Suggested Listening: Daughtry - Crawling Back To You; Ben Howard - Gracious; James Morrison - If You Don't Wanna Love Me; Daughtry - It's Not Over
Bella plopped a tea bag in and out of Emily's royal blue coffee cup. The up and down motions were performed robotically with little attention to the sloshes of hot water splattering against the rustic wood countertop. Swaying trees and prickly rain enchanted Bella from the window above the sink, preoccupying her mind from the pending divorce.
She still could not fathom how she and Jacob reached this point. It wasn't supposed to be in the cards for them, but somehow divorce became the only option to serenity. Yet, the tranquility she so desperately wished to succumb to remained out of reach. Jacob's response had gone from explosive to none at all. She hadn't heard a peep from him the two weeks following the first set of papers – no matter how many sets she sent.
Bella often found herself speculating Jacob's whereabouts and actions. No one would give her information – not even her family. Her decision to divorce Jacob came as a hurtful surprise to those closest to them. Unsurprised, Bella kept the details to herself, explaining that "irreconcilable differences" was the culprit to breaking down a love that was supposed to last forever. Their miscarriage, their hardships, their inability to cope with their own grief – all details that Bella kept to herself.
"You're off in your own world today." Emily stopped Bella's hand from dipping the tea bag once more into the water.
Bella nervously swallowed and tried to smile. She hadn't spoken to Emily since she initiated the divorce, and Bella was sure Emily was clueless. The reservation was usually abuzz with gossip within seconds of it happening. The simple fact Bella didn't receive a phone call when Jacob left or the days following sealed the worry into her soul that Jacob had yet to tell anyone. That worried her far more than her own bleeding heart. If Jacob didn't talk to someone – anyone – soon, then he would explode in one form or another. That worried love is what prevented Bella from sending another round of divorce papers.
"I have a lot on my mind." Bella answered while she followed Emily's lead to the round kitchen table where rustically hand-built chairs allowed them comfort.
"Like what?" Emily smiled and sipped at Bella's hot tea and apple cider concoction. "Trouble in paradise?"
The perplexed expression which formed over Emily's face caused the hole in Bella's chest to burn hotter than it ever had.
"Sorry to hear that." Sitting the cup down, Emily folded her hands on the table. "I'm here if you want to talk. Sam and I have been through nearly everything in the past ten years. We're always happy to lend a helping hand or listening ear whenever other couples have trouble."
Bella nodded. "I wish I would have known that months ago."
"Months ago? Uh-oh. Talk to me. Tell me what's happening."
"It's too far gone for talking." Bella whispered. If she spoke any louder, Bella was sure that what was left of her would turn to dust. She saw the surprised look appear on Emily's face, but it came much sooner than the other's. "Jacob and I… well…" Bella's throat itched. Her mouth ran dry. Her body began to ache. "We're… getting a divorce."
Emily almost looked revolted by Bella's announcement. She spat the sip of tea in her mouth back into the blue ceramic cup. Her fingers shook nervously as she sat the cup down onto the table. "A divorce? Bella… Are you sure?"
Swallowing back her initial thought, Bella agreed with a shake of her head. Verbalizing even the slightest hint of anything else was sure to shatter her into tiny pieces on the floor. "It's just not working out anymore."
"Don't you think you're giving up too easily?" The scars on Emily's face wrinkled with her beauty as her face scrunched in disbelief and sadness.
"Too easily?" Bella scoffed and poked at the giant muffin in front of her. "There's nothing easy about this."
"That's what I'm saying, Bella. Don't you think that you and Jake are just giving up because it's not easy?" Emily brought her cup up to her lips. She blew a puff of air across the tea before she tipped it and took a small sip. "Oh. That's good. I'm going to miss your tea and our Sunday talks."
"I'll still be here, Emily. We'll still do this every Sunday."
"What about Jacob?" Emily's face relaxed at Bella's dedication to their friendship. "How's he doing?"
"I-I-I don't know. I haven't seen him or talked to him since," Bella picked at the raisins on her muffin, trying to divert some of the radiating pain somewhere else, "I gave him the papers."
"He didn't know?" Emily shrieked. "Oh, Bella!"
