"Showers to Flower" O/S Contest

# of Picture chosen: # 11

Word Count: 3732

Rating: T

Pairing: Jacob and Bella

Summary: On some of those rare instances of sunshine, Jacob coaxes Bella into starting a square foot garden. Will romance blossom instead? Takes place during New Moon, post fur-splosion. Victoria is still on the loose, and Edward does not return.

Disclaimer: S. Meyer is the proper owner of the Twilight characters.

The Garden "Plot"

"So, what are we doing today?" Bella asked.

"How do you feel about gardening?" Jacob answered with a smile exploding over his face. He couldn't not smile whenever he was in the presence of one Bella Swan. She was always in the forefront of his mind. They could be watching paint dry and he would be happy. It was a platonic relationship as far as Bella was concerned, but Jacob Black, ever the optimist, wished for a little something more, or rather a lot more. His heart ached to be her guy, but he knew she was broken, still sidelined in need of major repairs. Every chance he got, Jacob spent time with Bells, trying to brighten her day. Each smile he put on her face was a another step toward her recovery.

"That depends on what kind of gardening you're talking about." Her face lit up, accenting her creamy complexion."I love flowers, can we plant some sweet peas?"

"Sure, sure," he told her, "only the peas we'll be planting, are gonna end up on the stove. I'm gonna show you how to build a square foot vegetable garden."

"Gosh, Jake, I've never planted a vegetable garden before. Are you sure you want to tackle this. I'll just slow you down. You'll have to guide me every step of the way."

"Actually, I was counting on that. I'll make a farmer out of you in a few short weeks." Maybe, in all that time, a romance might sprout up along with the carrots, he thought.

Jacob was hoping that if he could just keep her mind off that filthy leech, maybe he would have a shot at winning her heart, damaged as it was. He would tread carefully, going at her pace, never pushing her further than she was willing to go. One of Jacob's many virtues was his infinite patience. He was also without a doubt, compassionate, loyal, and fiercely protective of his family, friends and especially Bella. He would literally die for her, if it came to that.

It goes without saying, that he was quite a catch. He towered over the kids his age, at six feet five inches. His skin was a beautiful shade of russet, and shiny short cropped black hair covered his head. His deep-set eyes were a warm brown with olive green and gold flecks scattered about his irises. Soft full lips were set in a handsome face, a face that sported an ever-present smile. His body was that of a grown man, strong and muscular. Yet, with all his appeal, Jacob was nonchalant about his appearance. He was oblivious to the stares he garnered from women in general. Sure, he joked about how "hot" and irresistible he was, but it was just to get a rise out of Bells. Being conceited about his looks never entered his mind. It just didn't occur to him.

"Okay, then let's book on over to the do-it-yourself store. Do you mind if we take that behemoth of yours?"

"Hey, no dissing my truck . . . have a little respect for her age."

Jake's grin got wider. He was secretly happy about her undying reverence for the old Chevy, after all, he put his heart and soul into keeping it chugging along. He loved that ancient beast. It was the means of transporting Bella to him day after day. It was a blessing in fenders.

"I respect her age, Bells, it's the "speed limit" that I dis-like."

"Ha, ha, very funny, Jake."

"Oh, rightie oh, lets get goin' then."

They walked over to the metal monster, and Jacob opened the door. He gave Bella his hand and helped to lift her into the driver's seat.

Once he got settled into the passenger side, he turned and smiled at Bella.

Bella raised an eyebrow. "What?" she asked.

"Oh, nothing. I'm just glad to be sharing this seat with you." In reality, his heart was bursting with joy, to be actually sitting this close to her. He felt like shouting out loud. It was sweet torture restraining his emotions all the time. How much longer could he keep this up? How could the girl be so clueless; Jake was totally besotted with her.

Bella shook her head. She had to smile back. His warmth permeated her bones. Jacob Black was her best friend, her own personal sun. She willingly would go with him anywhere, even to the "Do It Yourself Center." If anyone else had asked her to spend a morning looking at boards and nails, she would have nixed the idea. And here she was looking forward to exploring the aisles of the "Home Depot",or rather, literally rubbing shoulders with Jake as he explored the aisles of boards and nails.

