Chapter 1: Cliffs
I steadied myself at the edge of the cliff, ready to take the plunge into the swirling icy water below, when suddenly, a hand shot out and grabbed my arm to pull me back. I stumbled backwards and found myself pressed up against a very warm and very bare chest.
"Jake! You scared me!" I said, but my voice was muffled as my face was plastered against his burning hot skin. For a moment, our sudden closeness left us both paralyzed. I had seen him shirtless countless times before and I was used to touching him too – holding his large capable hands when I needed reassurance or snuggling into his welcoming embrace when I needed comfort - but never this way, with every inch of my body pressed up against him in a way that had nothing to do with comfort. I couldn't stop my hand from pressing slightly into his chest, marveling at the contrast between the warm velvety skin and rock hard muscle underneath.
Jake shuddered at my touch. Then he sighed as he placed his hands on my arms and set me an arm's length away from him. His face was grim as he stooped down to look me directly in the eye.
"Bells, please tell me you weren't thinking of doing what I thought you were doing just now," he said. His voice was gentle but firm, just like his grip on my shoulders.
"I …" My voice trailed off under his stern gaze. Suddenly, it all seemed so stupid. So careless. So unlike me. What had I been thinking?
"It's suicide to cliff-dive alone and during a storm, you know that right?" Jacob's hands tightened around my arms, refusing to let me escape his gaze.
I stared back into his intense brown eyes – so dark brown that they were almost black – fascinated by the light golden brown flecks that formed the inner rim of his iris. I had never noticed them before. His gaze never faltered despite my stare and suddenly, I had to look away. My eyes swept downward, taking in the familiar angular planes of his face in an attempt to avoid his piercing gaze. He had always been able to read me like a book. I could never hide anything from his all-knowing eyes.
Jake finally squeezed my arms gently to prod me to respond.
"You said you would take me, but you were late so I just thought …" I said feebly, the words sounding lame even to my own ears.
He let out a loud sigh. "Yes, I said I would take you. But not on a day like this." His mouth was set in a grim line as he tilted his head slightly to look over me at the menacing clouds rolling in across the ocean. "A storm is coming in. A bad one. See the way the waves are hitting against the cliffs? Look."
I reluctantly turned to look where he was pointing. I shivered as I watched the icy black water pummeling the rocky cliffs, the hard clapping sound of their contact almost drowning out everything else. That could have been me, being thrown helplessly against the gray shale rocks, if Jacob hadn't stopped me just in time. Suddenly, the enormity of what I had been about to do rushed through me like hot air deflating from a balloon. I collapsed against Jacob's warm chest and began to cry.
Before I realized what had happened, I was sitting in Jacob's lap, sobbing wetly against his neck. His arms held me tenderly but loosely – not enough to be confining but just enough to be comforting. And I cried. As I hadn't cried since that first night that he left. I had been too numb to cry for a long time. Pretending that I was okay. Pretending that I was over it. Pretending that my life could move on. All of the pain from the past few months rushed out of me in an avalanche of tears.
Finally, as my tears drained themselves dry, leaving me a red-nosed hiccupping mess, I noticed that Jacob had carried me over to a fallen tree log, where he was sitting with me in his arms as if I were a child. I continued to sit there, too comfortable to move, when Jacob whispered my name hoarsely, "Bella."
"Yes…" I replied, not bothering to turn my head to look up. I knew he was staring at me, but I couldn't bring myself to meet his honest gaze. Not right now.
"Please tell me …" his voice cracked suddenly. I felt him swallow deeply before continuing. "You weren't thinking of … killing yourself just now ... were you?"
"No, no!" I almost jumped out of his arms in response. "No!" I insisted adamantly, but then I found myself unable to continue. What could I say? It was true. I hadn't been thinking about killing myself. I hadn't been thinking about anything except hearing his voice again. But the consequences of my behavior never registered in my head. In some ways, I had been so reckless that I might as well have been trying to kill myself.
Suddenly, I felt Jacob's too warm hands on my face, turning my head to meet his gaze. His eyes were intensely focused on mine.
"Bella. What were you thinking? How could you?" He demanded, his anger evident but tightly leashed. He never let go of my face and I could feel his hands burning up as his anger gave way to fear. "Do you know what that would do to people … Charlie…Renee ..." His voice cracked as he finished with a hoarse whisper.""To me?"
"I'm sorry …" I mumbled as tears ran down my face. "I just wasn't thinking … I just wanted to hear him again …"
"Hear him?" Jake's voice was calm, but I could tell by the way the tendons in his neck pulsed that he was holding himself tightly in check.
Burying my face in his neck, I refused to answer. I was angry at myself for letting the secret that I had been carrying inside me for so long slip out. But I also felt relieved too. It was like I was finally able to put down a heavy burden that I had been carrying on my shoulders for so long.
"Tell me. After everything we've been through …" He pressed on as he buried his face in my hair. "Surely, I deserve the truth …"
I couldn't deny him that. Jacob has saved me, in every way it was possible to be saved. He had put me together again, piece by piece, emotionally after he left. And I was beginning to lose count of the number of times he had saved me physically. Today was just one more to add to my tab.
"I wanted to hear Edward's –" I choked slightly as I said his name aloud for the first time in months. I felt Jacob's arms tighten too at the sound of his name. "-his voice." My voice was muffled into his neck now as the words tumbled out. "When he left, he took everything with him that would remind me of him. It was as if he never existed. And I found that by … doing dangerous things… I was able to see him again and hear his voice again."
