Little Pieces of My Heart
Cake ready and decorated? Check.
Candies sorted and in their proper place? Check.
New red bra with matching red lace panties on? Check.
House empty and all to ourselves? Check.
Even Charlie seemed to have been cooperating with me today. He'd left yesterday for another weekend fishing trip. His frequent weekend lake excursions were getting fishy – pun intended. I had a sneaking suspicion he was really sneaking around with Sue Clearwater, but I was so thrilled about it, that I played along. I just hoped he wasn't really dragging her out for weekend fishing trips.
Charlie wasn't exactly the Mac-daddy with women. If this was the case, I'd have to sit him down and sell him on the merits of bed and breakfasts, candlelit dinners, and flowers. Hopefully, Sue wasn't being wooed by my father, with a fishing pole in her hand, and then being asked to gut fish.
But that wasn't my problem right now. Charlie and Sue were on their own.
It had been just over one whole year. A year of my best friend putting up with my mopey, depressed moods. A year of allowing him to cheer me up and make my life worth living again, while at the same time keeping him at arm's length.
One year ago today, armed with candy hearts, he had asked me to be his Valentine and committed himself to lifelong servitude. I'd accepted half-heartedly, making a joke of it. Making sure he knew his place; loyally by my side, supporting me. Keeping his hands to himself.
It wasn't until this last holiday season that I really understood just how far I'd come this last year. I couldn't even remember the Christmas or New Years, after he left. Had Charlie and I celebrated? Had there been a tree? Even more amazingly – had I decorated it? Because I didn't have a single memory of placing one ornament on a tree, let alone of a tree itself. The thought was kind of scary now. Or should I say the lack of any memory of it was frightening.
And that's why this year was a celebration. My melancholy had been hard and long, but with help from Jacob, the cold, empty pain in my chest had thawed, melting the sorrow and loss away, and filling it with things I hadn't felt since I was a little girl.
Hope and delight.
And I wanted to thank him for bringing these things back to me. I'd forgotten how life could be with those two things. So this was my way of thanking him and letting him know that I not only remembered his efforts last Valentine's Day, but I appreciated them.
With the knock at the door, I straightened my red sweetheart top. I opened my hand and made sure the words on the candy were still legible and hadn't sweat off in my clammy hand.
My grin spread when I answered the door. Not only was he wearing the white thermal shirt I'd bought him for Christmas, with the top 4 buttons undone, that I knew would look amazing on him, but he'd also remembered what today was.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Bells." He ducked his head and kept his eyes averted to the floor, just like he had last year, when he'd handed me the candy hearts.
My plan had been to not speak, and I was holding myself to that. It would be too easy for me to say something stupid and ruin everything, or for Jake and I to get diverted and my plan to go off-course. That happened a lot as well.
I smiled as wide as my face would allow and took the flowers. Then I crooked my finger and gestured for him to come in. The bouquet was full of all my favorite colors. I wasn't very familiar with the names of flowers, but there was lots of soft pink and deep lavender with white baby's breath. They were so pretty, and I was sure they were wildflowers from Sue's yard, that she tended.
I held up my hand for him to wait right there. I didn't want to just toss the flowers aside, so I walked as quickly as I carefully could in my red stilettos, without killing myself. I quickly pulled down a vase, which was amazingly easier to grab with an extra 4 inches on my shoes. I filled it with water and put the flowers in there, and made my way back to Jacob.
He was looking at me curiously. I'm sure he not only was wondering why I hadn't said a word, but my clothes were not my usual style either. He looked like he was going to say something, so instead I took his hand and turned it palm up, placing the little purple heart in his giant tanned hand.
"Hug Me?" he read.
Now it was my turn to duck my head and blush. But then I raised my eyes and looked at him expectantly.
I shrugged at him. His chuckle turned into a full-fledged Jacob smile just before he pulled me in and gave me his trademark bear hug, with twirls. My favorite kind. The kind that made me giddy and breathless. But I could tell, Jacob liked them too.
I clung to his neck, deeply satisfied with just this. I could stay right here all day, in his crushing warmth and be a happy girl.
But I had more planned.
I gently disentangled myself from his arms, and taking his hand, I led him up the stairs to my room.
"Where are we going?"
I didn't answer him, just smiled gently over my shoulder and flicked my head in a 'keep following me' way.
"Are we playing a game?"
I pulled him into my room and nodded my head, before shutting the door behind him.
Now he was smiling so big it looked like someone had stuck a hanger in his mouth. I knew he'd like this game.
