AN: RL has kicked me in the ass once again. My back is still having some issues, but thank you to everyone for your well-wishes. I was able to get out and spend a really nice day out on Wednesday at the Philadelphia Zoo with my friend Anne and our children, even getting to meet up with the awesome NessieFY and her kiddos. We're in dowry discussions at this point. ;-)
On a related note, if my back continues to give me problems with writing this upcoming chapter, Rabbit Heart will be skipping a week. While I'm extremely proud of my track record with keeping to a weekly posting schedule, for not just this one but Parachute as well, you guys don't deserve half-assed from me. This chapter originally went up unBeta'd since I barely finished it in time for this week, because sitting for too long is painful.
Huge love and adoration to SabLuvslogan and SammieLynnsMom for being around and giving this a quick run through and Busymommy for super fast Beta'ing! I appreciate you guys so very much!
Chapter 10: Hurricane Drunk
I don't want shelter
Nothing to keep me from the storm
And you can't hold me down
'Cause I belong to the hurricane
It's gonna blow us all away
Hurricane Drunk by Florence + the Machine
"Hello, Edward," Angela Weber's sultry voice carried over the din, into Bella's ears.
His mouth settled into a grim line and he swallowed visibly. "Ange. What are you doing here?"
She smirked and looked at him from under her eyelashes. "You weren't at home, so I figured I'd find you here."
The thought that she'd been at his house- her house- made Bella's stomach turn. Edward glanced at her nervously, before turning back to his ex-girlfriend.
"No, I mean what are you doing in town? I thought you were in Italy?" he replied, in a bitter tone that took Bella by surprise.
Angela rolled her eyes and laid her hand on his arm, leaning towards him. "I missed home," she said, shrugging. "I missed you."
His brow furrowed, looking down at her hand that was touching him. "Really?" he asked dryly. "Why do I find that hard to believe?"
She smiled flirtatiously. "Can we go somewhere a little more private to talk?"
Edward narrowed his eyes for a moment. "I don't think that'd be a good idea."
Bella's heart skipped a beat as she watched the other brunette smile beautifully and wrap her arms around him, kissing his neck. Her eyes widened when his eyes met hers over the girl's shoulders, shooting her an apologetic look.
"Eddie! I've missed you so much," Angela spoke in a breathy voice, but just loud enough for the bartender to hear her.
Bella felt a surge of jealousy and irrational anger shoot through her. This was not happening. Who did this bitch think she was? Obviously someone who already staked a claim on him, she thought to herself, derisively. Her heart began to slow and stutter, aching with the possibilities that Angela's arrival opened up.
"Fine, let's sit somewhere and talk," he responded in irritation, pulling Angela's arms from his body and pushing her gently away.
She shot him a confused look, before looking back and forth, between him and Bella. She tossed her hair over her shoulder, leveling a glare in her competition's direction and sizing her up. Edward stood, reaching for her hand and leading her across the room to an empty table in a fairly secluded section of the bar. Even though his countenance suggested he was annoyed by her sudden appearance, the fact that he didn't say one word to her in front of Angela was not lost on Bella. In fact, it made her heart ache all the more. Would she be forgotten now that Angela was back in the picture?
She turned her head mechanically and looked into Jacob's concerned eyes. She'd forgotten that he was at the bar tonight, and he was now sitting on the stool that Edward had just vacated.
"Yeah?" she replied shakily.
"Are you okay?" he asked in concern.
She swallowed and nodded, her eyes involuntarily sliding to where Edward was seated with Angela, who was still smiling, her lips moving a mile a minute.
"You're in love with him."
Bella pulled her gaze from across the room and looked at Jacob blankly, not focusing on what he was saying.
"I'm sorry, what?"
He eyed her contemplatively and sighed. "Edward. You're in love with him," he replied, matter-of-factly.
At the sound of his name, her heart clenched and she turned her eyes back to the scene unfolding at the table in the corner. It was as if she couldn't help herself. Streaks of copper shined from his head in the overhead light as he was leaning forward, talking animatedly to Angela. From where she stood, Bella couldn't make out the tone of their discussion, but her stomach fell to her feet when the other girl laughed and touched Edward's hand intimately. She swallowed painfully and forced herself to look back at Jacob.
His eyes were soft and sympathetic, which spurred forth a burst of anger. "Edward and I are just friends," she spat, before turning to help a customer a few seats down from the police chief. When she passed by him again, he let out a laugh, causing her to stop and glare at him.
"Is something funny, Chief?" she asked sarcastically.
"Yes, Isabella. You." He smugly sat back in his seat when she slammed her hand on the bar in front of him.
"Why are you antagonizing me, Jacob?"
"Because you're hurt and it's written across your face. Bottling all of that up inside is only going to do more harm than good. Cry. Rage. Bitch and moan. Let me be your friend."
