Extra thanks go out to MeraNaamJoker for pre-reading this chapter. :)
For I Am Captured Straight to You
Jacob didn't see Bella all week.
He hardly noticed.
It wasn't that he didn't think about her or anything, because he did. He thought about her a lot. And if he were a girl, he would probably admit to just how often he thought about her. But he wasn't, so he wouldn't.
Is that a new thing you're trying out? Being a guy? Cuz I think I preferred you with estrogen.
So he thought about her all the time, okay? When he didn't have something immediate to focus on, his mind just sorta drifted her way. Like an unanchored boat caught in the tide or some shit.
And we're back.
But Jacob didn't really miss her, per se. In fact he was kind of glad she wasn't around. Because even though he didn't see Bella, he definitely saw Embry. The Rez was a small place and the high school was even smaller, so it was kind of inevitable that they would cross paths even if Sam had them running separate patrols. They didn't talk at all, or even acknowledge each other, and it was almost like the days back before Jacob had phased and Embry was running with Sam's posse. Only Embry didn't look like a conceited jerk; he looked fucking heartbroken.
It pretty much made Jacob feel like shit.
He knew from his patrols with Leah that Bella and Embry had broken up Sunday night. He didn't catch any of the details but was aware that Leah went over to Bella's house every day after school. The two would watch movies that began with "the"—The Notebook, The Wedding Singer, The Break-Up, The Importance of Being Angsty (or something; it had that Colin guy Bella loved.). Anyway, they would watch movies, and Bella would cry, and then they would do homework, and Bella would cry while Leah pretended not to notice.
It was all really female, and Jacob was glad that Leah was, well, female and knew what Bella needed. Once Jacob had considered going over to check on her himself, but Leah threatened to do unspeakable things to his manhood which would result in him never being able to procreate, so he cringed every time he saw a blender and wisely decided against it. Jacob had forgiven Leah for telling Bella about the box under his bed (and had come this close to thanking her), so they were on good terms despite the fact that Leah was adamantly "Team Bella" in this mess. Because for some mysterious reason, Leah was being less obnoxious than usual.
For guys, the post break-up procedure was slightly different. It usually involved 'borrowing' beer from Old Quil's never-ending stash of booze, holing up in Quil's basement, talking shit about the ex-girlwhatever, and then watching bootlegged porn. At least that was what they'd done after that one girl used Embry for a week to make her old boyfriend jealous (bitch). That was also what they did after the Seahawks went 2-14 a couple seasons back, but that was neither here nor there.
Jacob couldn't even talk to Embry, let alone get drunk and trash-talk Bella with him.
Well, Jacob had to take that back. He had talked to Embry once. They had been standing in line at the cafeteria—by chance—when Embry suddenly stopped in front of the buffets and said…
"They're out of mashed potatoes."
So Embry hadn't been looking at him when he'd said it, and he didn't wait for a response before walking away, but Jacob had been the only one around to hear, so it had to have been directed at him, right?
Either way, that was on Wednesday, and today was Friday. Embry hadn't talked to him or acknowledged his existence since, and Jacob didn't know how to fix it. And it could be fixed. It would just take time and lots of…
He was working on it.
Charlie's cruiser was in front of the house when Jacob got home from school. It was raining heavily, and Jacob jogged from the garage to the back door. He got soaked anyway because, yeah, he turned into a dog and not something useful like an umbrella. His dad and Charlie were sitting in the living room, each with a beer in his hand and eyes focused on the television.
"Hey, Charlie," Jacob greeted.
Charlie looked up and nodded. "Jake."
When Charlie didn't look away but seemed to study him from the couch, Jacob nervously wondered if he knew the role he'd played in Bella and Embry's breakup. Sure, Charlie liked Jacob (they were practically family), but he'd liked Embry, too. Embry had made Bella happy. Then they broke up and Bella had been crying her eyes out all week. For some reason it was important to Jacob that Charlie didn't think any less of him.
So Jacob did a mental fist pump when Charlie shook his head and looked back at the TV. "How do you keep clothes on that boy's back? He's two inches taller every time I see him."
"It's not usually the shirts I have to worry about." Billy smirked.
