A/N: Hi, guys! Thanks for the feedback for the last chapter. Now I present… chapter fifteen! I had fun writing this one. I think it's one of my top three favorite chapters I've written so far. Enjoy!
"Get in here, you crazy kids!"
And the cheese parade marches on….
I was barely through Charlie's front door before his little excitement façade came in. I smiled sheepishly at my father as I pulled my bag into the house. Jacob followed behind me with his own bag, and I was almost positive that it weighed only half as much as mine did. I envied him for being such a minimalist when it came to packing.
"Hey, Dad," I greeted Charlie.
"Set that bag down and give me a hug," he said enthusiastically.
I put my bag where I was sure to not bang my foot against it and gave Charlie a big hug. This got a little easier every time, and I was glad. In fact, I wasn't even glad—I was ecstatic. How many people were lucky enough to reconnect with their parents after not speaking for years? Not very many. I was one of the lucky ones.
"Whoa, did you get shorter or something?" he remarked once he let me go. "How much coffee have you been drinking?"
I smiled and shook my head. "None," I replied. "I'm just not wearing heels today."
Charlie took a look at my Converse shoes and chuckled. "I haven't seen you in sneakers in forever."
"Me neither," I answered honestly.
"Dammit, Charlie, you could've told me they were here instead of running out there like a little kid," a voice muttered. I turned to see Billy Black wheeling to us in the living room.
"Hey, Billy!" I said, bending down to give him a hug.
"Hey, Bella," he replied. Then he narrowed his eyes. "Did you get shorter?"
I laughed. "Nah."
I turned back to Charlie to see Jacob hugging him, and I couldn't help but sigh on the inside. Jacob was such a family guy—he knew how to get along with just about anybody. I felt a smile spread across my face, and I knew I looked like an idiot standing there with that smile on my face, but I wouldn't have minded looking like the biggest idiot in the world. I loved Jacob. I adored him, and I couldn't leave him alone. I didn't want to.
Jacob went on to greet his own father, and Charlie asked how the drive was. Jake gave me a slight look and smile. Then he replied, "It was alright."
I agreed, and I also wondered why Jacob used that word so much. It was our word, in a way, but considering the books we'd read, we could have had a better vocabulary.
"Alright" is just fine, a tiny voice in the back of my mind assured me. "Alright" is perfect.
I couldn't protest.
Half an hour later, we were all sitting in the living room, catching up. We were all laughing and talking and drinking. Jacob must have finally appreciated that he was now of the legal age to drink. After finishing my first bottle of beer, I decided to give Jacob a tour of the upstairs part of the house. Even if we wouldn't be spending much time here, I did want him to see everything.
"And what is this for?" Jacob wondered as we went up the stairs. I held his large hand as I led him to the unknown.
"I don't know," I replied honestly. "I just want you to see the whole house, even though it's small."
I took him to my bedroom door, dramatically swung it open, and stepped in. In a way, it was like a surprise for me, too…
…But not really.
The room hadn't been touched—at all. I'd moved out just a week after my eighteenth birthday, and I blatantly remembered refusing to clean anything after getting all of my things out. I hadn't swept the floor or even closed the window. The room had held over three years' worth of cold air, and it was being released just now.
It was like I was standing in a ghost's room.
"Damn," Jacob said, finally stepping into the room after me. "It's freezing in here."
I crossed the small area to the window so I could shut it. At first, it wouldn't budge, but I eventually got it to slide down. "I don't know why I was expecting more," I murmured.
"There's nothing in here," he observed. "It's like you erased your past."
I was silent—all I could do was look at him.
"I know… That was dumb," he said in his own defense.
"No it wasn't," I protested. "It's true."
He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. I could see his breath in the air—it was that cold. "This is kinda creepy," he said.
"It is," I agreed.
He looked down at his watch. "We should probably be on our way to the hotel," he suggested. "It's almost time to check in."
I grabbed his hand. "Let's go."
Charlie offered Jacob and I the couch, and Billy offered his own couch as well, but Jacob and I were ultimately going to be staying at a small hotel in downtown Forks. And as surprising (but not really) as it was, downtown Forks looked like the rest of the town.
The hotel was small, but overall very nice. Really cute, too. Once we got to our room to leave our things, I really admired how intricate the decorations were. Each little painting and photograph and piece of furniture had to have been picked out delicately. The little room that Jacob and I would be sharing felt special.
Jacob and I lingered in the room for a while. He fell back onto the king-sized bed, and I couldn't help but shrug off my—meaning, his—leather jacket and fall with him. As he lay onto his back and I was on my side, I felt slightly cheesy, but I felt happy. Cheesiness and happiness went together hand-in-hand, though.
I brushed back a few strands of my hair out of my face and behind my ear as I looked down at Jacob. God, he was fucking beautiful. From his liquid brown eyes with flecks of gold in them to his large yet perfect nose to his full lips, he was gorgeous. He was divine. He was Jacob Black.
"I feel like a honeymooner," I told him.
He laughed. "So do I," he replied. "This is kinda nice, though. It's like a vacation."
"I know. It's so quiet. I've gotta admit I miss Roussy already, though."
"Ha, I don't," he said bluntly.
"The damn cat's always getting in the way of things."
