Rylie16 – Lol, thanks for reading the whole thing! Not many people want to jump in this late in the show. (And I just did the same thing, and I had to stop to sleep. Your dedication is admirable!) I love the couple, too! And yes, haha, Nicholas Theodore Jacobson! His parents. Gosh. (:

BreeTico – I figured that Hanna would be a complete internet troll to him. Haha. And Mama Jones is more like a kid herself. She's sort of like my grandma. Lol! (:

The Significance Series belongs to Shelly Crane.

Chapter Eighteen

Nick and Daniel shared a moment of testosterone-ridden anger when we arrived back at the ranch. Alexandra and I sat at the kitchen table, watching all the two of them rage about the whole thing. I wanted to get up and tell Nick that there wasn't anything that we could do, not really. Marcus was in a public place. The only way to keep him away from me in public was to file a restraining order with the police. And that was basically impossible. What would I say to them? That the guy had threatened to kill me in an echo while I'd been sleeping? Instead of granting a restraining order, they would be having me sent to the nearest asylum.

I gripped my glass of sweet tea in both hands, staring down at the ice cubes as they slowly melted. I knew that I probably should have gone up and tried to calm him down a little bit, if not with a steady stream of encouraging words than with a touch. But he was so angry that it probably wouldn't have done much for him. Besides that, all I got from him was lines of anger, so strong that I doubted that he felt anything that I was feeling. Honestly, it was kind of scaring me. And it was sort of making me mad. I don't like being scared. I don't like when people get out of control. I wanted to grab him by the chin and make him look me in the eye so he would just shut up about the whole thing anyway. Alexandra didn't look like she was thinking the exact same thing, but there was a hint of similarity between the two of us as we watched our significants rant and rave about those Watsons that ruin everything for everyone else.

Alexandra gave me a look that was sort of sad, as if she was a little upset that I had to see her son like this. It didn't matter much to me. I knew that I was going to see the best and worst sides of Nick, just like he would to me. I took a slow sip of my sweet tea, my eyes darting to the living room for a moment before I slid down a little farther in my seat. Alexandra looked a little lost for words, even.

When we had gotten home, Nick had gone from being worried about me to being thoroughly livid. He hadn't even paused at the front of the car to wait for me as he stalked into the house, interrupting his father's football game. Daniel was already mad enough that his team was losing, but his anger quickly escalated when Nick gave him the rundown of events that had happened at the fairgrounds. I figured that out of all of us, I should have been the one that was the angriest about it. We didn't actually get into a fight or share any words with Marcus Watson, and it was my friend that we skipped out on. But Nick was angry because he couldn't protect me the way he wanted to, he was angry that we couldn't just go out without having to worry about everyone else, and his father was probably angry that his son couldn't bask in his imprint like he was supposed to.

Alexandra had listened with a motherly look of concern on her face. When Daniel and Nick had decided to sit down and plan what to do, I'd turned away and Alexandra had left her husband's side to come to me. She had poured two glasses of sweet tea and led me to the kitchen table. She patted my hand as we listened to the two of them. And we had a short, whispered conversation, mostly her giving me advice – let Nick work out the anger on his own. Even though we had the ability to take it away from each other and replace it with soothing calmness didn't necessarily mean that it had to be done every time. Sometimes we just had to work through things, and that meant being without your significant's touch for a minute or two.

I had pretty much zoned out on the two of them. Alexandra stood up to start dinner. I downed the rest of my sweet tea and offered to help, but she declined with a smile. Not wanting to listen to them anymore, I slipped down the hallway and past them without a word. They didn't even seem to notice me as I stepped into the bedroom I shared with Nick. The room was clean, like always, and a little more cluttered since I moved in. I reached for the duffel bag that I had halfway unpacked and carefully put the rest of my folded clothes in the dresser drawers. At the very bottom of my bag was my book, the same book that had fallen out of my bag at the videogame store. The same book that had brought Nick and I together.

I picked it up gingerly, running a finger over the binding. Who would have known that a simple book would have led me to meet my soul mate? Well, it hadn't done it alone. It had needed the help of an old purse with straps that were about to snap. I couldn't help but smile at the memory. Everything had been so blissful… up to this point. I hated seeing Nick so angry. I hated being annoyed that he was so angry because he couldn't protect me the way he wanted to. With a sigh, I sat down on the bed and opened to the song that I'd been working on when I'd met Nick.

