Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Bella and Jacob are together but an unforeseen tragedy rips them apart. In Jacob's absence, Bella befriends and is comforted by the person she least expects. Will Jacob return? Can Bella imagine her life with someone she never considered a choice? Bella/Jacob, eventual Bella/Embry. Rated MA for yummy, tasteful lemons.
AN: This story is set some time after New Moon and ignores Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. In other words, Bella doesn't jump and Edward never comes back. Bella's relationship with Jacob progressed as it should have. I know you've all read a million of these stories but stick with me — this story is a journey and there are a few different twists I hope you enjoy.
If you're wondering where the title of this story came from, I'd encourage you to listen to "Bluebird" by Christina Perri — I've drawn a lot of inspiration from the lyrics.
Also, a huge thank you goes out to my lovely and awesome beta, ImaginaryHeart. She's the best cheerleader, even if she doesn't realize it. :)
Suggested Listening: "Bluebird" by Christina Perri, "Howlin' For You" by The Black Keys, "Destiny" by Zero 7
As I climbed out of my rusty old truck, I couldn't help but tip my head back and close my eyes, letting the unusual abundance of sunshine spill over my face. It felt unreal, but I let it warm me to the very core.
Days like today were few and far between in the Olympic Peninsula. Rain, clouds and perpetual dreary weather in Forks and La Push were more predictable then the changing of the tides. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time there were so few clouds in the sky. A few peeks of sunshine here and there generally were all we got in these parts. The abundant sunlight made me nostalgic. It used to make me miss Phoenix terribly, where I used to live, but now, it simply meant more. My appreciation for those rare moments allowing my pale skin to soak up every ounce of vitamin D it could mirrored my appreciation toward the life I was now living.
Namely, my appreciation for this little red house I stood before and the family who called it home.
I tore my face away from the warm light and opened my eyes. The comfort and feeling of peace that washed over me every time I saw this house still amazed me. I smiled at nothing in particular as I shoved my hands in the pockets of my jacket and trotted toward the front porch.
Today was going to be an amazing day.
I let myself in to the modest home shared by Billy Black and the reason behind many of my amazing days – his son, Jacob. I was there to cook them both breakfast, just as I did every Saturday morning. Between the two of them, they could barely cook an egg and my dad, Charlie, usually didn't put up much of a fight when it came to sacrificing his own weekend breakfast – so long as he had his turn Sunday morning. I smiled to myself. The men in my life were definitely spoiled.
"Bella, is that you?"
The exuberant smile remained on my face as I shut the door behind me and Billy came wheeling down the hall in his chair. His aged, wise features danced when he saw me. "Hey, Billy." I shrugged out of my jacket and tossed it on the coat rack hook before walking toward the kitchen, leaning down and giving Billy a peck on the cheek on my way by. "So what'll it be this morning?" I asked, opening the fridge out of curiosity. "Pancakes? Omelets?"
"Bells, honey, if he says anything about you making some kind of nasty egg bake thing with everything but the kitchen sink in it, you just politely tell him where to put it, k?"
I grinned and peered over the refrigerator door as Jacob came into view, pushing his father the rest of the way down the hall and settling him into his spot at the head of the kitchen table. I also felt a familiar warmth creep through my body as I watched Jacob approach me. Naturally, he may have only been 17 but the maturity of his features said otherwise. I couldn't help but ogle his beautiful russet skin, dark eyes and the well-defined muscles that peeked out from the sleeves of his black t-shirt.
But it wasn't just his appearance. His presence twisted my stomach into dozens of pleasant knots, which quickly became overshadowed by a calming sense of peace and contentment. I only had to look at Jacob to know this was right where I belonged. He was my better half, my sun, my soul mate.
I blinked a few times, recovering from my trance as Jacob slid his arms around my waist and pressed his lips to mine, welcoming me with several soft, warm kisses. I smiled against his lips as they moved against mine. He then nipped playfully at my bottom lip, causing me to plant a hand on his chest and gently push him away. I could feel my cheeks blush a deep crimson at his disregard concerning public displays of affection occurring in the same room as his father.
I cast a mortified glance at Billy. He hadn't even noticed as he was thumbing through an old newspaper he found on the table. Jacob chuckled, knowing exactly why I pushed him away. "Love you too, honey," he mumbled playfully, reaching up and stroking my cheek before walking past me to the sink where he proceeded to fill up a glass of water for himself.