"I couldn't talk to him, Emily! Every time I tried, he bit my head off! He changed. I changed. This whole marriage changed. What else was I supposed to do?" Relentless tears trickled down Bella's face. One by one they dripped from her quivering chin onto her clasped hands.
A comforting hand rested on Bella's. "You don't have to talk about this if you don't want to, but what happened months ago? Bella, I wasn't aware that things were souring between you two. I would have tried…"
The scar the miscarriage left on Bella ripped open. The fresh wound throbbed as she relived every detail of her loss again. And now, the divorce with Jacob – well, it was like pouring salt on raw flesh.
"I had a miscarriage…"
Speaking those words crippled her breathing. That was the first time Bella allowed that declaration to fall from her tongue. Usually, that word was left to sit in her mouth, souring her taste buds and causing a seed of bitterness to plant itself somewhere inside of her heart. When resentment blossomed, Bella was surprised as to who the subject of her anger was. She prepared herself to dislike Jacob, to find him annoying and offensive, but when her dislike anchored against herself, Bella cowered in its presence.
"I'm sorry to hear that." Emily lifted her arm and engulfed Bella's shoulders. "I didn't know you were pregnant. Why didn't you tell me?" The tone of Emily's voice changed. It went from disbelief to a sincere empathy, a loving coo.
"Jacob and I…" Bella visibly jerked at the referral. Tears leaked from her eyes. "We thought it was better if we kept the pregnancy to ourselves until we found out everything was okay." Bringing her fingers up to her eyes, Bella swiped away a few giant tears and sniffled. "We'd heard horror stories of couples celebrating their pregnancies and then losing them. We didn't want that."
"Was the pregnancy something you both wanted?"
Bella nodded. "It wasn't planned, but when we found out…It was one of the happiest moments in my life. Ya know…" Glancing toward Emily, Bella allowed the sadness to overcome her and she spoke of it. "There was going to be a little guy or girl in the world that was both a part of me and Jacob. It would have been the most amazing idea to experience. And then suddenly… it was gone. All those hopes… dreams… thoughts… feelings… they're just taken from you. And you wonder why… why me? What'd I do wrong? Am I not supposed to be a mom?" A wild sob scratched from Bella's throat carrying with it a million tears. "I keep asking myself what I did to deserve this. What'd I do that was so wrong? Where'd I go wrong? I've rehashed every moment between the conception and finding out and losing the pregnancy. I've driven myself into this dark cave. And I'm lost…I'm just lost." Bella's arms instinctively began to wrap around her midsection. As she caught herself, her arms dropped. "And then, every day… every day I have to face Jacob and how I let him down, how I let us down." Bella's shoulders rose and fell as she allowed herself to break apart.
Emily rested her head on her friend's sobbing shoulders. The dark depression surrounding Bella engulfed her as well, causing tears to well up in the corners of her eyes. "I didn't know. If I had…I would have tried to help. Sam would have too."
"I didn't want anyone to know. I don't want anyone to know."
"You have to talk about this, Bella. You should have talked to Jacob. I'm sure he didn't feel the way you perceived him to."
"You don't see the way he looks at me…it's like I disgust him."
"Has he said that?"
"Then how do you know what he's feeling if you haven't asked?"
"I don't," squeaked past Bella's lips in a barely audible whisper. "I can feel it with the way he watches me. I can hear it in the way he talks to me."
"He's hurt too." Emily tried to connect the obvious dots Bella seemed to be missing. Her pain disguised the evident reality.
"We've just lost it. And I can't…I can't keep hurting him. I feel his disappointment, his hatred. That kills me."
"Hate is a strong word, Bella."
"I could never hate you."
His voice came from the doorway of the kitchen. The kindness that wafted in his syllables and the emotions that cracked through each letter halted her sobs. Bella slowly turned. A disheveled Jacob cleared her tear-blurred vision just as drips of sadness watered her cheeks. He looked as though he hadn't slept in weeks. His face was covered in a scruff that only complimented his chiseled jaw line. His brown eyes were glossed with sentiment. His plump lips pulled down at the corners forming a sad frown. And his right hand was covered in a blood speckled bandage.