Since we'd imprinted, I hadn't had much time for song-writing or piano-playing. My days had been filled with Nick in the mornings and late evenings and in the afternoons I'd struggled to get past my brother's fields of questioning as well as keeping Paul and Hanna occupied. I ran my fingers over the words. It was half-finished, and not as good as I had originally thought. It spoke about love, but it didn't actually have the true meaning of love behind it. I hadn't felt that yet. I hadn't known what it would be like to look the love of your life in the eyes and share that emotion.

I sat down on the bed, curling up against the pillows on Nick's side of the bed. They smelled just like him, which made me smile. It sort of made my heart soar, really. How ridiculous was it that my heart beat a little faster just because of his scent? I bit my lip and smiled to myself, looking down at the blank pages of my song book. Reaching over to dig in Nick's drawer, I found a pen. Uncapping it with my teeth, I put the pen to the paper, writing down a quick melody that came to me, and then I started to write the words down. Lyrics seemed to pour out of me.

Writing was always emotionally taxing. It always made me look into the deepest corners of myself to pull out exactly what I was feeling before I could put it down on paper. And writing was complex. I had to take little things that I'd written down and words that had sounded pretty and put them together with the correct number of beats. But this time it was different. Not only did I play with the beat of true love and the hurt it brought when I found myself bothered or angry with Nick, the words were easy and fast I scribbled them down onto the page, the melody echoing in my head. I found myself wishing that I had a upright piano to play. Instead, once the song was mostly finished, I sat back on the pillows, surrounded by the smell of my muse, and I sang the words softly to myself, chasing the hint of the melody in my head.

I closed my eyes to better focus on it, unaware of the fact that my voice was gradually growing louder. My voice didn't easily fit inside a box labeled soprano or alto. I couldn't go too high, but I couldn't go very low, either. I was smack in the middle. But I'd been told that my voice was pretty, and that was the only reason that I allowed myself to sing out loud even when I was alone. I would surely die with embarrassment if anyone else heard me.

I ran through the song a couple of times, pausing to change a word or two so the beats fit better. I picked up right where I left off, singing it all the way through the end. When I finished it, I sat back with a smile. It had been so long since I'd managed to write anything, and this was certainly the best thing that I'd ever written. I continued to hum the melody to myself as I wrote a few of the signs as notes to myself. That's when I realized that the low undertone of Nick and Daniel's planning had stopped. I didn't know when they had stopped talking. Hopefully it hadn't been too long, because my singing had gotten progressively louder to block out their rambling.

Panic bubbled up in my chest and embarrassment colored my cheeks. I scrambled out of the bed, ruining the tightness of the comforter that I'd fixed that morning. My feet hit the ground and I nearly slipped as I reached for the door. Just as I was about to turn the knob, I realized that someone was sitting on the other side. And by the way that my mind instantly probed Nick's, I knew it was most likely my significant. And, by the way that his mind was partly blocked and roiling, I figured that he'd heard my song. Every word of it.

It really was a beautiful song, showcasing what true love felt like. But around all of that lovey dovey stuff that would have made it some big hit, I'm sure, there was the darker hints of the pain it brought to fight with him, as well as the worry over my stance with him. I knew that he would never leave me. He couldn't. That was partly what was behind the words. But the other part was how confusing it all was. How one day, you think you know love and the next you're brand new to it all and you never knew how far off you really were. A song of pain and love. It was perfect. It was beautiful. And it had probably struck a chord or two when it came to Nick.

I slowly twisted the doorknob and carefully pulled it back. Nick was leaning against the door, his body slumping back as I pulled it open. I braced it with my foot, leaning out a little to look over at him. He didn't look up at me, and fear plagued my heart. Was he mad at me? Did I hurt his feelings somehow? I would have never sung that out loud if I knew that he was right there listening, if I knew that it would have hurt his feelings. The moment the thought entered my head, he looked up. His eyes were clear turquoise blue. He reached up and took a hold of my hand on the doorknob. His fingers wrapped around mine, and with a tug he pulled me down.

Level with his face, he pulled me forward to where I was practically sitting in his lap. My cheeks immediately started flushing. Aces were pretty lenient when it came to public displays of affection, but I wasn't sure what his parents would think if they walked by and saw us cuddling in the hall. I scooted over a little bit, trying to sit right next to him, but he wouldn't allow it. Instead, he pulled me closer, his hands tight on my waist.

