleb.

"I've been doing this whole thing for a while now, and, I'm tired," he continued, "But you? You're meant to do this, and you know that; I'm sure you know this better than most."

"I know, Sam. I've really been thinking this thing through and I always end up in the same place," I said looking out towards the water. "I feel the pull. I do. But how can I just ignore all the things I've accomplished?"

"And what of the things you've accomplished with us?" he said, quickly with edge in his voice, "You have to remember, Jacob, this is bigger than you. It's no accident that you're feeling the pull. I felt it too and it can be strong, I know." He said shifting his weight from one hip to the other.

I nodded and ran my fingers through my hair. This was hard.

"Sam, I do know. But, what I also know is that I've just been given a great opportunity -several of them, and I'm not just gonna shirk that. No way," I said quietly.

I moved my focus down to the edge of the beach, where the rest of the pack where goofing off. Seth had Jared in a headlock, pushing him into the water. Paul and Embry were wrestling. Emily held Caleb lovingly, as Ness was cooing and fussing over Naya.

So blissfully unaware they all were, while I stood on the edge of my very future, debating critical decisions that would affect them all immensely.

"Look, Jake," he said softening his tone, "I know this is hard for you. I'm sure it's been hard for everyone in your position. I want you to know I'm here for you, whatever your decision."

"Okay... thanks man." I said crossing my arms across my broad chest.

"Okay, enough of that," he said slapping me on my back with a smile. "Let's head back, I'm starved, and I think Em made some of her apple pie."

***

Ness and I rode back to my apartment in silence, as we sometimes did, thanks to her gift. She held my hand, replaying the highlights of the afternoon with a smile playing at the corners of her lips. After a while, though, she showed her concern at my distracted face, as I drove into my complex.

"I'm okay babe, I just have a lot on my mind right now."

"Well, Jake, you know I'm here, right?"

"Of course."

Later, Ness stood in my kitchen, stirring a pot of pasta sauce while I balanced a bottle of Miller Light on my stomach in a wicker chair on my balcony. She occasionally glanced in my direction with a smile or came out to check on me. I assured her I was okay, as I sat staring at everything and nothing in particular.

"Jake, babe, dinner's ready," she said softly on her last trip to make sure I was still alive, no doubt. I slid though the glass doors just as she handed me a large plate of ravioli.

"Thank you baby," I sighed. I really wanted to say more, but my brain was going a mile a minute, processing my dad and Sam's words. Not to mention all the comments the pack and the tribal elders had had over the course of the year.

After dinner we lay sprawled across my massive bed. "I gotta jump in the shower. I got sand and salt in every nook and cranny imaginable," she joked, raising herself up on her forearms. She kissed my cheek and began stripping out of her purple bikini and jean shorts.

She pulled the elastic tie from her hair, allowing it to fall to her shoulders in thick waves. Before I could say a word, she was walking away mussing her hair; her naked hips swaying seductively, leading to her full ass - reminiscent of an inverted heart. I smiled to myself, turning back to the television. After a quick second, I decided I needed a shower as well.

Why not conserve water?

I dropped my shorts to the floor and headed toward my bathroom.

"Knock, knock," I said as I entered through the steam. I caught sight of Ness through the glass encasement of my shower.

She had her hair piled on top of her head, rubbing peppermint shampoo through the strands. I stood watching her intently as the suds slipped over her shoulders. She smiled with a wink and turned her back to me. I stood, licking my lips, as the foam slid down her wet body.

I stepped into the stall, which luckily, was large enough for both of us. She licked her pink lips, rinsing the soap from her hair. She grabbed her shower gloves and handed them to me, taking mine in her hands.

"Can you help me?" she said innocently, "I can return the favor." She ran her hand up my chest, taking a moment to suck the center of my now wet sternum with those full lips.

I stretched the gloves over my large hands and began soaping her body, massaging her where appropriate. She followed my lead, mirroring my movements with my blue cloth.

After a while though, there was less actual washing, and more actual massaging. She'd wrapped her small fingers around my thick shaft, moving ever so slowly, as I lean her against the wall, my index and middle fingers in her hot wetness.

She pressed her waiting wet mouth to mine, whispering words of encouragement to me.

"Ssss, yeah... Jake," she breathed, "Mmmm... baby, that feels so good..."

Ness was becoming increasingly more aroused, sliding her hands over my chest and back hungrily.

"Yeah, I think we're done in here," I replied huskily with a smile, shutting off the shower.

I lead her back to the room, grabbing our towels and running one through my hair. She wrapped herself, quickly drying her body, which was flushed pink from the heat of the water.

I sucked and nipped the right side of her neck, then the left, as she cradled my head in her hands. Ness's breath caught in her throat as I took a palmful of her ass and brought her closer to me, my hardness pushing against her stomach.