I shook my head and bit my lip, turning back to the fridge. "How about pancakes? Those are super easy to make and I can make a lot of them quickly."
"Perfect," Jake exclaimed, sitting the empty glass on the counter as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "Anything you make will be perfect, Bells, but I'll be honest – my stomach's about to digest itself here, so you better get on it."
As he grinned at me, I rolled my eyes. "You're such a drama queen, Jacob Black."
"Did I hear someone say pancakes?"
I barely heard the front door open – so hard it slammed against the wall – as Quil Ateara, one of Jacob's best friends, sauntered in, a goofy grin on his face and one eyebrow cocked expectantly at the thought of scoring a free breakfast. "Embry, did you hear someone say pancakes?"
Trailing through the door behind Quil was Embry Call, Jacob's other best friend. His trademark crooked smile splayed shyly across his lips as he carefully shut the door behind him. When he saw me eyeing him and Quil from my post in front of the fridge, he winked in my direction. "Oh, yeah. I definitely heard something about pancakes."
I chuckled as I watched Jacob's two friends. The two were very different, despite a few similarities. While both had Native American features comparable to Jake's – dark eyes, dark hair and flawless russet skin – Quil was short and brawny. His hair was cut short yet still maintained a certain amount of curl, which made him appear younger than his friends. Embry was thin and tall. His hair wasn't as short as Quil's and hung haphazardly over his forehead and ears. Unlike Quil's pronounced and bulky muscles, Embry's were long and lean in congruence to his features.
"Well, then I guess we're right on time!" Quil exclaimed, trotting into the kitchen and slapping Jake, who had turned to get another glass of water, on the back on his way to a kitchen chair.
I pulled the milk out of the fridge and shut the door as Embry followed his friend to the kitchen. His offered me a shy yet friendly smile. "Hey, Bells," he murmured as he squeezed past me in the small kitchen.
"Hey, Em," I replied, awarding him with a friendly smile in return.
Billy looked up from his newspaper as Embry plopped into the seat next to Quil. "So what brings you boys by so early?" he asked, his eyes flicking toward Jake, who was leaning against the sink, a second glass of water still resting in his hands.
"We're making a trip to the junkyard for parts after breakfast," Jacob replied nonchalantly.
"Yeah, since Sam gave us the day off, we figured we'd use the time to catch up work on the Ranger," Embry added, reaching for the remnants of the newspaper on the table. He thumbed through the black and white newsprint until he found the sports section.
Saturdays off for Embry, Jacob and Quil were few and far between. In the past year, I'd definitely adjusted to the schedule that accompanied having a boyfriend who morphed into a supernatural animal to serve as protector of the Quileute tribe. Whether I liked it or not, I really had no choice in the matter.
When I first found out about the secret shared by Jake and his best friends – a secret also possessed by four additional people currently not crammed into the Blacks' kitchen – I took the news of their shape-shifting tendencies rather well. After dating a vampire and being abandoned by him and his immortal family, nothing surprised me – not even the fact my boyfriend and his friends all morphed into gigantic, furry wolves capable of tearing a vampire limb from limb.
But the three of them having a chunk of free time to spend on two legs together did surprise me. Sam, the pack's Alpha, often had them patrolling at different times and at all hours of the night, so the three of them having an entire weekend day off - or even a few hours during the day – at the same time was a genuine rarity.
"That should be fun for you guys!" I exclaimed, moving toward the cupboard above the stove where I knew I would locate the flour and other ingredients needed to whip up pancakes.
"Yeah," Jacob agreed, a hint of feigned exasperation in his voice. I felt him sneak up behind me as his arms encircled my waist and nose nuzzled my hair. "Since someone has to be the responsible adult and work today, I guess I don't have much of a choice other than to spend my day off with these two clowns."
I grinned as Quil and Embry let out cries of mock indignation behind us. "Hey, I resemble that statement!" Quil quipped, earning him a laugh from Embry and Jake and an amused smile from Billy.
"Well, at least that makes one of us who is responsible," I teased, turning in his arms and allowing him to plant a kiss on my forehead. He took it a step further, though, and leaned down, capturing my lips in an urgent kiss. "Jake!" I hissed, feeling my cheeks blush red for the second time that morning.
