Disclaimer: Don't own... *sighs*
A/N: I know, I know...you guys missed me and are pissed at me, right?! I'm pissed at myself, too...I don't even feel right trying to make my fingers curve over the keyboard to type out an apology! All I can say is that I missed you guys and it touched my heart that a lot of you PM'd and encouraged me to keep writing in my absence and not to give up. I haven't given up on the story so put down the gardening apparatuses and torches; I've been trying to coax the muse out of her hiding spot with chocolate cake and the promise of being spanked and pleased by one Master Jacob Black. If you were my muse, would that work for you?
Okay, here's the LONG AWAITED, elusive Chapter 8, which was beta'd by the lovely Leelator and pre-read by my new partner in dirty, filthy, awesome brainstorming, alh1971! You guys seriously HAVE to thank them for this chapter because it was stuck in my head like I get stuck in skinny jeans. Don't forget to review and let me know what you all think. Now, on with the show!
It took Bella some time to regain her composure and quit gaping at the newly curtained window. While not breaking eye contact with her, Jacob had drawn the drapes closed.
What was she supposed to do? She couldn't go back down to the dining room in the state she was in. Embry and Edward would know what she'd been up to and her bladder was screaming! The only answer was to find that stupid, elusive bathroom and clean herself up before she ran into one of them. If only she could will her limbs out of their shock-induced state of entropy.
After peeling herself from the moist seat (she hoped that the owner had the chairs steam cleaned on a regular basis) and shakily heading toward the exit door, Bella shivered as she pictured Jacob's smug face. It was the the same but different. Older, definitely and and it showed more stoicism, but his eyes were what stopped her and caused a flicker of heat and renewed arousal to lick down her spine; they held a heady concoction of lust, arousal, wildness, and a knowing expectation.
Bella had no clue as to what he knew or expected but, if she had to hazard a guess, she was doing the right thing - putting some distance between the two before she threw all caution and common sense to the wind and found out. And, Edward be damned, a huge part of her really, really wanted to find out.
She finally reached the door and was stepping into the hall, only to wish she'd waited longer to exit. Edward was standing at the top of the stairs looking around with an expression of worry and anger on his face. When he spotted her coming out of the door, he quickly schooled his features and hurried to her side.
"What have you been doing? It took you so long that I thought that you'd been accosted or-"
"Seriously, Edward? With your mind reading and super senses along with Embry's as well? Do you think that I'm a child or just completely inept? I told you that I was going to find a bathroom and look around. So if you'll excuse me …" She didn't finish but turned and walked away from him to head downstairs.
"Where are you going?" he questioned asked her retreating form.
"To the bathroom Edward," she snapped, never breaking her stride. She just remembered where they were.
"I thought that you already went to the restroom."
That made her pause. Glancing over her shoulder, she took in his confused and wounded expression before facing forward again to hide her guilty and slightly ashamed expression. It was her fault that he was hurting and, for a second, that guilt completely overwhelmed her.
"I got distracted, okay?" With that, she continued on her way.
It was only after he took a breath to calm himself did understanding dawn on Edward - her arousal and a tinge of wet dog, her mussed, disheveled appearance, and the slightly lethargic droop to her eyelids. He ground his teeth in frustration...he was too late to stop them from seeing each other.
Shoulders slumped in defeat, he started towards the stairs when he heard a woman's woozy murmuring - almost disoriented. "What happened, Sir?" she asked.
There was laughter and then a smug reply. "I happened."
A snarl ripped through Edward's chest. He could never, ever forget that voice. Flying down the steps, he realized that he would curse its owner until the end of his existence.
Or kill him.
Whichever came first.
Jacob chuckled, picturing Bella's priceless expressions as she bonelessly dropped into the chair, the tendrils of of loose hair fluttering with the sudden movement. Shock, embarrassment, relief, lust - and then there was a flash of something that Jacob couldn't quite place before it was gone. He'd figured it out soon enough and was sure that, since she just saw a smidgen of what he was capable of, she'd come sniffing around. And he'd be waiting.
Jacob knew, just like he'd known so many years ago, that Bella wouldn't, COULDN'T, be happy with the dead man no matter how much she wanted to be so. Edward didn't live, breathe, change or experience things the way humans did, so it was unfathomable and inconceivable to him that what Bella wanted when she was an inexperienced teenager wouldn't be what she wanted when she grew up and experienced life. Jacob could see it as clearly as if he were the pixie psychic leech.
He didn't know how, but he knew that things were about to be different. Maybe it was the pull that he'd felt with Bella, all those years ago, strengthening and gaining ground, making him feel, think, and imagine things that he didn't want to face - things that he'd convinced himself that he'd exorcised and gotten over before he'd become the man he is right now. Back when he still inexperienced enough to believe that it was okay to hope and dream of such.
That kiss on the mountaintop.