Jacob rolled his eyes. His father, the comedian.
"What are the boxes for?" Jacob asked while heading for the fridge. A stack of flattened cardboard boxes was leaning against the back of the couch. Jacob thought he recognized them as one of the bajillion random things usually stored in Rachel and Rebecca's old room.
"Charlie's taking them for Bella. She needs moving boxes."
The package of cheese slipped from Jacob's hands. He fumbled after it. "Bella? Bella's moving?"
"This weekend," Charlie muttered less than enthusiastically. "She didn't tell you?"
"Uh, no, but we haven't talked in a few days." Jacob tried to say that as casually as possible, but it was probably a good thing that neither Billy nor Charlie were looking in his direction. "Where, um, where is she moving?"
Please not China. Please not China. Please not China.
"Port Angeles," Charlie grunted, and Jacob felt a little less like he needed to sit down. "A girl in one of Bella's classes asked her to room with her in an apartment up there."
This definitely wasn't cool. Why the hell did Bella need to move 40 minutes away when she'd been commuting all semester? He was pretty sure he knew the answer.
Jacob tried not to feel like the biggest girl in the world (he was reformed!) as he took the kitchen phone and walked as far from the living room as the chord would allow—the laundry niche. He quickly dialed the Clearwater's number (which he only knew because sometimes he talked to Seth, okay?), and asked for Leah.
"What do you want?"
Some people had the scary ability to communicate an eye-roll over the phone. Leah was one of those scary people. "Yeah."
"You didn't tell me that!"
"Did she talk to you about it?"
"No, she told me through sign language."
Jacob scowled. "I'm going to go see her," he warned.
"Leah, did you hear me? I'm going to go—"
"Yeah, I heard you. Christ. What do you want? A pep talk?"
"No, I was kind of waiting for you to threaten my manhood," Jacob said, frowning in confusion.
Leah sighed and said, "Going to see her wouldn't be the worst idea you've had."
"You know, Jake, talking to you is like trying to communicate with a broomstick, except broomsticks don't ask annoying questions and wouldn't have called me in the first place."
"You've been telling me all week to leave her alone!" Jacob exploded.
"I told you once on Wednesday."
"That was only two days ago!"
"It was a bad idea two days ago. Now you need to get your ass over there and be a man."
What was it about the second X chromosome that made women insane? First, she was all, 'If you go over to Bella's house, I will personally make a milkshake out of your testicles.' And now she was like, 'You need to get your ass over there and be a man.'
"This is some sort of reverse psychology stunt, isn't it?" Jacob accused. "You're telling me to go just because you know that I know that you would try to set me up for failure or that I wouldn't take your advice just to spite you, which I was totally thinking about, and you knew it." When there was silence on the other end of the line, and he smirked triumphantly. Oh, yeah. She was totally trying to get him not to go. "Well, I'm not falling for it. I'm going to go see Bella right now."
"Darn. You're just too smart for me."
And then she hung up.
Twenty minutes later Jacob was even more soaked, standing on Bella's front porch like an idiot and wondering if he should knock. He never knocked.
Ugh. He missed the days when he'd been so sure about everything.
Deciding to bite the bullet, Jacob opened the door—without knocking—and stepped out of his wet sneakers. He set them in front of the hall closet, before heading upstairs, where he could hear Bella moving around in her room.
She didn't see him standing in her doorway, so Jacob just sorta watched her for a few moments. She was humming something slow as she took clothes off of hangers and folded them into piles on her bed. Seeing her be so meticulous never failed to amuse him. It was fucking adorable, alright?
When she turned to move toward the closet, she caught sight of Jacob out of the corner of the eye and nearly jumped a foot in the air (impressive for someone who was only three feet tall to begin with). "Holy crow!" she shouted, hand clutched to her chest. "Jacob! What—make some noise next time, would you?"
Despite everything, he smiled at her anxiety. "I could sing whenever I walk up behind you."
She grimaced. "Please don't."
"I wouldn't, really. Even if you asked nicely."
They both knew he couldn't string three notes together without traumatizing someone.
Bella mumbled something about small miracles and disappeared into the walk-in closet. She reappeared with a heap of clothes folded over one arm. The sight reminded Jacob why he was here in the first place.
