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.
AN: Surprise! :D For the record, this little outtake might make your teeth hurt. It's pure BB-style sugar, which means there's of course just a tiny bit of angst sprinkled in. It suits the situation though...at least I think so. Hope you all enjoy!
Outtake – "Fearless"
BB Timeline: Post-epilogue.
Suggested Listening: "My Muse" by Sarah Jarosz, "Northern Lights" by Cider Sky, "Two Coins" by City and Colour, "Orange Sky" by Alexi Murdoch, "Lucky Man" by The Verve
Leaning forward, Bella pressed the weight of her body against the porcelain basin of the sink, fingers curling unfailingly around its surface.
Squeezing her eyes shut, flashes of white crackled behind tightly closed lids. Bringing her tongue out, she swept it absentmindedly across her lips, her mouth parched. She could almost hear the exhilarating rush of blood pulsing through her veins, encouraged by a heart pounding relentlessly against her ribs. Her mind was a mess of a million thoughts – happiness, fear, excitement, uncertainty.
The final one pulled the last bit of focused movement from her body, reaching right inside her and pulling the breath from her lungs. The word had no intention of giving it back. Not now.
Maybe not ever.
Her frame completely still, the warm, summer breeze floated through the open bathroom window, but Bella barely registered it as it swept across her blazing skin.
She could feel her eyes burning with an unfamiliar sensation.
She wanted to open them.
She could feel the urge – the demand – boiling just below her surface.
She needed to open them.
But she couldn't do it. She wasn't ready to move...not yet. She didn't want this moment to end quite so soon, because when it did, one of two things would happen.
Everything would be different. Everything would change. The life she'd been living until that point would cease to exist and another one would take its place. A thrilling yet terrifying new life she had no idea how to prepare herself for.
Or everything would stay the same.
Either way, it would be okay.
But deep down, she knew why she couldn't move. She knew why she couldn't shatter the moment.
Because a part of her – one she didn't realize until that moment was the largest part of her – desperately wanted that thrilling, terrifying new life. This love she could feel buried inside her.
The one thing she could feel more than anything else.
Still, she couldn't stop it as one part of her freed itself from the statuesque vigil she was keeping in front of her bathroom sink.
Her lips pulled upward, slowly forming a small shadow of a smile. As that life she wanted unfolded behind closed lids. One that somehow made imperfect sense of the elation, the worry, the excitement, the terror, coursing through her small body.
The smile marked the end of the seconds she had left, and she felt her eyelids open, her surroundings filtering through the blurry haze until she could clearly see her reflection in the smudged mirror. The dim, yellow light from the fixture overhead cast just enough glow on her features to see it clearly.
The smile was still there, and evidence of the slight burn – tears – still lingered in the corners of her eyes, just above pink, flushed cheeks.
Bella watched herself in the mirror, reaching up and brushing shaky fingertips across rosy lips. The light reflected off the silver metal of her modest wedding band as she rocked forward, leaning up on her tiptoes. Swallowing, she blinked, lids heavy, before she let her hand fall back to the sink. Eyes wanted to follow, her stomach fluttered wildly.
Desperately wanting to look, even though she didn't need to.
Because she already knew.
Just as Embry had the night before...
Thick silence settled inside their small apartment. The light attached to the outside of the building filtered through the window beside the bed, bathing it in a warm, golden glow. Two candles on the nightstand accompanied it, providing just enough light for Bella to make out the small words on the pages of her book.
A long, steady arm gripped her frame tighter, her concentration drawn away from the book when a stubble-lined cheek tickled the exposed skin between her camisole and sleep shorts. Warm breath plumed in even puffs across her flesh.
A small smile pulled at her lips as she looked away from her book, watching where Embry's head lay against her stomach, his arm draped lazily across her body. He wasn't moving, and she couldn't see his face, but she could tell by the uneven rise and fall of copper shoulders that he was still awake.
Drawing in a silent breath, Bella released it, hearing the crickets outside the open window before looking back to her book, her right hand instinctively seeking out the ebony hair pressed against her midsection. She continued reading, fingers mindlessly twisting through the strands, nails drawing soothingly against his scalp.
She didn't speak and neither did he, both of them choosing instead to end the day wrapped up in each other's presence, much like they always did.
Moments passed, and when she unwillingly pulled her hand away to turn the page, Embry unexpectedly stirred from his spot at her side. Her gaze was torn from the book as both the silence and their intimate position were broken, the bed creaking beneath them when he swiftly rose up on one elbow. She could see his face now, brows pulled low over his eyes, the skin between them puckering in concentration.