"Jacob…" Emily puzzled. "What are you doing here?"
Jacob's steady gaze slid from Bella to her as she spoke. But then his eyes focused back on the weeping Bella. Her sobs had stopped; her shoulders no longer shook; however, her tears seemed to only pick up pace the longer Jacob stood in the doorway.
Bella whimpered. The reason Jacob was here didn't matter. What mattered was that he was, and that he overheard a portion of the conversation. Every inch of her throbbed with a pain that wouldn't subside. And the only person who could stop it was standing twenty feet away with tears in his eyes and a bloody, bandaged hand. Closing her eyes, Bella calmed the throbbing pain.
A movie played out behind Bella's eyelids. She could stand at the counter pretending to be stronger than she actually was. Using her fake strength Bella's non-reaction to Jacob's presence would push a wedge further between the two. Jacob would succumb to her repeated-unwanted-requests, and she would get her wish – to rid herself of any residual burdens of a loss that rattled her bones.
Or she could let her reserves fall away. She could feel her pain. She could run to Jacob. She could let him fix her. She could help him fix the damage inside of him too. And maybe sometime after that, they could repair whatever was left of the vows they made almost two years prior.
Bella chose the latter.
Her cheek pressed against Jacob's chest as her trembling arms wrapped around his waist. A gusty, surprised gasp pushed through Jacob's lungs, sounding far louder to Bella than anyone else. One of his hands pushed against the back of her neck, holding her to him, while the other looped across her body, squeezing her closer.
The world surrounding them silenced. Time stopped in the moment Jacob's lips connected with Bella's hair. He let them linger longer willing a surprising response. Bella fisted Jacob's flannel shirt and buried her face in the center of his chest. Cries wept from her heart with a force which shook them. Pressing his cheek against her forehead, Jacob constricted his hold on her.
"Shhh…" he cooed against her head, trying to quiet Bella's weeping. "Calm down." Her sobs turned to gasping breaths and scruffy yelps. From side to side, Jacob swayed trying to calm the evident pain erupting from Bella. "Bells..." Yet nothing seemed to help. "Please…try to calm down." Not even his own sniffles or sobs quieted Bella's. And so, Jacob embraced Bella's pain with his strong arms, holding the broken pieces of her together.
Witnessing the collapse, Emily shed a tear or two of saddening relief. With a nod of her head, she excused herself from the beauty of the moment and left the two broken hearts to deal with their pain in her kitchen. Sadness glistened on her cheeks as Emily peered over her shoulder from the basement door way, catching Jacob's painfully hopeful gaze.
Thank you. He mouthed.
Sam and Embry barreled through the door laughing and joking, but the moment Bella's silhouette hit their peripheral vision their joyful revelry halted. Both nodded toward Jacob, who gave them a returning head tilt. Passing Jacob, Embry clamped his fingers around Jacob's shoulder and squeezed, offering quiet support. Just as quickly as Embry and Sam entered the house, they disappeared down the basement steps, no doubt setting up for the game of poker they'd planned for the evening.
"I don't want you to hate me." Bella stated.
"I don't." Jacob's arms loosened and he pushed himself back. His eyes wandered over Bella's splotchy, tear stained face. "I could never go a day without loving you."
"It feels like you already have." The confession pushed passed Bella's lips before she could rethink and choose her words carefully. Jacob's face crinkled in reaction. His black-brown eyes glossed. "I mean…"
"No." Jacob shook his head. "You needed to say it. Don't take it back now. But…don't think for one minute that it's true. I'm lost too, Bella, just like you are."
The truth initiated a ripple effect inside of Bella. His words stuck to her heart with a million tiny pins and needles. And so from her heart pulsated a sob that left an aching pain in her throat. The most obvious of reasons for Jacob's change had been the last for Bella to think of. As simple as it was, Bella had forgotten him in her own pain.
To quiet Bella's cries, Jacob brought his bandaged hand to her cheek. Brushing his thumb against her skin, Jacob kissed the tip of Bella's reddened nose. He watched the sadness burn paths across Bella's face and down her neck. How could so much sadness be wrapped up into one person?
