Note: This one-shot is an out-take for enov10 . After reading my last multi-chapter fic, Reality and Dreams, she requested a confrontation between Bella and Jacob's imprint, Lana. I resisted at first, as it was a painful place to go. But once she planted the seed, the idea became intriguing to me. I just wanted to answer a few questions that Bella and enov10 had about Jake's relationship with Lana and about the imprint. Originally, it was going to be a 'showdown' fic, where Bella would get to put Lana in her place, but of course once I start a fic, it never goes the way I plan it, and it tends to take on a mind of its own.
Not sure if anyone is interested in reading about Jacob and Lana's relationship as the imprint itself didn't go over very well at the end of Reality and Dreams. But, it's written and I figured I'd post it and let you make up your own minds.
Illusions of Reality
I couldn't dismiss the irony that I happened to have a large, sharp knife in my hand when I saw her. If I said I didn't want to run across the aisle and stab her with it, I would be lying.
Just a moment of temporary insanity, Your Honor. You understand.
I tried to get my emotions somewhat under control with some deep breathing, and the violent shaking in my hands down to a light tremor. Then I swallowed back the bile that rose in my throat and put the knife back down.
Angela would understand if I bought her a pretty vase instead of the expensive knives that were on her bridal registry list. Especially once I told her how a knife in my hand at that moment would have probably put me in prison.
Although a good hefty vase with some weight to it, thrown at the head could cause some damage too…
She was looking at inexpensive everyday dishes; clearance items, that didn't even match, but were sold individually. She was holding up a solid, bright red dinner plate and it was all I could do not to shout out, "Don't you know Jacob's favorite color is blue? Blue is the color of the plates we ate off of for 5 years, you stupid bimbo. Blue matches the curtains and the tile in the kitchen, you color-blind moron."
You back-stabbing, husband-stealing, long-haired bitch.
I wanted to holler all this at her and more, but in actuality I hadn't moved an inch, aside from placing the knife responsibly back in its wooden block.
I had to get a better look at her. I'd only seen her once, for just a few moments when she'd made her way to our table at Seth's wedding. When she'd pulled out the chair next to Rachel, and Jacob turned to see who was joining us, and my world fell apart.
But her face and Jacob's expression in that moment will be burned in my mind till the day I die.
I edged a little closer. She was two tables away from me in the Housewares department, so I casually strolled over to a table near the one she was still rummaging through. She was oblivious to me - busy studying a green and tan patterned dinner plate now and holding it next to the bright red one. She held the patterned one out in front of her at eye level with her left hand. At my angle, I could clearly see her wedding ring.
Psshh. I got a pathetic thrill at the size of her diamond - if you could call that a diamond. Just a diamond chip, really, on a thin silver, or possibly white gold, band.
Mine was bigger.
Because he loved me more.
He loved me of his own free will, not whatever the fake manufactured, FORCED thing you wanted to call what he felt for her.
I realized I was staring. I picked up a cup and saucer and pretended to debate on whether to purchase it or not.
She was pretty. A little flashier than what Jacob was normally attracted to. But I'm sure she'd squeeze out some great offspring for him. That's what it was ultimately all about, right God? That's why you took my husband, my lover, my best friend away from me and gave him to her, right?
Oh Christ! She saw me!
She turned around and looked right at me with that look on her face like she was trying to place me. Then her pretty bronze skin paled and she turned away abruptly.
I should have left then and there, but I froze. I must have scared the hell out of her too, because the red plate dropped from her hand and clanged back onto the clearance item table, miraculously staying in one piece.
I don't think either of us breathed for a good two minutes as we resumed our game of "I'm just looking at housewares – I didn't even notice you".
I had the better vantage point than she did as her back was angled toward me and I was facing her.
I didn't know what to do when she turned around and started toward me. I could have made a run for it, but that would have looked foolish. Plus, I was too mad to back down, so I looked straight at her as she approached me. I couldn't look her in the eyes though, I just couldn't. So I kept my gaze fixed on her chest and I stared at her white blouse over which she wore a navy blazer. The buttons on her shirt were open, and dangling between her bare décolletage was a polished, carved redwood wolf on a gold chain.