"You know I'm gonna win, right?" he told me. "I always win at games."
I giggled. I desperately wanted to tell him it wasn't that kind of game. We would all be winners here. But I kept quiet.
I walked over to the MP3 on my desk, that I'd bought myself for Christmas, when I realized sometime after Thanksgiving that I missed music.
'I'm Sexy and I Know It' filled the room. I heard Jacob's approving chuckle as I marched back over to him and handed him another candy.
"You want me to dance? To this?"
"Are you going to dance with me?"
I shook my head and sat down on the end of my bed to watch.
Jacob stood there for a minute, with a panicked look on his face. I think dancing made him almost as uncomfortable as it did me, but I also knew he was a better sport than I was.
He covered his face with his hand, and then the music must have moved him. He shook his rear end fervently and belted out with the music, "I'm sexy and I know it!"
And that was it. I had to admit it, even though I was laughing way too hard, Jacob was pretty good once he let himself go. He sang and shook his butt, and lifted his shirt for emphasis on certain lines. He flexed his biceps every time he sang, "I work out, I work out!"
But the coup de grace was Jacob doing his 'wiggle dance' move. I thanked the lord he had pants on, cos the way he shook his hips, I'm sure things were wiggling underneath there.
I was practically in hysterics and holding my stomach by the time the song was over. I let him and my stomach muscles off the hook, and turned the song off before it was completely over. Even though he seemed to be enjoying himself, he looked relieved when the music stopped.
"Okay, I've made a fool of myself. Happy?"
I nodded, leaning my head on his chest, his warm scent surrounding me.
"Can you talk?" he asked me, tilting my head back, with his finger under my chin.
I shook my head.
"Okay," he said, amused. "Now what?"
I handed him another candy.
I left this one up for interpretation. I thought it would be an interesting prelude to the next one. My choices were pretty limited, with the small amount of sayings that made any actual sense on these dumb hearts.
Jacob's face went through a strange metamorphosis when he read Bite Me. First, his brows knit in confusion, then his jaw set and hardened, and finally his face fell in a sad expression.
I lifted his chin now, with my finger, and caught his eyes. I smiled tentatively.
"Bite you? You want me to, like… bite you?"
I shrugged and held my arms out wide, trying to convey I was up for whatever he wanted to make of it.
His eyebrows knit together again in confusion, and then his mouth began to stretch into a grin, matching my own. I hadn't realized the connotations when I'd chosen that particular heart. I felt really bad, as I instantly realized where his mind went with it. Surprisingly, mine had not.
He placed his hands on my waist and held me out at arm's length from him, studying me. I guess he was deciding, not only where he could bite me, but where I would ALLOW him to bite me. His gaze went to my neck, then he held out my arm, contemplating on playing it totally safe and nipping me there. His eyes skimmed the rest of my body rather quickly, as he assumed anything below the shoulders would probably be nixed, and get him slapped. That's not to say his gaze didn't linger on the fullness above my sweetheart cut neckline.
"Okay," he pulled me in hesitantly, not really trusting that I was going to let him get away with this. He set me back again slightly, catching my eyes. "Okay?"
I nodded, reassuringly.
He pulled me back in slowly, his face lowering toward my throat. He moved his head from side to side, maneuvering my hair out of the way with his nose. The tickling sensation set off goose bumps down both my arms and my spine, and I trembled slightly. I felt his breath, hot and moist against my neck, and it felt like an eternity before his mouth finally pressed against the sensitive skin, and his teeth lightly gripped the flesh.
This had been a throwaway heart; I hadn't expected anything but a giggle from either of us on this one. So I was shocked at the way my pulse raced and my body shivered when the combined heat from Jacob's breath and his mouth made my insides melt like heated candle wax.
I swallowed hard, and felt Jacob's heart thumping under my hand on his chest, as it ended all too quickly. He stepped back, waiting for my reaction and my next command.
I saw him lick his lips, and I briefly wondered what I tasted like, to him.
He cleared his throat. "Wh-what now?"
Oh boy. This was a big one. But I was still overwhelmed by the impact of the last one. Wow.
I took a deep breath and handed him the next one, watching his face closely.
He drew in a quick breath, and then choked on his own gasp. I thought maybe I should break one of the rules of my game and stop being mute for a second, and ask if he was alright. But then it was my turn to gasp, as he pulled me in quickly and pressed his lips to mine.
He was probably afraid if he thought too long, I would change my mind and take it back. So he grabbed the opportunity and ME while it was being offered.