"Ewww! Get a room, you two. Seriously!"
"Shut the hell up, Quil. What are you, like, five?" Jacob retorted, his eyes not leaving mine and the grin remaining on his face. "You know how hard it is to keep my hands to myself when it comes to you," he whispered, cupping my cheek in his hand and leaving a swift peck on the tip of my nose.
"What? I'm just saying," Quil exclaimed, still stuck on Jake's reprimand. "Not that you really need one anyway, since I'm pretty sure Bella's never gonna give it up to you…"
My cheeks caught fire as Jacob swung around and in two steps had Quil in a headlock. Sure, we'd been dating a little over a year now but we hadn't yet reached that level in our relationship. It wasn't as if I had moral objections to it, I just didn't see the need in rushing into it. Lack of privacy didn't help either, I thought, eyeing Billy and Jacob's friends. Regardless, Jake respected it and he respected me, but it didn't make him immune to his fair share of ribbing from his pack mates.
"What? What was that, Quil? I can't hear you! You wanna try saying that again?" His grip around Quil's neck didn't lessen, but there was a huge grin on Jacob's face as he clamped down on his struggling friend.
"I said…" Quil choked out, grasping frantically at Jake's arm to free his airway. "…not like you need one…" He began to flail, which only resulted in Quil tumbling from his chair, the weight of him knocking Jake off balance as he went down. Embry didn't help the situation much as he merely pushed Quil out of the way, not even looking up from his box scores as the pair fell in a heap in the middle of the kitchen floor.
"I can't hear you, Ateara!" Jake goaded, wrapping his legs tightly around Quil's waist and leaning back in what I was sure was some wrestling move they'd been using on each other since they were kids. Jacob's grip around Quil's neck tightened and Quil let out a gurgled cry.
"Boys…" Billy's warning tone was clear, although he barely looked up from his paper. "If you kick a hole in one of my cupboards, both your butts will be cutting and hauling firewood for a week."
Groaning, Jake released his hold on Quil and roughly pushed him away before jumping to his feet. Quil was chuckling obnoxiously as he brushed off his shirt, happily accepting Embry's outstretched hand to help him off the floor. "I almost had you, Black," he sneered.
Jake snickered as he leaned against the countertop. "Whatever, dude. You're such a pansy," he muttered goodnaturedly as he shoved Quil back toward his chair.
Quil straightened out his t-shirt and brushed it off. "Yeah, well, at least I still have my balls…"
I shook my head as round two commenced.
"Jesus, Bella, those were good pancakes."
I smiled to myself as Quil leaned back in his chair, stretching one arm over his head and rubbing his stomach with the other hand. I eyed the empty serving plate in the middle of the table, which moments earlier had been stacked high with pancakes – twice. With two humans and three supernatural appetites at the table, it didn't surprise me one bit that there wasn't a single pancake to survive the onslaught.
"Agreed," Embry murmured, guzzling the last bit of his orange juice. "You've outdone yourself again, Bella."
"Thanks, guys," I said, stabbing a bite of my own breakfast with my fork and swirling it around the leftover maple syrup on my plate. Across the table, Billy was still working on his own stack as he reached for the sugar-free syrup to add more to the remnants on his plate. "If you're still around when I get back from work tonight, you just might get treated to supper, too."
"Don't tell them that," Jake moaned, pushing his chair back and standing up to take his plate to the sink. "These two will eat us out of house and home if you let them."
"Jake," Billy admonished. "Embry, Quil, you know you're both welcome over here whenever you please. I rather enjoy having a full house once in awhile, even if you boys do try to destroy everything in it."
I smiled at the twinkle in Billy's eye as he watched Jake, Embry and Quil. I knew there was a part of Billy that disliked the amount of time he spent at home alone. Jake's mother, Sarah, died when Jake was young and his twin sisters, Rachel and Rebecca, were now living their lives away from La Push and only made it back for the occasional visit. At this juncture in his life, Jake's friends and I were the closest thing Billy could get to having a family back under his roof. There were times I'd find myself at the little red house even when Jake wasn't due back from patrol for several hours. I'd make dinner for Billy and invite Charlie and the three of us would enjoy a good meal, laughs and hours of conversation.
