Disclaimer: Twilight, nope not mine in any way just borrowing the characters for my own amusement…AH, AU, BPOV…rated M for adult/sexual situations, language, 18 and over highly recommended!
The Claiming of Jacob Black
I tugged the lead rope from around the tree and took the bridle off the saddle horn, bridling Sunny and secured the end of the lead rope and tightened the cinch before picking up the water bottles and handing them to Bella; mounting effortlessly.
We rode out of the shallow canyon and back up to the rim to the flat pasture and finished mending fence. We were on our way back to the ranch when I noticed the thick black storm clouds rolling in fast and the wind suddenly picked up, smelling like rain and had a metallic tinge to it. A summer thunder storm was on its way and it didn't look like we were going to make it back to the ranch before it hit.
I looked over at Bella and saw that she had pulled her hat down tighter on her head to keep it from flying away in the increasing wind. I wanted to make sure she wasn't overly scared, as it would transfer to her horse and possibly end up creating a bigger problem than just getting caught in the rain.
"You ok over there?" I looked over to make sure Bella wasn't too freaked out but she appeared rather calm, and I was fairly impressed yet at the same time I sort of expected her to be ok with it. I couldn't imagine her spending summers out here and having never been caught in a summer storm.
"Yeah, I'm good but we're too far from the ranch, and if this storm hits us out here, we're going to be soaked before we get started. I think Esme once told me there's a small cabin back in the draw on a flat patch of ground; it's a ways back, but if we're under the cover of the trees, we shouldn't get as wet until we reach it." Bella's voice was higher in pitch and I could tell she was just a bit nervous; she was rubbing her sore hand over the saddle horn.
"Do you mean the cabin Carlisle built?" I knew the cabin wasn't far, but I was surprised Bella knew about it; but then again she had known the Cullens for much longer than me. Her voice had gotten louder so I could hear her over the rising wind. I reined Sunny closer to DC so Bella could hear without me having to yell.
"Yeah, I know where that is. It's back down the draw about a mile or so east and we might be able to make it before the storm hits if we hurry." Bella nodded her agreement and rubbed her arms as if she were already cold.
I knew Carlisle had built a small cabin down past the draw several years ago after he'd complained about being caught in one too many summer storms. It wasn't very big, but it had a small potbelly stove for heat. It was very similar to a studio apartment, only on a much more compact scale. It didn't have a toilet or electricity or running water but it did have 3 small windows, a farm table with a couple of chairs and a bed with extra blankets; it wasn't meant for a long term stay, but merely as a temporary place to wait out bad weather. Two years ago Carlisle had built a small corral with a lean-to attached because Stormy kept pulling loose from the hitching post and wandering off.
Remembering exactly where it was, I thought back to three summers ago when we drove the cows with weanling calves to the upper pasture and got caught in a freak hail storm. It was a rough trip; we had lost track of several calves when a couple of rogue steers decided they didn't like the direction we were going and wandered off, taking several of the calves with them. We had been searching for about an hour when the storm hit. Huge egg size hail pounded the ground around us into a slurry of mud, making the footing very slick.
After looking for another hour in the bad weather, we gave up the search and ran the horses the remaining distance to the cabin. It was small, but a welcome respite. Hunkering down for the night, using the stove for heat and a lantern for light, we were relatively comfortable. The next morning we woke up, readied the horses and found the calves huddled next to the cabin bawling for their mamas and reunited them with the herd later that morning with the steers having found their way during the storm. I was grateful we had been able to get out of the storm safely and wait it out; I shuddered to think what could have happened if the cabin hadn't been there. It had been quite the story to tell.
"We need to go back that way," I called out and pointed behind us.
We reined the horses back towards the way we came from the shallow draw just as the first drops of rain began to fall. Dodging around rocks, brush and fallen trees, we tried to keep under the cover of the pines and scrub oaks but got wet anyway as the sky opened up with a deluge of water drenching us both before we had gotten very far. Bella gave a little squeal-like scream when the rain started coming down hard.
I turned to see that she was ok and had to chuckle to myself. She suddenly looked like a half-drowned kitten. Her hair was plastered to her neck and loose strands stuck along her cheeks. Her hat had done nothing to keep her dry and her clothes were now pasted to her skin showing the outline of her bra and her nipples, pressing against the cloth. Water ran in rivulets down her neck from her hat. My own clothes didn't fare much better, my wet jeans clinging to my legs as we tried to stay under the cover of the trees.