The cotton bandage gently scratched at Bella's cheek. The lack of Jacob's skin felt foreign, pulling her attention away from the radiating pain. She glanced down to the bandage and brought her fingers up to Jacob's. Tugging away his hand, Bella turned it over and examined the splotches of blood. Her insides wretched at the possibilities of what happened.
Glancing up to Jacob, Bella watched him wince as she barely touched her thumb to his bruised knuckles. "How'd you do this?"
Jacob squeezed his eyes shut. "I went to the house the other day."
Bella turned his hand over. His palm was clear of cuts and bruises. "And?" Her fingers grazed over the tucked piece of gauze holding the bandage together.
"You weren't there."
Bella pulled the bandage free and slowly unwrapped his hand. She glanced up luring him to tell her more.
"Your stuff was gone."
As she freed Jacob's hand, her eyes widened at the long gash just below his knuckles, and the black and blue bruise that spread from the bottoms of his fingers to a third of the way down his hand. Her lip trembled with unanticipated sadness.
"I lost it." Jacob barely spoke above a whisper. And when Bella looked up, she was surprised by the pain free expression covering Jacob's face. He didn't have to explain with words what he meant. Instead, Bella watched him relive the moments of destruction through the two black-brown eyes that adored her so much.
"Jake…" she gasped. Her fingers brushed over the red, swollen gash across his hand.
"It doesn't hurt." Just then her finger grazed over a tender area, and he winced. "That much." He chuckled lightly.
"I-I-I did this to you. It's my fault that you hurt yourself like this."
"No." Jacob brushed his lips over Bella's cheek. He leaned close to her ear and said. "You're not going to bear that burden too. I won't let you."
A tear trickled from Bella's eye as a since of relief dawned over her heart. The sob climbing up her throat stopped and slipped back down to her stomach. Her eyes lifted just enough to meet Jacob's solemn stare.
"Let me take some of your pain away. Let me fix it, Bells. I promise you. I can."
Bella's head moved from side to side. "I can't let you do that. I can't take away your happiness."
Jacob scoffed. His eyebrows wrinkled in frustration. "My happiness?" His eyes brimmed with tears. "Bella, I have a hole inside of me, right here." He pointed to the center of his chest. With a firm finger he poked. "This keeps me from being happy. You leaving took my happiness away." Jacob lifted his wounded hand to Bella's cheek. Bringing the edge of his lip into his mouth to stop the quaking, Jacob glanced away for a moment. When he looked back, a tear slipped from his grasp. "You're the only thing that can fix me."
Bella's heart was captured in that moment. Jacob's revelation carved into her a piece of him he never expressed before. She was his weakness and his only fix. The thudding in her chest mocked the sadness that pounded through her veins. As broken as she was, Bella knew the only way to fix herself was through Jacob. And he, surprisingly, needed her to fix him.
Could she give in? Was it really that simple?
Before Bella could mentally respond, her emotions pushed her up onto the balls of her feet. Jacob pensively stared at her. The questions brooding in his eyes cleared once her's fluttered shut, and she grazed her lips with his.
The grazing kiss comforted the throbbing sadness inside, but Bella found herself flat footed before she was ready to let go. Rejection began to build-up in her heart. Just before the feeling could spread, causing a blush that she'd never be able to hide, Jacob's lips pushed onto hers. His palms rested on the sides of her neck and his thumbs brushed the line of her jaw. His kiss was powerfully full and thick, his mouth covering hers again before she could respond to the initial kiss. Bleeding from his lips was a passion that Bella had forgotten, a passion she hadn't felt in months. It was his passion for her, and it ignited her very own.
An explosion of rightfulness happened in that moment. The seconds her eyes were closed, the seconds while Jacob captured her passion with his, erased the troubled stare Bella had grown used to. Peace captivated her cold, enveloping disappointment until it almost disappeared, but the moment her eyes fluttered open and Jacob's perfectly sculpted face was there to greet her, peace replaced guilt. And so a question formed deep inside of Bella.
Would there ever be a time when she could look at Jacob without seeing a reflection of her own disenchantment? The question lingering on her mind, she wore it on her face as a frown.
Jacob sighed, frustration getting the better of him. "What do you need me to do, Bells? I'll do anything to wipe the look from your face."