She glanced at Edward's table and then back at Jacob. "I think I'm done with 'friends' at the moment."
He grinned and winked at her. "Look at it this way, you're already in love with him, so there's little to no chance of you falling for me. You're safe this time."
She smiled and shook her head, thankful for his attempt at humor. "Thanks, Jake," she responded softly.
He shrugged. "Anytime, friend," he replied with a strong emphasis on the word friend, which had her smile widening slightly.
Unable to stop the morbid pull to the scene that was breaking her heart, Bella looked over one last time. Angela's eyes raised at that moment and locked with hers. Her lips curled mischievously and she moved closer to Edward, leaning forward and kissing him on his temple. The resulting breathtaking smile on his face snapped something inside of her. She took a deep breath and looked down at her feet, fighting back the tears stinging her eyes, when she felt a gentle touch on her elbow. She looked up and met Rosalie's sympathetic smile.
"I've got this, Bella. Why don't you take off for the night?"
She nodded and slowly turned around, forcing her eyes to focus on the door, not back towards Edward. Emmett gave her a wary look, but she gave him a small smile, hopefully alleviating some of his concern. As the cool wind hit her face and lifted the loose strands of her hair, she leaned against the wall, scrunching up her face and attempting to physically hold her tears at bay. She glanced up as she heard the door open, ridiculous hope blossoming that it was Edward coming after her. When Jacob's kind face came into her line of sight, she couldn't stop the stream of tears that burst through her dam of emotions.
He sighed and pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly. "Ssh, it's okay. It'll all be okay," he whispered comfortingly.
"No, it won't," she sniffled. "It's my own damn fault. I should've taken the bull by the horns and said something sooner. Now she's back and he'll fall at her feet."
She pulled back and her eyes widened in surprise when Jacob chuckled. "You don't see things very clearly, do you?" he murmured, reaching up to cup her cheek.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that you don't see the way he looks at you, like you're the only person in the room."
She scoffed and sniffed again, wiping the tears from her cheeks. "Obviously we weren't watching the same man tonight."
Jacob rolled his eyes and dropped his arms. "I'm not talking about tonight. I'm talking about every time I've ever seen you two together. Now, in all honesty, I wasn't watching his conversation with Angela. I was watching your reaction. But," he replied, before pausing for a moment. "If you think that he'll drop whatever you two have started just because she came back to town, I think you're crazy. Don't automatically think the worse."
She sighed and shook her head, running both hands through her hair and releasing it from its rubber band.
"Well, at least I can write a few heartbreak songs out of it if worse comes to worst," she responded, attempting to lighten the air with humor.
Jacob's head cocked to the side in confusion. "Songs? You write songs?"
She felt the blood run from her face, realizing what she'd just let slip. His eyes narrowed, turning inquisitive and searching hers. She knew the moment that he made the connection when his lips formed an 'o' shape.
"Get the fuck out," he muttered in surprise.
She swallowed and nervously pulled her hair back. "What are you talking about?"
He squinted for a moment, before grinning widely. "Incredible, how did I not notice that before?" he murmured to himself.
She snorted and shook her head. "Because you're a regular Inspector Clouseau?"
He glared and held his hand on his chest in mock offense. "You wound me, Bella." He reached out and tugged on a strand of hair playfully. "This suits you better than blonde."
"You won't tell anyone, will you?" she pleaded, a frizzle of fear running up her back.
"No, I won't tell anyone, but," he paused, "I've got to hear this story. Feel like taking a ride?"
With one last look at the bar's entrance, she squared her shoulders and nodded. "Sure, I could use the distraction."
An hour later, Bella and Jacob sat upon on a driftwood log, gazing into the crashing waves of First Beach on the La Push reservation. Jacob remained quiet and thoughtful as Bella shared her story.
"And that's how I ended up here."
He shook his head in disgust. "I can't believe your mom. What kind of mother does that to their kid? I mean, I thought my dad and I had issues, but at least I can look back and realize that he thought he was doing what was best for me. I don't want to speak ill of the dead, but shit, Renee had issues," he tapered off, banging his fist on his knee.
She smiled ruefully. "Trust me, I know. She was a piece of work."
Quiet settled over the pair before Jacob sighed and broke the silence.
"So, how long are you planning on hiding away and doing nothing to solve the problem?"
Her eyes widened and she looked over at Jacob in surprise. "What do you mean?"
He shifted on the log and scooped up some sand, making a show out of letting it flow slowly through his fingers.
"Time moves, just like this sand. Sooner or later, you're going to run out of it. You're playing a dangerous game with this stalker, Bella."
He turned and looked into her face, his eyes sympathetic, yet calculating. "I could help. I'm a cop, I have connections. Let me help you."