Lowering the book so it rested face-down against her chest, Bella watched him curiously as he cocked his head to one side, a movement no one but her or the pack would recognize or understand.
Something was wrong.
Bella's lips pulled down in a frown when Embry's eyes darted one way and then the other, strategically scanning the room despite the fact he remained motionless. Her fingers splayed further across the covers of the book, and she held her breath instinctively. The intensity in his eyes struck an uneasy nerve inside her. Reaching out with her other hand, fingertips brushed his bicep.
"Hey," she whispered, air still caught in her throat, heart thumping against the strain. "What's wrong?"
An infinite moment of silence passed between them before Bella let her hand fall to the covers. Embry finally moved at the sound, head turning, eyes seeking out her hand before rising to meet her gaze.
He swallowed thickly before he spoke. "I...thought I heard something," he murmured, glancing away before she wanted him to, eyes again focusing on something in front of him.
Focusing on her.
Bella managed to draw in a shallow breath as she watched, his eyes burning holes through her frame, almost like he was seeing something she couldn't. Her hand lifted slightly from the bed, reaching for him again, the same time he lifted his own. Her fingers halted, suspended in the air between them, as he moved his palm, letting it hover for a moment just an inch or two above her stomach. Breath failed her again, watching Embry's fingers curl into a fist before stretching them out once again, hesitating just before closing the gap between his hand and her skin.
Bella couldn't help the shiver her body released, chill bumps exploding across her skin when the heat of his palm reconnected with her flesh.
She blinked, realizing Embry had yet to move the rest of his body. His thumb was the only exception as it swept across her skin, over and over, tracing crescent moons just below her belly button.
"Embry," she whispered his name softly, almost as if she was the intruder. Almost like she was interrupting a private moment she wasn't supposed to be part of.
Embry's other hand moved from his side, and he pressed his index finger to his lips to silence her.
Bella couldn't be persuaded, impatiently propping herself on her elbows, the book falling to the bed beside her. Peering at her husband and hoping for a glimpse of his eyes. "Embry..." she repeated, her tone more insistent.
He still didn't answer, and both words and air caught in her throat when he suddenly leaned down, moving back to the spot he abandoned. Roughly pressing his cheek against her belly, harder than he had before.
Still listening for something...
Something inside her.
Bella's lips parted, her chest heavy, watching what was happening in front of her.
However, she managed to swallow, all moisture in her mouth gone. Her heart suddenly racing as Embry pulled back once more, unable to look at her. His eyes wider than before, unable to tear his gaze from the place he had rested his ear.
"Embry..." There was a plea in her voice now, a desperate request for him to speak. For him to explain. "What do you hear?"
He finally looked at her, liquid eyes filled with a mixture of awe and shock, both soothing and scaring her.
Stealing what little air she had left inside her when his lips finally parted. When he finally answered her question, his voice wavering beneath the realization it carried.
"It sounded like a...heartbeat."
He had known...
She wanted to ask him how, unable to look away after he said the words. As he sat up in their bed, legs curled beneath him, everything else he wanted to say getting lost somewhere.
As she let her fingers drift across her lower abdomen...as his eyes followed her fingers, never releasing their hold...both of them silently wondered. Questioned. Feared. Hoped.
Curled tightly against Embry's side, she barely slept at all that night. In the hours just before the dawn, her mind raced a mile a minute. Thoughts collided with one another as she tried to comprehend the truth of it. If there was actually a tiny life growing inside her, one she and Embry created. Together.
Trying to figure out what they would do if it were true.
They hadn't been trying; she had been on the pill, but the months following the opening of the garage had been predictably hectic. Bella had lost count of the nights she would come home after putting in a nine-hour shift at the library only to head to the garage once she clocked out, spending the rest of her day helping Jacob get his books and files in order. How she and Embry would get home late, forgetting all responsibilities before their heads hit the pillow and exhausted hands reached for each other in the dark.
Now, responsibilities were all she could think of. Where they would live. How they would come up with the money when the garage was just starting to turn a profit.
But mostly, she thought about other things. How Charlie would react. How excited Renee would be. If it would have her mahogany hair. Embry's ebony eyes...
She needed to look...
She still needed to be sure because somehow life had stalled in the hours leading up to that moment. Moving through her day like she always did, Bella could think of nothing else. While Embry's primal instincts and heightened senses could be considered more accurate than any biological test, it didn't matter.
Bella needed to see the proof with her own eyes because she hadn't heard what he did.
There was no time though. A loud, aggressive pounding on the bathroom door caused her to jump before she could seek it out, jarring her from her thoughts and sudden determination. Stealing the last bit of that moment she wanted to hang on to.