"So you did crazy reckless things so you could hallucinate that he was near you," Jacob whispered, neatly summing up the past few months of my life. His voice was soft, but I could feel his entire body quivering with anger.
I looked up at him. Jake had a pretty firm leash on his temper most of the time, much better than the other wolves, but I knew that I could always count on my craziness to push the edges of his control. Jacob's lips were pressed together and his forehead was smooth, but I wasn't fooled. I could tell he was barely holding it together by the way he wouldn't meet my eyes.
"Stupid, huh?" I muttered softly as I tentatively reached my hand up to touch Jacob's cheek.
He grabbed my hand before I could touch him and held it in his for a few moments. Then he abruptly put me on my feet as he got up and strode away from me. I could see his entire body shaking – though I couldn't tell if it was from anger or his exertion in controlling his anger. For a second, I thought I could almost see the lines around his body blurring. I started to back away. Then suddenly, it stopped. Jake took a few deep breaths and his shoulders relaxed. I walked over to his side and we both stared out at the ocean for a long time without speaking before he finally sighed.
"So I guess I see why you wanted to hang out with me so much then," he said softly. And then his tone changed, into a mocking, biting, sardonic tone that I hated hearing from him. "Good old dumb Jacob. He'll let you do whatever crazy stupid thing you want to do. Heck. He'll even help you do them!"
"No! No!" I cried out as I tugged at his arm to try to get him to face me. "It wasn't like that! I swear it wasn't."
He chuckled bitterly before turning to look at me. Seeing the naked pain in his eyes was like a sucker-punch to the gut. I had never seen Jake like this. And to know that I was the one who had done it to him made my skin crawl.
"You don't have to lie to me, Bella. It's okay. I understand." Jake quirked his lip in a rueful smile. "I always understand."
"No, no, you've got it wrong, Jake. I swear. It was like that … at first … maybe. I found the bikes and wanted to fix them up so that I could ride them, which is why I thought of you. That's true. I completely admit it. But then … we started hanging out … and you … " I stuttered, looking at him helplessly, unable to find the words that I wanted to say. Seeing the doubtful and defiant expression on his face forced me on. "You were like this safe harbor for me. I couldn't help but want to be around you. I needed to hang out with you because you made me happy again. You made me whole again-"
"-No, no. I need to say this. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I know that I've used you. And you've been amazing. I'm sorry that I couldn't … that we … I just need some time, Jake. I'm so sorry."
"Bells. It's okay," he smiled softly. He tipped his finger under my chin and lifted it up. "I'm still here. And we'll work things out." But then his eyes darkened. "But you never answered my original question – what were you thinking with your crazy stunts? Didn't you think of the impact it would have had on Charlie or me if you had gotten hurt? Or if you had died?"
I looked at him and shrugged. I had no defense.
"Because let me tell you something," he continued on angrily. "The Bella that I know wouldn't do that. The Bella I know is the most incredibly caring and thoughtful person that I know. She's the one who would move to Forks – even though it made her unhappy – so that her mother could be happy. She's the one who would watch baseball with her dad for hours on end – even though she hates baseball – because it made her father happy. But let me tell you that now, I'm wondering whether the Bella that I know still even exists."
I stared at him, stung by his angry accusations. "Jake, that's not fair..."
"No, it is," Jake's eyes bore into me. The intense gaze would have been frightening, if it wasn't tempered by the love and affection that I knew was buried deep in his eyes. "I need to say this. I've stood by patiently and watched you alternate between the person I know you are and the person you become whenever you think of him. This empty broken shell of a person that is unable to function. Unable to think of anything or anyone but him – forget about me or Charlie or Renee – what about yourself? Who are you? You act as if you don't exist without him. But that is not you. Don't let it become you. You are so much more than what he has made you."
My eyes began to smart even though I could have sworn ten minutes ago that I had entirely cried myself out. But these were now tears of shame. Jake's honest words seemed to have woken me out of a trance that I had been in for months. I saw the faces of the Charlie, Renee, Phil, Jake – all of whom I loved and cared about deeply – but had been nothing more than shadow puppets in the back of my mind – in a mind that was taken over entirely by him. Who had I become? Jake was right. I didn't even know if I recognized myself anymore. I opened my mouth to respond, but nothing came out. Hot tears of shame and frustration spilled out of my eyes instead.
"Sh*t. I didn't mean to make you cry!" Jake cursed as he pushed his hands through his hair in frustration. "I'm being a jerk, aren't I?"
"No no, you're right. I've been one of those girls that falls apart when a guy dumps her. The type of girl I would have made fun of before this," I acknowledged. "It's just … he … I … we ..."
"You don't have to tell me," Jake muttered morphing immediately from intense angry werewolf to awkward confused boy at the sight of my tears.
"No no, it's just that it was an intense relationship. My first one too, "I admitted with shrug. "So I'm trying to figure it out. Please don't give up on me, Jake."
"Never," he said as he pulled me into his arms tightly. Too tightly in fact. He was crushing me in his embrace as he ground out, "Please don't do that to me again either. I don't know if I could take it a second time. For a moment there, I thought I wouldn't get to you in time ..." I felt his whole body shaking in response.
"I promise," I whispered. 'I'll try harder."
"We'll both try harder," he amended as he let me go. I nodded in agreement and then we both turned and slowly headed back towards the trail to avoid the incoming storm.
Hi guys! I'm planning to redo Eclipse where all the events of the book still unfold (Victoria, New Vampire Army, the Cullens coming back, etc.) but just slightly differently because Jake managed to stop Bella from cliff-jumping. And also, in case you can't tell, this is definitely going to be a Jake & Bella fanfic! :)