She looked down at her hands and twisted them as she thought. It was bad enough that he'd figured out her secret, but to get him involved with her drama was not something she wanted to do.
"I don't know, Jake. I don't want you to get your ho-"
He touched her lips gently with a finger and smiled ruefully. "You don't need to say it, I won't get my hopes up. Contrary to popular belief, I'm Chief of Police for several reasons - a big one being that I have good instincts. I'm also not blind, I can see how much you care about him and I don't make it a habit of going after a girl who's head over heels for someone else. I can be your friend - I want to be your friend."
Bella took a deep breath in through her nose and let it out slowly. She shivered slightly in the cold night air and pulled her jacket tightly against her torso, contemplating his offer. Jacob noticed her reaction to the brisk wind that had picked up and stood, brushing the sand from his pants before reaching down a hand to help her up.
"Come on, let's get you warm."
He held open the passenger side door of his car for her, before jogging around to his own. He turned on the heat and reached over for her hands, rubbing them between his to warm them. She wondered, for just one moment, what it would be like if she gave him a chance to be more than a friend. He was sweet and kind and she was sure that he'd be a loving partner. But there was no spark of attraction, nothing remotely like the way that Edward could make her blood sing.
She pulled her hands away and slid them under her bottom, giving him a small smile. "Thanks, Jake. For everything."
He smiled ruefully and started the engine. "Not a problem, Bella."
They drove along the dark roads in silence for a little while, before he once again broke the quiet. "I have some contacts and I'm going to look into some things about your stalker. I promise I'll leave your name out of it and be as vague as possible."
She nodded and turned to stare out the window. "Okay, thanks."
"Now, seriously, do you have any kind of time frame for how long you'll be staying here in Forks? Or will you just hide until someone finds you?"
She pursed her lips, taking a deep breath in through her nose. "I don't know," she whispered. "Two months? More? Less?"
He glanced at her quickly, before turning back to the road. "That's a little indecisive."
She sighed. "I just don't know what I want to do yet. Ideally, there'd be some magical solution where I could still be Izzy Dwyer and stay here, too. But that's not possible."
She rested her head against the cool glass of the window and closed her eyes. "I have obligations and a schedule that frequently overwhelms me. I have some crazy asshole following me around. And to top it all off, I've fallen for an amazing man who may now be reconciling with his bitch of an ex. Shit couldn't get much worse, right?"
"I wouldn't tempt fate if I were you. Just saying."
She banged her head on the glass softly and groaned.
"On a completely unrelated note, my dad wanted me to see if you'd like to come to a bonfire next weekend. He's been eager to meet you again, after all these years."
She glanced at him in surprise. "Really?"
He laughed. "Why do you sound so shocked?"
"I don't know." She shrugged. "I guess because I don't even know him. I mean, maybe I did back then, but I barely remember him now."
Jacob nodded thoughtfully. "That's understandable, I guess. What you've got to keep in mind is that Charlie was like a brother to him. Granted, shit happened and they grew apart, but he still loved him. Now, you're back in town. A living, breathing reminder that a piece of your dad still lives."
"I never thought of it like that," she replied quietly, still pondering his words.
"Just think about it. The rest of your crew is more than welcome to come, too. I'm sure Dad would love to have the chance to sit and talk with Mac for a little while."
"Okay, I'll talk to them and see what they think."
A few minutes later, they pulled up in front of Mac's house, the front porch light lit and illuminating a dark figure sitting on the swing. Assuming that it was Mac waiting up for her, she smiled softly and shook her head. She turned to Jacob and reached out for his hand, giving it a squeeze.
"Thanks again, Jake. I'm glad you're a friend."
He smiled. "Thanks for letting me in, Bella. I promise you won't regret it."
She bit her lip and nodded. "I'll talk to you later, Jake."
She opened the door and stepped out into the night air. Jacob leaned over and spoke up, before she had a chance to shut the door.
"I'll call my friend, Paul, tomorrow. Call me if you need anything, okay?"
She shut the door and walked up the path, turning as she got to porch stairs to wave goodbye. When the red of his taillights disappeared from view, she looked up at the sound of the swing squeaking. Her heart began beating furiously, when Edward's face greeted her instead of her godfather's.
"Edward!" she uttered in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
His eyes were dark and guarded, as he leaned forward, letting his elbows rest on his knees with his hands dangling between them. "I was looking for you," he replied, his voice rough and gravelly. "I looked over at you just as you were walking away from the bar. Imagine my surprise when Black followed you outside. I sat there for over thirty minutes and waited for you to come back, but you never did. When I asked Em if he'd seen you, he said that you'd gone for the night, so I came here, but you weren't home yet."