"Jesus fucking Christ, Bella." The female voice was muffled but succinct even through the wood door separating the two women. "You didn't manage to somehow drown in your pee cup, did you? Because I wouldn't put it past you, and I swear I am so not giving you mouth-to-mouth if you did..."
Bella didn't mind as much as she thought she would, the smile somehow spreading farther until it reached her cheeks.
Releasing her grip on the sink, she still didn't look. Instead, pushing her body back, she ripped her eyes away from the mirror and trained them on the door. Her legs followed suit, moving across the small, narrow bathroom until she reached the door.
When Bella finally pulled it open, Leah was waiting for her on the other side. One arm was propped lazily against the doorframe, brows arched high above each eye, her gaze trained determinedly on the cuticles of her other hand.
Standing in middle of the Forks drug store, Bella had called her, the obtrusive box clutched between shaky, clammy fingers. Embry had called to tell her he was working late at the garage that night, and Bella simply couldn't wait. Leah was home from Seattle on summer break, and she was Bella's next best option.
Leah had given her a minimal amount of crap, agreeing with a flippant and loaded sigh to meet Bella at the apartment an hour later. Getting one last jab in that had Bella rolling her eyes in the middle of the feminine care aisle.
"I should get an award or a cookie or something for being your pregnancy go-to person, Bella."
Shaking her head slightly, Bella let out a shaky breath, and it was only then Leah looked away from her fingers. Letting her arm fall, her palm connected to one thigh with a loud smack.
Bella was glad Leah was there, but she suddenly found herself wishing wildly for Embry. Wishing he was there instead of her.
Sitting at the table that morning with a mug of coffee clasped solidly between both hands, Bella had watched him near the door. Her eyes studying his movements as he pulled on his work boots, stooping on the woven mat to lace them up.
She knew something wasn't right. The way he was avoiding her gaze. The way he had barely said a word since Bella had awoken from what little sleep she managed to find, noticing Embry wasn't next to her before the haze had a chance to clear from her vision.
How she found him sitting at the kitchen table, staring aimlessly into his own coffee cup.
Like he had the weight of the world on his mind.
He walked over to her before he left, bending at the waist, leaving a sweet, soft kiss on her lips. Saying goodbye the same way he always did. He lingered a little longer that morning, fingertips ghosting across her cheek. Reassuring her that nothing was wrong before straightening and turning to go.
Bella had caught his hand.
"I'll buy a test after work today," she whispered.
Blinking, she didn't miss the flicker of something...something that wasn't him, something she wasn't expecting...flash quickly through those dark eyes. As he nodded, smiling, she pushed down the twisting in her stomach. Likening the distress in them to the same worrisome and runaway thoughts that had kept her awake all night.
"I love you," he finally said before turning and disappearing out the door, his footsteps on the wooden stairs outside fading long before Bella stopped listening for them.
Blinking, Leah's sharp, graceful features reappeared in front of her.
Leah's eyes widened matter-of-factly. "So?"
Bella leaned against the doorframe, her own eyes falling away from the other woman's urgent expression. "I...I haven't looked yet."
Groaning, Leah tipped her face toward the ceiling in exasperation. "Not looking won't make it any less real if you are."
"I...I know..." Bella stammered, crossing her arms tightly in front of her chest. "It's just...this is big, Leah. Really big." She was watching Leah now, who peered back at her, a haze of sympathy and understanding passing through each brown orb. "It'll change...everything."
Releasing a loaded sigh, Leah reached out as she stepped forward. Allowing her hands to curl around Bella's shoulders, peering down at her insistently. "I get it...you're scared, but you know what? When it comes to something like this, I'd be more worried about you if you weren't."
Pulling her bottom lip between her teeth, Bella somehow managed to suck in a deep, cleansing breath, releasing it with a whoosh. Grabbing on to some of that certainty she lost the instant her moment was interrupted. She let the corner of her mouth lift in a tiny smile, Leah's simple words striking something inside her. Making sense.
Perhaps giving her that one last push she needed to do what needed to be done.
To quite possibly change her life. To change Embry's life.
To change their life...together.
Before Bella could speak, Leah rolled her eyes, impatiently pushing back from Bella. "I'll look first...how about that?"
She didn't have a chance to respond before Leah pushed by her, causing Bella's stomach to jump into her throat. Fingers trembling, she swallowed thickly before turning around so fast she nearly stumbled, eyes following the other woman as she walked into the tiny bathroom, reaching the sink.
Her heart pounded as Leah's eyes landed without hesitation on the little white stick sitting on the basin.
Throbbing mercilessly in her ears the moment fingers curled around it, lifting it from its resting place.
