AN: This was written last year for the sortofbeautful Valentines Ficathon over on LJ. And I thought 'what better day to post it here on than today?' I wrote it for isisgodiva who asked for the following prompts: "hands" and "Bella giving a gift to Jacob (something Edward could never have)."
Happy Valentines Day everyone!!!!
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or profit from the use of its content. Stephanie Meyer is its proper owner.
She really did have beautiful hands, he thought idly to himself, as he stared down at the pale, delicate fingers that played gently over his darker, rougher ones. But everything about Bella was beautiful.
"Jake, watch the road." She sounded annoyed.
Good. He smiled. She was cute when she was annoyed. Especially when it got to the point where she pouted and her forehead would crinkle and her lips would purse...
…yeah, like that.
Raising her knuckles to his lips, he brushed kisses across her hand, allowing himself to linger over the small expanse of skin on which his entire future rested. A quick nibble on her upturned palm earned him a gasp followed by a reproachful smack—more of light tap, really, but he got the message—and he just grinned and dutifully returned his eyes to the dark night through the windshield.
"Sorry, Bells, but in all fairness, you're the one distracting me." And he'd never enjoyed being sidetracked quite so much. "A damn road hazard is what you are," he muttered, his scolding ruined by his obvious amusement.
"Well, if you told me where we were going, I could drive."
Innocently phrased scheming. One of her strengths and consequently one of his weaknesses—usually. "Nope."
She sighed, and it was music flowing over the cliffs of a waterfall, pooling in his ear, and seeping into his veins. He could have—would have—drowned in it.
"I don't like surprises," she reminded him petulantly, as if he could forget.
"Yeah, and this one's really gonna drive you up the wall."
She settled back against the passenger seat with a tiny huff, but he made sure to keep one of her hands firmly encased in his, resting together on his jean-covered thigh. Because he couldn't not be touching her when she was this close.
She threw him a disapproving glance. "You're unbelievable."
"That's what all the women keep telling me," he responded smoothly, even managing to fight off the smile that threatened to ruin it. She wasn't as successful, and the small upturn of her lips said what they both knew: that, no, she was the only woman and, yes, she did keep telling him that. He just enjoyed watching her blush.
As they neared their destination, he found his foot resting heavier on the gas pedal, encouraging the car to go faster over the hills and valleys of the unpaved road. The anticipation that had been building inside of him all day, all week, all month, was threatening to burst forth from every pore of his body. The effort it took to keep his breathing even and hands from shaking rivaled the exertion required to control the wolf caged inside of him. It went against his very nature to remain calm in a situation with this high of stakes.
It was still early enough in the morning that the sky was more black than it was blue, but despite the darkness, Jacob knew exactly when they'd reached their destination. He had the car in park, the engine off, and Bella's door open before she was even aware that they'd stopped.
"Umm…Jake, where are we?" She gazed around at their wooded surroundings, before looking up at Jacob questioningly.
"Come here," he said quietly, and she took his offered hand without hesitation, without doubt that he would lead her safely through the darkness her human eyes couldn't quite so easily penetrate and her unsure feet couldn't quite so nimbly navigate.
He started through the trees with her at his side, and though their progress was slow on account of her tendency to suddenly lose her footing, he didn't mind having to catch her around the waist so she didn't fall or mind having to hold her body closer to his as she steadied herself. And if the continual presence of her hand in his was any indication, she didn't seem to mind either.
Eventually the foliage around them began to thin and taper, and as the sky become more visible, its lightening shades of blue were a tell-tale sign that dawn was breaking. His grip on her hand tightened.
The woods ended, giving way gracefully to a small clearing that abruptly ended at the cliff's edge. The distant sound of waves gently lulling against rock was barely discernable to Bella, but the light, salty scent of ocean water was unmistakable.
"Where are we?"
Once they were a safe distance from the dark tree line, Jacob released her hand and walked the remaining ten yards to the edge of the cliff by himself with only Bella's curious, weighty stare and his own sobering anticipation to keep him company. His nerves frazzled, he stared out, beyond, above the water searching, hoping, imploring for the courage to take the next step, the one that would send him over the ledge into either a sea of despair or a world of happiness.
On the horizon, the orange sun began to peek over the horizon, reaching out to the sky with brightening fingers.
He inhaled. "This is where I'm going to marry you, Bells."
She stared at his back, swallowed, and waited for the teasing words and smile that usually accompanied such talk. It wasn't the first time he'd alluded to the future—a future where they were a they and not just Jacob or just Bella. Because together they were more than they could ever be apart.
He'd pretend to worry over how they could possibly ever choose which of the identical little houses on the reservation they would live in—the one to the right of Billy's, to the left of Billy's, or behind Billy's, where they would go for their honey moon, and what they would name their fifteen children. She would play along, telling him left, Hawaii, and a number of names appearing on the pages of her well-read Austen books. He would smile playfully and nod in agreement knowing that next time she would give him three completely different answers.
He wasn't smiling now. She couldn't see his face, but she knew from that single, quiet statement—it wasn't a question—that this was Jacob closing one door and opening another. That the future was now.
She didn't pause to consider the coldness of the woods at her back, only the warmth of sun straddling the horizon in the distance. A few slow, steady strides brought her to Jacob's side, and she wrapped her arms around his waist, molding herself to him. "It's beautiful."
He exhaled, and she could feel the heat on top of her head as it washed over her hair and filled her senses with the most pleasant tingling relief.
"Grow old with me," he murmured, and it was so very different from the proposal she had received from a very different boy—accepted by a very different girl. Years ago the question had dragged her down, smothered her, threatened to take away her humanity. But now…
It left her feeling warm, free, alive. She wanted to say yes.
But her voice failed her, so instead she nodded wordlessly against his chest, not bothering to fight off the tears falling from her lashes, over her cheeks, and onto Jacob's shirt. He took her hand in his, and Bella watched through bleary eyes as a warm circle of gold and diamond was slid onto her trembling finger.
Short, sweet laughter tumbled from her lips which he eagerly captured, pressing his mouth to hers, so he could taste her tears and trace her smile with his tongue.
He sighed in contentment—relief—as they parted. A moment later she was turned around in his arms, the heat of his chest at her back and the warmth of the sun on her face. And as she watched the sun continue its ascent into the sky, Jacob watched as her fingers traced aimless patterns over his forearms and imprinted wordless messages on his heart.
Everything about Bella was beautiful. But in that moment Jacob knew that nothing would ever take his breath away like the sight of Bella's left hand.