"Charlie said you're moving to Port Angeles."
Bella nodded as she laid the clothes out on the bed. "A girl in my interp class lost her job and needs someone to help pay rent."
She didn't elaborate, didn't apologize for not telling him herself.
Jacob crossed his arms. "You're running away."
Bella had moved to the other side of bed, either to put something tangible between them or so that she could talk to him as she continued folding. She didn't react outwardly to his comment, but glanced up briefly.
"Have you talked to Embry?" she asked.
Fucking got you there.
"I have," she said when he didn't reply. "Every day."
He definitely hadn't known that. And it pissed him off more than it should. "So you'll talk to him but not me? I thought you two broke up."
Bella paused in her folding, swallowed thickly as she blinked several times. "We did," she murmured.
Way to go, asshole.
Bella wiped discretely at her eyes. "You know, Jake. Embry's important to me. And he's important to you. This is hard for him, for all of us. I'm just trying to be sensitive to—"
"And what is this, Bella? Where are we right now? Because our last conversation didn't exactly clear anything up."
Fuck. Why did he sound so angry? He wasn't. He was just lost and—shit—maybe a little scared. It felt like he had a decision to make, only he wasn't sure what his options were and what they would cost him.
He needed to start from the beginning. "Who broke up with who?"
"I broke up with him," Bella admitted, looking guilty. "He wanted to work things out, but…"
Jacob stepped closer until his thighs hit the mattress. "But?"
"But it wouldn't be fair to him when I have feelings for you." At his look of thinly concealed pleasure, she rolled her eyes. "I'd already told you that."
"I know. I just like hearing you say it."
Bella huffed and picked up a blouse to fold.
Jacob's heart soared. (And, fuck yeah, his subconscious wasn't even going to correct him on that one.)
"I love you."
Woah. Personal thought just went public without permission.
Not so "sub" anymore, am I, hot stuff?
Bella wasn't looking at him. "Jake," she warned.
"I love you," he repeated because he couldn't let the first time he said that just be a fluke. And even if he was putting the cart before the horse, mule, elephant, and the rest of the zoo, it was still true. "I have for a long time."
She was biting her lip and not in the "I-don't-know-how-to-let-you-down-easy" way but in the "I'm-trying-my-best-not-to-smile" way. Which was awesome.
"I wish things were simpler," she said finally and stopped messing around with the clothes. She looked at him squarely. "Not different, but easier. Does that make sense?"
Jacob thought it made a lot of sense. "Yeah."
They slipped into one of their Jake and Bells silences which were never awkward and always productive. While Bella finished sorting her clothes, Jacob went to the bathroom to grab a towel to dry off with. Then he got to sit at her desk and watch her go about her business. She wasn't taking much with her, mostly books, jeans, and shirts—things she needed to be Bella.
In the middle of boxing her Jane Austen collection, Bella stopped, looked at Jacob, and said, "I love Embry, Jacob."
"I'm used to that."
"I think I always will."
She silently considered that and then went back to packing. Around seven Charlie came home. He gave the broken down boxes and a roll of packing tape to Jacob. So he set about putting together boxes for Bella to use, and if he didn't like the idea of helping Bella move away, he did like being helpful, so he left it at that.
It stopped raining during dinner, which Charlie had picked up from one of those Chinese takeout places that used those generic plastic bags with the yellow smiley face on them (the trademark of a truly authentic Chinese restaurant). Jacob's fortune cookie said something about taking chances and carrier pigeons, so after the table was cleared, he asked Bella if she wanted to go for a walk.
Her hesitant 'yes' was better than no 'yes,' so he took it.
He also took her hand as they walked out the backdoor. She didn't pull away. So then they were holding hands and walking in silence through the woods, and Jacob was waiting for it to blow up in his face—carrier pigeons were going to start raining from the sky any moment now.
"I'm going to miss you."
Jacob glanced down at her. "What do you mean?"
"I'm going to be living in Port Angeles."
Deploy carrier pigeons!
"It's not like you're moving to the other side of the state, Bells. You can still visit, or, you know, I could visit you. Winter break is coming up…"
She bit her lip and avoided his eyes. A Bella Swan tell if he ever saw one.