Breath evaporating from her lungs the second Leah turned to look at her, expression stony and unreadable.
"Congratulations," she deadpanned, and Bella didn't miss the smile pulling at the corner of Leah's lips when she held the little white stick out in front of her. "You're having a puppy."
The air around Embry reeked of stale smoke and cheap alcohol, burning his nostrils each time he took a breath.
Letting out a ragged sigh, he swiftly brought the short glass to his lips. Tipping it back to take a drink, its contents burned in an entirely different way. Placing it back on the counter in front of him, Embry looked around, ignoring the smoldering flames in his gut. There were maybe two other people in the bar besides him – a ramshackle place nestled just on the edge of the marina – and he couldn't help but wonder why the hell he had went there in the first place.
But he did know why...
A faint fluttering working its way through the darkness of he and Bella's apartment. Rapid, almost like the noise a butterfly's wings made as they pushed against the air around them. Muffled. How he thought he was going crazy the moment he realized where it was coming from. How the noise became more distinct...more noticeable...the closer he bent toward Bella's body.
It didn't make any sense, and he had no idea what to make of it at first. He was used to being able to hear things others couldn't...it came with the territory, and he was good at drowning out the noises he didn't want.
But not this.
Because this was something entirely different. As all the pieces came together – as he eliminated what else it could be, the realization of what exactly he was hearing falling perfectly into place – it was almost as if he could feel the entire world shift beneath his feet.
Knocking him right on his ass.
Unbeknownst to Bella, he was awake most of the night too, the sound he heard with his ear resting against his wife's stomach echoing loudly in every corner of his mind. Reminding him of what this meant.
He was going to be a father.
The word was exhilarating. Exciting. Perfect. It stole the breath from his lungs whenever he repeated it silently to himself, knowing the immeasurable love he and Bella shared was no longer something that simply bound the two of them together. That it had reached farther, creating a new life that was growing inside the small body that slept curled into his side every night.
One for which he would be responsible. For the rest of his life...
Eventually he fell asleep and what little sleep he found was plagued with dreams...with memories. With moments from his life. With his mother, struggling to fill the role of an absent parent. Of the father Embry never had.
And Embry saw Billy.
He saw his face in the midst of it all, silent and unspeaking.
How he never showed Embry the kind of love he should have.
How Embry never knew he was there, even though he was right in front of him.
How because of that, he could never showed Embry what it took to be a father in the ways that truly mattered.
When Embry awoke – a thin sheen of cold sweat covering his body, Bella's body unusually warm against his – the word suddenly elicited a new feeling in him.
Fear of what was to come. Fear of the unknown.
Fear of failing Bella.
Fear of failing their child, the same way his father failed him.
And fuck if he didn't already love this tiny thing...this life he made...more than he ever thought possible. The memory of its faint heartbeat weaving around his own, capturing it. Refusing to let go in the best possible way. Rendering him helpless.
Its innocence only heightening the fear. Paralyzing him. Making it impossible to face the truth just yet.
Leading him to the place he was now.
"You know it looks kinda bad for you to be sitting here drinking alone..."
With a start, Embry was back in the bar. He recognized the voice before he could see its owner, tightening his grip on the glass in front of him before throwing a glance over his shoulder. Behind him, Jacob stood a couple feet away, a knowing smile on his face and his hands shoved lazily into the pockets of greasy jeans.
Releasing a heavy sigh, Embry turned back toward the bar, bringing the glass to his lips. "It's been that kind of day, man..."
"That bad?" Jake asked, the stool next to Embry suddenly disappearing as Jake pulled it out from its place against the bar, sliding into it with a tired exhale. "I thought you seemed a little...distracted today."
Embry shrugged, staring at the amber liquid in his glass. Suddenly feeling stupid for being there. For giving others the impression that something was actually wrong when it couldn't be further from the truth.
"It's not bad, it's just..." His voice drifted off as Jacob leaned his forearms against the counter, silently signaling to the bartender. Embry's mouth was still open, but the words wouldn't form as Jake cleared his throat next to him.
"You wanna talk about it?"
Squeezing his eyes shut, Embry wrestled with Jake's question for a minute. Debating on whether he should say something so soon. Whether Jake should be the first person to officially hear the news from his mouth.
But Embry quickly reminded himself how long it had been. How far they had come in two and a half years.
How, in that time, the man sitting next to him had truly become a better version of the person Embry grew up with. A leader. A friend. His brother...in every way that mattered.
Opening his eyes, the words left Embry's mouth without difficulty.
