Bella never jumped, and Victoria never returned... Neither did Edward.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Twilight series, or any of the characters created by Stephenie Meyer. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
"Isabella, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death parts you?"
I was swathed in white satin, surrounded by loved ones and family, my heart pounding a dangerous beat beneath the beads and lace of my bodice.
A crack of thunder woke me. I was covered in sweat, bed sheets twined around my legs like a tourniquet. I stood, stretched and went downstairs to make coffee. Even 5 years after Charlie's death, I still expected to hear him in the kitchen, or fumbling with his belt and sidearm by the front door. I fumbled to separate the coffee filters, and then spilled the grounds. Grasping the counter with all my will, I fought back tears. Shit.
While the coffee maker sputtered, I went back upstairs to shower. I hadn't been called in to teach in 2 weeks, and was beginning to get into the bad habit of sleeping in. Being a substitute had its advantages, but irregularity wasn't one of them. I should never have come back here. The face in the mirror looked sad, empty, as I brushed my teeth. I didn't recognize her eyes.
I overdressed for April, but it was always easier to shed an extra layer, than wish you'd brought one with you.
The beach at La Push was deserted. I walked until the dregs in my travel mug were stone cold, my boots wet from the surf I didn't bother avoiding. Something vibrated in my pocket. I looked at the phone and saw his number.
"Hey. The beach. A while. Yeah. What time will you be home? Ok. I will. You too."
My cup was empty, and it was starting to mist. I made it back to the car before it really started raining. I drove back to Charlie's house almost on autopilot, the road too familiar. The mailman had just pulled away, and we waved at each other. Among the bills and junk mail, there was an envelope from the UAA alumni association, the green and gold seawolf on it unmistakable. Still asking for money, after all these years.
I went in the house, turned on a few lights, and fought the urge I'd had every day for the last 4 years.
After the Cullens left, Jacob and his friends kept guard for several more years. Without the presence of their mortal enemies, the pack's instinct to phase eventually faded, like my memory of his face.
He never came back, just like he promised. That was a horrible year, that first year. I struggled to keep hold of the scraps he'd left me. My memories, a few scars, and a couple of photographs my mother returned to me after he'd stripped me of everything else. Jacob was my comfort, my friend, my personal sun. He saved me. I finished high school, and moved to Anchorage.
I was fine, for a while. At least I thought I was fine. I went to college and finished in 3 years, coming home only twice in that time. Once for Christmas, and once for Billy Black's funeral. I moved to Seattle and taught English there for a few years, but had no real reason to be there, nothing to anchor me. When Charlie got sick, I knew that it was time to step up, so I moved back home to care for him.
I closed my eyes, remembering, the tears dotting my shirt.
"Jacob, do you take this woman, to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death parts you?"
Jacob was here, of course, when I moved home. He would never leave Forks. He would come around, those first few months, visiting with Charlie, sitting by while we'd watch a football game together, wondering which would be Charlie's last. He would invite me for walks on the beach, invite me for dinner, and invite me to just come for a visit. It was easy to be around him, but the ease never fully masked my memories of why we had first become so close. Everywhere I went there was Edward. Every inch of highway, every meadow, every room in this house held memories of Edward, or Alice, or the others. The scars on my body shone to me like desperate beacons, refusing to let me forget they were there. I was marked with his memory.
Every day since returning to Forks I fought the urge to look for him. Carlisle would probably be the easiest to find if they were still in the US. I wondered if the others were still attending high school some where, or if they'd finally thought of pretending to be home schooled so they could enjoy their own pursuits in privacy. Even after all these years, I knew it would be like a millisecond had passed if my eyes met his again. The bond we had was beyond breaking, beyond the reach of time. He would always own my soul. My mind mourned for all the unkept promises, the life he'd shown me was possible, the unanswered desire of our bodies. I imagined him coming back to me, like no time had passed, ready to change me and never be parted from me again. I imagined his arms around me, imagined all the unnamed pleasures I couldn't even guess at when I was seventeen. Hands, bodies, twined together, straining, the sounds of our bodies moving in unison, mouths tasting the products of our passion. Not a day went by without this.
Jacob asked me to marry him the spring before Charlie died. I loved him so much for trying to make me happy. Jacob surprised me with a revelation on our wedding night. He had never let go of his love for me in those years I was away, never pursued any other woman, never took a lover. He was very gentle, much more than I had expected given his inexperience. His lovemaking was slow, intense, and purposeful. He treated me like fine china, worshipped me like an idol. More than I deserved. I had not been as chaste. He never asked.
Within a few days after the wedding, Charlie passed. I was grateful he'd been able to see us finally married, his life long dream. We took over Charlie's house, and Jacob supplemented my scanty income working as a mechanic. He'd always had the knack for it. I occasionally taught at Forks High, tutored some kids from the reservation, and dabbled a bit at writing. Our life was uncomplicated. We'd been married a year when I got pregnant, but I miscarried in my fourth month. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die.
