Chapter 19:

The 'Talk'

Kids just say the darndest things~

Bella isn't like most girls her age. For one, she's much more intelligent (ask her to name the first fifteen characters that appear in The Hobbit, and she'll do it, alphabetized and arranged by order of appearance), and much more mature (she didn't giggle once during her class's version of the infamous 'talk' though she did crack a smile when Mrs. Green said 'butt', but then again who wouldn't).

For these reasons, and many more, Bella is pretty confident in her decision to accept Jared's marriage proposal.

He asks her under the slide, right where they had shared their first kiss months before. The March air is still cold, so it takes some effort for Jared to kneel around his second-hand ski-pants. Once he's finally down on one knee (like he seen all the boys do in movies) he pulls a little plastic ring from his pocket. He found it next to a gumball machine at the arcade the other week. The band had broken, but it wasn't too serious. All it took to fix it, was a little piece of scotch tape and a dot of well-aimed super-glue. Jared wants to work as a mechanic when he grows up, so it was pretty easy if anyone asks.

He's a little nervous when he rattles off the speech that he came up with his best friend the other day. Jeremy had been adamant to include all the big words, as his older sister Jenny had read the same ones in a big book she got from the library. She cried while reading so Jeremy is sure that means they're good.

Jeremy had tried to convince him to hold off the proposal for just a little while. His dad sleeps on the couch every other week. If all marriages are as tumultuous as his parent's, then Jared is making a big mistake. But Jared is so in love with Bella that he ignores his warning. He'll do anything he has to, to spend the rest of his life with her (at least until summer comes, or Jessica Stanley will look at him when he pokes her).

As soon as he's finished talking, he looks up at her for an answer. By that time the grade three class has caged them in. Even spending as much time around Bella as he has, hasn't done anything to lower his voice.

Bella's not good at speaking in front of large crowds, so all she can do is offer a meek nod, but that's all Jared needs. He springs to his feet, and wraps his arms around her, crushing her in his iron tight grip. Bella tries to get him to let go of her, but he won't, even when she starts to whine. Jared doesn't let her go until the last third grader is gone. Unlike Bella, he loves attention.

Jared smirks at her, and folds his scrawny arms over his chest. He's anything but filled out yet, though a small bump on his bicep hints at what's to come. "I should kiss you again," he says.

Bella blushes. Although they have kissed before, it was just that one time. (Bella was too embarrassed to do it again with people watching). He's just about to; he's already leaned in, but Rachel's obnoxious voice interrupts him.

"Beat it Cameron. Your idiot friends are calling."

Jared grumbles and reluctantly slips out of the underside of the jungle gym. Rachel has a fierce reputation. He isn't going to risk his chances. There's a high probability of an imminent black eye if he refuses her. Bella watches him run through the field separating him and the other boys. He finds a group of them, and Bella giggles when he tackles the entire ring to the ground.

Rachel rolls her eyes. Boys are idiots, and she thinks Bella is an idiot too for not realizing this. "I can't believe you," she hisses.

Bella frowns. "Me? What did I do?"

Rachel rolls her eyes again; her signature look. "You know damn well what you did Bella."

Bella gasps. Rachel's recently picked up the habit of swearing. Probably a result of spending too much time with Sue, but Leah doesn't swear yet. It embarrasses Bella to hear her sister saying such naughty things, but she knows not to scold her. Rachel will accuse her of being a 'buzzkill'. Bella's not too sure what that means. Probably has something to do with killing bees, and she does nothing of the sort!

When Bella doesn't fess up, Rachel scowls. "He proposed! You're getting married you idiot!"

Bella's round brown eyes widen even more. She knew the act of getting down on one knee meant something, but she had no idea it meant so much. He hadn't specifically asked her to marry him. However, the more she thinks about the idea, the less scary it seems. She really does like Jared, and his mom makes the best peanut-butter cookies ever. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

Bella smiles softly at her sister. "I know." With that she runs off to find another friend. (Rachel fumes the rest of the day).


When Jared expresses a desire to come over for dinner one night, Bella asks Sarah.

It took an enormous amount of confidence to face her. Rachel had spilled to mom the second she seen her after school the day Jared proposed. Sarah had laughed and patted Rachel's head. Although the tattle was likely fueled by jealousy, and ulterior motives, she liked that she was beginning to show an interest in her sister. Sarah knew that the proposal was anything but serious. In fact, she found it adorable. Puppy love was something she found fascinating. Nobody had actually taught the youngsters what love was; yet they still had some basic understanding of it.

Sarah had obliged to letting Jared stay for dinner. She had grown to know the Cameron's quite well since Bella and Jared had become friends. So as soon as she found out Jared wanted to, she called Mrs. Cameron and arranged a date with her.

That evening, Jacob was in a fuss. He wouldn't wash his hands before supper, and he wouldn't sit beside Jared at the table. He wouldn't even eat in the same room as him.

Bella thinks the dinner is nice. Jared isn't eating with his mouth open and he doesn't spit out his food once (something he does often at school with the other boys). However, she isn't happy that Jacob isn't being nice.

Jacob and Jared are the most important boys in her life (besides Daddy and Billy of course). She wants them to be friends, but Jacob hates him and Jared knows it. It's more than awkward after supper when Bella takes Jared to their room.