A small, nearly extinct part of Embry expected a reaction from Jacob...any reaction at all...but it never came. Instead, the other man reached out, hand grasping the beer bottle the bartender had placed in front of him. Feeling Jake shift slightly in his seat, it prompted Embry to peer at him out of the corner of his eye.
The grin on Jacob's face elicited a similar one from Embry.
"Congrats, man," Jake murmured, a genuine happiness seeping through his tone as he brought the bottle to his lips, taking a swig of its contents.
Releasing a nervous laugh, Embry shook his head in wonder as Jacob clapped him on the back. "Thanks," he replied quietly, running his finger through the condensation on his glass.
Jake turned back toward the bar, letting go of the bottle and leaning against the wooden surface. "I didn't know you two were trying."
Raising his eyebrows, Embry released a puff of air from his lungs. "We weren't..." he admitted, running one distracted hand through his hair.
Turning the beer bottle between his thumb and fingers, Jacob peered at him tentatively. "This is good news though...right?"
"Of course it is," Embry blurted, the words louder than he meant to speak them, returning Jacob's stare. Projecting his sincerity with more than what he said. "It's just..."
What he was trying to say died on his tongue, mouth suddenly dry. Unsure of how he should say it. Unsure of how he could explain it to Jacob, the one who - through no fault of his own - had the father Embry never did. How Jacob was the one who, for most of his life, had never questioned his own choices. The one who never let insecurities get the better of him.
Jacob brought the bottle to his lips once more, interrupting Embry's thoughts when he set it down softly on the bar. "You can talk to me, man," he urged, a part of him knowing there was plenty to say. That it was resting just beneath the surface of Embry's quiet exterior.
Licking his lips, Embry tried like hell to push the fear down. To tame it just long enough to put a voice to what was eating away at him on the inside.
"I just..." Pressing his lips together, collecting his thoughts, he drew in a deep breath through his nostrils. Trying to tame the subtle trembling just beneath his skin.
"I'm scared shitless, man..."
Next to him, Jacob's face screwed up in bewilderment. "Em..."
"I mean, don't get me wrong...I'm happy about it," Embry interrupted, pushing the glass away from him before he gripped it any tighter. "I love Bella...so fucking much, and the fact that this happened is just...incredible and perfect, but..."
"You're still scared," Jake finished quietly, taking a silent sip of his beer.
Closing his eyes, Embry nodded. "A baby..." he whispered. "I'm gonna be a father, Jake."
This time, he ventured a glance at the man sitting next to him. Stomach wrenching, he noticed Jake already watching him, a vigilant expression on his face. Still, there was understanding in his eyes. Already seeing beneath the surface of Embry's fear, figuring out its root. Jacob knew him...no matter what they had been through, Jake had seen inside his soul, making it easy for him to see where the fear stemmed from.
Knowing it wasn't completely unfounded.
Jacob's shoulders lifted and fell with a heavy breath, forehead creasing beneath his sincerity. "You can do this, Em..."
With a distraught groan, Embry roughly rubbed his face with his palms. Realizing his hands were shaking the moment he touched his skin. Balling his fingers into a fist, Embry pressed it hard against his lips. "I...I don't know if I can," he questioned shakily. "This is so much more than just me, man...than just Bella. And I have no fucking idea what to do." Letting his hand fall back to the counter, he shook his head in dismay.
Jacob chuckled next to him, trying to ease the tension. To ease the conflict inside his brother. "I don't think anybody does when this happens to them the first time..."
Embry's breath caught in his throat, pushing the words out anyway. "It's not just that. It's the fact that I have no idea how to be a father..."
He could almost hear Jacob swallow just before his lips parted. "You have what you need, Em."
Trying to rub the tension from his forehead with his thumb and forefinger, Embry shook his head when the bartender approached him for another drink. "I'm not so sure. I've never had it, Jake...a father. I get why...I do, and it's...okay now, but even though some things in my life didn't turn out like they could have, I don't want this to be one of them." He looked at Jake again, his brother's eyes steady. Sure. "I can't fuck this up..."
A ripple of something passed across Jacob's expression. A confidence that Embry was trying like hell to find. One that, in that moment, seemed hopelessly out of reach.
He hated himself for it.
Leaving him wondering how something so small – something that had barely been given life – could already bring him to his knees.
Taking a deep breath, Embry had to ask anyway. "What if I do?"
"You won't," Jake insisted. "At least not more than any normal person, and whether you like it or not, I'm gonna tell you how I know..."