The rain was now coming down in sheets and showed no sign of stopping soon. It was getting dark fast with the approaching storm and the temperature felt like it had fallen nearly fifty degrees in the last twenty minutes.
The shallow creek we had eaten lunch next to just hours ago was now knee deep and swirling around the rocks and small boulders that lay strewn along its course. We pushed the horses back across it and up the slight embankment, heading back up the other side. Bella stayed close and held her hat onto her head as the wind increased.
Huge clumps of scotch broom and sage snatched at our legs as we rode past the noxious smelling brush and around outcroppings of rock covered in a tangle of wicked-looking blackberry canes. I could hear the trees creaking around us, the wind rocking them back and forth. We urged the horses faster towards where I knew the cabin to be, and hoped that none of the limbs would come down on our heads as we rode on.
Small branches were falling from the upper reaches of the scrub oaks that littered the area, hitting the ground and bouncing to stillness. I looked around as I heard a loud groan and a sharp snap, watching as an old pine began to lean with the direction of the wind and fall in slow motion landing a few yards in front of us. Sunny balked and tried to back up, spinning to the right nearly unseating Bella when DC swung his shoulder to the left trying to dodge out of the way of residual falling branches. I watched in awe as Bella not only managed to stay in the saddle, but did it with the grace and ease of a practiced rider. She didn't jerk the reins, or spur him over, but rather moved with him as one creature.
"Whoa, easy son, easy." Murmuring as I patted Sunny's neck and tried to calm my own racing heart, I looked over at Bella who was draped over DC's neck, hugging him and crooning softly to him. DC's ears flicked back and forth rapidly and I could see his nostrils flare as his sides heaved, breathing in and out rapidly. He soon calmed enough for Bella to sit up, still patting his shoulder in reassurance.
"Are you two ok? Did you get hit with any branches?" I had to yell to be heard over the wind and the groaning of the woods around us.
"No, we're fine. He's just a bit nervous, but I think he's good now." Bella yelled back, her arms wrapped around her chest now; she was shivering now, but whether it was from being cold or scared I didn't know. I was fine myself, but I was getting worried for her. It was beginning to seem like she hadn't been caught in too many summer storms; at least none like this one.
"We're almost there; it's just over the bluff and down the other side. Come on." I didn't want us to be out here any longer than we needed to be. Bella nodded and guided DC along behind me, trying to stay close.
I neck reined Sunny around the fallen tree and let him pick his way through the debris and around stumps and old dead fall. I looked over my shoulder to make sure Bella was following. It had gotten very dark now and I could barely see the lighter color of the sky through the trees. The canopy of trees felt like it was closing in as we urged the horses as fast as we dared up the hill. Making it to the top of the bluff I could see the Cullen's farm house, like a tiny speck in the distance. We rode down the other side and back into the trees, still dodging rocks and tree stumps, the rain yet hammering us from above. Another ten minutes of zig zagging through the brush, I saw the small cabin's roof between a thick stand of pines that surrounded the small one-room cabin and corral.
Riding at a quick trot we arrived at the cabin, soaked and shivering. Not saying a word to each other, we dismounted and led the horses into the tiny lean-to and began to unsaddle them, putting our gear in a small tool shed built into the wall. It was just big enough to hold both saddles and the few fencing supplies we carried with us. I left Sunny's halter on and turned him loose in the corral with DC. The two geldings huddled close together under the lean-to roof to keep as dry as they could. Satisfied they would be safe for the time being, I closed the gate behind Bella and me as we half ran to the door of the cabin, scrambling to open it with cold shaking fingers.
Once inside, I looked around for something to use for light and found an oil lantern next to the wall on the small table and some matches sitting on the potbellied stove. I lit the lantern and hung it on the hook that extended from the wall then I put a couple pieces of kindling in the stove along with some fire starter and old newspapers and got a fire going. Bella was standing by the door still shivering violently. I stood and walked over to her and took her in my arms, rubbing up and down her arms and back tying to warm her. Leading her to the little stove I stood in front of her while the heat from the stove started to warm her back side.
