Thanks for coming back and leaving reviews :) ! It's always a pleasure to read comments and get some input on what to do (and not to do).
Here's hoping that these two will stop being so angsty...
Jake walked me out from the side door of the workshop without mentioning anything about his work. I was too confused about the last few minutes to protest the fact that I still hadn't seen anything worth mentioning, and I'd spent the entire night in the building. I decided that holding my tongue altogether rather than letting something foolish slip out was the lesser of the two evils.
Billy was still sleeping when we walked into the house, so we both kept quiet as we moved about. Well really, I was extra careful not to knock things over and slam cupboards while Jacob just acted like his normal, inhuman self. We silently made eggs and bacon, rotating and keeping our distance like two planets orbiting around each other. I avoided looking directly at him and he avoided touching me. It was ridiculous.
I stole a quick glance over at Jake, who was busy scrambling eggs and sneaking strips of bacon on the side. Even while eating—one of his favorite things—and cooking—one of his less favorite things—he seemed to have a cold, distant mask on. Like a stone wall had dropped over his features, blocking out the sunny smile and mischievous glint in his eyes. I hid a grimace, realizing that it was another new thing to add to the running list of This Jacob. My Jacob used to always reach out for me when we fought over anything. But I guess that was partially my fault for making him so cold.
We sat down to eat just after 7:30. I poured us some orange juice and placed the glass beside Jake's plate. He offered me a quick 'thanks.'
"Smells good out here," Billy said as he slowly rolled into the kitchen a few minutes later.
"You're right on time," I said with a little too much cheer in my voice. I toned it down. "'Morning Billy."
"Good morning, Bella—how'd you sleep?"
"Like a rock, apparently," I replied, offering him a genuine smile. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that Jake had nearly finished his plate and was now downing his orange juice. I thought I felt him looking my way for the first time since we came inside, so I jumped at the chance to connect with him. What I got was Jake wiggling his eyebrows at me over the edge of his glass. Close enough, I thought.
He set his cup down with a satisfied sigh and added, "Like a drugged rock. I had to go clanging around the shop before she stopped snoring."
"Hm," Billy grunted, setting a plate on his lap and wheeling over to the table. "Sounds right."
I gaped at them both. "Not true!"
Billy settled himself next to me, opposite of his son and picked up his fork. "Eh—You think us old folks don't hear anything but I know what I know."
And then he let the statement hang in the air as my face turned bright red. If Jake's skin weren't so russet brown already I could have sworn that he was blushing too.
Billy continued as if nothing had happened. "So… What did you think of the shop?"
Jake cleared his throat while I kept my eyes locked on the last piece of bacon on my plate. "It was sort of late last night," he said casually. "We just hung out and turned in right after that."
"Well that doesn't make any sense," Billy muttered. "Wasn't the whole point of dragging her out here to show her around?" he asked, sounding concerned.
"We were going to head back out there after breakfast," I interjected quickly, before Billy became any more inquisitive about what else we were doing.
Jake nodded sharply. "Yup. True." He stood up suddenly and before I knew what was happening, my plate disappeared from under my nose. My forkful of eggs hovered halfway to my mouth as Jake walked the rest of my breakfast to the kitchen.
"And now we're going."
I put the last bite in my mouth and half-heartedly glared at him. "Jacob Black I was not finished," I said through my food. If he could be rude, then so could I.
Jake rolled his eyes. "Come on Bells, we would've been sitting here until noon for you to finish your food. You also eat like a drugged rock."
I made an exasperated noise but couldn't stop the snort of laughter that came out as well. Jacob flashed a smile that was almost as wide as I knew it could be. Like clockwork, I felt a tiny wave of happiness wash over me. His pain, my pain. His joy, my joy. It felt good to know that some things didn't change after all.
"Sorry Billy," I said absently, getting to my feet weightlessly. "I'm going to be rude and let you eat alone this morning since your son is hell bent on doing this right now."
He waved his fork at me. "Oh don't let this old man hold you kids back. I'll just wither away...alone. Lonely. Bring the rest of the eggs before you go, will you?"
"So…what does this thing do?" I pointed at something that looked like a cross between a big yellow Tonka truck and a sewing machine.
Jake leaned around the bench that he was crouched next to in order to get a better look.