Turning his face slightly, Embry watched Jacob as he inhaled, leaning forward beneath the weight of his persistence. "You'll do okay...you'll be fine. You'll do better than fine, and I know you will because you already have the most important part down, Em...you're here. You've always been here..." He paused, eyebrows lifting. "For Bella. For me. For the pack. You know how important family is, and you've never given up. You've never lost sight of that, no matter how hard things got."
The words permeated the small space between the two men. Working their way slowly inside Embry, spreading through his veins at an agonizingly slow pace. Forcing him to listen.
"Just be there, man," he heard Jacob murmur. "That's all you gotta do. The rest will come."
Each word igniting memories...moments from Embry's life...that caused Jacob to speak with such certainty...
Embry saw his mother's face. How even after he found out the truth about his father, he'd went home, knowing that no matter what secrets she kept from him, he could never walk away from the one person who had always been there. No matter what.
He saw Jacob. He saw the pack. How one simple gesture could turn the tables on a feud none of them wanted. How one movement of Embry's hand, placed forgivingly on Jacob's shoulder, had ignited a small flame in the others. How it ultimately helped them forgive Jacob for what he'd done as well.
He saw Bella.
A small smile spread slowly across Embry's lips.
Reminding him of the road they both had traveled – separately, ultimately turning into a single path. Why there was no reason to doubt himself, because no matter what happened – no matter how many times he might stumble – Bella would always be next to him. To pick him up. To be there.
Loving him the same way he loved her. Imperfectly. Unconditionally.
And they were in this together...just like they always were.
Jacob's laugh brought Embry from his thoughts. He turned his head to look at the other man, his expression filled with a gratitude he hoped Jake could see.
"And don't forget about Bella, man," Jake pressed on, taking another swig of beer. "She's spent her entire life taking care of people...you know that. She'll have this down, no trouble. And with the two of you together, that kid's gonna be pretty damn lucky."
Letting his smile widen, allowing a heady buzz of certainty – one that had always been there – to overtake him, Embry nodded. "I know," he admitted easily, releasing a sigh before reaching for his own glass. Before emptying its contents in one final gulp.
Slamming it down on the bar, another laugh escaped his throat. "I'm kind of an asshole, aren't I?"
Grinning, Jacob shook his head, staring at some unknown spot on the other side of the bar. "Nah...you're just human."
Sucking in a deep breath, Embry pushed his stool back, rising to his feet. Reaching into his pocket with a steady hand, he produced a wad of bills, discarding them on the bar before turning to Jake. "Thanks, man. Seriously..."
Jake shrugged, his eyes flitting toward Embry before diverting once again, the smile still on his mouth. "You're my brother, Em. I've got your back...always will."
Clapping Jake on the shoulder, expressing his thanks once again without words, Embry let his gaze fall to the floor. His feet moved, carrying him away from the bar. Toward the door.
Away from his fears. Letting everything inside him lead him to the only place he belonged.
To where he needed to be.
Toward everything he knew would give him the strength to face what lay ahead.
Not just Bella.
But he had one place he needed to go first.
Bella lay propped against the headboard of her and Embry's large bed, trying to concentrate on the book resting against her bare knees. A cool breeze ruffled the curtains, and Bella pulled her lightweight cotton robe tighter around her frame.
Toes bouncing aimlessly against the mattress, Bella's senses and body were on high alert. All night, a potent mixture of emotions had assaulted her insides. Anxiety. Anticipation. Excitement. It was hard to tell where one ended and another began, battling inside her until she thought she just might jump in her car and drive frantically around all of La Push in search of what she needed.
She needed Embry to walk through that door.
Pacing their one-room apartment for the better part of an hour, she thought about calling the garage but decided not to. Almost dialing her mother just so she could talk to someone, but deciding against that too. Eventually, she threw her phone on top of the kitchen cabinets, knowing there was only one person tall enough to reach where it landed.
Getting rid of the temptation, but doing little to calm the frenetic energy twisting her stomach in knots.
Because even though he had known, no one else would be allowed to. Not until she could tell Embry herself.
That he was right.
But a little part of her couldn't refute the subtle gnawing in her gut. The one that brought back his troubled eyes. His lingering goodbye. His reserved expression when he left the house that morning. It bothered her, and she hated it.
A small part of her wondering if there was a chance Embry hadn't wanted this.
That he wasn't happy.
But she pushed it down, telling herself that she was making things up. That she was being crazy. That she was letting the hormones get the better of her.
Pushing her toes harder into the mattress to keep them still, a part of her still couldn't believe it. No amount of home tests or peeing on a stick or pretty pink plus signs could make it feel real.
But it was.
In several months, they would have a child...
She would be a mother.
And Embry would be a father.