His lips were soft, but his hands belied the gentleness of his kiss. They gripped my waist, bowing my back, as he pressed me tightly to him. I held onto his biceps, gripping the strong muscles under my fingers.
His kisses were gentle and chaste, coaxing as many from my lips as he could get, before he felt the proper amount of time had passed, and he should come up for air and gauge my reaction.
I had a fallback candy at the ready. I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy kissing Jacob, so if that proved to be the case, I had a backup candy to prolong this part of the game.
If the kiss had been a bust, I would have spoken, thus ending the game, and brought him downstairs to have a piece of the red-velvet heart cake I had baked this morning. And it would have been homework time.
But I had my next game piece at the ready.
As Jacob stared at me expectantly, I fished for the little white heart that I'd purposely placed in with the others.
I held it out and Jacob's glazed eyes read it carefully.
I was getting full-fledged Jacob smiles left and right! Happy day!
"Again?" His eyebrows raised all the way up to his hairline.
I nodded my head and puckered my lips cheekily.
His last reserve faded in that moment. This was the kiss I'm sure he'd wanted to plant on me during the last one. Our lips moved together, not used to being so intimately acquainted after all this time. Then I felt his mouth take the lead, parting mine, his tongue tasting mine in a sweeping brush.
The damn broke, and the real kissing commenced. Kissing like I'd never done before.
Not hard, cold and close-mouthed kisses. No. The opposite. Fire compared to ice. Icebergs to lava flows. Apples to oranges. Cod liver oil to hot fudge sundaes.
Kisses like in the movies, where faces mash together, and hands wander everywhere, where fists grip hair, breathing gets tight, and toes curl. The kind of kissing that would get Jacob shot, and then tossed out the window by Charlie, if he caught us.
I had had this boy right in front of my nose for over a year, and never contemplated kissing him? Well, that was a lie. I had been thinking about kissing Jake a lot. But it was only in the last 6 months or so, once the lines I had elaborately drawn, had been enforced, and I'd solidly and forcefully placed him in the friend zone. Gah!
Who knew that crappy little heart candies could change the course of a friendship?
Somehow or other, Jacob ended up sitting on the edge of my bed, with me sprawled across his lap. The dresser mirror was right in my line of sight when I opened my eyes. My hair was tousled and messy, my lips swollen and a darker shade of pink than normal, and the mascara I had painstakingly applied before Jake's arrival, was smudged all underneath my eyes. Of course, the fact that said eyes were glazed and kept crossing slightly didn't help either.
I guess Jacob was ready to progress to the next step of the game.
"What next?" he panted.
I leaned down and picked up the candies that had fallen from my hand onto the floor. Then I blushed and pushed myself from his lap onto my bed. I lay back and pulled my shirt up over my stomach slightly. Jacob's eyes were round as I hunted through the few remaining hearts and found the right one. I held it out between my fingers for him to read, but didn't hand it to him.
I didn't think his eyes could possibly get any bigger, but they did.
"E-eat me?" he stuttered.
I licked my swollen lips and placed the candy on top of my belly button. We shared one long, meaningful stare before Jacob slowly bent over me, his face heading toward my torso. I had to shut my eyes as the visual conjured up all kinds of naughty connotations.
I gasped and giggled for the hundredth time that day, as his lips swept over my bare skin. I thought he would immediately take the candy and eat it and it would be on to the next one.
But he didn't.
He kissed first one side of my navel and then the other, then above it, then below it. He pulled my shirt up to just under my bra and began to gingerly plant soft little kisses all across my abdomen. My giggles quickly subsided into little whimpers, as the sensation overwhelmed me.
I jumped as his tongue circled my navel, jostling the little candy around, but not eating it just yet. Then, without removing the heart, he licked it with his tongue, tasting it, while tasting me.
"Jake," I moaned softly.
I'd never been drunk before, but this last New Year's, at a party at Emily and Sam's house, I'd had a glass of champagne just before midnight. I'd drank it quickly and it went straight to my head, making me deliciously warm and light-headed.
That was exactly what I felt like now. Dizzy and a little unsteady.
I felt Jacob's mouth remove the candy from my belly button, before planting one last soft kiss.
"Oh god, Bella, now what? Now what?" He was breathing heavily, lying alongside me.
This one took a little work; I had to sort them and lay them out for this one. Which wasn't easy in the state I was in. I was too light-headed to even sit up, so I laid the candy out across my stomach, one by one, upside down, so he could read them.
The last heart I'd had to doctor up beforehand. It actually said I Do, but I'd licked the word 'I' and scraped it off with my teeth, so just the 'Do' was still visible.