I'd felt smug when I'd seen her ring, but now I felt like a few points were deducted and she had the upper hand when I saw her necklace. Money may be tight and Jacob may be struggling financially to buy his new wife a big diamond ring, so he made up for his financial inadequacies by making her something beautiful, something meaningful. I bet her car ran like a dream too.
Her shoulders and jaw were so tense, she seemed to be having trouble forcing a smile.
"You're Bella, aren't you?" Her voice was soft and a little strained.
"You're Lana." It came out a growl. Which was better than the croak I thought was going to emit from my tight throat.
She came closer and dropped her gaze.
"I know it will never be enough – but I'm sorry. I just wanted you to know that. I'm not a bad person."
Huh! She'd taken my husband and now she wanted to deprive me of the right to put her in her place by being nice?
"You're right," I smiled. "It isn't even close to enough."
I saw her flinch and it made me feel good.
"Please know, I never asked for this. I mean, Jacob, and –"
"Don't say his name!" Invisible fingers wrapped around my throat and squeezed hearing her say his name.
"I'm sorry," she startled. "I just, I mean – Bella, this has not been easy for me either. I'd just gotten married less than a year ago. So, I mean… please don't think that I just jumped into all this with Jac – sorry. It's been… a mess."
I stared impassively at her – did she really think I cared about how hard this had been for her? She shook her head and realized it was all pretty irrelevant to me.
"Don't tell me about Jacob. You don't even know anything about me!"
Her eyes got wide. "I know everything about you," she said so softly I almost didn't hear her. "Jacob talks about you all the time."
I winced when she said his name.
"Really?" I sneered contemptuously. I was running a gamut on emotions right now; I really couldn't pinpoint what exactly I was feeling. There was anger, sadness and even a smidgeon of curiosity and gratitude that he hadn't completely forgotten who I was.
"I know about the motorcycles, I know about your father, Charlie. I know about your, the, um," she started stuttering and paused. "Edward."
I guess she would have to know about the vampires if she was to be told about the werewolves.
I knew absolutely nothing about her except that she was a friend of Rachel's and had attended college in Port Angeles. I felt naked and vulnerable suddenly.
"I know that you're clumsy," she looked up at me apologetically as she realized that could be construed as an insult. "But in an endearing way," she added.
She lowered her head submissively and murmured so softly I hardly heard her. "And I know that you're all that Jacob saw and thought about when he closed his eyes from the time he was 16 years old."
"I know you hate me Bella, and I don't blame you, but what you don't know is that I envy you. What Jacob feels for me is beyond his control." She lifted her chin and added, "Even though I know he'll never leave me."
Was that a threat? Or did she feel slightly threatened by me?
"I don't even know what's real anymore. I live with a man who says he can't live without me, and I believe him. I know for a fact, he becomes physically ill when we're apart. But love?" She shook her head. "It's more like a virus or a disease with no cure. If there was an antidote, I know he would take it, and I know where he would choose to be." She waited till I looked up and straight in her eyes. "With you," she whispered.
"Why are you doing this to me?" I choked.
"Because you deserve to know."
"Why hasn't Jacob told me this himself?"
"Because it wouldn't change anything"
"But it hurts." I clutched my middle, trying to physically hold myself together. Old habits died hard
Two women walked past us, looking at me oddly. This was not the place to be having this conversation. I was having a difficult time catching my breath and the pain in my belly felt like I was going to break in half.
Lana took my arm gently and steered me away from the Housewares table and toward the elevators. I felt like a child, too small and frightened to decide where to go or what to do, so I let myself be led.
"There's a coffee shop on the third floor," she said gently, putting her arm across my back, leading me toward the steel metal doors and pushing the UP button.
"Wait!" I quickly reached out and pushed the DOWN button and looked at her. "There's a restaurant across the street with a bar."
One side of her mouth pulled up in a semi-grin and she nodded, pressing the DOWN button again.
We rode the elevator down in silence and stepped out into the women's clothing department, then headed through the Calvin Klein and DKNY toward the exit.
What the hell was I doing? I needed to say goodnight to this woman and get in my car and go home, before something she said was sure to cause more irreparable damage than had already been done.