Leaning her head back, Bella smiled softly as she allowed her eyes to close. Taking her time as she drew in a deep, soothing breath. Feeling her body relax, causing the jumble of thoughts occupying her mind to recede to some distant corner.
Allowing her just a moment to take it all in.
A moment to herself...
But her moment was happily cut short when she heard a familiar creak from the other side of the room, an old wooden door protesting against the hinges holding it in place. As her eyes opened, body frozen, she listened to scuffling from the other side of the small wall blocking the door from her view. To the sound of work boots hitting the floor with a welcome thud.
Her heart fluttered the same way it always did, a burning gratitude inexplicably building in her throat when Embry finally walked around the corner. Offering her that small, reverent smile that was only meant for her.
Slowly closing the book on her lap, Bella's eyes followed him as he silently padded across the room, peeling off his soiled t-shirt once he reached the foot of the bed, muscles stretching and rippling beneath his lithe movement.
"You're late," she murmured, biting her lip to keep the smile on her own mouth from widening.
Nodding, Embry peered at her knowingly as he discarded his jeans, reaching for the black cotton sleep pants draped over the foot of their bed. "I know," he replied quietly, pulling the bottoms up to where they rested just below the cut of his hips.
"Where've you been?" Bella asked curiously, stretching her legs out against the soft comforter beneath her.
"Stopped by the bar for a drink after work," Embry answered, still watching her as he walked around the side of the bed. Giving Bella a chance to look into those endless eyes...to search for any of the things she saw that morning. To see if somewhere they were still plaguing him.
She saw nothing but the love in them she'd come to expect, causing her to lose her breath for one endless moment.
Making her think that maybe she had imagined it.
Embry bent at the waist and she tipped her head to meet him, inadvertently letting the smile free when he pushed his fingers through the hair just above her ear, pressing his warm lips against hers. Softly. Quickly. Greeting her the same way he left that morning.
"By yourself?" she wondered, eyebrows furrowing in curiosity, tasting his breath on hers when he pulled away.
"Jake was there, too," Embry replied, taking a step back from the bed, a half-smile still playing on his lips as he finally turned his back to her, walking toward the kitchen. Back the way he came.
Releasing a silent sigh, Bella could feel it stirring within...what she had wanted to tell him all night. The words resting impatiently on the back of her tongue as she let herself slide down the pillows, her head pressing against them as she watched Embry disappear around the corner.
She couldn't wait any longer. To simply say it. To find out how he felt.
To start this journey with him.
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes. She pushed the words out...loudly...to make sure he would hear them even though she knew he would.
"So I took the test..."
Opening her eyes, she saw Embry walking back toward the bed, a smaller version of the same smile resting on his mouth. Her lips parted as she watched him, eyes raking down his frame until it landed on the small shopping bag in his right hand.
Embry, on the other hand, pretended like she hadn't noticed, sinking to the edge of the bed with a knowing sigh. Turning his body toward hers as she bent her knees, scooting up just slightly on the bed. Still watching him.
One eyebrow lifted, almost like he was teasing her.
A part of her wanted to be mad at him...for suddenly being so okay with it. For seeming so collected. So calm, even though she was ready to burst at the seams.
Despite the fact she was about to speak four words that would irrevocably alter their world.
"We're having a baby..."
Embry pulled his bottom lip beneath the top, eyes lowering to the comforter beneath them both. His shoulders jerked with a deep breath, and Bella's heart pounded, slamming against her ribs, the words hanging between them before he finally looked up. Meeting her eyes once again.
"I know," he whispered, one corner of his mouth lifting slightly. His features relaxed. Absent of any tangible worry.
Licking her lips, Bella searched those eyes for nothing in particular. "It's real now..."
"It was real before, Bella...at least for me," he murmured gently, holding her eyes for another moment before looking away. Remembering the bag he was still holding between his legs. "And that's why I stopped and got you something before I came home..."
"Really?" Bella wondered aloud, propping herself up on her elbows, trying to see what Embry was doing as he nodded, reaching inside the bag and looking at her only before he pulled its contents out for her to see.
Bella couldn't help the subtle, surprised gasp she drew between parted lips.
In between Embry's fingers, he held a small, stuffed wolf, covered completely with matted gray fur.
"This was mine..." he said, forcing Bella's attention away from the small stuffed animal. "I kinda had to tear apart my mom's closet looking for it, and she's probably going to kill me...but I think she'll make an exception this time."
"Embry..." Bella whispered in elated disbelief, reaching out to run her index finger across the wolf's furry, disheveled snout. Letting it peer back at her through black button eyes.
All worries...all fears...she felt throughout the day suddenly disappearing. Erasing their existence from her mind.