The drive wasn't very long, despite the lumbering speed of the Chevy. Jake jumped out after the truck pulled into a parking spot. He ran around to the opposite side of the vehicle, yanked open the door, and grabbing her about the waist, pulled her out of the vehicle. He held her a little longer than necessary, reveling in the feel of her soft body in his arms. He put her down, letting her feet touch the pavement. In an instant, his hand found hers, and they were strolling off to the entrance of the store.

Bella didn't mind having Jake's hand wrapped around her own. His hands were always so warm. The very act made her feel safe and secure. She just hoped that her nonverbal assent didn't give him the wrong impression. But would it be so wrong, to give him a little bit of hope? She couldn't live without him, but she was constantly aware that she was hurting him. She knew that he wanted more, much more. Would she begrudge him a minute portion of her battered heart?

They spent several minutes, perusing the lumber.

"What exactly are we looking for?" Bells asked. "I mean, a board's a board, isn't it?"

"Au, contrere, mon cheri, we need composite board. It doesn't chip, or warp, or rot. I don't relish having to put together another raised bed in three years. The weather here is murder on lumber."

The two of them went down the next aisle and found what Jake was searching for, among the decking supplies. He leaned over to pull out one of the boards. In doing so, his tee shirt rode up on his back, exposing the muscles there. Two young women came sauntering down that way just as the scene unfolded. They slowed their pace, appreciating the view before them.

"Oh for the love of Pete," Bella muttered. "Jake, you're making those ladies drool. Could you please pull your shirt down?"

He turned his head to peer at her. "Did you just seriously say, 'For the love of Pete'?"

"Never mind that," she whispered. "Pull your shirt down, for crying out loud!"

An impish smirk played across his face, as he declared, "Is it bothering you too?"

Bella felt the blood rush to her cheeks. It most certainly did bother her, much to her dismay. She didn't want to admit that she enjoyed seeing the muscles rippling in his back as he strained to remove the boards. She didn't want to admit it, but the color in her cheeks spoke volumes. She was acutely aware that Jake knew it also.

Oh, yeah, Jake was well aware that Bella was thinking of him a little differently. He was making her nervous, really nervous. And that blush . . . it made her look all the more adorable. Isabella Marie Swan was having naughty thoughts about him. How 'bout that? Swe-eeet!

She didn't have an answer to his embarrassing question. All she could come up with, was: "Shut up, Jake."

"It's okay, honey, I don't mind you lusting after my body. You can't help it. After all, I am irresistible."

"Ugh!" She stomped her foot, and looked down at the floor, wishing that the red mask would fade away quickly.

"Jeez, I'm sorry, don't be mad at me, Bells. I was only teasing. C'mere . . . I said I was sorry."

How did he always manage to put his foot in his mouth when he was around her? He tried to look contrite. She always forgave him when he gave her that look. Bella walked forward, taking his outstretched hand. And yup, it worked once again . . . what a relief. She stood beside him and helped put the boards on the cart.

They got the boards cut to size and picked up some stainless steel screws. Then marching on to the garden center, Jake picked up huge bags of vermiculite, and sphagnum moss. Jake loaded the boards into the bed of the truck and tossed the bags on top of them. With the loading completed, they hopped in the truck and were on their way back to LaPush.

XXX

Bella enjoyed helping Jake put the raised beds together. Her job was to hand the drill and the screws to him when he was ready, and hold onto the boards as he placed each pilot hole into the connecting pieces. It was amazing how quickly the boxes took shape.

They lugged the beds over to their permanent homes. Bella wanted one of them near a tree, thinking it would look prettier there. Jake had to explain why that wouldn't work.

"There's a southern exposure here, Bells. In a month or so, this tree is going to cast a shadow over the bed and shut out the sun. These particular plants can't live without the sun."

Bella thought about what Jacob had just explained. Edward was like that tree. He had cast a shadow over her, and she had to move closer to her sun so she could continue living again. Jacob was that sun.

Jake got out the shovels and rake. He had to start loosening up the soil before placing the boxes in their permanent positions. Bella watched as he effortlessly broke the cold ground and removed large scoops of earth, setting them aside in a big pile. Bella had to jump on the edge of her shovel several times to lower it even an inch into the hard terrain. She appeared to be riding on a pogo stick.

Jacob laughed loudly. "Damn, Bells, looks like you could use a little help."

"Well I'm so sorry if I don't live up to your expectations. Are you going to help me out here, or just gloat over your superior strength and stamina?"