"We need to get out of these wet clothes so we can get warm." I didn't want to scare her by just ripping her clothes off. But we had to get warm and by staying in wet clothes it wasn't going to happen, I didn't want either of us to end up sick with pneumonia; we were too far from the main road and even farther into the trees that no full-sized vehicle would have made it within a mile of the cabin should we need extra help in getting out.
I hesitantly lifted my hands to unbutton her shirt, trying to gauge her reaction. I had dreamed of undressing Bella and while it looked like I was actually going to get my wish, it wasn't for the reason I'd wanted. Bella nodded as a chill took over her body and she started shaking harder. I fumbled with the buttons on her shirt, my fingers feeling thick and numb. Ignoring my own discomfort I managed to get her shirt unbuttoned and peeled it off her goose bump-covered body and quickly turned to wring it out and lay it across one of the two chairs in the small room, leaving her in a thin tank top.
Removing her pants would require more from her but she was shaking so hard now, I didn't want to hurt Bella by yanking off her jeans, so I carefully and ungracefully got her pants unbuttoned and started to peel them down her hips. Bella stood shivering with her hands on my shoulders for balance as I bent down and took her boots and socks off and finished taking off her jeans, leaving her now in just her underwear. I wrung her pants out as well as I could manage and hung them over the spare chair.
Bella was standing next to the wood stove still shivering, trying to warm herself by rubbing her hands up and down her arms. I walked over to the small bed and pulled one of the blankets off of it and wrapped it around her shoulders then added a larger piece of wood to the stove. Looking around the small room I noticed a short length of thin rope and decided when we were done I'd string it above the stove and use it to hang our clothes up so they would dry faster. There was also a shotgun hung over the door and a box of shot gun shells on the small shelf next to the window. I briefly wondered when they had been left there; they weren't there the last time I had been here. I'd have to remember to ask Carlisle about it when we got back to the ranch.
Kicking off my boots, I began to strip off my own wet shirt and pants, wringing them out. I quickly grabbed the length of rope and strung it across the short room over the stove, hanging both pairs of jeans over the line. I stood there with just my boxers on, then I grabbed Bella's shirt along with mine and hung them up too. I could just barely start to feel the heat from the stove and figured our clothes would be dry in a couple hours, maybe by morning. Hopefully we would be warmed up by then as well. There was no sense in trying to go back to the ranch until the storm was over and I knew we'd be safe and dry here for the night.
I took the other blanket off the bed and draped it over my shoulders, covering myself not from modesty, but because I was starting to feel the chill too. Nudging Bella towards the bed, she didn't need too much encouragement to lie down and huddle under the blanket. After adding another piece of wood and double checking the stove to make sure the damper was open, I lay next to her. The last thing we needed to happen was dying of asphyxia from smoke.
Bella lay facing the wood stove; I climbed up the bed so that I could lay behind her trying to keep her as warm as possible. She was shivering and hadn't said a word since we had entered the cabin. The only sounds inside the small room were the crackling of the burning wood, our breathing, and the occasional chattering of Bella's teeth as she slowly warmed up.
Outside the storm still hammered the roof with rain and occasionally what I had assumed were waves of hail. The small windows had become rather steamy after a while so I wagered a silent guess the temperature had dropped quite a bit and worried about Sunny and DC, hoping they were ok. They only had short summer coats, but as long as they stayed under the lean-to they should be ok.
I lay there for a while, surprisingly my mind blank. It was a while later when I closed my eyes and was lulled into dreamless slumber by the pattering of rain on the roof and windows and the crackling of the wood as it split in the fire from the heat.
I woke up sometime later to the sound of the squeaking of the woodstove door opening and looked over to see Bella, still wrapped in her blanket, putting more wood on the fire. Closing the door and turning around she smiled that beautiful warmth inducing smile that only she can smile, wrapped her blanket tighter around herself and came back over to lie next to me as I lifted the edge of my blanket to allow her the added warmth of both. Looking at the window and seeing no light, I assumed it was around the middle of the night sometime.
"How long have I been asleep?" I didn't really care; now that I was warmed up and awake-oh so very wide awake-all I could think about was that Bella was practically naked and pressed against my chest, covered by the blankets of course, but still almost naked. I was finding it hard to focus on what she was saying.