"I had this thing for years...and I guess I forgot about it," he continued, allowing Bella's dazed fingers to take the worn toy from his hands as she fell back against the pillow. Meeting her eyes when she looked at him for more, "Until now."
"Did...did Billy give it to you?" Bella stammered, looking between the sewn-on eyes of the little gray wolf and those of her husband.
"No," Embry admitted, shaking his head softly. Releasing a sigh as he turned his body, pulling his legs on top of the mattress and lying on his side. Facing Bella. "My mom did," he continued, his elbow pushing into the bed as he rested his head on the heel of his hand. "But a part of me likes to think that she had an idea...that maybe he told her about the legends, even though he wasn't supposed to. Or at least told her the tribe's history. That maybe she got it for me thinking it would keep him close...somehow."
Reaching out, Embry let one finger trail over the muzzle of the small stuffed animal. Bella watched it as he let his hand travel down its back, across her fingers, before coming to a rest on her stomach.
"I guess I never realized how much that little thing would mean when I was kid...what it would stand for...but I needed to find it," he pressed on, letting his fingers drift lazily across the flesh peeking out below the hem of her camisole.
Taking a deep breath, Bella forced herself to look away from the stuffed animal. To find Embry's eyes, which were already watching her.
"So you're...okay...with this?" she asked quietly, eyes widening slightly with concern.
Nodding, it was Embry's turn to take a deep breath. "Of course I am," he whispered. "And I'm sorry, Bella...about this morning." Moving his fingers, he ran each one along the flesh just above her wrist. Causing hers to hold tighter to the small stuffed animal. "I freaked out a little bit..."
Bella's gaze followed him, like steel to magnet. Holding her breath, she silently urged him to continue as he peered down at her frame.
"I wasn't sure I could do this," he continued, his voice still low. Sincere. "I wasn't sure I had what it took to be a father...because I never had that."
Bella released the air in her throat, heart sinking into her stomach, knowing a part of her should have seen it. That she should have understood long before he spoke the words.
"Embry..." she whispered, one hand releasing the toy as his gaze was pulled toward her voice. Pushing the hair back from his eyes, she let her fingers hesitate there, tracing the outline of his face.
Silently doing what she could to make him believe that every ounce of faith she possessed rested solely in him.
"I know," he interrupted, quickly capturing her exploring hand in his, turning his face and pressing his lips against her palm. Holding on to it as he lowered it to the bed. "And I know why I felt that way...but it doesn't matter. Because I have everything I've been through...everything I wanted and didn't have that taught me what it'll take to do this...because it showed me what a dad is supposed to do."
The corners of his lips curled in a small smile as he watched Bella, fingers tightening around her hand.
"And I have you."
Releasing a heavy, grateful breath, Bella held tighter to his fingers. The smile on his face squeezing her heart at the same time. "You'll always have me, Embry...that's how I know we can do this."
"I know..." Embry breathed, swallowing thickly. "And we'll probably screw up...a lot...but it'll be okay," he continued, "because I'm here and so are you. I'll always be here. And even when I can't, this little guy will be." He lifted his hand, taking hers with him, settling both just in front of the stuffed animal resting on Bella's midsection.
"That way you'll both know that I'll never stop trying...because you're the most important thing in my life, Bella. Both of you...you and our baby."
His voice...the sincere vow in it...caused a delirious warmth to blossom in the depths of Bella's stomach, crawling slowly through her veins. Creating a moisture in her eyes she couldn't explain. Urging forward a smile she couldn't contain, the feel of the small stuffed wolf soft against her palm.
She thought she had experienced every form of pleasure possible when it came to Embry and what they had been through together. From the simple moments of a smile and lingering eyes from the other side of a room, to the indescribable passion she felt under cover of darkness, held captive at the mercy of his hands.
When it came to every facet of their life together.
Mouth parting, she watched him close his eyes, frame bending. His face lowering toward her body. Below where the small stuffed animal rested, an unexpected token of his promise to both her and their unborn child.
His breath blooming across the exposed flesh of her stomach...
The instant she felt warm lips press against the skin just below her belly button, sealing that promise, she lost any air she had in her lungs.
Because in that moment, she knew she was wrong.
The feeling inside her in that moment...a consuming, intoxicating, soul-changing elation she felt...was something all its own. Somehow managing to surpass everything else without overshadowing it.
Evaporating any last trace of fear she carried inside her.
Proving that the life she loved so much could still come up with ways astound her.
To remind her how truly blessed she was.
Daddy Embry feels. UGGGGH.
What did you guys think? As always, I've missed you all...and this story. These fluffy moments...I just can't pass them up. ;)