But Quil and Embry had been around a lot longer than me. The stories they shared with one another were enough to fill several books. Over the years throughout Embry and Jake's friendship, Billy was almost like a surrogate father to Embry, who spent his entire life being raised by only his mother, who moved to La Push from the Makah Reservation years ago just before Embry was born.
I never questioned Embry's role in the wolf pack until Jake explained it to me one day, why Embry's first phase came as quite a surprise to the Quileute elders and other members of the pack. Since his mother wasn't a member of the tribe and always told Embry his father was someone she dated very briefly back on the Makah Reservation, her explanation quickly became null and void when Embry phased. The gene could only be passed on through direct descendants of the Quileute tribe, which meant Embry's father had to be Quileute. The worst part, Jake told me, was the gene remained in only a few bloodlines. This meant there were only three men who could be Embry's father – Sam's father, Quil's father or Billy.
It made sense when Jake told me and referred to it as "the worst part." All three men were married when Embry was born. This fact alone kept a lid on ever finding out the truth regarding Embry's paternity. No one speculated – at least not out loud – and no one asked questions, and that included Embry. No one wanted to be the cause of such upheaval within the tribe.
A larger part of me thought there was no way Billy would ever do such a thing to his family. But then there were moments – moments like now as we all sat around the breakfast table, as his twinkling eyes rested a little too long on Embry – a part of me couldn't help but wonder.
"Thanks, Billy." Quil's voice, dripping with sarcasm directed at Jake, brought me back to the present. "At least someone here as enough sense to make sure I'm well fed."
Jake chuckled as he took my empty plate from in front of me to put in the sink. His eyes shone when I smiled up at him in gratitude. "Well, now that you're chubby ass is well-fed," he said to Quil as he turned away, "can we get this show on the road? It's like an hour's drive to the junkyard."
"No kidding," Embry said quietly, jumping to his feet. "The sooner we can get this truck running, the sooner I can quit hoofing it everywhere when I'm on two legs." He, too, took his plate to the sink and turned around, looking at Quil expectantly.
"Fine," Quil groaned, pushing back his chair and following suit.
"Great!" Jake exclaimed, clapping his hands and rubbing them together. "Let me go grab my keys and I'll meet you two outside." As he jogged past me, he stooped down and landed a quick kiss on the top of my head before disappearing down the hall.
I stood as Quil and Embry shuffled out of the kitchen toward the front door. I shot a quick smile at Billy. "I'll be back to get these dishes washed before I leave," I assured him.
"No hurry, Bella," he said, holding up his hand and shaking his head gently.
I followed Embry and Quil outside to the front porch. Jake was cursing something down the hall as I walked by, and I could hear the sound of things being thrown as he searched for his keys. I chuckled to myself as I walked outside into the warm early June air to find Embry and Quil walking toward Jacob's Volkswagen Rabbit, which was parked out by the garage.
"Whatever, man! I totally called it!"
"What? No, you didn't!"
"I did! You didn't hear me when we come out of the house?"
"No, I didn't. Everyone around has to hear you call it, therefore it doesn't count. So, naturally, by the rules of calling shotgun, I get shotgun, not you."
"You are so full of crap, Call! You totally heard me call it!"
"Give it a rest, Quil. You lost it, fair and square."
"BOTH you girlies give it a rest!" I jumped as Jake's booming voice exploded from directly behind me. "Or you'll BOTH be riding in the backseat!" I felt his arms snake around my waist, pulling my back flush with his stomach. "Ugh," he breathed softly in my ear, causing me to shiver. "Please tell me I don't have to spend the entire day with these two idiots."
"You do," I replied matter-of-factly, reaching behind me and stroking his neck. "And they're not idiots. You love them. Just yesterday, you were going on and on about this trip. You literally would not shut up about it, so don't pretend like you're not excited."
Jake sighed. "Yeah, yeah. Sometimes it bugs me how well you know me, Bells." With that, he spun me around in his arms and I wrapped mine around his neck. "Sure you don't want to come? I can always call Newton's and pretend to be Charlie. A good, old-fashioned day of playing hooky never hurt anyone."
I laughed. "Thanks, Jake, but you know I can't."
"You're seriously no fun."