"A few hours I think. It's still raining and the wind is still blowing really bad. I checked on the horses and they're fine, still under the lean-to." Her voice was soft and comforting. I leaned up a bit and pressed my nose to the back of her blanket covered neck; she took in a deep breath and I could feel her shiver slightly. I smiled to myself.
"That's good, they weren't shaking or acting colicky were they?" I trusted her knowledge; I just wanted to hear her voice, in bed, with me, almost naked, with me, in bed.
"No, just standing under the lean-to nose to tail. It's pretty muddy out there so I didn't go any farther than the front door." Her voice was soothing.
"Good, I was a bit worried about them getting too cold and wet, even if it is the middle of summer." I stifled a yawn and shivered a little. But it wasn't from the cold. The cabin was still cool, but warmer than it had been when we got here and being huddled under the blankets with another warm body made it even more comfortable.
I pulled her closer to me as I tucked her under my chin, wrapping my arm around her waist and pressed my hips into her backside hoping she wouldn't object. Bella took a deep breath and as she exhaled she relaxed into my arms and scooted back into me. My heart started to race. Slowly my hand made soft gentle circles on her blanket covered stomach. Hearing her breathing lose rhythm, I stopped all movement. Bella rolled over and I instantly got lost in her eyes as she looked at me.
"I'm sor…" I didn't get to finish apologizing for making her uneasy when she leaned in and kissed me. I kissed her back, her lips now warm and soft against my own. I was losing myself in a haze with these simple kisses; they weren't demanding or seeking like we had experienced earlier but rather more like gentle caresses. I wanted a little more, I was getting dizzy from kissing her. I slid my tongue along her lip gently requesting entrance.
Our breathing started getting heavier and I shifted my weight a bit, pulling her up my chest and tried to deepen the kiss. She started to kiss me back, but I was startled when I felt Bella pulled back; she closed her eyes and leaned her forehead into my chest. "I'm sorry, I can't…"
So, she wasn't ready to go any farther and I decided right then that no matter how badly I wanted her, I wasn't going to push her past her comfort zone, not out here, not yet. But I was going to make this girl see that she was desirable and wanted. I wanted her; I desired her. And not just for sex. She was smart, funny, knew how to handle a horse—which I thought was totally hot, and she could cook. Not that I would starve on my own culinary talents, but she did make a mean blueberry pie. The thoughts of what else she could make tickled the back of my mind as I filed them away for pondering later.
"Shhh, it's ok. If anyone should be sorry, it's me. I shouldn't be trying to take advantage of you." I looked down at the top of her head. I felt bad. I didn't want to make her uncomfortable, and although the cabin was fairly secluded, it was a rather awkward place to try something…more.
"But you have to admit, there's no worrying about anyone walking in on us…" I gave her a crooked grin as I attempted to lighten the awkwardness with poorly veiled humor that only served to make Bella blush a deep red.
"It's not that. I just don't want to give you the wrong idea about me. I'm not the kind of girl who just goes around kissing any guy who puckers up." Bella's voice was a bit shaky and I wondered what was going on in her mind, what was she thinking about.
Was she thinking about that jerk she used to date, and how he hurt her? Did was she thinking I was a jerk who just wanted to get into her pants? Did she think I would hurt her?
"Bella, I don't think you understand. In this short time I have known you, I couldn't think of you that way. I'll be the first to admit, those kisses we shared, maybe should have waited but looking back on them, I wouldn't change a thing; I enjoyed every one of them, and I would like to think you did too."
Jake was right. I did enjoy those kisses and very much so. Deep down I'd wanted more of them, lots more. I hadn't wanted to stop, but the haunting memory in my past was keeping me from moving forward; until I could get past that seemingly huge obstacle, I was going to be alone for a very long, long time. Jake took a deep breath before continuing.
"I like you, a lot. You're cute, sweet, nice, think of others' needs, and you're a hard worker. When you fell into that hay stack, I'm ashamed to say I briefly thought you were going to be one of those girls who would cop out and quit working because it scared you. But you didn't; you laughed and brushed it off and went back to work. Plus you know how to handle a horse, and, if I can be so bold as to tell you this, I find that very hot." Jake's voice was deep and comforting, I felt hypnotized by the sound of it.