I felt my pulse quicken when she dropped her hands and grabbed me by the waist to pull me toward the bed. She bent her knees and laid back, urging me excitedly to lie on top of her.

I brought my lips to her mouth, feeding her my thick tongue, and reaching down to squeeze her thighs. I took her full, perfect breast in my mouth, biting it softly, then licking and sucking each nipple.

"Oh... Jake, baby," she whispered. I trailed my fingers down her body and rubbed them across her center roughly, running each stroke from her entrance to her clit. She rocked her hips against my hand, making quiet choking noises at the back of her throat.

I shifted my weight against her and Ness gasped when I lead my mouth down her body, stopping at her hip bone to bite her roughly.

Finally, I paused at the sight of her folds, pink and swollen and wet. I inhaled deeply, saliva pooling in my mouth.

Oh God, I'd never tire of this. I let out a low growl, closing my eyes.

"Ness, babe, you smell delicious."

My mouth found her and, starting at her dripping core, kissed and sucked her wetness. I licked my lips, then dragged my mouth upwards, swirling her clit with my tongue and nibbling it with my teeth ever so gently.

Ness fisted her hand in my hair, eyes focused intently on what I was doing to her body. With a cocky wink, I sped and added pressure to my pace. Her beautiful face grimaced as she moaned loudly.

"Ah," I mumbled, sliding my fingers into her. She was soaking. "I've hit baby's spot, haven't I?" She whimpered an incoherent response through her the back of her hand, which had flown up to her mouth.

I reached up, pushing her hand away, "No. I want to see you... And I definitely want to hear you."

She was close. I could feel her tighten around my fingers, beginning to rock her hips rhythmically against my mouth.

Then, I stopped.

Reluctantly, I lifted my mouth from her cunt, licking her sweetness from my lips and fingers. Her eyes popped open, looking at me with a crazed, questioning stare.

"Jake! Don't stop baby, "she whined, "I was gonna..."

"...you were gonna what?" I teased, biting her inner thighs playfully.

"...I was about to... come," she replied, frustrated.

I waited an excruciatingly long five seconds, then plunged my face back into her folds, pulling her hood back and dragging my tongue over her clit, applying a stiff amount of pressure to her rapidly.

"Ah...ah...AHHHH...ssss...fuck!," her eyes rolled back, hips bucking, arching her back against me. I rode out her climax with my mouth pressed against her, sucking lightly, pulling out the spasms.

I grinned at her, watching her chest rise and fall rapidly. She laid, hands on either side of her head, staring at me through loving half-lidded eyes. I lowered my mouth to hers; she responded by grabbing my neck and feverishly kissing me back.

She moved her hips against me and I knew she was ready.

I reached between us and positioned the thick head of my shaft to her wet opening. She lifted her hips, plunging me into her. My body tensed with pleasure, goose bumps forming all over my body.

It was too good. She was too slick. Too warm. God.

"Ah, Jake...baby," she moaned softly, "Ssss, fuck me, she breathed, grabbing my hips.

I ground into her slowly, hooking my arm under her shoulder, and gripping my headboard. Ness wound her hips against my length, moving with my strokes.

"...so good," she mumbled into my shoulder, kissing then biting me harder than I'd quickly licked the blood that she'd drawn, sucking the wound that had already begun healing itself.

"God...Jake... you taste fucking awesome..."

She rocked her hips faster against me, running her nails down my back. I knew she was on the verge of release; a faraway, focused expresion floating across her face.

She closed her eyes and slid her hands to either side of my face, transferring her pleasure to me, as I fucked her so thoroughly.

"Ah, Ness, baby," I moaned in her ear, "come for me... come on my dick."

That must have tipped her over the edge, because, in the next moment, I felt her contracting against my length, head acrhing back, "Oh, Jake...oh, Jake," she moaned over, and over.

Damn. Her voice was like liquid sex, pouring all over my body, hot and wet. I felt my own orgasm, building in my abdomen and sack, release into her in thick gushes.

I grinded into her, squeezing my eyes shut, my face contorting with pleasure. I thought my heart would fly out of my chest.

I looked down at her, a satisfied smile playing on her lips, sweat dripping from my body.

"Damn," she purred, kissing my lips sweetly, "stay right there."

I nodded and rested my head on her shoulder, still catching my breath. I could stay here forever, no problem. My mind floated away, and, before long, we had both drifted off, still coupled.

Around 3AM, I woke, unable to sleep.

I savored in the delicious sensation of sliding out of Ness. She was deep in the midst of RIM, mumbling my name incoherently and had somehow made her way completely on top of me.

Laying her onto her back gently, I walked into my living room and out to my balcony, feeling the cool early morning air against my bare body.

I wanted my brain to stop.

Like so many other times in my life, I felt the itch.

I needed to run.

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