Jacob sits in the corner, one of Bella's books opened in his lap. He can't really read yet, but he practices the words he does know over and over again. Jared greets him with a snicker, and Jacob doesn't so much as glance in his direction. The tension is so thick in the air, Bella can taste it.

She tries (unsuccessfully) to spark a conversation. They both love anything about cars, and although she doesn't care for them, she's willing to set aside her own feelings if it'll mean friendship for the boys.

"Where are your cars Jake? I was thinking we could play with them."

Jacob doesn't answer. He doesn't even look up, not even at her. Jared snickers. Bella scolds him with a slap to the belly, and he quiets immediately. Bella doesn't hit unless provoked. Jared knows the key to your own happiness is to have a happy woman. His father religiously pounds it into his mind each night at the dinner table when Jared throws a fit over his mother's failure to keep his peas and mashed potatoes separate on his plate.

After a few silent moments, Jared hops onto Bella's well-kept bed and stretches out. Grinning over at her, he holds out his hand. She climbs next to him and giggles. She pokes his leg, and he pokes her back. Quickly, a poke-war erupts. Both sides viciously defend their territory with arms folded over bellies and incessant giggles.

Jacob, who wishes he were the one lying next to Bella instead of him, leaves before a clear victor emerges. Carefully, he pads over to his father who lays sideways on the couch. Mom is busy fixing a ripped hole in one of Jacob's jeans; so busy in fact, she doesn't even look up when he enters. He climbs on the couch and lies in the crook of his father's side.

Billy's arms tighten around his son, holding him close to his chest. His boy. His only boy. The teen years will be hell with all the extra estrogen running rampage. At least there will be a little testosterone to balance them out.

Jacob snuggles into his father's warmth and looks up at him. "Daddy?"

"Hm?" His eyes break briefly from the television's screen to look down at Jacob. He's staring up at him, eyes bright. Billy is momentarily caught off guard at how familiar the look is. He's definitely Sarah's son.

Jacob purses his lips, clearly choosing his words carefully. "I don't like Jared."

Billy feigns innocence, the feud is clear as day. "Oh no?"

He shakes his head quickly, but doesn't elaborate.

Billy knows a bold statement such as that one, warrants some sort of explanation. The boy gets along with almost everyone. "And why's that?" He mutes the TV. It's a baseball game from a week ago. He's already seen it, and his son's life deserves more attention than a leftover Red Sox game. Especially a shitty one (he's never seen the Mets do so badly).

"He's takin' Bella away from me," he whispers to his toes, so quietly Billy has to crane his neck to hear him.

Billy chuckles, nervously. He'd hoped his little 'obsession' with Bella would dissipate over the years, but it's only gotten progressively worse, enforcing his worst fears. But instead of letting the stress consume his mind, he takes a deep breath instead. Maybe, like Quil IV said, he's just overreacting: blowing every little 'sign' out of proportion, creating connections that don't exist. He prays he's right.

"He's not taking Bella away from you. Bella can have other friends, just like you can have other friends. Doesn't mean she won't like you anymore bud." He pats his head affectionately, and returns his attention to the game. Maybe the failure of the Mets was just an illusion. Maybe if he watches it again the outcome will change...

"But they getting married!" Jacob exclaims, throwing his little fists into the air. He scrambles around on the couch to face him, his dark brown eyes narrowed in anger.

Sarah briefly looks up from her sewing, and Billy chuckles. His laughter only serves to narrow his eyes further. Billy quiets, and tries to think of a mature response. Young children don't really understand the ridiculousness of it; he has to understand that (Sarah reminds him this at least a couple of times a week, particularly when the twins come to him near tears when another 'bff' eradicates the status for the fourth time).

"Don't worry Jake. They're too young. Mommy and Daddy would have to approve."

Jacob eyes widen, "Do you?"


Jacob nods, absorbing the new information. For some time, it's quiet, and low and behold the Mets lose...again. Just when Billy vows to never watch a single Mets game, never, ever again, Jacob pipes up.

"Daddy...what does sex mean?"

The suddenness of the question makes Billy freeze. He never imagined he'd have to have the talk already! He figured he had at least eight, ten years before the subject would even be brought up.

Swallowing quickly, and with a deliberate glance in Sarah's direction (she's pretending she's busy pulling on a loose thread, but the grin on her face tells him she's heard everything) he fumbles through a rough explanation of the birds and the bees. He's sure his face is fifty different shades of red.

The silence that follows after his spiel makes Billy even more nervous. Jacob stares at him, his expression unreadable. He's not sure if he's as horrified as he is, or interested. Both are equally embarrassing.

Finally once the silence has stretched to an uncomfortable length of time, Billy asks, "Where did you hear that word?"

"Jared asked if Bella wanted to do it a few minutes ago."

Billy's face darkens all over again, but it isn't out of embarrassment this time.

In actuality, Jacob had heard his sister's discussing the concept a few days before. He hadn't heard what it meant, but judging by the amount of giggling coming from behind their closed-door, he knew it wasn't right. Jacob was smart. He knew if he could blame Jared for saying a 'taboo' word, nothing but good could from it. At least, for Jacob that is.

Jared isn't allowed in the Black's house again.