Jacob groaned. "Come on, Bells. I love you, and you…'have feelings' for me, so why can't we just...be. Together. If we take it slow and keep it to ourselves for a little while, then Embry—"
"Then Embry will what?" she asked. "He'll learn to do what you did? Suck it up and pretend that everything is fine when it isn't? Is that really what you want for him? You weren't happy like that, Jake."
"No, I don't want that for him. But I want to be happy for a change. It's selfish, fine, but that doesn't stop me from wanting you."
Bella had stopped walking so that their arms stretched between until he was forced to stop, too. He inched back towards her reluctantly. Flipping his palm over, Bella held it before her, tracing his life line and love line with her thumbs. Jacob shivered.
"What do you think the chances are of you and Embry going back to the way you were?" she asked quietly.
He swallowed. "It can't ever be like it was. With the three of us like we were."
It was the first time he'd said it out loud, though the realization had been sitting heavily in his stomach all week.
"This is what growing up is like, isn't it?"
Jacob wasn't sure but thought that sounded about right. "It sucks."
Bella's hands on his skin made it hard to be any more eloquent. But she tipped her head in agreement anyway. "It would be easier if you had your best friend."
"No, Jake. Listen." She tugged on his arm. "I'm moving. And not because I want to get away from you, or Embry, or us. Because I don't." There was something in the way she said it that made him believe her. "I need something that's just mine. Something that doesn't rely on anyone else but me. My own space, my own schedule, my own needs. When you and Embry both left me after you phased it was awful because all the good things in my life relied on you. I don't want to feel like that ever again."
He hated where this was going. "But the good stuff in my life relies on you."
"It didn't always."
He stubbornly (and half-heartedly) tried pulling his hand away, but she tightened her hold.
"Talk to Embry," she told him, and he'd never heard her sound so serious. "It will help. You guys mean so much to each other."
He didn't argue but didn't promise anything either.
His lack of response made her sigh. "I didn't break up with Embry for you, Jacob. I did it for me. That's why I think this might all work out."
Her big brown eyes bore into him and Jacob stared back, feeling his resolve waning under her sincerity and determination.
Fuck. Of course she was right. But he'd been waiting so damn long for this that it felt like he should fight harder. He wanted to.
"You're not even going to visit?"
"I'll be in Forks from time to time," she assured him. "But I'm not going to hang around the Rez like I used to. Not for a while at least. I'm going to spend part of winter break in Jacksonville with Renee and Phil, but you'll probably see me at Christmas."
Not good enough. "Will you call? And will you pick up the phone when I call? Because I will be calling you."
She smiled slowly, lips pursing in a way that was almost painfully endearing. "I'll pick up," she promised. "I told Embry I would stay in touch, too. And Leah."
He wanted to ask if she planned on dating other guys in Port Angeles, but he figured that would sound needy and douchey. And if her explanation for leaving was anything to go by, that didn't seem like something he needed to worry about.
"I don't want you to go." He wasn't asking her to stay; he just wanted her to know.
"Well, I don't really want to leave," she admitted, pulling him closer. "But I guess that's part of growing up, too."
"We could stay kids," he suggested. "We could ride around on tricycles, make mudpies, mispronounce big words, and steal real children's teeth to put under our pillow for the Tooth Fairy."
"And collect points at the library's summer reading program so we could get prizes like free Dilly Bars," Bella added.
Jacob grinned. "I remember Embry and me making fun of all the losers who did that."
She laughed and shoved him (Jacob made sure to stumble back as if it didn't feel like someone was just blowing on him…from ten feet away). But then she followed after him and wrapped her arms around his middle. "I'm going to miss you," she murmured against his shirt.
Bella had to have, like, gone to a school in Phoenix where learning how to give good hugs was a major part of the curriculum. She rocked at them. Jacob squeezed her back hard enough that she probably would have complained if this hadn't been such an epic moment.
She sniffled once and began moving away, but Jacob's arms totally had other ideas and didn't let her get very far. One hand slid up almost casually to the back of her neck, and his thumb began working slow circles across her skin.
She feels so fucking good.
