Pop the Question Contest Entry

Title: Hamburger Helper

Word Count: 3071

Pairing: Jacob/ Bella

Rating: T

Summary: Jacob reminisces about how he and Bella came to be. He gets ready to propose, but is in a quandary. How should he go about it? He proceeds with a plan that totally backfires. Will Bella still say yes?

Warnings: N/A

Disclaimer: S. Meyer owns Twilight

Hamburger Helper

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

I had the money tucked away safely in my jeans pocket, and happily whistled all the way up to the front entrance. Entering the shop, I walked straight to my destination. The clerk behind the counter nodded, aware of the reason for my visit. I pulled the bills from my pocket and gave them to him. He smiled at me knowingly as he placed them in the cash register. I nearly exploded with joy as he handed me the little black velvet box in exchange. My grin was so wide it could have filled the entire room with sunshine. That miniature container housed the hopes and dreams of a future with the love of my life—the only girl I ever had or ever would love—Bella Swan.

People around me probably wondered what I was up to, 'cuz I couldn't evict the happy glow that had taken up residence on my face. It parked itself there, until I reached La Push. That's when I realized I still had to propose. Oh hell.

I took the ring home, and entering my bedroom, deposited the precious little band in the top drawer of my dresser. It would stay there undisturbed until I could come up with a plan—and the courage—to ask my girl an important question. That question would change our lives, and hopefully, bind them together.

. . .

Jeez, I'd been a nervous wreck all week long. It wasn't every day you got to propose to the girl you were in love with for most of your life. I felt like the luckiest man alive—alive as opposed to that walking dead man, Edward.

He left Bella alone in the woods one day, and thankfully for me, never returned. When I said alone, I meant he left her standing in the forest and took off to who knows where. She was physically unharmed, but sometimes it was the heart and mind that was nearly irreparable. It took me weeks to even get a genuine smile out of her pitiful face.

When she came to me on that cold wintry day in February, I almost didn't recognize her. Even so, I was glad to see Bella despite her appearance. I pulled her into my arms, hoisting her in the air and spinning with her in a circle. She'd always had a small frame, but I could tell just by lifting her that her weight had dropped substantially. The shine from her hair was all but gone. Her complexion had this grey cast to it. But the worst feature was her eyes. The light in them had been snuffed out; they were now lifeless and dull, like the unseeing eyes on a corpse.

She had brought along these two mangled heaps of metal that had once been motor bikes in another life. It would take an inordinate amount of time to piece together those motorcycles. But, in all honesty, the repairs on her shattered heart would take even longer. I didn't mind. As long as she needed me, I would be there, coaxing her to join the world of the living once more.

We sat together day after day in my dilapidated garage, while I worked on those bikes. I pulled out every trick I knew to breathe some life into her as well; all the while, falling head over heels for that tiny brunette.

We were already best friends, but bit by bit, our friendship became so much more. As expected, the changes were small at first. Bella didn't shy away anymore when I held her hand, then slowly she would begin to reach out for mine. The luster returned to her eyes; in fact they would brighten a little more each time we met.

The day she could look into my eyes without straying from them was the day that Bella was on her way to recovery. It was the turning point for both of us. It no longer mattered whether or not the bikes got fixed. What mattered was, we were together. Her once broken heart was on the mend.

One day, true to her character, Bella tripped over some wiring on the garage floor. I lunged, catching her before she landed on the ground. As I held her in my arms, the earth seemingly shifted on its axis. The pupils of her dark chocolate eyes dilated, becoming wider, more beautiful than I had ever seen them. Her pink lips parted, an unspoken invitation emanating from them. Damn, I was a goner. I was scared that she would draw away from me, but not this time.

I stood her upright, locking my eyes with hers. To my surprise—and yeah, my absolute joy—she clasped her arms around my neck. I could barely believe it. Leaning in slowly, I closed my eyes and ever so gently, pressed my lips to hers.

She responded willingly, and my fears evaporated as I heard her murmur my name.

"Jake… my Jacob."

Her tears started and she clung to me tightly. I smoothed her hair and kissing the side of her head, whispered," I love you, Bells."

All those months of waiting were finally over. Bella was ready to return my love.

Somehow though, I always knew I would lead her on the natural path her life would follow. Our love was meant to be—Jake and Bells together forever.

. . .

I could never entirely explain to anyone what it was about Bella that made me love her so. She had this childlike vulnerability about her, and a shyness that made me want to wrap my arms around her and protect her from harm. Selfless and caring, loyal and true—Bella was all of those things.

Her physical appearance was by no means perfect—she had a mouth with two lips that didn't quite match up. Her bottom lip was a lot fuller than the top, and that imperfection just about drove me wild. That enticing little mouth of hers begged to be kissed, and I did my darnedest to comply. Bella had a bad habit of biting on that lip whenever she got anxious or was busy thinking. Sometimes I worried she would gnaw it off completely. Poor little lip—I'd have to kiss it and make it all better.