Their future that she'd seen when she'd come to rip his heart out of his battered body.
Her writhing in rapture beneath him as he marked and claimed her as his own.
His own vision of her, belly round and swollen with child, watching from their front porch as he played in the front yard with their first two children.
Jacob shook his head slightly to clear it. He had to keep it together becauseshe was watching. He could feel her eyes burning a hole into the side of his face so he had to be calm, cool, collected … Alpha Mode.
He chuckled to himself as took in her face once more before he closed the heavy drapery. It was the first of many times that Isabella Marie Swan (no, CULLEN), would get to see but not touch, And, oh how she'd yearn to do so.
He looked over to the Sub, who was starting to come to and walked over to kneel on side of the bed.
"How are you feeling?" he asked, stroking her hair back from her moist brow.
She raised her confused eyes to his.
"What happened, Sir?"
Jacob chuckled and then said, "I happened. Now, let's ready ourselves. We have an appearance to make."
He then scooped the dazed woman from amid the messy, tangled bed sheets and carried her into the huge en-suite to begin his after care regime.
Bella stared at her reflection in the mirror. Sparkling eyes, disheveled hair, and swollen lips - she looked the part of a truly well fucked woman. Even though she had no supernatural senses, she swore that she could smell the heady scent of sex emanating from her person. Unless she cleaned up her act fast, there was no way she would be able to avoid the rapid-fire questions that Edward would be sure to launch at her.
Thank God that whoever was hosting the party had the forethought to have well-stocked bathrooms! She made the room was empty before disrobing to wash up. What she would give to be able to take a quick shower. Bella wet and soaped one of the hand towels, giving her important parts a swipe, before rinsing the towel to repeat the actions. She then splashed cool water over her face and neck to try to kill the seemingly permanent flush that had taken up residence.
Bella dried off, put her dress back on but paused, looking disdainfully at her sodden underwear. She shrugged, deciding to forgo them, and shoved them into her clutch. Looking at herself in the mirror, she groaned and tried to repair her her hair and makeup.
By the time she'd finished making herself as presentable as she could and hurriedly made her way back down to the dining room, she discovered that two more people had joined their party.
Jacob and the woman.
At. Their. Table.
After that performance that he'd put on.
Bella was pretty sure that she'd involuntarily eyed Jacob like he was her last meal on Earth. He looked scrumptious in a beautifully cut black suit, deep in conversation with Embry. The silken fabric seemed to caress every muscle and powerful line of his body. The black and red shirt and blood red tie contrasted tastefully with the suit, a ruby stick pin inserted into the knot of his tie, and his long hair slicked back into a low ponytail completed his ensemble.
Bella paused a few yards away, torn between her desire to hightail it out of there, her morbid curiosity to take in the tense atmosphere at the table, and the shameful tendril of hope that Jacob would ogle her the way that she had ogled him a few moments before. Edward was glaring at the wolves with such hate and ferocity that, for a minute, Bella was worried for them. Bella's eyes were drawn to Jacob who, as if he were able to read Edward's thoughts, turned his head to meet the steely topaz gaze. Jacob then dismissed Edward entirely by turning to resume his conversation with Embry. Before Bella could make up her mind whether she'd take her place at the table, Embry caught sight of her, which made Jacob slowly look in her direction, and pin her with his onyx eyes.
Bella was pretty sure that she knew what a dear felt like right before a wolf went in for the kill. She was mesmerized, hypnotized, spellbound; her heart thrummed in her chest, her respiration spiked, and she felt like she'd been sprinting.
What. In. The. Entire. Hell?
The spell broke when he turned back to talk to Embry, and she immediately slid her gaze to meet Edward's pissed one. Bella could tell that he definitely didn't like the exchange between her and Jacob. She turned towards Angela who, although had engaged the other woman in conversation, eyed Bella worriedly. She gave Angela a small smile and, after internally shaking herself, walked to the table, while Edward stood to pull her chair out.
"So, what did I miss?" she asked, arranging herself in the seat.
"Nothing much. The main course should be served shortly," Angela informed her. "Oh, by the way, this is Amara." Angela gestured to the woman, who stuck her hand out to Bella.
Amara. Even more stunning up close, she was dressed to kill in a strapless black dress, which had a red bodice with black lace overlay. Black spiked Louboutins, smoky eye makeup, and her long hair pinned over one creamy shoulder completed the ensemble. Jealousy flooded Bella's system, and she decided instantly that she hated Amara.
"Hello, nice to meet you -"
"Isabella. Isabella Cullen," she interrupted. "And this is my husband, Edward."
"Nice to meet you both," Amara said, after shaking both of their hands.
"You as well," Bella said, pasting on a saccharine smile. She then turned to Jacob, pulling his attention away from Embry.
"And how are you, sir? Long time, no see."