"Guilty as charged," I replied, my grin spreading farther across my face. I knew what he was doing, and it wasn't going to work. "Go. Have fun with the guys. I'll be back here as soon as I get off work tonight."
"You better," Jake murmured, bringing his fingers up to stroke my cheek. I let out a long exhale and closed my eyes, relaxing into his hand. A moment later, I felt Jake's hot breath on my lips and he leaned down to kiss me goodbye. For a moment, now that we didn't have an audience, the sunshine, Embry and Quil's bickering, and everything else surrounding us slipped away as I was immersed in Jacob's earthy smell and tender presence. It was me who closed the gap between us, pressing my lips to his and pulling him tighter to me. His lips moved familiarly against mine, as if we had been kissing each other our entire lives, and it wasn't long before I found myself intoxicated by the feeling spreading throughout my body. I deepened the kiss, allowing him to run his tongue along my bottom lip before permitting it access to intertwine with mine.
A throat clearing behind us obliterated the moment as quickly as it began.
As Jake's lips fell motionless against mine, I groaned into his mouth. A deep, throaty chuckle escaped him as he realized this time, I was more annoyed by the interruption than he was. Opening my eyes, I threw a glance over my shoulder to see Quil standing at the bottom of the porch steps, hands in his pockets and a stupidly pleased look on his face.
"Your timing is impeccable, Quil, as always," I grumbled, turning back toward Jacob.
"Yeah, so we need to get a move on," he said slyly, rocking back on his heels and staring at some invisible spot toward the side of the house. "There's only so many hours in the day, you know."
I sighed heavily as Jake whispered in my ear and hitched his thumbs in the belt loops of my jeans. "I gotta go, Bells."
I turned back to face him. "You gotta go," I repeated, one corner of my mouth turning up in a slight smile.
Grinning again, Jake kissed my forehead before taking a couple steps back and turning the upper half of his body away from me. "See you later, Dad!" He called into the house. "We'll be back this afternoon!" He faced me again, stooped for a quick peck on my lips and hurried past me down the steps.
"Drive careful!" I called, turning to face the yard as Jake and Quil walked toward the car where Embry stood waiting with his arms leaning on top of it, absentmindedly drumming his fingers on the roof.
"I will!" Jake called back, turning to face me while he continued walking backwards. "Love you, Bells!"
I smiled softly at his retreating figure. "Love you, too."
Once all three were in the car and Jake started the engine, I turned and went back into the house. I found Billy still sitting in the exact spot we'd left him, now perusing the very last page of the newspaper. I smiled as I took his syrupy plate from in front of him and placed it in the sink. I located the drain stopper and plugged the sink, flipping on the hot water to begin filling it for dishes.
"Charlie stopping by later?"
I looked over my shoulder and smiled at Billy. "I think so. You two had plans to do some fishing this afternoon, didn't you?"
"We talked about it, I just wasn't sure he was still planning to," Billy replied.
"Well, when I left this morning, his rods were propped up against the door, so I think it's safe to assume he's still planning to." When Billy nodded in acknowledgement, I reached for the dish soap and squirted a pinch into the water.
"Thank you again for breakfast, Bella."
"You're welcome. It was no trouble," I replied, glancing behind me again.
Billy put his paper down and looked at me keenly. "I know, but I just want you to know that I appreciate it. Honestly, I'm not sure what Jake and I would do without you here to take care of us."
I felt my lips crack into another smile. "I'm sure you two would get by just fine. You did before I moved back here."
"While that may be true, it's also beside the point," Billy reacted softly. "What I'm trying to say, Bella, is I am thankful you're a part of Jacob's life. I'm thankful you are a part of this family."
I felt the unfamiliar warmth of tears burn the corner of my eyes as I stared at Billy, who was looking at me with what could only be described as a look a man would give his daughter. A pleasant knot formed in my stomach as I stared at the father of the most important part of my life.
"Thank you, Billy. That means a lot to me," I squeaked out, reaching up to catch a rogue tear with the back of my hand. "I'm really thankful you and Jake are in my life, too." With the exultant smile still on my face, I turned back to my chore.
In that moment, in all my gratitude and happiness, there was no way I could have known. There was no way I could have predicted that in only a few short hours, everything in that life – the life I had come to so dearly love – would change so completely.