And her hair—it was long waves of soft, cascading mahogany. I loved feathering my fingers through it. The strands would glow in red and gold tones when it was streaked with sunlight. It billowed in the wind, the threads caressing her creamy complexion; the scent of her strawberry infused tresses riding on the current, intoxicating me with their fragrance.

If eyes were truly the windows to one's soul, then hers were open gates inviting me to paradise. They were deep, melted pools of swirling chocolate with little hints of green circling the round orbs. One small gaze from those eyes, and I was done for. I would do, and be anything for her.

The best way to summarize my feelings for her was—believe it or not—to compare her to the feeling I got when I lovingly finished rebuilding my Rabbit. Now, being a mechanic, I enjoyed building cars and motorbikes from scratch. When the day came that one of them passed the road test, it was like I had created a thing of beauty. When Bella finally came back to life with my help, she was more than a thing of beauty. She was beauty personified.

I couldn't take all the credit for who she was though. Excuse the automotive comparison once more, but her chassis was in good condition, I just got her motor running at peak performance again. She needed a major tune up in the worst way.

But to get back to the subject at hand—like I said, I was going to pop the question tonight. I made the final installment on the ring last Thursday, and it was now comfortably tucked away in the top drawer of my dresser. Every time I ventured into my room, I would open that drawer, lift the lid on the black velvet box and stare at it. This particular day, I had the drawer open as usual, dreaming about placing this ring on her finger. I was so absorbed in watching the little solitaire glinting up at me that I failed to notice the tall figure behind my shoulder. I flinched as I heard him clearing his throat.

The box nearly flew out of my hand at the sudden sound. I quickly closed the lid and slammed the drawer shut. Turning around, I faced my best friend and pack member.

"Damn, Jake, getting a little jumpy there. What are you hiding—drugs, stolen goods, naughty magazines?" Embry's eyebrows wiggled. "Hey, I wanna see those magazines. Hand 'em over."

"It's none of the above, nosey," I answered. Why did everyone have to know my business? Was there was no such thing as privacy in La Push? This was a private affair—between Bella and me.

"You'll find out soon enough. You comin' to the barbeque tonight?"

"Damn, what a stupid question. You know I'll smell it in the air. And where there's food, I follow. What's the occasion, anyway?"

I sat on my bed drawing attention away from the dresser and Bella's engagement ring. Picking a loose thread off my cutoffs, I lifted my head, looked him straight in the eye and lied through my teeth.

"No reason. We just thought it'd be nice to get together during spring break."

"Oh c'mon, man, I know you're lyin', but I guess I'll let it slide this time. Anyhow, why should I care? Free food is free food, right? By the way, I came here to pick up a can of WD40. The hinges on our storage shed are gettin' all stiff and squeaky again. Ya got some?"

"It's out in the Taj, on the shelf next to my box of Allen wrenches. Help, yourself; I gotta shave and shower to get ready for tonight."

. . .

I laid out my clothes on the bed, being careful to choose the ones Bella liked the best. That dark red plaid shirt and her favorite jeans seemed to say, "You are gonna look like one hot dog tonight". Hell, there was even a pair of socks completing the set. How could she resist me with socks on?

Next, I scrubbed myself 'til I was polished to perfection, making sure I got every last trace of axle grease out from under my fingernails. I almost laughed out loud thinking about Edward. I'll bet he never got a bit of dirt under his manicured nails—let alone axle grease.

Sudsing up my hair, I whistled Here Comes the Bride, and repeated each verse as the channeled spray of water rinsed the soap down the drain.

I was expecting an extra helping of toe curling lovin' this evening, so I took my time to shave off every single freakin' hair sprouted on my face. Admittedly, there wasn't that much fuzz, but still… As a finishing touch, I slapped on some Drakkar Noir. Bella always commented on how she liked my natural scent—earth, ocean and forest she had once told me. But this was a special occasion, and I wasn't taking any chances.

Okay, so I was all cleaned up and anxious to get the charcoal started. Sue came over to help us set up the food, nothing too elaborate, you understand—just hot dogs, hamburgers—the usual La Push werewolf menu.

I was actively thinking about how to give Bella the ring. I didn't want to sound sappy, or too cliché. I was a smart aleck, so I came up with a nontraditional plan. I would bury the ring in between the leaves of lettuce on her hamburger—I couldn't very well get mustard or ketchup on it, now could I? How was that for original?

The pack all showed up, along with their girls, and Charlie arrived with my sweetheart beside him in the cruiser. God, just the sight of her got my heart racing. She was the cutest thing ever. I wanted to pounce on her, but she beat me to the punch.