"I love you," he whispered to me, his breath warm on my cheek. "I love you so much. I want you to know that. Even when I'm that mad… it's just because I can't protect you the way I want to. I want you to be able to go out with your friends whenever you want to and not have to worry about seeing him. I want you to be able to take a nap without me by your side and not have to worry about having someone invade your dreams."

I'd been so right. The lyrics to my song had certainly hit Nick in a way that I didn't think they would. I leaned back to look at him. His eyes weren't looking into mine, as if he was ashamed. I reached up and took him by the chin, making him look at me. The intense blue burned into mine as we stared at each other for a moment. "It's just a song," I said after a moment.

"It's not about the song, which is nice, by the way. It's about what I felt from your side of the bond." He replied softly, leaning forward so his words were whispered against my neck. I could feel his lips kiss the skin there, and I shivered at his touch. "I was angry, and I let it take over. I let myself forget that you needed me more. And for that I'm sorry." He said.

"Hey, letting out your anger is healthy." I replied. Part of it was said to make him feel better, but the other part was true. Hadn't he ever seen the movie Zombieland? Letting out pent-up anger made you feel better in the long run. Otherwise it would just bottle there until you exploded and did something really regrettable. I'd rather him curse Marcus into the great beyond than explode later. He picked up on my thoughts and gave a low chuckle. "And I was fine. I was actually sort of productive in that time." I told him.

He let out a sigh and brought a hand up to run through my hair. "What are we going to do?" He asked quietly. "We can't go out in the world with Marcus out there, looking to kill you."

"We can't just stay in here." I said, a little flabbergasted that he would even suggest it. I had come to terms with the fact that I couldn't just call up Hanna anymore and ask about seeing a movie. I knew that my relationships with my friends and family were a little on the outs. But he couldn't make me stay in this house. He wouldn't do that. Would he? I glanced over at him, and he looked at me with a sad but serious look.

He was debating it. I leapt off his lap faster than I had ever moved before. He knew I hated it when people thought that they could control what I did. He knew it, and yet he was still thinking about trying to keep me on lockdown? "Elsie," he said calmly, trying to take my attention. My heart was thudding in my chest so hard I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I turned abruptly and took off down the hall.

Nick had once told me that it hurt to fight. We weren't supposed to fight. And he was right, it sort of killed me. But I needed to get away from him just for a little while. And I knew that he would do his best to follow me, especially when I left in such a hurry. I swallowed hard and threw up mental walls. I didn't know how strong they were, if they could withstand Nick's mind, but the steady stream of words coming from him shut off. I rushed out into the living room, ducking past Alexandra and Daniel, who were sitting on the couch. I flung open the front door and nearly ran into Rodney. God, why were they all right there? I just needed to get away for a little while.

Rodney reached out to take my arm, and I slid past him, out into the front yard. He turned to look at me as Nick barreled down the hallway. He had probably stood up and come after me the moment I put up the walls to block him out.

I don't really know what it was. It was probably a combination of my panic about having the ability to make my own decisions taken away from me and the fact that Marcus was out to kill me and the whole principle of having to leave my friends and family behind, but I burst into tears as I stepped onto the front lawn. I sure had done a lot of crying since I met Nick. Usually, that would have been a bad thing. But I think it was more because my life had been turned upside down and I was facing problems that I never thought I would ever have to face.

I felt a hand around my arm and I knew instinctively that it was Nick. I wanted to lean into him, but I knew that it wouldn't help me, not right now. I needed to work through this on my own. With a restraint I didn't know I had, I yanked away from my significant. The hurt in his eyes nearly made me crumble right there as I took a step back and gave a little hiccup. I sniffled and turned sharply, running around the side of the house and down to the barn. It was probably the most obvious place to go, but it was the only place that I could think of.

Throwing open the barn doors, I scared the horses. I didn't pause to make sure that they weren't freaking out and instead headed towards the stacks of itchy hay in the opposite corner. I quickly stepped up on one of them. The hay was stacked so that the back was the highest and the front was the lowest. With just a little bit of rearranging, I managed to make a step ladder up to the highest point. I sat down on the hay tower, leaning against the back wall. Angrily, I wiped underneath my eyes with my fingers. I was mad that Nick thought he could tell me what to do, I was mad that I had let myself act like such a whiny princess not only in front of him but in front of his family, and I was mad that I had put myself first without waiting to listen to what he had to say. But it was all said and done.