"Okay, Bells, take your foot off the shovel." Jake proceeded to put his arms around Bella's, covering her hands with his own. He pressed his body firmly against hers and placed his right foot on top of the shovel, their thighs closely touching. His foot forced the shovel down into the earth, and leaning back on the tool, the soil popped out of the ground. He could do this forever … breathing in her strawberry scent, feeling her body so close to his . . . but dammit, she was bound to get suspicious. He finally threw down the shovel and let her do the raking.

She was thankful that Jake let her switch duties. His close proximity was doing funny things to her mental status, let alone her hormone-driven body. He was her friend, but more and more, that designation was getting blurred. What was going on? She was teetering on the blade of a knife, longing for the warmth of his touch, but somehow feeling so guilty about it. Was it wrong to want it? This new sensation growing inside her clouded her mind with confusion.

There was a mountain of earth sitting beside the boxes. Jake proceeded to start digging all over again. What in the world was he doing? She thought all the dirt had been removed. Bella looked up at him with questioning eyes.

Jake gazed at her knowingly. "No, I'm not crazy . . . I'm double diggin'. Ya see, the first six inches of soil have all the nutrients, so if I dig six inches deeper, and mix in compost, the plants are gonna be thrilled to their little bitty roots."

Her face reflected amazement. "Gosh, Jake when did you get so smart?"

"Ouch, that hurts. Oh, the pain of it all. Did you think I was all brawn and no brain? Good ol' dumb Jake, huh?"

"Don't be an idiot! You know I didn't mean it that way. I'm just really impressed."

"Yeah?" Man, that was a first!

Wow, he was actually making points with the girl of his dreams. Who ever thought that digging in the dirt would impress a girl, especially a girl like Bells? Uh- huh, he noticed that crimson tinge starting to take over her features again. Damn, he was getting under her skin.

He finished transferring all the earth to the ever-increasing pile and laid his shovel aside. He got a tarp from the shed and spread it out.

"Now what?" Bella asked.

"Now, Miss Swan, we are going to mix the vermiculite, the moss and some compost on this very tarp."

"I don't think we bought any compost."

"You are so right. That's because, we have our own. See those open bins over there? You can get started raking the compost onto this tarp. You take one end, I'll take the other, and drag it to the compost bins. While you're doing that, I'll go grab the bags from the truck."

No sooner had Jake hefted a bag over his shoulder, than he heard an ear-splitting scream. The bag dropped to the ground, and he took off running toward Bella. Victoria was still on the prowl, but he hadn't caught that sickly sweet scent, so he knew that couldn't be the cause of her alarm. As he approached Bella, she sprang on him, wrapping her long legs around his waist. Her arms were in

a stranglehold about his neck, and her cheek was pushed flat against his own, not that he minded, but what the . . . ?

She was shuddering in his willing arms, shrieking, "It's over there, it's over there! Don't let me go, please!"

Hell, he didn't ever want to let her go. This was sooo good.

"What's over there? Calm down. I'm here. I'm not gonna let you go. Now, tell me what happened."

He walked to the compost bin with Bella clinging to him like a baby koala. It was all he could do to pick up the rake, with the "Bella bulge" in the way.

"It's . . . it's . . . in there," she stuttered, tightening her grip on his neck.

He poked the pile with the rake and heard a low squeaking sound coming from within. He pulled some of the compost away, exposing a nest of field mice.

A hearty laugh erupted from his chest. "Jeez, Bells, it's just some little baby mice. They're not going to hurt you."

"I don't care. Get them out of here! Don't you dare put me down, until they're gone."

He ambled back to the house and trudged through the door. He attempted to peel her off of himself, but every time he pried away a couple of fingers, they returned with a renewed tenacity.

"You can let go now, Bells, you're in the house. Open your eyes and see for yourself."

She finally loosened her grip and stared up at him with gratitude.

"You stay here while I take care of them, okay?" Jake shook his head, still smiling.

He peered into those frightened chocolate orbs, feeling like he could almost fall right into them. God, he thought, isn't she just the cutest thing ever?

He made the mice another home deeper into the woods and deposited the whole litter there. There was no way they would be scaring Bella anytime soon. He returned to the house, took her hand and led her back outside.

They mixed up all the ingredients. Then Jake refilled the trenches with more compost added to the soil. The raised beds were moved into place and the mixed ingredients were poured into the boxes.