I glanced over at her as we crossed the street toward the red neon FRIDAYS sign on the corner. Her long glossy black hair hung down her back over her navy blazer. Did Jacob run his fingers through that hair? Did he murmur her name in the heat of passion? Did he kiss her shoulder and tell her he loved her while pulling her back up against his warm chest before falling asleep every night like he used to with me?
What fell from his tongue more easily? "I love you Lana" or "I love you Bella"? Which felt more comfortable, more real, more true?
"Wait a minute!" I pulled away from her as we approached the front entrance. "I don't think I want to do this."
"Okay, it's up to you. But I think we should."
"Why? What does it matter to you? You're not the one that was hurt. He's home waiting for you."
Or was he? Maybe he was here. Maybe he'd come with her? Maybe he was waiting inside for her at a pre-designated time and this was her idea of something funny. Something they could laugh at together later tonight.
Get yourself together, Bella.
"Look, as far as I'm concerned, Jacob is dead. The man you're with? That's not Jacob Black. Not the real Jacob Black."
She surprised me by nodding her head at me. I'd thought for sure that my words would anger her, make her defensive, maybe she'd argue with me. "I never met Jacob before Seth's wedding, so you could be right."
She opened the door and stood back, giving me the option of stepping into the restaurant. I knew I was going to regret this, but I went in. We got a table in the back, where it was quiet. Once the waitress had given us menus and left, Lana spoke again.
"What I said wasn't actually true. I did meet Jacob a couple of times when he was younger. I was in high school, about 16, so he was only about 12. You have to remember, he was my friend's little brother and we were older, more mature, high school sophomores." She paused and rolled her eyes before she continued. "All I remember is that he never shut up, and was a bit of a pest. But he had the greatest smile."
Yeah, that was Jacob alright – in a nutshell. She smiled at the memory and I wanted to punch her.
"He still never shuts up and he can still be a bit of a pest… "
Her smile faded and she couldn't continue for a moment - she looked like she was going to cry.
"But the smile," she faltered and her lip quivered. "It's not the same, and it's a rare occurrence now."
She took a deep breath and pulled herself together. "Look, I know you hate me Bella, and I don't blame you. What Jacob and I have is strong, but it makes no sense to either of us. It's not… tangible. It has no logic. It's not based on loyalty or trust or passion or a shared past – things that you base a regular relationship on. It just IS."
She had exposed so much of herself and made herself vulnerable; she had to add something else, to regain some footing.
"That's not to say that we haven't begun now to build something together. We do have respect for each other, and he's still funny and sweet."
Shit. I had to ask.
"I understand why Jacob is with you – but why do you stay? You said you were married – why did you leave your husband for some crazy person, who had, what would appear to be, an obsession with you?"
She sat back in her chair and really thought about the answer before opening her mouth. "Emily and Kim and I have talked about this a lot."
"It was different for Kim – as I'm sure you already know, she had feelings for Jared before the imprint. But I don't think it's really that different from Em and myself, because, god, Kim was a teenager when it happened. What 16 year old marries their high school sweetheart? So, I still think there was more there that held her and Jared together for this long. For all of us, there was some inexplicable need to be near them as well. Emily fought hers, for Leah's sake, but just couldn't. I thought Jacob was insane at first, his intensity was so heated. But while my logical mind told me to stay away from him… I just couldn't. You have to realize that I've had to deal with a lot of guilt, because I was in love with my husband, but I just couldn't stay away from Jacob. I told myself at first that it was just curiosity that lured me to him. Like when you keep poking at a spider, even though you know you should just stomp on it. But eventually I had to admit to myself that it was more than that. But what exactly, I couldn't tell you. I mean, when you're in love with someone and someone else asks you 'what is it that you love about them?' you can give them an answer with some depth. Something about your past experiences with them: they're funny, they're helpful, they're protective, whatever. But Emily and I had no past with Jacob or Sam. It just WAS. And we were unable to fight it or explain it. And it wasn't just physical attraction either. My ex-husband is a very good-looking man and our sex life was – sorry," she caught herself and grinned, embarrassed. "I just can't explain it, Bella. It's strong and yet it's intangible."
She stopped speaking as the waitress came over and laid some napkins and silverware out on the table. "So what can I get for you two ladies?"