Any woman would have killed to be in my shoes. Jacob turned heads wherever he went. So beautiful. After the miscarriage, I couldn't bear to look at him. All I could see were dead babies with luminous skin and topaz eyes that would never be born. The babies in my nightmares never looked like Jacob, never had his mahogany skin, his beautiful black hair, never his dark soulful eyes. He loved me through the pain of our loss, never blaming, never questioning. He would have made such a wonderful father.
After a while, I had to remove the baby's things from the house. I needed to move on, and knew I would never try to have another child. I stripped my old room bare to the walls, giving away unopened baby gifts, tiny clothes, blankets, a crib. I wept for two days straight while I boxed it all up, insisting that I do it myself. I tripped over a loose floorboard, my childhood treasure trove. I pried up the board, trying to remember the last thing I'd hidden there. With the board in my hand, I sank to the floor in shock.
Edward's gifts. My CD of his music, photos of us from my birthday, Esme's plane tickets, small love tokens, mementos. After all these years, here they've been, all along. You bastard, why did you leave these here? He could have taken them, burned them, thrown them in the sea. He said he wanted me to forget! Why would he leave this all here, knowing someday I would find them, knowing I would remember everything? You sick masochistic FUCK!
My hands shook as I put the CD in the player, debating if I should destroy it all myself rather than do this. But I had to listen. Within the first few bars of my lullaby I was hysterical, raging, screaming, clawing at the tears on my face. I was unable to turn it off. I lay on the floor sobbing, scattered pictures of him surrounding me, curled into a fetal ball in my dead child's bedroom. My bedroom, where he had laid next to me every night, loving me with the purest heart, like no love this world had seen before. I imagined I could feel his icy arms around me, his sweet breath on my neck, his face in my hair. It was only the cold floorboards of the empty room, and a draft from the open window.
Jacob came home that night to a dark house, running up the stairs two at a time to find me incoherent, still on the floor. He swept me up into his enormous arms and carried me to the car, and then to the hospital. I was there for 2 days. The psychiatric evaluation revealed nothing but post partum depression, or so they thought, and they sent me home. When we got there, I discovered that Jacob had finished emptying the baby's room, painted, replaced the floorboard, and boxed up everything that I'd found that day. We never spoke of it, but he made sure I knew where he put the box.
For the past 4 years I'd been able to walk past the hall closet that held the box. Able to open it to retrieve a coat, able to put away an umbrella, able to resist. But today, I needed to look.
I'm tired of being dead. I'm tired of hating his memory. I'm tired of letting my emptiness ruin my marriage. I took the box from the closet. It was small, a shoebox. There wasn't much in it. I gritted my teeth. I took out the CD, labeled with his elegant penmanship, and set it aside. I gathered up the loose pile of photos and squared them up like a deck of cards. So few. A picture of him with Charlie, on top. I paused, touching Charlie's face with my thumb, remembering my father, imagining the unbearable pain of watching my agony in the wake of Edward's departure. I placed it gently on the floor. Alice was next. So sweet, her pixie smile glittering, with Jasper beside her, severe and guarded. Emmett's was the next picture, a devilish look to his eyes, Rosalie just out of frame. How unusual for her not be in the center of the picture. The next six pictures were of Edward. I laid them out on the floor beside the others and forced myself to look at them.
He was more perfect even than I remembered. His messy bronze hair, tawny eyes, alabaster skin. The half smile I loved so much, chiseled jaw, fine long hands. Pianist's hands. His broad shoulders, narrow waist. His grace, all evident in the few pictures I had of him. All that I had of him.
I allowed myself to weep, forcing my composure with ragged breaths. I picked up one photo and brought it closer to my face, hoping to see in his eyes what I remembered, what I'd loved. But he was just a boy. Beautiful, but just a boy. Aloof, perhaps, maybe even a touch conceited. A tad too sure of himself, a little too perfect to be real. He would look exactly the same today. Forever seventeen. I let out a long breath, not realizing I had been holding it. I was going to be 30 this year.
I picked up the photos, lingering over the one with Charlie, and placed them all back in the box with the CD. I placed the box back in the closet, and closed the door.
Jacob came home that night to dinner cooking, candles on the table, fire in the fireplace. I wore a dress he liked, my hair down. His eyes glittered. I put my arms around him quietly, kissing him like we were on a first date. Hesitant, soft. He responded slowly, kissing me back, questioning me with his lips. I rested my forehead on his, closing my eyes, trying to remember the last time I had initiated a kiss.
"Dinner will be ready in about half an hour if you want to get a shower."
His smile was cautious. "Ok."
God, how I've hurt him all these years. All he ever wanted to do was love me, protect me, see me happy. I've squandered the most precious gift I've ever been given. Life.