Jacob smirked at her insipid tone. "I'm well and yourself?"
"We're well," she said haughtily.
Bella reached for Edward's hand and clasped it tightly. His slightly shocked and confused face made Bella feel bad but he quickly schooled it into a neutral expression and nodded curtly in agreement.
"That's good to know." He chuckled and turned to Amara, tenderly brushing a stray tendril of hair behind her ear. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, Sir … I feel great … better than I have in quite some time," Amara said, face pleasantly flushed.
"I bet," Bella muttered to herself as she rolled her eyes, jealousy flooding through her once more.
"What was that, love?" Edward questioned, squeezing her hand lightly.
"What?" Bella stammered, slightly embarrassed that she'd been caught.
"I didn't catch what you said."
"Oh … nothing of importance, honey," Bella said, the endearment slipping out before she could stop it. Edward hadn't caught the slip; he almost preened in pleasure, but Bella blanched. She'd never called Edward 'honey' before.
Of their own volition, her eyes snapped up to Jacob's face, only to be snared in his unreadable gaze. But, before her lips could form any words that could break the awkward silence, a woman dressed in a skin tight black sheath dress appeared at a podium that had been set up at the front of the room.
"May I have your attention, please? We have regulars and some new faces out there, so I just want to take the time out to welcome you to our little slice of Heaven."
Bella flushed at that fitting description. Slice of Heaven...right.
The woman continued, "our main course will be served shortly but, before it comes out, I'd also like to thank the man who made it possible for us like-minded people to come together and mingle. Let's all give a round of applause to Jacob Black!"
The woman gestured toward their table and all eyes shifted in their direction, honing in on Jacob, amid thunderous applause and patrons standing to their feet. Bella's eyes drifted to Jacob, who smiled and nodded in recognition. It dawned on her at that precise moment that this wasn't the same ex-best friend that she'd left behind to chase her supposed 'happily ever after'. No, not at all. He was a man now and she realized that he'd stopped pining over and moved past her. He'd obviously accomplished great things in her absence and the thought made her heart lurch uncomfortably. She didn't know who Jacob Black was anymore and it was entirely her fault. Suddenly, Bella didn't feel so well.
"Love, are you alright?"
Bella was jerked out of her revelry by the icy caress that swept across her back.
Her gaze swept around the room when she finally noticed that, once again the hall had fallen to murmurs and the muted clank of flatware against porcelain. Unbeknownst to her, the main course had been served. The sight of it caused Bella's head to pound and her stomach to roil.
"Um, actually, I'm not feeling too well. I think it's best that we head home." She squirmed uncomfortably against the frigid hand still on her back.
Edward practically melted in relief. "Of course, love." He then leaned in to whisper, "Is a call to Carlisle needed?"
"No, not at all … just a little nausea. Must be from the rich food."
He hurriedly stood and pulled Bella's chair out. "We must take our leave. My wife isn't feeling too well at the moment. We bid you all a goodnight."
Bella looked at Angela apologetically as she stood on shaky legs, "I'll call you tomorrow?"
"Okay. Text me to let me know you both made it home safely."
"Will do. Goodnight, everyone." Bella said, her gaze sweeping the table.
A chorus of 'goodbyes' hit their back as Edward took her elbow and ushered them to the exit.
Bella turned her head to get one last glimpse of Jacob. His dark eyes met hers in a gaze that she imagined, spoke of the uncharted waters between them.
As if they were saying, "Soon".
Outside of the building, as they waited for the valet to bring their car around, Edward tried to make small talk to fill the awkward silence that had descended upon them.
"So, did you have a good time?"
"Sure, sure," Bella answered, unconsciously falling back into her old habit of wrapping her arms around her stomach.
"Are you sure that you're okay and that I do not need to call Carlisle? You're holding your stomach, love."
"I'm fine, Edward … just tired and a little nausea. Really, it's no big deal, okay?" She said, exasperatedly.
Just then, the valet pulled up to the curb in their car. "I just want to go home and go to bed. I'll be okay in the morning."
Edward nodded, holding the car door open for his wife. She slid into her seat, turning her body, and leaning her head against the window as soon as the door was shut, her eyes closing of their own conation.
Just as his hand made it to the handle to open the driver's side door, he felt a prickling awareness and looked up to see Jacob Black standing just at the mouth of the entrance, his gaze narrowed and focused on Edward. His mouth then curved up into a cold smirk and, with one last flick of his eyes to Bella's still form, he turned and walked back into the building.
Edward growled before getting into the car and slamming the door. He expected a reaction from Bella but none came forth. He looked over to find her curled up in the seat, fast asleep.
She'd missed the whole exchange.
Edward sighed in relief as he put the car in gear and steered them toward their home and away from the man who threatened to send his world into an upheaval.
Unbeknownst to him, his wife was dreaming of that very same man.