"I'll have a glass of white wine – do you have a house chardonnay?"
"Sure do," the waitress told Lana, before looking at me expectantly. "And for you?"
"I'll have a margarita. And can I get an extra shot of tequila on the side?"
"Of course. Anything to eat?"
Lana and I both shook our heads.
"I'll be right back with your drinks."
I sat back, dazed and weary. It was a lot of information to soak up. There were things I was desperate to ask her – things I'd agonized over while I lay in bed late at night, with horrible lonely insomnia.
I'd imagined that their relationship was hot and intense and carnal, since it was some animal instinct that brought them together. But what she'd just told me of their relationship sounded cold, almost clinical. Not the heated, can't-take-my-hands-off-you passion I'd imagined.
There was one thing I needed to know. As masochistic as it was, I had to know. I felt my fists clench underneath the table, as I leaned forward, my eyes narrowed as the red heat of psychotic jealousy reignited. "You can tell me this is none of my business, you can even tell me to go to hell, but I think I have a right to know and I'm asking it anyway."
Fear flickered in her eyes, but she nodded for me to go ahead.
"How long after Seth's wedding did you sleep with my husband?"
She picked her napkin apart nervously before she answered.
"Seven months. Not till after the divorce papers went through."
I blinked. That surprised me. I thought for sure she'd tell me they'd had at it that night. In fact in my torturous fantasies, I'd imagined them going at it on the table at the reception, ripping their clothes off in front of God and everyone, they were so hot for each other.
She studied me for a minute, like she was debating whether to tell me something else. "I wanted to make love three months later, and Jacob… couldn't." She pursed her lips. "Doesn't do a lot for a girl's ego, let me tell you. We tried a few times, but uh, it, we, he wasn't able to. I gave up for a while and then once both our divorces went through, I took the bull by the horns. I mean, this was ridiculous. I'd just left my husband, and we couldn't even… Anyway, I don't know if it was psychological and he wasn't ready to till your divorce was legally finalized or if it was because I learned the secret imprintee trick Emily told me about – that I was reluctant, but frustrated enough, to try: I ordered him."
She smiled grimly. "That worked."
She sat back again as the waitress set our drinks down and she immediately picked up her wine and took a big sip. "Anything else you wanna ask me?"
"Let me think. Okay, yeah." I picked up the small shot glass of amber liquid and tossed it back in one go and swallowed, cringing at the heat.
I looked her straight in the eye. "Was it good?"
It was the first time all night that she got a little cocky with me. "Yeah," she told me, lifting one eyebrow.
I felt defeated for a second, but then reminded myself that she'd had to order him to fuck her. I inadvertently snorted out loud. Jacob Black couldn't - ? I giggled in spite of myself. Now that was funny. The man that could do it five times in one day and ten on Sunday and still ask if I was up for more, had to be ordered?
"Did I say something funny?"
Oops, I think I just pissed Lana off. I took another drink of my margarita, but all I got was ice. Had I finished that already?
"No, no, I'm sorry. I just had a funny thought. Sorry."
"You can laugh at me all you want, Bella Swan, but he'll never go back to you."
Oooh, apparently I'd pushed a button. A big, sore, tender button, marked S-E-X.
"I still go by Black, thank you. That's Bella Black."
Her hand jerked up from under the table and for one startled split second, I thought she was going to slap me. But as she reached inside her small purse that was sitting on the table next to her, I could hear it was vibrating. She pulled her cell phone out and glanced at it before bringing it up to her ear.
"Hi sweetheart." She looked nervously across the table at me. "I didn't end up buying anything; I got, uh, sidetracked."
I crossed my arms over my chest and tried to hold onto the warmth from the alcohol that coursed through me. But I still felt suddenly cold and nauseous.
"I'll be home in a little while. I ran into someone at the mall and I'm at Fridays having a drink with them right now, but I think we're about done. Anyone you know? Um, well yes; Bella. Uh-huh. Uh-huh, the same one. Hold on." She reluctantly held the phone out to me. "He wants to talk to you."