He came down the stairs as I set out our meal, dressed in dark jeans and a button down shirt, his cropped black hair spiky and damp. The sight of him awoke butterflies in my core. Wow, it's been a while since I felt that.
He hugged me from behind as I poured some wine. "This is nice," he said, nuzzling my ear.
I placed a hand on his cheek, and turned in his arms enough to kiss him lightly. "It is. Let's eat."
We sat across the table from each other, candles flickering between us. I told him about my walk, he told me about his day, which cars he'd worked on and for whom. I mentioned going back to school possibly, he agreed I should try. Small talk. After we ate, we took the rest of the wine and sat in front of the fire.
"Jacob, I need to tell you some things."
"Ok. Good things, or bad things?"
"Well, good things, I think."
"I'm done, living like this."
"Bella?" He was startled, leaning away from me, his eyes already beginning to water. I pulled him into my arms as quickly as I could, hating the conclusion he'd drawn.
"No – let me finish. Not done with you, or us. Done torturing myself. It's been more than 10 years. I'm done being a prisoner of all this. I can't believe I've been pining over some boy I knew when I was 17, even after I married you. I love you so much, I just want to try and start again. I feel like I've done nothing but push you away, and make you apologize for not being him. I'm so sorry. You deserve so much better"
His warm hands encircled my face, kissing me over and over, whispering tenderness and faithfulness and patient devotion. His hands were in my hair, on my shoulders, like a healer, invoking the divine. "I've loved you every day. Every day."
My lips found his, desperate to imbue his very skin with my plea for forgiveness. I needed to show him the passion I'd hidden, saved away, hoarded for someone that didn't want it. He picked me up and carried me to our bed. I was nervous as he touched me, feeling like a bride all over again, the bride I should have been for him. Our sex had always been tender, simple, comfortable. He never asked for more. I think he knew there were parts of me he couldn't reach.
This night was different. His mouth was hungry, his eyes never leaving mine. He undressed me quickly, and then stripped off his own clothes as I watched. It seemed that I had never seen him before. I had taken this for granted, given him only what was left of me after drowning in my memories. I had been sleeping next to him for five years and not once been moved by his undying passion for me, obvious now in the look on his face.
He lay down beside me, the bulk of his body dwarfing mine. He placed one hand on my belly, asking me permission with his eyes. Have I trained him not to touch me? I rolled toward him, wrapping one leg high over his hip, my hands on his shoulders pulling him to me. "Yes, Jake, oh please, yes."
He moaned into my open mouth, kissing me deeply. His elbow clamped over my knee at his hip, his heavy arm along my thigh. We ground our hips together, eager for contact. He released my leg and pushed me onto my back, his hand buried in the hair at my groin. His mouth was fierce on mine, his tongue demonstrating his intentions. I arched my back, my knees falling open as he entered me with his hand. His face was pressed into my breasts, nuzzling, kissing, nibbling, while his hand caressed me. An explorer in a forgotten world. He slid on top of me, withdrawing his hand to lick his fingers. He didn't speak.
I felt like I'd never done this before, like I never knew this existed. His mouth was on my sex, giving me excruciating pleasure. I had a burning need to feel him within me, his teeth and tongue fueling my impending release. My body involuntarily ground into his face, and he laughed against me, sending me over the top of the bluest clearest ocean wave, stars falling before my eyes. Before I could catch my breath he was kissing me, the unexpected sweetness of my own juices now in my mouth. He pressed his hips firmly against mine, his erection sandwiched between our bellies. As I drifted back from my climax, he began to rock against me slowly, waiting for me to be ready, kissing me in rhythm with his hips. I raised my knees around his hips and said his name.
He entered me slowly, purposefully, looking me in the eyes the entire time. I gasped for air, drowning in the sensation of my husband's thickness filling me, his rigidness pressing past every velvet ripple, every quivering muscle, slippery with our desire. I'd never felt such completeness. I was in awe.
His need overpowered him, and he began to thrust into me more forcefully, groaning with the exertion, consumed by greed to feel more of me. With every stroke of his body, I felt that I would lose consciousness. I was panting, clutching at his hair, clawing his back, grinding my heels into his backside, trying to pull him further into me, when there was no room within me for more.
I opened my eyes to see him still watching me, a slight smile on his lips as he exploded into me. His eyes rolled back into his head briefly as he strained against me. His salty tears fell into my mouth when he looked at me again. "I never dreamed I could love you more than I already did, Bella. I feel like you're finally mine." I kissed him everywhere I could reach as he sobbed into the crook of my neck.
"Oh, Jacob, I am."
thank you so much for reading! leave me a little love. i know there are a ton of Team Jake readers out there... let me hear from you. this story is featured in Diamondheart's 'Bella and Jacob Chronicles.' If twilighted weren't fail right now, i'd post the link. look for it - TONS of wonderful Team Jacob fics.