Before I could take a step toward her, Bella jumped out of the cruiser, excited to see me. She sailed right into my arms, where she belonged. I took her quickly to the other side of the house for some privacy, and assaulted that sweet little mouth with my impatiently waiting lips. Jeez, I couldn't get enough of that mouth of hers. Holding her close to my body, I felt whole and alive. It was as if a piece of me went missing whenever she left. I looked forward to the day when I didn't have to wait around for her to come back to me.

Some of the guys were getting suspicious about our absence. I heard Quil remark, "Hey, where's our host? And what's he up to, as if I didn't know? Bella's here—anybody check his bedroom?"

Always a chore to pull apart, we finally walked toward the barbeque area. No sense making Charlie worry, or waste a bullet for that matter.

I had Bella sit down on a log by the fire pit. She wanted to assemble our hamburgers, but I motioned for her to stay seated. "Hey, this is my party. I'll get the food. You just sit there and relax."

I put everything on our plates, and with my back to her, slipped the ring out of my pocket and onto her hamburger. When I returned to her, she gazed up at me with those big chocolate eyes and I nearly dropped the food on the ground. The light from the fire set her face aglow. What an angel! How did I get so lucky?

I handed her the paper plate and waited, barely breathing as she took her first bite. I watched as she chewed and swallowed another couple of mouthfuls.

Bella stopped mid-bite. She narrowed her eyes and glared at me with suspicion.

"Why are you looking at me like that? And, for Pete's sake, sit down, will you? You're making me nervous."

Making her nervous? Jeez, Bells… you're just so beautiful. I can't take my eyes off of you." Well, it was the truth anyway.

She smiled, and blushing, averted her eyes. Then she took another bite.

Her smile quickly vanished, being replaced by an expression of horror. All at once, she stood, jumping up and down, yelling, "Oh—oh my gosh! Ahhh, ahhh, ahh!" Uh-oh, there was blood dripping from that sweet full lip.

She placed a finger in her mouth and swept it around the inside, pulling out the engagement ring, along with a broken piece of a back molar.

She stared at me, wide-eyed. I lowered mine in shame. What could I say? Jeez, I'm such an idiot. Sorry I broke your tooth . . . will you marry me? I handed her a napkin to stop the bleeding; she handed the ring back to me. Then, she waved to her dad to get his attention. He made his way over to us, and whisked her away to an emergency dental appointment. So much for my great plan.

Oh hell, there I was—I still had the ring—it was not on her finger. What in the freakin' world was I thinking? The answer was clear—I wasn't. Not. At. All!

My pack buddies weren't very sympathetic to my plight. They were howling with laughter. Paul said it best: "Gives a whole new meaning to hamburger helper, huh?"

"Quil added, "Cheer up, Jake, it could have been worse."

"Yeah, "Embry interrupted, "She could have swallowed it."

. . .

Later that evening I drove out to her house. Charlie greeted me at the door. "Good goin', Son." He clapped me on the back, smiled and said, "She's up in her room. You can finish proposing to her. I don't know if she'll have you now, though. Just kidding; she loves you, and a broken tooth won't stand in the way of your happiness. By the way…" he gave me an evil grin. "… Did you get all the mustard off the ring?"

I went up to her room; she was sitting cross-legged on her bed. She actually smiled at me as I walked in. I sat down beside her.

Looking down at my feet, I muttered, "So, I guess I kinda surprised you tonight, huh?"

"That's not exactly the words I would choose."

"I'm so sorry, Bells. I just wanted to propose to you, but I didn't want it to sound worn out and cheesy. Instead, I made a fool out of myself and hurt you in the process."

Bella snaked her arms around my neck and kissed my cheek. "I still love you, fool that you are. Did you bring the ring with you?"

"Yeah, it's in my pocket," I answered sheepishly.

She pulled away from me, and cocked an eyebrow. "Well what are you waiting for? Get on that knee, boy!"

I held her hand as I got down on one knee. Looking into her beautiful brown eyes, I said the words, "Bella, I've loved you all my life. I know I don't deserve you, being an idiot and all. But I'm an idiot that's totally in love with you. Can you find it in your heart to be with me—to be my wife? Say you'll marry me... please?"

She let out a breath and replied, "I never could say no to you. So, yes!"

My heart was beating wildly as I lifted her in my arms, crushing her to my chest.

"Jake, Jake," she cried. "Put me down."

"What?"

"Haven't you forgotten something?"

Jeez, how could I forget? Of course—the ring. I took it out of my pocket and slipped it on her finger, kissing her hand. At that moment I made her a promise.

"I'm gonna love you forever, Isabella Swan. I promise from now on though, I will never, ever, add secret ingredients to any of our food."

And that was a promise I kept up until that time when… But that was a whole other story—and really, it wasn't my fault. It was an accident. Just ask, Quil, he would tell ya.

The End