He handed Bella a spool of wire. Together they cordoned off one foot areas within the beds; Jake placing nails every 12 inches to anchor the wire. When it was all done, he retrieved the seed packets from the shed, and they meticulously placed the seeds in the bed. Each square received seeds designated for that area.

Jake got out the watering can and let Bella do the honors.

"Just add water, Bells, and watch them thrive."

Bella thought about the little garden. A relationship was kinda like that. It needed good soil … a willing heart. It needed nurturing . . . watering and weeding. It needed viable seeds . . . an honest and selfless love. Then she looked over at Jake. Didn't he fit this description? Love could grow, if she would just open her heart to accept it. She knew that he was more than willing to give her that love.

XXX

Bella visited Jake every day after school. She would go straight to the garden with him. They would watch as the tiny sprouts formed, carefully removing any weeds that invaded the squares. They added fish emulsion and compost, and watered it when it didn't rain. Then, Bells would follow Jake to the makeshift garage and watch him as he lovingly worked on his Rabbit.

One day, Bells arrived and Jacob was acting strangely. "Sorry Bells, I gotta go, I can't explain right now."

She decided to cultivate around the bedding plants with the rake, while she waited for him to return. An hour passed, when suddenly, a large russet wolf broke through the clearing. The wolf entered a crop of shrubbery, but a human voice emanated from the bushes. She dropped the rake where she was standing.

"Uh, Bells . . . I need a favor . . . Can you go to the house and get me a pair of shorts from my room please?"

Something about this situation tickled her. She would milk this for all it was worth. After all, how many times had she blushed because of some comment Jake had uttered.

"Gosh Jake, I don't know, I can't leave right now. Angela and Jessica will be here any minute now. I invited them to come and see your garden.

"C'mon Bells, I can't stay here for much longer. I'll be scratched all over … have a heart."

"I can't. I told you, they're on their way."

"You've gotta be kidding me! Why would you invite them here of all days?"

"Well how did I know there'd be a naked man hiding in a bush in the Blacks' backyard?"

"Look, I didn't have time to tie my shorts to my leg. Victoria was spotted. I had to go, to protect YOU! She got away again, damnit! Now are you going to get me some shorts or not?"

"Not! This is just too good to pass up. I want you to squirm for awhile."

"All right, you asked for it. I'm coming out, shorts or no shorts. So have yourself a good look. I hope you like what you see."

Jacob shook the branches, and peeked out. Bella was running as fast as her legs could carry her. She was in the house and back out with the precious cargo in her hand. She sprinted through the yard

yelling at the top of her lungs.

"Don't move Jake. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I've got your shorts. I was kidding. The girls aren't really coming. I t was a joke."

Closing her eyes, Bella placed the shorts into his outstretched hand, and retreated a few steps.

Jacob stepped out of the tangled branches and gave her a mischievous look. He lurched forward, and Bella ran laughing, with Jake hot on her heels. He almost had her in his grasp when his foot hit the tines of the rake. The wooden handle flew up and struck him between the eyes. Jake fell backward, hitting his head on the hard ground, the breath knocked out of him. Bella's laughter stilled as she watched in horror. Jake, her Jacob, was lying on the ground flat on his back. He was not breathing.

"Oh God, no, Jacob, no! Breathe Jacob. Please breathe."

She placed her tiny hand over his heart and felt it still beating. She had taken CPR classes and knew what to do. She extended his neck, pinched his nose and covered his mouth with her own, blowing her life force into his lungs.

Jacob felt her mouth on his, as he came to. He held his breath purposely to see what she would do.

"Come on, Jacob, she shouted. "Don't leave me. Breathe damnit, breathe."

She gave him another rescue breath."You can't leave me now, Jacob. Breathe for me. I don't want to live without you. I love you," she groaned as tears fell from her eyes.

That did it! As her mouth came down on his once more, his arms encircled her shoulders, pulling her down on top of him. At first she was surprised, but then being Bella, she embraced the situation and began to respond ferociously. She stroked his cheek, his hair, finally cupping the back of his head.

He rolled them both to the side, pulling back to look at her beautiful face. He fingered her hair, fanning it away from her cheek.

"Took you long enough, girl! Jeez, I had to die before you'd finally admit that you love me."

"Holy cow," she yelped, " If I had known you kissed like that, I'd have told you that months ago."

Jake plopped his head back down to the ground and grunted. He hit his forehead with the flat of his palm, and exclaimed, "Now she tells me!"