I lay back on the hay tower, shrouded in darkness. The ceiling up here was a little grimy, and I was pretty sure that there was a huge cobweb in the corner, but I couldn't bring myself to actually check and see if there was. Instead, I stayed put. My mind was strangely blank without Nick's presence. I had no idea how close he really was all the time, or how much I really did love it. Without him there, it was sort of… empty. Alone.

I don't know how long I laid there. Ten minutes? Twenty? My tears had tried on my cheeks. The hay was itchy. The smell of horses had sunk into the depths of my brain.

As I was thinking about how I was going to apologize to him, because I knew I was, something small and warm jumped up next to me. Immediately thinking that it was a spider, I let out a high-pitched scream. It faltered off when I realized that whatever it was was too large to be a spider. Relief and embarrassment flooded me when I realized that it was only Scout. His eyes were large, the pupils nearly eating up his iris in the darkness. He gave a low meow and nudged my chin with his head.

"Hi, Scout," I breathed. He crawled onto my stomach and curled up into a ball, steadily purring. I pet his ears and let my head drop back onto the hay. "I was pretty stupid, wasn't I?" I asked him. He continued to purr in answer, and I sighed, playing with his short pointy ears.

"You weren't that stupid." I jumped so violently that I nearly tumbled off the hay bales that I was lying on. Scout gave me a dirty look since I'd disrupted his sleeping. I sat up, making the cat all the more mad. He crawled off of me and went to stand on the edge of the hay bale, jumping down to the one below. I peered over the edge and saw Nick standing at the bottom. He looked a little sheepish and upset, but most of all he looked apologetic. He gestured to the stairs I built and said, "Nice architecture. Are you sure you don't want to go to college with me?" His voice was light, but I could hear the heaviness underneath it.

I shrugged, playing up to the joke. "You know me. I excel in everything I do."

A small smile quirked up on his lips, his eyes looking bright even from the distance. He reached forward and took a step up onto the first bale. Slowly he made his way up to me. I lay there and waited for him to reach me. When he got up to where he was almost right up with me, he leaned forward, standing on the last bale and leaning forward onto mine. "I'm sorry, Elsie." He said it softly. "I can't make you do anything. That wouldn't keep you any safer. Your friends are out there, and your brothers are out there, and it's ridiculous for me to think that I could control where you go and what you're allowed to do. You're not a prisoner here, Elsie."

"I'm sorry too," I said, nearly cutting him off. "I got angry with you instead of just letting us talk about it. And you're right. You can't keep me here. But I will do everything with precaution." I replied. Nick still hadn't touched me, as if he thought that I was going to pull away again. By the way that my wall was slowly coming down, I could feel the pain of my rejection caused. It was bubbling under the surface, and he was trying to hide it, but he wasn't very good at it. I leaned forward and took a hold of his hand. Calm spread between us, and I gave him a smile.

"You want to come down from there? I'm pretty sure that there's a spider that lives up here somewhere." His words were whispered, and I could tell that he was joking. But I knew that was a freaking cobweb in the corner. I nearly propelled myself off of the hay bale and into his arms. He gave a low chuckle as he put my feet down on the hay bale. I balanced precariously for a moment before jumping down to the next one. Once I had my feet on the flat ground, I sat down on the nearest bale. He made his way down and sat down right next to me.

Nick seemed like he wanted to give me a little distance, but that was the last thing I wanted. I drew closer to him, snuggling right up into his side. He draped an arm around me as I leaned my head against his shoulder. "I don't like fighting with you." I told him quietly. "It's sort of surprising, because I like fighting with everyone."

He chuckled and squeezed my shoulder for a second. "We're not built to fight, Elsie. Remember?"

"Yeah, I remember." I said. "But hey, I know an easy way that we could keep from fighting."

"Yeah? What is it?"

"Just smile and let me do whatever I want." I teased, looking up at him. He looked down at me, a smile across his face. I tilted my chin up and he met me, pressing his lips to mine.

Okey doke. Chapter completed. I figured that their first fight needed to be seen at some point. As always, it's fixed with a few apologies and compromise. Wouldn't that be nice if it worked like that in the real world? :P

Anyway. Leave me a review in the box below. Thanks for taking the time to read! Peace (: