Chapter Seven

"Honestly, Rose, so far I don't know if this whole arrangement is going to work. He said he was going to try, which is great, but for all I know he could decide to stop trying tomorrow, or in the next two weeks. I don't know if I can depend on him, I hardly even know the guy."

I put on my blinker and took a slow left turn onto Jacob's street. Yesterday after the funeral we had planned to eat some lunch together today and discuss the current insanity that was my life. I desperately needed his advice and reassurance. But more than that I simply needed him. He had always been my go-to man whenever life brought me down, cheering me up in a way no one else could.

And hell, I needed some serious cheering up.

On the other line Rose let out a heavy, contemplative sigh. "Bella, just be patient. You never know, he could come around. You might not know him well enough now, but Alice and Jasper did, and if you can't trust Edward on this at least try and trust them."

I had to admit, she had a point. Pursing my lips, I rolled into Jacob's driveway and parked my small dark blue Chevy next to his monstrous red pick-up truck. Cutting the engine, I leaned back against the seat.

"You didn't hear him though, Rose. He basically told me that he didn't want to spend his weekends changing diapers. Does that sound like a man who's happy, let alone ready, to take on a huge responsibility like this?"

"Bella, love, give the guy some slack. He's a twenty-five year old man who values his freedom and all that comes with it. What did you expect? That he'd be raring to go the second a kid was tossed into his lap? Take that and the fact that his best friend just passed away and you've got a pretty unstable guy on your hands."

Buddy, who was moving around restlessly in the back seat, let out a sudden bark. I jumped slightly and flicked a stern glance over my shoulder at him.

"Lass das sein!" I demanded firmly.

Buddy whined softly and lied back down on the seat.

"Excuse me?" Rose replied, sounding startled.

"Sorry, I was just telling Buddy to cool it."

"Oh, right, you use Shitzhund on him. I remember now."

I laughed at her remark and shook my head. "It's called Schutzhund, for your information."

"Shitzhund, Schutzhund, close enough."

I smiled and rolled my eyes. "Yeah, okay. Listen, I just got to Jake's house. I'll call you later."

"Sounds good. Later, Bella babe."

I got out of the car and let Buddy out, not bothering to put his leash on since he hardly ever left my side. Hearing the front door open, I turned around and saw Jacob walking towards us.

"Hey, Bells! You brought Buddy, awesome." He leaned down and stretched his arms out, letting out a long, low whistle.

Barking excitedly, Buddy bounded over and leaped up, straight into Jacob's open arms. He fell to the ground laughing and started to wrestle my dog as if they were two grown wolves of a pack.

I crossed my arms and shook my head, waiting for them to finish romping around. Jacob acted like such a kid sometimes, I mused. But perhaps that was why I enjoyed his company; he was like a breath of cool, fresh air after an unbearably dry, hot summer day.

"Bella! A little help here, maybe?"

Snapping out of my thoughts, I glanced down and then smirked when I noticed Jacob's compromising position. He was lying flat on his back, trapped beneath Buddy's massive weight. As I stepped closer I realized Buddy had a pretty good grip on his arm, and I knew just by Buddy's firm, defensive stance that he wasn't planning on budging one bit.

I clicked my tongue. "You know, this is what you get for playing too rough with him."

"Is he going to let me go or not?"

"Hmm, most likely not. You have to surrender to him."

"What? How the hell am I supposed to do that?"

I shrugged, trying so hard to remain cool and not break out laughing at the hilarity of it all. "I don't know. Lick his nose, maybe?"

"Hah, very funny. C'mon, Bella, get him off me."

"What? You can't do it yourself? You weigh like, what? Four hundred pounds?"

He shot me a playful glare.

I gave him a grin in return and said, "Okay, fine. Buddy! Aus!"

Instantly letting go of his arm, Buddy swiped his sloppy wet tongue across Jake's cheek before jumping off him, tail wagging vigorously.

"Now, can we eat some lunch? Or would you like to have a round two with him?" I teased.

"Nah, I have a feeling he'd probably kick my ass." Jake joked, returning to his enormous height of six foot seven.

I laughed and started walking towards the door. "Next time, don't play so rough with him. He could accidentally hurt you."

"Yes, Mommy."

I gave his arm a mighty shove and he grinned, yanking me towards him and wrapping his long arm around my shoulders.

"I've missed you, Bells," he said warmly.

I sighed, walking into the house. "I've missed you too, Jake. How's it been going? Anything new?"

"Nah, not really. Business is great, as usual. Dad finally decided to hand the shop over to me a couple weeks ago." He shrugged casually as we made our way into the kitchen.