Butterflies fluttered in her stomach, wondering what was so important that he needed to wait on the porch for her. Her thoughts immediately downward-spiraled and went into nightmares about him telling that Angela was what he'd wanted all along. She sat down on the swing next to him tentatively.
"So you decided to wait out here?"
He snorted softly. "Mac offered to let me wait inside, but I figured that the night air would clear my head."
"Did it? Clear your head, that is?" she responded, not quite sure if she actually wanted the answer to that question.
He took a deep breath and shook his head. "Not really, it just left me here to stew in jealousy."
She blinked in surprise, not quite sure if she'd heard him correctly. "Wait, what?"
He swallowed and looked into her eyes, sadness clearly evident there. "I'm too late, aren't I? Is Jacob what you want?"
"Wait, wait, give me a minute to make sure I'm understanding this. You went off, without saying a word to me, to chat with your ex. Now you're jealous and wondering if I want to be with Jacob? Edward," she sighed in exasperation, "I'm confused here. What do you want from me?"
He chuckled ruefully and gazed at her intensely. "I want you," he said quietly, before adverting his eyes and paying careful attention to his hands.
Her jaw dropped in surprise, that being the last thing she'd expected to come out of his mouth. "B-but, what about Angela?"
He looked back up at her face, his brown furrowed in confusion. "What about her?"
She swallowed, deciding to follow Jacob's advice and just let it all out. Keeping it all bottled up inside wouldn't help her here.
"You let her kiss you, twice. You walked away from me, holding her hand. You smiled and laughed while you talked to her. I left the bar because I couldn't watch; it broke my heart."
He sighed and reached out to cup her cheek. "Bella," he whispered brokenly. "I'm so sorry that you saw it that way. She was overly friendly and flirty. When she made it abundantly clear that she just wanted to pick up where we left off, I made her well aware that wasn't even a remote possibility."
She leaned into his hand and relished the feel of his skin touching hers. "Why not?"
"Because not only am I a different man than the one she left six months ago, but I'm involved with someone else now. And in the past few weeks that I've become closer to you, it's so much more than anything I'd ever felt for Angela before."
She felt the sting of tears and attempted to blink them away. Those words uttered from his mouth broke down the last bits of protection that she'd had built around her heart.
"Please," he implored, "please put me out of my misery. Tell me that you feel the same or let me down easy. Just be honest, I can handle it."
She looked deeply into his eyes, love and hope warring with hesitancy.
"I care about you, Edward," she whispered.
His face relaxed in relief and a wide grin broke over his face. "Really? You're not just saying that?"
She laughed and turned her head, kissing his palm. "I'm serious, I really love being around you."
He raised his free hand and cupped her other cheek, bringing their faces closer together. His warm breath caressed her cheek, just before his lips gently touched hers in the sweetest kiss she'd ever felt. Her heart soared and she moved her lips in time with his. After a few minutes, he pulled back and rested his forehead against hers, a soft smile formed on his face.
"You have no idea how long I've been waiting to do that," he whispered.
Laughing, she wound her fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck. "Trust me, I think I do."
She brought her lips back to his, this time deepening the kiss just a bit more. He released his hold on her face and slid one of his hands down her side, coming to rest at the small of her back, pulling her closer. An involuntary shudder ripped through her body, causing him to frown slightly and rub her arms briskly.
"I should let you get inside," he whispered. "It's cold out here."
She bit her bottom lip and shook her head. "I'm just fine, actually."
He chuckled. "That may be, but I really don't want my girlfriend to catch a cold."
A surge of heat seared her belly. "Girlfriend?" she asked, breathlessly.
"Yes, girlfriend. If you don't mind, that is?" he replied nervously.
"No, I'd like that, actually."
"Good, because you can't get rid of me now." He leaned in and pressed his lips against hers one more time.
"Go, get some rest. I'll see you in the morning?"
She nodded and reluctantly stood, not wanting to leave his side. "Wild dogs couldn't keep me away."
He rose to his feet and pulled her close, encompassing her smaller body in a warm embrace.
"Good night, Bella," he whispered against her lips, before claiming them once again. Fireworks burst under her skin, the feel of his lips searing her own.
She sighed and rested her head against the door jamb as she watched him walk down the street, a goofy grin etched upon his face. Suddenly, all of the warring and confusing emotions silently drifted away, leaving behind a peaceful, content feeling. For the first time in years, a weight lifted off her shoulders and hope settled into her heart.
AN: Chapter song: Hurricane Drunk by Florence + the Machine
I'm very excited to announce that the banner for our Rabbit Heart Outtake that will be featured in the Fandom For Tsunami compilation will be posted on my blog. As are the banners for my Fandom For Sexual Assault Awareness pieces. Yes, I said pieces. I explain it better on the blog. I'm really looking forward to these!
KitsuShel . blogspot . com (Linkage is up on my profile here as well!)