I held my breath, he thought the way I handled DC was hot? I could feel myself blushing. I had been told I ride well, pretty well even, but no one has ever told me it was hot. I just rode how I always rode; I didn't think it was anything special. DC was a good horse, smart and well trained, that must have been what he was really commenting on, not my riding skills.
"I haven't seen anyone stay on a horse like you did earlier. And I've seen many people ride, from self-taught riders to professional trainers. Most people would have made close personal friends with the ground, but not you. Not only did you stay on, but you calmed DC down. He listened to you and your touch soothed him. He trusted you enough to let you guide him out of a dangerous situation, and that says more about you than you can know."
His arms tightened around me slightly and I rested my head fully against his bare chest. My mind was reeling with what he was saying, but I couldn't organize my thoughts, they were jumbled. His voice was calming, but my heart was still racing. I was the one to lean in and kiss him, and I liked it, a lot. Almost too much. Did I want things to go farther? Yes, I did, if I was going to be honest with myself. But out here? In the woods? It was actually a perfect place, no one to walk in on us, no phone to interrupt us; and I think that scared me more than actually wanting to be with him. Because we wouldn't be interrupted.
I tried to breathe deeply to calm myself, listening to his regular heartbeat and feeling his breath on the top of my head. It sent shivers over my body to know I was this close to him. It then dawned on me…I was in his arms. He was holding me, close. And I was only in my tank top and panties. HOLY CRAP! I was only in my underclothes? How the…? Then I remembered how soaked we were when we got here last night. And how Jake had helped get me out of my wet shirt and jeans; that couldn't have been easy for him, and if I had been warm and more lucid…. I gave myself a mental head shake to try to clear where my thoughts were headed. Not out here. Not now.
"So how long do you think we'll be staying here?" I figured a subject change would keep my thoughts from running inappropriate images through my mind.
"I'm not sure, but at least until the storm breaks. It wouldn't be a good idea to try to leave with it still raining as hard as it is. The creek will be much higher right now and not very safe to cross. It'll be full of downfall and rocks washing down from upstream." He paused as he yawned and I could hear the rush of air fill his lungs. It was soothing and I relaxed into his arms, feeling comfortable for the first time in a very long, long time.
"Was there any hay in that small shed we put the saddles in? I don't remember seeing any. I bet the horses are hungry, they didn't get any dinner." I was worried about the horses not getting fed, but asked more for an excuse to hear his voice again.
"I think there might be a bale or part of one in there. I thought I saw some in there, but I'd have to go and look. I'll double check in the morning."
"And what about water? I don't remember seeing a bucket or trough in the corral when we got here." They needed water more than they'd need hay. I knew the horses would be fine, but I liked hearing the sound of his voice.
"There's a 50 gallon trough in the corner, on the side of the cabin, they can get to it, and I'm sure it's full by now, so I wouldn't worry about the water."
I scooted closer, snuggling into his body, pressing myself closer to him; the thin blankets the only barrier between us. It was still cool in the cabin, and I was glad I put several more pieces of wood in the stove. Our clothes were almost dry and as much as I was embarrassed to be nearly naked under a blanket next to an equally nearly naked man-a very hot, sexy man that I wouldn't mind letting have his way with me-I was in no hurry to put them back on.
The rhythm of his breathing was like a sedative, it made me feel so safe. I was so relaxed, I didn't mind it when his hand found its way between the blankets and met the skin of my waist. I did tense slightly, but relaxed when I realized he had fallen asleep again.
I lay awake for a while, just listening to the sound of his heart beat and his breathing combined with the sounds of the rain on the roof of the cabin and the slight groaning of the trees swaying in the wind outside. My own hand traced its way to his waist and I unconsciously pulled our bodies closer and rubbed my cheek into his chest and inhaled deeply, smelling his unique scent of sweat, a faint smell of soap, horse, and male musk. I finally closed my eyes and my brain cleared all thoughts long enough for me to drift into a dreamless sleep.
A loud snort from outside startled me awake, making my heart pound in my chest; I kept my eyes closed for a moment, trying to remember where I was. I could tell there was some light coming in the window from behind my closed eyelids, and when I finally did open my eyes it was to the sight of a pair of gorgeous brown orbs looking into mine.