Yeah, that sounded crass and shallow, but she was the only person he'd ever thought that about, and that had to count for something. This could be the last time Jacob saw her for weeks, so he should probably touch her as much she'd let him. Maybe he could even…
Bella read the intention in his face and stepped back. "I don't want to regret any more kisses, Jake."
"You regret that last one?" He thought it had been pretty nice.
Fucking fantastic, actually.
"I had a boyfriend."
It didn't escape his notice that that wasn't a 'yes.'
"But I kissed you, so you can pretend it was against your will while secretly enjoying it."
He just happened to be in on that particular secret. If it was a secret.
Jacob considered her carefully. "Did you happen to tell Embry about that one, too?"
She shook her head. "No, but maybe you should."
He'd been given worse advice. (One time Quil told him that sticking your finger into an outlet was a good way to test if it worked.)
"Yeah, I'll consider that as an opener. It'll help ease our way into the discussion about where to hide my dismembered body."
Because he was crazy irresistible Bella stepped forward to give him one more hug. "I have faith in you, Jake."
They held hands all the way back to the house. Then Jacob helped Bella load boxes into the back of her truck and then tarped it for the night because it would undoubtedly rain six more times before morning. Leaving was hard, and Jacob put it off as long as he could by making small talk with Charlie and making Bella tell him everything she knew about her new roommate—some workout junkie who only ate food that came directly from the dirt, which meant no vital food groups like Cheetos or Hostess Snack Cakes.
Why bother eating at all?
Finally Bella had to not-so-subtly corral him out the front door and into the Rabbit, promising to call as soon as she was settled in with her dirt-eating roommate. Jacob leaned out the window and stole a kiss that landed just beneath her right ear. She rolled her eyes and went back into the house with a departing wave over her shoulder.
Jacob arrived in La Push before he even processed that he had left Bella's house. His mind was still back there in a way, and he drove past home, past Quil's house, past the grocery store, and along the cliffs. When he'd reached the highest peak, Jacob pulled off the road and onto the dirt, turning off the car as soon as it was parked.
Jacob didn't have to walk far through the trees to find Embry sitting in the small clearing that gave way to the open ocean and sky. His legs were thrown over the edge, a six pack of that god-awful soda he loved at his hip. Two of the glass bottles were empty and had rolled a few feet away, while another was clutched in Embry's hand.
Picking up one the two remaining in the cardboard carrier, Jacob dropped down beside Embry. He twisted off the cap and took a pull of the too-sweet cream soda. Neither of them looked at the other. Night had stopped being dark for them a long time ago, so they just watched waves turning the water as it rocked against the cliff face.
Minutes stretched by in silence until…
"I can't believe she's actually leaving."
Jacob knew this one was directed at him. "Yeah."
Embry turned a newly empty bottle between his hands. "I want to be mad at her, but…"
Embry looked over at Jacob. It was probably the first time he actually saw him all week. "Why are you drinking that? You hate it."
Jacob shrugged. "There aren't a whole lot of options. It's this or die of thirst."
Embry seemed to accept that and turned back to the water. Jacob watched him. Watched him work something over in his mind, come to a decision, and sigh. Embry got to his feet, grabbing his trash as he went. "We've got a lot of stuff at home. Mom went shopping yesterday. Just stay away from the Oreos, okay?"
Jacob smiled at the ocean then stood and followed Embry to the car.
Things didn't go back to the way they used to be after that. Bella was miles away and became less familiar (and somehow more incredible) with each passing week. Embry and Jacob didn't have a series of heart-to-hearts about the break-up. They didn't even really talk about it or apologize, for that matter. Probably because neither of them was a woman, and Bella wasn't there to make them do it.
It took a while for the two of them to find that common ground they had had for years growing up. Bella's initial arrival in Forks had shifted it all beneath their feet, and it was hard to sit on Quil's couch on a Saturday and not wish that Bella was there to make it more worthwhile.
As promised, Bella called regularly. At first those conversations were something Jacob and Embry each kept to themselves; they were pieces of her they didn't have to—or want to—share. If Bella called Jacob while he was doing homework with Embry, then Jacob would walk outside to answer. Embry would do the same, and it always made Jacob clench his teeth.
But then there was a week in January when Bella didn't call Jacob at all. Every time he dialed her number it went straight to voicemail. By the fifth day of no contact, Jacob broke down and asked Embry if he'd heard from her. He hadn't, and the two of them drove over to Charlie's. He explained that she'd misplaced her phone but was so set on finding it that she wouldn't buy a new one. He would pass along their concern, but he hadn't heard from her in a couple of days himself. Jacob and Embry were in Port Angeles an hour later chastising a sickly Bella.
"Shannon's crashing at a friend's place because she was afraid she'd get sick, too," Bella moaned through a tissue. "She took her phone with her."
After that, Embry and Jacob stopped taking their calls in private.
By Jacob's eighteenth birthday, he didn't feel like he was waiting for things to become normal anymore. They were normal, just different from the normal he'd been used to. Considering that he and Embry could get ridiculously drunk, steal the school's mascot (go Timberwolves!) and spend a night in jail without arguing or acting resentful, Jacob thought this normal was pretty good.
"What is that?"
Jacob scowled at Leah's offended expression. "You know what it is."
"No. I really don't."
"Yes, you do. Stop messing around."
"Quil," Leah barked over her shoulder, "get in here."
Humming obnoxiously loud, Quil strolled into the kitchen, hands on hips. "What seems to be the problem, little ladies?"
Six months ago Leah would have had Quil crying in a fetal position on the floor after a comment like that. Now her nostrils flared and her teeth glistened dangerously in the light. Less terrifying but just as effective against someone as simple-minded as Quil. He sobered up immediately.
"Erm…I mean…did you need something, Leah?"
She pointed at the table. "What is that?"
Quil peered around Jacob. "It's a cake."
"And what's on the cake?"
Quil squinted and tilted his head to one side as he analyzed the multi-colored frosting. "I think…it's a jack-o-lantern. Without a stem. And slightly smooshed. But that's okay, Jacob, no one is perfect."
Jacob batted Quil's hand off his shoulder. "It's the bat signal."
Quil and Leah looked back at the cake.
"I still don't see it."
"That's because you don't even know what the bat signal is, Leah," Jacob muttered as he grabbed his cell phone from his pocket and took a picture of the cake. He sent it with a short message.
"Yes, I do." Leah fell into one of the chairs. "Believe me. I've spent enough time staring at Christian Bale's chest to figure it out."
"This is different. This is the original bat signal."
Quil was nodding along in approval. "That's a really good way to think about it, Jake."
"I'm not just thinking about it. That's what it is!"
"Way to stay positive. Don't let other people's opinions or reality get you down."
Jacob was pretty sure he felt his eye twitch, but his phone vibrated before he could figure out what that meant for Quil's safety.
"Ah ha! Bella knew what it was." He held the screen triumphantly before Leah's face:
Bella: Holy fiddle faddle, Batman! What a great cake! Mail me a piece. ;)
Leah rolled her eyes. "I think that says more about you than it does the icing."
"What do you mean?"
"Look." Leah pointed at the text. "She put a winking emoticon on the end."
Jacob raised his eyebrows at her. "So?"
"She did that because she was worried you wouldn't realize she was joking. She clearly thinks you're a moron who would actually attempt to mail a piece of cake."
Jacob protectively snatched his phone back. "That's just Bella's way of being cute over long distances. I happen to find it very effective."
He walked out of the room before Leah could make some emasculating comment.
Yeah, cuz you're a total stranger to those.
He still needed to pick up chips and other junk before the party and didn't have a whole lot of time. So he hopped into the Rabbit and sped down the road to the one-stop-shop. If Embry saw him driving instead of walking he'd lose his shit ("lose his shit" here meaning "go off on a five minute rant about the environment and the human-driven destruction of our 'one Earth.'") The guy was turning nineteen, and he was still as obsessive as he was when he was ten. The only difference being that Pokémon was out and environmental engineering was in.
It still hadn't quite sunk in that when the summer was over, Embry would be shaking off the moss of La Push and heading east for school. He'd basically been offered a full ride to the University of Illinois and didn't even consider turning it down. Jacob had been more than a little surprised when Sam not only accepted that he was losing one of the Pack but actually supported the decision. He even let Embry get out of his patrol so that he could go celebrate.
Just call him Mr. Mom.
Fucking twilight zone right there.
Inside the store, Jacob made quick work of filling his shopping cart with a variety of food that Bella's old roommate Shannon wouldn't dream of touching. Bella's horrified voice from last December played through his mind: Holy crow, Jake. She came home while I had Easy Mac heating in the microwave, and she threw up! Just the smell made her throw up!
Jacob must have still been grinning at check out, because the girl at the cash register—whom he vaguely recognized as junior from school—smiled at him and said, "You gonna clue the rest of us in on that joke?"
Woah. Her teeth are really white and really straight. Probably one of those crazy people who drinks coffee through a straw.
"No joke," he promised while piling the bags and boxes on the conveyor belt. "I'm just naturally this happy. The doctors say it shouldn't kill me."
The girl—her nametag said 'Julie'—laughed. Loudly.
Great. She thinks you're flirting with her. Avoid eye contact.
As Julie rung up the multitude of items, she kept up the small talk, commenting on how all the hot guys were graduating (wink, wink) and that only two people were heading out of state for school. "What about you?" she eventually asked. "What are your plans for the fall?"
Jacob, who had been staring resolutely at the gum packets for the last two minutes, was obliged to meet her over-interested stare. "Oh, I'm going to UDub."
"That's cool. What major?"
But she was handing him the receipt and Jacob was already gathering up the plastic bags. "Nice seeing you, Julie."
"Yeah. Maybe we'll run into each other at the party later?"
Not if I can help it.
Basically the entire Rez had promised to show up for Embry's party, so the festivities were being held at First Beach. Around seven that night, the place was packed. Jacob had never seen so many people under 30 gathered in one spot. Somehow word had spread to Forks that there was going to be a "crazy beach party" in La Push, and the white kids had arrived in droves. Jacob didn't really care except that they had run out of food an hour ago.
Against his better judgment, Jacob had put Quil in charge of the bonfire. It was too big and leaned a little too far to the left, but no one had died yet, so Jacob was counting his blessings. While keeping one eye on that disaster waiting to happen, Jacob scanned the crowd of people for Embry. He'd shown up around five, spent a solid twenty minutes gushing over the batman cake (take that, Leah), and had then waded into the masses.
Jacob hadn't seen him since. Normally that wouldn't have been a big deal because Jacob knew a lot people who were in attendance, but the longer he sat at one the picnic tables observing, the more he missed the one person who wasn't there.
Bella was in Europe with Renee and Phil. They'd been roaming around there for two weeks now. Before that, Bella had been in Jacksonville, working in the summer program at the school Renee taught at. It had been too good of an opportunity for Bella to pass up, seeing as how she was majoring in elementary education. But that meant the last time she'd been in Forks was the first week of summer break. They'd talked a lot over the phone, but it wasn't enough for Jacob.
He missed being able to see her and touch her.
A fist bumped Jacob's shoulder. "What's up, man?"
Embry climbed up onto the table, resting his feet on the bench beside where Jacob was sitting. Jacob was surprised by how happy he looked. He was tapping his foot to the crappy pop song playing from Jared's stereo and rubbing his hands together in front him—which he only did when he had a lot of pent-up nervous energy.
"I'm making sure Quil doesn't accidentally maim any of the guests."
"Good call. Some of them are entirely too hot to be maimed." Embry jerked his head towards a group of girls a few yards away talking amongst themselves. They were all tan and scantily dressed. Jacob could see the appeal.
Jacob glanced back at Embry to find him smiling all knowingly.
"What?" Jacob asked suspiciously.
Embry bit back his smile while shaking his head. "Nothing. It's just…senior year was good."
That wasn't what he was smiling about at all, but Jacob went along with it. "I guess."
"No, it was really good." Embry said it so soberly that Jacob had to turn and look at him again. "It was bullshit sometimes, but in the end it all sorted itself out, you know? It's gonna suck going to college without you, man."
That was something Jacob could agree with completely. "I know what you mean."