I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at him, eyes growing wide. "Wait, what? You manage the car shop now?"

He opened a cabinet door and got out a can of Pringles, before turning back to nod at me. "Yep."

"Jake, that's fantastic! Congratulations." I grinned proudly at him.

"It's no big deal, really. I've kind of been managing it on my own for a while now. Dad's health isn't so good these days…he's been staying at home a lot, trying to get his strength back." He opened the can and popped a chip into his mouth.

"Oh, Jake, I'm sorry…why didn't you tell me he had gotten worse?" I leaned back against the counter beside him and crossed my arms.

"I was going to, but then…" he trailed off, staring down into the Pringles can. "…Alice and Jasper…" He glanced over at me with a concerned expression. "I'm really sorry, Bells. How are you handling everything?"

"I don't know, Jake. I don't know how I'm handling everything. God, I'm such a mess." I leaned my head against his arm and closed my eyes, doing my best not to lose it in front of him. Even if I did, though, I knew Jacob wouldn't mind. He knew and understood me more than anyone else, now that Alice was gone.

"You're not a mess Bella…" Jake murmured. He laid his head on top of mine.

I pinched him.

"Ow. Okay, maybe you're a little messy…but honestly, Bella, you have a damn good right to be. It's your time to be as messy as you want."

"Jake, as much as I'd love to be as messy as I want, I just can't. I have a kid to look after, remember?"

"Humph. Fair point. Well, how about this, whenever you need a break from your responsibilities and all the crazy madness your life gets pulled into, come by my place and we can be as messy as you want. Deal?"

Hoping to lighten the mood a little bit, I said, "Wait. Are you suggesting we get…dirty? God, Jake…"

"What?" Jake's head shot straight up. "No, I didn't mean-"

I let out a snort of laughter and snatched the Pringles out of his hand, backing away from him. "You are such a dork."

He scowled at me. "Hey, give those back."

"No, I'm hungry." I popped a chip into my mouth. "And if this is all you have for lunch, I'm going to smack you."

"No, 'course not." Jake ambled over to the refrigerator and got out a few ingredients, setting them on the kitchen counter next to me. "I thought we could make one of your favorites…Chicken a la King!"

I raised an eyebrow. "Jake…that's one of your favorites."

"Oh…right." He smiled sheepishly. "Guess I'm just really hungry for Chicken a la King."

Laughing softly, I walked over and wrapped my arms around him in a warm, tight hug. "Thanks, Jake," I murmured.

He blinked in confusion and glanced down at me. "For what?"

"For just…being here, I guess."

He smiled and gently kissed the top of my head. "Don't worry, Bells, I'm not going anywhere…I promise."

Buddy and I returned to the house about two hours later, and for the first time since Alice and Jasper's death I finally felt like I could get through this, thanks to Jacob. My mood was relatively bright as I stepped into the house, eager to see how Ezzy was doing after being in Edward's care for the past couple of hours. It was about time for her afternoon nap, so hopefully Edward was putting her to sleep.

Unfortunately, all hell broke loose the second I was inside.

"Where the hell have you been?" Edward exclaimed, marching towards me with Ezzy crying hysterically in his arms.

Taken aback by his hard, angry demeanor, I slowly closed the front door. "I had lunch with Jacob…remember?"

"Did you happen to check your phone at all during that time?" Edward snapped, stopping to stand stiffly in front of me.

I slowly pulled my phone out of my purse and checked my most recent calls. Crap. There were definitely quite a few…and all seven of them were from Edward.

"Edward, I'm so sorry, I just-"

"Save the excuses," Edward interrupted hotly, quickly yet carefully plopping the distressed baby into my arms, "I don't have time for them. I am now officially late for work, thanks to you."

He spun around and strode hastily towards the back door that led to the garage. I followed after him, all the while trying to soothe Ezzy who continued to cry excessively in my embrace.

"Edward! How late are you?"

"It doesn't matter, Bella," Edward shot over his shoulder, "The Chief could have me fired. Missing work isn't tolerated at the department, and for good reason. Next time, leave your damn phone on when I call you and try answering it, it could be important."

He slammed the back door in my face and I stopped immediately to stare at it, frozen in shock.

Shit. How could I be so stupid? Stupid, stupid, stupid…

I stood there for about ten seconds before I realized that cursing my stupidity wasn't going to help the situation at hand. Letting out a miserable sigh, I headed towards the kitchen.

"All right, Ezzy, let's see what's the matter with you. And hey, while we're at it, why don't we figure out what the hell is the matter with me?"

So much for my bright fucking mood.

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