"That's a planer—it's meant to level out a plank of wood. Give it a flat surface."
"And this?" I pointed at a mean little creature with a curved-tooth blade that was poised guillotine style over a flat surface. I gingerly ran my finger along the gunmetal teeth and was surprised at how sticky-sharp the edge was. When I looked closer I could already see a fine pink line where the blade had sliced through a layer of my skin.
Hmm. Definitely not using that thing ever.
"Careful," Jake said, moving over to me. He reached for my hand and squeezed it gently in his own. "That's a miter saw." He paused, then lifted my hand up and inspected my finger at eye level. "And did you actually cut yourself?"
"Barely-I'm fine. Did you say a 'mighti-ER' saw?" I joked quickly, arching a brow at him. I elbowed him in the ribs encouragingly, but more to keep him distracted. "I don't know—I'm pretty sure Charlie's rusted old chain saw could take that thing."
It felt completely stupid to say that, but I didn't care. The mood between us was much better after this morning, and Jake appeared to almost enjoy himself showing me around. I wasn't about to let him fret over anything else at the moment.
Jake had the decency to laugh despite my horrid sense of humor. "Aw, Bells…that was terrible," he winced, his tone saccharine-sweet. "You sound like a forty year old dad. Too much time with Charlie?"
I grinned. "Nope, that was all me. Aren't you proud?"
He kissed me quickly on the head and my heart skipped a beat. "Couldn't be prouder. Now, if you try to touch anything else without my supervision, I swear I'm going to cover you in bubble wrap. I have that here, don't think I won't use it."
Jacob had brought me back to the shop and was giving me the tour of his tools and workstations. So far he'd shown me most of the big items and explained what they did, but I still didn't see any finished products sitting around. The barn itself was gorgeous and sturdy, with exposed beams and great big windows that let in enough light to keep the place well lit until the sun went down. It was surprisingly clean for a workshop, aside from the sawdust that littered the ground and the army of woodwork machinery and tools. Any scrap wood or extra lumber was carefully set aside, supported up against the shop wall by metal frames, or held in huge metal bins. I marveled at the contrast between this place and Jake's old bedroom that I remembered as constantly being piled high with clothes, auto tools, and books.
I leaned my weight against a sturdy table that appeared free of any sharp objects ready to maim me. Jake followed suit, and leaned against it too, crossing his arms over his chest and surveying the playground before him. He seemed so sure and comfortable even though everything in there was meant to slice, hack, buzz, and hammer wood into submission. I supposed that would make me feel in control too, if not for the fact that I would probably lose a limb within minutes of trying to do anything. But for Jake, it was his world to command.
After a moment of silence that began to stretch a little too long, I nudged him playfully with the tip of my shoe. He nudged me back with his elbow.
"So…" I drawled carefully. "You gonna tell me what you do now?"
He took a pregnant pause, as if actually considering my request. Then he shook his head. "Nah."
I smacked him lightly on the arm. "Jacob!"
He threw his arm around me and pulled me up against his side. I pressed my cheek to his heart. The heat from his skin melted right through me.
"It's nothing too crazy," he began. I felt his lips brush the top of my head briefly. "While I was at the community college I took a course in carpentry and decided that I liked working with my hands. And then I took another course in framing and another in blueprint reading, and then once I got that far, I figured I'd just become an apprentice. So I did that, and they actually were pretty generous with the credentials. They let me move up faster than most other people—usually it takes four years but I did it in three. Long story short, I play with a lot of wood," he added with a chuckle.
"Real mature, Jake," I said, giving him a patronizing pat on the chest. "I think you win the bad joke contest."
Jacob clucked his tongue. "Ah, I wish, but I can't take credit for that one—blame Paul and Embry. They used to give me so much shit when I hid in here for days working on things."
"What were you working on?"
He waved a hand around nonchalantly. "Well at first—this."
I looked back at him, confused. He'd waved at everything. "At what?"
He pointed up and around us in a little circle with his finger. "I made this." And then I realized that he meant the whole building.
"Bullshit!" I blurted out without thinking. This was basically a professional grade, private contractor type house that people like my boss would retreat to at the end of the summer. And a large one at that, with an enormous frame and near perfect refurbished vintage style. Take away all of the tools and replace it with furniture and formal lighting, and it would be the perfect rustic countryside getaway.
I waited for Jake to break into a smile and tell me he was kidding, but all I saw was the patient but slightly offended expression on his face. I covered my mouth in shame.
"I-I'm sorry Jake, I didn't—"
He waved my apology off, but I still felt like I'd hit a chord. "It's okay. I didn't think I could do it either—and neither did the other guys." Jake let out a short laugh. "It was definitely a struggle at first. But eventually they came around, even helped out some. I got Embry and Quil to put up the beams on this thing. It's sort of annoying to set down posts and roof an entire building on your own—although not impossible—but after a while the company was nice."
"Yeah, I bet," I said in a small voice.
"Yeah," he echoed. Jake let out a soft sigh, looking around as he did so. "You'd be amazed at what some free time and motivation can do. And Youtube," he added with a grin.
I chuckled and stepped out of his arms to take a better look around. I drank it all in: the high ceilings, the built in loft, the sturdy but elegant staircase blending seamlessly above Jake's bed, creating a natural alcove for the mattress that I hadn't seen the night before. The smile on my face grew until I thought it was going to split my cheeks. I went over to the walls and ran my hands along the planks of joined wood, carefully sanded and oiled until they shone like copper.
"Those came from the forest," he said quietly, tilting his head in the direction of the woods. I could only nod, too overcome with awe to try to speak past the lump in my throat. It was simple but so beautiful. I couldn't help but feel proud of how far my Jacob had come since I knew him.
But that feeling was quickly replaced by guilt. Of course Jake could do amazing things! Who was I to assume that this was beyond his reach?
"Jake this is…this is incredible," I murmured.
"You like it?" he asked almost tentatively. His tone made me turn around. I didn't like how cautious he'd sounded just then. It wasn't like him to be wary of my criticism—or anyone's for that matter.
Jacob stood in the middle of the room, his hands planted on his hips as he watched me. I noticed that his short cropped hair seemed like it was getting a little long on the sides, but it gave him a daredevil look, putting him just past clean cut goodness. I had a fleeting image of him shirtless, sweating, carrying enormous trees from the forest and seeing his musculature flex and coil in his labor. Focus, I commanded myself.
Jake tipped his head to the side, waiting for a response. I felt the sudden urge to coddle him and show him just how much I worshipped his entire being right at this moment.
I walked up to him and placed my hands on either side of his face. I slid my fingers into his dark, silky hair and gently pulled him down to me for a kiss. His lips covered mine hesitantly at first, and then hungrily. I felt him pull away ever so slightly so that he could graze my bottom lip with his tongue, sending a shiver down my spine, before he came back and stifled the moan growing at the back of my throat. His hands splayed out over my ribcage and then slipped up my back, pulling me closer to him. It was a kiss that sent tremors through me. I distantly remembered that I was the one who had wanted to stir this in him—I was the one who wanted to comfort him and make him feel loved.
Instead, it felt like I was being treated to the most deeply intense and euphoric sensations possibly evoked through physical contact that was not sex. I felt my mind slowly drifting apart each time he gently teased me with a caress, and then pressed into me deeper, fulfilling that impossible, aching need in me to be closer to him.
In the middle of it I started to notice the same sensation of a halo forming. Of it enshrouding both of us, drawing us closer and closer together, making me forget where he ended and I began. I opened my eyes for only a second, thinking I would see the sun pouring through the windows. But it was just like any regular Forks day—cloudy and gray.
Jake caught on to my hesitation and paused for a brief moment. His brow was slightly furrowed, wondering what distracted me most likely, but it didn't dim the wondrous light in his eyes. I brought my hand up to cup his face, brushing my thumb along his strong, beautiful cheekbone. He turned his face into my palm and kissed it, then clasped my wrist with his hand and guided me up around his neck.
My eyes never left his face. I couldn't. He was too mesmerizing. And he was doing it again—giving me that look that made me feel like I was the only thing that mattered.
Only this time, I was starting to believe it.
I touched my nose to his, smiling like an idiot, giddy with happiness.
"Don't stop kissing me," I pleaded softly.
He grinned back at me, a look of pure joy.
"Never," he said.