Embry held his gaze for a moment before nodding. He slid off the table. "Hey, Jake, you should break out the Twister mats. I think those girls would totally be willing."
Jacob smirked. "I didn't bring them. They're at home."
"Then haul ass."
Jacob took his damn time walking home. Didn't even phase. Embry was lucky it was his birthday or he wouldn't be getting the games at all. He had his hand on the handle of the storm door when he heard sounds coming from the garage. Someone closed the door to the Rabbit. Jacob's arm dropped back to his side.
Who the hell…
He walked around the side of the house to find the light on in the garage. Jacob never turned that light on because he didn't need it. Jacob's first suspicion was that it was Quil using his garage like it was some sort of hourly rate hotel. And if that was the case, Jacob would have some serious bodily harm to cause. But as he approached the open door, a familiar scent became more and more potent until Jacob was staring at Bella Swan through his windshield.
She was sitting in the passenger seat of the Rabbit, slumped down with her head against the backrest. There was something about the small smile on her face that suppressed his instinct to yell and yank her out of the car into a hug. Instead he swallowed thickly and moved toward the driver side door. Her head turned to follow him.
Bella Swan is sitting in my car.
And she looked fucking beautiful.
Slowly Jacob opened the door and got inside, watching her just as intently as she was watching him. They must have been sitting in silence for at least five minutes before Bella said something.
"I was worried you'd forgotten."
"Our plans," she said.
She smiled secretively, which was something he'd never seen Bella do. "A year ago today we made plans. Well, Quil made plans for us."
"We were going to run away together on Embry's nineteenth birthday."
Jacob was taken back to a dark closet and Bella's finger on his lips. An insincere 'oops.'
He'd forgotten about that. Not that that was something someone would normally remember. They'd just been fooling around. Like they always were.
"I forgive you for forgetting," Bella said seriously. "But you have to drive the first leg."
"Drive?" Jacob echoed, feeling like he was completely missing out on something big. "The first leg of what?"
"When people say they're going to 'run away' they don't plan on actually running anywhere. They drive. Or take a bus or plane—"
He caught on quickly. "And where exactly are we driving?"
She stared at him, half of her face hidden by the leather seat. "Away."
He heard a destination in her voice. He just didn't know what it was. It didn't seem like it mattered.
Jacob took a deep breath. "Shouldn't I…I don't know…pack some stuff?"
"I took care of it."
He looked at the backseat. A brow duffle bag was sitting beside a purple one. Both of them looked close to bursting.
You got any other excuses?
Jacob opened his mouth and then shut it.
Not any good ones.
His hand moved to the ignition, where the key was already waiting to be turned. But Bella's hand shot out to cover his. "Wait," she said.
And he did because her tongue had darted out to wet her lips, and his ability to focus on anything else was completely shot to hell.
"I want to kiss you," she said but didn't move. "Is that okay?"
Give me a moment to mull that one over.
He cleared his throat. "That depends. Can you kiss me without regretting it?"
"I don't know. I've never tried kissing myself before. Could be traumatizing."
Jacob leaned over and kissed her. And her kissing him back with her arms around his neck and her body pressed against his? Fuck awesome.
Really it didn't seem like they were ever going to stop (which he didn't have a problem with at all). Her tongue kept sliding against his, and when her nails scratched gently at the base of his neck, it was almost like she was asking for more. He didn't have a problem with that either, except the car was small for what he had planned.
But Bella seemed to come to her senses eventually, and pulled away with pink cheeks and bitten lips. She smoothed down her rumpled hair as she fell back into her seat. "I, um, I'm good now. You can drive."
She didn't roll her eyes at his smug expression, which was like a sign from the heavens that this trip was going to be the best thing that had ever happened to him. He turned the key in the ignition. He pulled out of the garage with Coldplay blasting from the radio.
~ fin ~
AN: Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, or listened to me complain on twitter. You ladies are fantastic. This story was a lot of fun to write, and I'm glad I got to share it with you. I especially want to thank the reviewers who I couldn't reply to via PM because you either have the feature disabled or I'm blocked.
In case you're wondering if you read that ending wrong...yeah, they drove off into the damn sunset. Anyone who has a problem with it can go read Zenith. ;)