I dared to cast my eyes upward and catch his. He gulped and looked a little nervous. Or was it just excitement?
"I-I don't know, Bella. What should I ask you? I mean… " he tapered off, confused.
I blinked and smiled hesitantly, yet I hoped, encouragingly at him. I never expected that Jacob would be at a loss to come up with something.
"Can I ask you to, I don't know, let me do something?"
His hand was still on my stomach from when he'd eaten the candy heart from that area. Now he slid it cautiously upwards, his fingers ever so lightly grazing their way toward where my shirt was still hiked up, just beneath my bra.
"Can I see what you're wearing underneath your shirt?" he whispered shyly.
He wanted to see my bra? I thought he would ask to touch my breasts, but it figured his request would be in that general vicinity. Even if he was only asking to look and not touch.
I pulled my shirt off over my head, and lay back down flat on the bed.
"Red?" he grinned. "Sweet."
There was nothing but the sound of the rain outside, hitting the roof as the minutes ticked by. I lay quietly, as Jacob admired. Thunder cracked and we both jumped and giggled. But neither of us moved or said a word.
Jacob was lying next to me on his side, and after a few minutes, I reached over and took his hand. I studied it for a moment, holding it against my own, admiring his deep skin tone alongside my own pale coloring. His thick, strong fingers next to my long, thin ones; his wide calloused palm beside my narrow, delicate one.
I placed it against me, just under my ribs, then catching his eyes; I pushed it slowly, but purposefully up and over my ribcage, till his palm was resting on the fullness of my breast.
"You're going to bite your lower lip off, Bella," he murmured. I was taking mini short breaths just before his fingers began caressing me over the satiny material of my bra. He gently squeezed and palmed my breast.
"Bells," he whispered, just before he pulled me closer, onto my side, against him. He kissed my neck and I felt him push the bra strap over my shoulder as his mouth trailed kisses over the spot where the material had just been.
His hand moved to my back and expertly flicked the clasp on the back apart successfully, and removed the whole thing over my arms and off.
His face was hot against my skin and his hair tickled my chest, as he licked and sucked at my breasts. There was a sweet ache in my belly; a wanting and a satisfaction, both at the same time.
I tugged at the bottom of his shirt and he slipped it off in one motion. His warmth came down on top of me and I was lost in sensation and sounds.
The rain now pounding against my windowpane.
Our breathing, rough and heavy.
The soft whisper as a sigh would escape from one of us.
The wet sound of our lips against each other's skin and mouths.
My own urgent need was silent and quiet, but loud in its insistence, as opposed to his obvious, not-to-be-ignored erection, daring us not to notice it.
When I couldn't stand it anymore, I opened my hand and gave him one more candy heart; the last remaining playing piece of our game.
And he did. Carefully, gently and with an unhurried rush that only the most patient of men, who have been waiting forever, can manage.
When it was over, we lay entwined together; sweaty, panting, hearts pounding. Smiles huge, with no regrets.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Bells."
I crinkled my nose and smiled.
"Still not talking?"
I shook my head.
"Is the game over? Or is there more?" He pushed up onto his elbows eagerly, ready for more.
I shook my head again.
"Come on Bells, talk to me."
I just grinned. I was enjoying the non-speaking part of the game, for some reason.
Jacob looked out the window. "I wonder if this is what Charlie and Sue are doing right now?"
"Ew! Jacob!" I yelled.
"I knew that would make you talk!" He laughed.
"No, it's not. Parents need love, too," he teased.
"Want a piece of the Valentine's Day red velvet cake I made for you?"
"I get cake too? Wow. I guess it pays to be the best, best friend a girl can have."
"Only when your best friend is me," I smiled.
"You're like a friend… with benefits," he laughed.
"Haha. Now are you hungry? Do you want a piece of cake? Or do you want to keep making jokes?"
"I'm starved. All these tough games make you hungry."
"Breathing makes you hungry," I snorted.
He started picking our clothes up off the floor and putting his back on. I reached for my robe on the back of my door and slipped it on. He followed me out of the room.
"That was the best Valentine's Day ever. Why didn't we play that last year?"
"Cos you were too stupid to figure it out when you gave me the box of hearts last year. Don't blame me."
He followed me into the kitchen, another big Jacob smile on his face. I cut him a piece of cake and handed it to him.
"I told you I'd win," he smirked.
I brushed a smear of frosting off the side of his lip.
I leaned in and gave him a kiss. He tasted like cream cheese frosting.
"I'd say we both won, Jake."