"Hey beautiful." Jake's soft voice washed over me and I strangely felt at home.
Could I really be comfortable with him, with Jake? Sure I could, I thought I could easily be with him and be happy, very happy in fact. But did I want to let myself go there after what E…he put me through all those years ago? Maybe it was time to let it go. I'd lived with the pain and feeling of rejection for so long it was a part of me I wasn't sure I was ready to let go of. But what if it was all just a game for Jake, to get into my pants? Not that it would have bothered me that much if it were Jake, I mean, he was very easy on the eyes, he was gentle, kind, helpful, caring, funny, he liked my cooking, he was really sexy…maybe I should give him a chance.
"Hey." I looked up and smiled, knowing I was instantly blushing. I was suddenly aware I was still tucked in his arms and the lower half of my body rubbed against his and I could feel him against my thigh. It made me nervous, but at the same time, it felt right. It didn't bother me like I thought it would. It felt…normal.
He leaned in and kissed my nose as I closed my eyes and kept the smile on my face. I then felt his lips on my cheek and a feeling of nervousness hit my stomach again. His lips lingered longer than it would take to just place a peck on my cheek and I could feel his breath close to my ear. I tilted my head up and ghosted my lips across his jaw, venturing to flick my tongue along his skin. I him moan so softly that had I not been right under him, I might have imagined it.
Jake moved back on the bed and the few inches of distance between our bodies allowed a gust of cool air to pass between us making me whimper quietly and shiver. He shifted his hips a bit so he was leaning over me as I was now laying on my back, partly underneath him, my hand still on his hip from before. I looked up his chest to his face and felt like I was bewitched. Closing my eyes and inhaling deeply, I found I couldn't think, couldn't move, my heart was pounding in my chest and I could feel my brain screaming at me to do something, anything!
I opened my eyes and watched as if in slow motion Jake leaned down and kissed me. And it wasn't a soft kiss. It was full of want, need, desire, passion and something more I couldn't make my brain fathom. His lips were soft but demanding as they parted against mine and I felt his tongue tickle along my lips, asking for entrance. I think I had forgotten to breath because the next instant I was panting against his mouth, my hands now tangled in his hair and pulling him closer to me.
Our mouths fought for dominance, but I gladly gave the win to him. His hands started to roam the blanket covered sides of my body and I inched my way closer to him, lust now working its way through my brain and seeping into every pour of my skin. Jake moved so he was laying partly over me, still covered in the other blanket as we continued to kiss. My brain was going fuzzy the longer we kissed, and while I really wanted to farther than just kissing, I couldn't make myself do it.
I pulled my body back, pushing against his chest with my hands. Our breathing was heavy and I could feel him against my thigh, as much as I wanted him and he apparently wanted me, I just couldn't.
"Jake…no, please. I can't. I just can't."
I pushed myself back away from him and got off the bed, walked over to where our clothes were hanging up and grabbed my shirt. My hands were shaking, but not from cold. From the loss of contact. I wanted nothing more than to have him hold me, to touch me, kiss me and lo… I shook my head slightly. If I allowed myself to go there now, I would just ruin everything and it would be a long lonely summer. I liked Jake, a lot, probably more than I should have. But it was still too soon. Wait. Too soon? Can four years be considered too soon?
Lowering the blanket from my shoulders, I pulled my shirt on and buttoned it. Reaching for my pants, I heard Jake move off the bed and walk over to stand behind me. I stood still for a moment and felt his hands on my hips. He pulled me against his body and wrapped his arms around me, his chin on my shoulder.
I dropped my jeans and held onto his arms, my head now tilted back onto his shoulder. I felt a soft kiss on my neck that sent goose bumps down my body. Jake's hands rubbed up and down my sides as his lips continued their quest gently across my neck to my shoulder as he pushed the collar of my shirt open with his chin.
I could feel my heart starting to race when Jake's hands gripped my hips firmly and turned me around to face him. I looked up into his dark eyes as his lips met mine in a fevered frenzy; I knew this time there would be no stopping.
A/N: Please leave a review. Also check out light4dawn's work "Ascent from Darkness".
Thank you to all who reviewed the last chapter and for your heartfelt well wishes. DC's steadily getting better and hopefully by late spring/early summer we'll be ready to hit the trails again.