I didn't want to talk to him! I'd seen Jacob only once in the last 12 months. That was 9 months ago, and the whole time he'd been nervous and fidgety and apologetic. I'd been such a wreck I'd had to use the public bathroom to throw-up in. He'd been so different and he'd wanted to see me, yet he'd told me nothing. I'd learned more from this stranger, his new wife, than I had from my own (then) husband. What could he possibly have to say to me now?
This could be your last chance to speak to him ever again.
My hand was visibly shaking when I reached for her cell phone.
"Bella? That is you!"
A sob came from my chest and I had to pull the phone away from my ear at the sound of his voice.
I couldn't! I couldn't do this!
I shook my head wildly and tried to give Lana back the phone, but she wouldn't take it.
I took a deep breath and brought it back up to my ear. There was silence. Had he hung up?
"Bella," he breathed.
I giggled in spite of myself. Must have been the margarita. "Yeah, well, now that we've established that we know who we are… "
"How are you, Bella?"
I couldn't help myself; it flew from my mouth automatically. "I miss you."
I looked up at Lana's face, which was trained into a hard mask. Ironically, just like Jacob's used to get when he was fighting from allowing his emotions to show.
"I know," he whispered.
"How's your dad?" I forced myself to stay on safer ground.
"He's good. Rachel and Paul are living out at the house with him now. Paul built an extra room on for him and Rach. And he rebuilt the ramp and added some new stuff. They're all good. What about Charlie?"
"Charlie's great." This was easier. "Sue has been really good for him. They complement each other really well. He seems younger now than he ever has. And he and Seth have become fishing buddies," I smiled.
There was an awkward silence.
"How are Embry and Quil?"
"Embry got a job in Seattle. He moved a few months ago."
"Oh, good! So he graduated. He got his degree?" I was so excited for him. He'd worked long and hard for a business degree, working and going to night school. I couldn't help feeling a little proud.
"What about Quil? Has Claire finally grown out of her Disney princess stage?"
Jacob chuckled. "Yeah, from princess to diva. She's almost 10 now and going into 5th grade. She's decided she's going to be the next Britney Spears. I think Quil misses the Disney costumes. She dresses like a cheap hooker now. Poor Quil takes her to school every morning on his way to work to make sure she has enough clothes on. I know he's told me he's had to send her back inside to change a few times. They don't leave till he gives his approval that she's dressed appropriately for school. It's kinda funny."
He sighed and I could see him in my head, running his hand through his hair. "It's kinda sad, too," he added wearily.
"Well," I said. I had worked my way outside while we spoke, to escape the noise. And Lana's ears. "I'm glad you're okay."
"Yeah, well… I'm okay. I am. Not great. But okay." There was a silence and I knew he was gearing up for some long explanation or rationalization or worse, an apology. "Bella?"
"Don't," I cut him off. "Really, Jake. Let's just leave it at this."
I didn't want to hear it. We couldn't change it. I couldn't rescue him. What was the point?
"Yeah, okay. You're probably right." He sighed again for about the fourth time during our short conversation.
There was silence from the other end of the line.
"I miss you, Bells."
Bells. I felt the cracks in my heart break open a little wider.
"I love you. Bye." He said the four words so quickly; they blended into one. Then the phone died in my hand.
I took a deep breath and pulled myself together. I actually felt a little better now. Like I had gained some closure.
I wasn't happy or anything. But I felt a little stronger, and I would take that.
I closed Lana's phone and strode back inside the restaurant.
I was done.
She looked up as I approached the table, and I set the phone down next to her purse. I leaned down and caught her gaze.
"Thank you," I told her. And I meant it. She didn't have to give me that. She could have pretended not to know who I was. She could have turned around and left. I appreciated that she tried to do the right thing. For Jacob's sake.
She nodded. I felt her watching me as I left the restaurant and headed back through the mall to the parking lot. I got in my car and drove home. A little stronger, a little sadder, but definitely wiser.
It was time to re-evaluate some of the choices I had made in my life. I was 25, but felt almost a century.
There was no more Jacob Black to save me. Or to show me with his smile and his warmth that my life was worth living.
I had lived.
I was finally ready to move on.
A/N: If you read Reality and Dreams, you know where Bella 'moved on' to. Back to Edward when he appeared at her window at the end.