Bella lifted her shoulders but the weight of their miscarriage was heavy and so they fell on their own. "I can't look at you without seeing…seeing how I let you down. Just looking at you reminds me of everything all over again."
Jacob's face fell pale as her words soaked in. "So, just," he took a haggard breath willing the words to form themselves, "looking at me reminds you of the…" Jacob's eyebrows rose before drawing together as though the movement helped him form that one single word, "baby?"
"Looking at you reminds me of my failures, Jacob. How I failed as a wife and a woman." The strength in Bella's voice shocked her. Maybe Emily was right. Maybe talking about her pain, her feelings, would help heal the wounds. "I know you're disappointed."
"Well, yeah…" Jacob shrugged. "It wasn't planned, but I wanted…it more than anything."
Jacob's statement reassured her fears and fueled the fiery need of blame.
"I failed you."
The responsibility of their miscarriage was almost visible on Bella's shoulders. The sight of her burdens slashed gashes into the pieces of Jacob's heart. And suddenly his anger-fueled reactions seemed outrageous. Guilt ridiculed his broken marriage.
"I've failed you, Bella. I should have supported you, been there by your side…but I wasn't. And I understand that now. As much as I don't want this divorce to happen I can see why you would want one." His own acknowledgement formed a ball in his throat.
Bella watched his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed the epiphany parting his lips. His shadowed black-brown eyes lightened. Left behind were wrinkles of defeat and mere understanding of the situation. He finally understood why she'd filed for divorce. Bella won his agreement; however, there would be no victorious celebration. Conquering Bella's heart was a need to stop the situation from proceeding any further.
Divorce sounded foreign and wrong. She had just started making headway; Jacob finally grasped what turned their marriage sour. Yet, there he stood kissing her forehead so hard, so roughly that it felt like it was the last time she'd ever feel his lips again. The feeling riling up in her was dangerous and careless. Yet, Bella restrained her frivolous heart from jumping out of her chest directly back into Jacob's busted palm, and it felt like someone held her heart with a vice-grip.
"I'm sorry, Bells." Jacob whispered into the part of her hair.
All she could do was nod. Blurry tears clouded her vision. The wooden floor beneath her feet gathered her tears and absorbed them. Her resolve faded with each step Jacob took toward the door, but she allowed herself no other reaction but the wrapping of her arms around her midsection and the tears dripping haphazardly down her cheeks.
Bella didn't venture a glance up until the door cracked open. It was then that her tear stained eyes wondered up in just enough time to see the door pull shut. Bella's heart fell to her feet. A sob cleared her throat with forceful vengeance leaving behind the rusty taste of blood.
Reality sank in. Jacob caved. Divorce was in her future. But was that what she really wanted anymore?
The second thought, the moment's break of insanity, forced Bella's feet to move toward the door Jacob just closed. Clearing her throat was his name. At first, it came out as a squeak, but she knew he wouldn't be able to hear her. And so, she tried it again. This time, Bella yanked open the door as his name fell from her lips.
"JAKE!" Tears rapidly fell from her eyes. "Please…"
His broad, swaying silhouette stopped and turned. The somber, disjointed expression glistened with droplets of rain. The cold drops falling from the sky pelted Bella as she sailed down the steps and into Jacob's arms.
"Fix me." Bella pleaded. She needed him to hold her together, to glue the pieces of her back together. "I need you to fix me." She made sure to clarify the plea with a precise request just so there could be no misunderstandings.
Jacob disbelievingly gawked. His mouth fell ajar at Bella's request. Retorting his emotional response was the tightening of his arms and the grappling of Bella's tiny frame to his. With a curt nod of his head, Jacob buried his face into the nape of Bella's neck. "Only if you promise to fix me too," his appeal was barely audible, but loud enough for Bella to tighten her grip on him.
"I love you." She whimpered into his neck.
"I love you too." The usual tenderness in his voice was clogged with apprehensible sadness. "Always."
Author's Note: I could give you guys some reason as to why it's been so long since I've updated, but I'll spare you. I apologize and hope that it doesn't happen again. No promises though. Anyway, this is not the end. So...I hope to see you guys soon! Leave me a comment letting me know what you think.