I giggled. "He likes you better than he likes me."
"But I like you way better than he does."
I licked my lips without really meaning to. "Do you think we have time to be honeymooners for a second?" I asked.
"Well, that depends on what you have in mind."
"We should break this bed in the right way."
He didn't even think about it for longer than a second. "Alright."
I slid down a little so I could be on top, and I put my lips down on his. This was how it always started… slow and sweet and soft. Jacob moved back against the pillows, though, just so he could sit up and look at me. I loved when he looked at me. Even when my nerves were just about to take over, that one look would bring me back home. It worked every single time.
Our faces were just inches apart. I opened my eyes and looked at him. I really looked at him; tried to peer down into his soul. Jacob didn't have that certain look in his eyes, though. I could see how he wasn't sure about this, and I was almost positive he could see the same thing in my eyes. Suddenly, we were seventeen again. We were awkward kids not knowing what to do, only driven by the facts that we knew each other and we loved each other.
I didn't say anything, though.
Instead, I kissed him again and laced my left hand fingers with his right ones, exactly at my waist. I could feel my dress about to rip, with my legs wrapped around his waist, so I slowly pulled it up with my right hand, not moving my lips.
Jacob gave me that little groaning noise, and that didn't put me in any more control. He moved his lips away from mine and put them at my neck—he knew just what I liked. He then slowly snaked his left hand to the skirt of my dress, pulling it up more. His fingers lingered around the elastic waistband of my panties. My breathing hitched and my eyes rolled back in my head a little when he pulled down on my underwear and—
"Your boner's never buzzed before," I muttered sourly.
"Fuck," he mumbled, reaching into his pocket for his cell phone. I got off of him and moved further down the bed. I wiped the smeared lip gloss from the edges of my lips and sighed.
Jacob cleared his throat and answered the phone. "Uh, hello? Oh, hey, Dad. Sorry, I was just being lazy, I know I have caller ID… No I'm not breathing hard. What are you talking about? …Oh, you guys are waiting for us? …Oh, right. Right, right, right. Sorry, we just started unpacking and got busy and—"
He was cut off. With a raise of his eyebrow, Jacob said, "Wow." I cocked my head to the side.
He continued his conversation. "So we're going back to Charlie's place? …Okay, thanks, Dad. See you soon." He hung up and set his phone down.
"I don't recall making plans to go back," I said. "What was that all about?"
"They were gonna wait for us so we could get dinner," he replied. "He made kind of a big deal out of it, though. I'm pretty sure he just wanted to make sure we weren't fucking."
"Well, shit," I commented.
"We had better get going," I said. "I mean, Charlie's gonna embarrass me about it, anyway, I bet, but we shouldn't keep them waiting. What's the time?"
I sighed. "Yeah, we really need to get going."
We got off the bed, and Jacob flattened out his shirt and pants. He looked like he hadn't even been touched. I, on the other hand, looked ridiculous. Standing in front of the full-length mirror on the door of the bathroom, I readjusted my panties—which I really felt the need to change—and smoothed out my dress. On our way out, I almost forgot about Jacob's jacket, which I quickly retrieved from the floor and promptly slipped back on.
"There's always tonight," Jacob reminded me.
I nodded, desperate to hide the nerves and a recurring thought in the back of my mind.
What if I'm not ready for that step yet?
We managed to get through the rest of the evening with minimal teasing. Over pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza at the dining room table, more catching up was in order, but that ended quickly. Everything future-wise started making its way into the conversation until it hogged up all the attention.
"Are you guys engaged yet?" Charlie wondered.
I turned to Jake, and I could feel myself blushing. He looked genuinely uncomfortable—even more so than me.
"We haven't been really thinking about it," Jacob replied. He always knew just what to say.
Fortunately, Billy saved us from further embarrassment. "Jeez, Charlie," he said. "Give 'em a break. They just got here."
"My bad, my bad," Charlie said. "Sorry. I'm starting to turn into your mom, Bells."
I rolled my eyes. "Please, no."
"Oh, and speaking of your mom…" He stood up and made his way to the door to the garage. "I'll be right back. I've got some stuff for you."
Charlie had never been this full of surprises—Jesus, maybe he was turning into my mother. I chewed my food in silence and waited.
He came back soon enough with a cardboard box that was covered in dust. "What's this?" I asked.
"Your grandma's been sending you letters, Bells," he explained. "Marie—your mom's mom—was sending them for years, but at some point she stopped. Really weird. Anyway, Renee's been keeping them from you, but she just sent them to me last week so I could give them to you. I was gonna wait for you to come here so I could give them to you, so I did."
I paused completely. "Gran's been sending me letters?" I finally managed to squeak out.
He had a slight look of guilt on his face. "We've been… uh… sending them back and forth for a while now. She's been writing both your mom and me. Mostly me, though. And I've been writing your mom, too."
I scooted out of my chair and walked over to him. He's gotta be kidding.
"Calm down, Bells," he told me. "You can read 'em tonight."
I knew there was no way he'd let me have them now, so I would have to wait. I was eager to get back to the hotel, but not in the way that Jacob was.
The second I stepped into the hotel room that night, I untied my sneakers and chucked them off my feet. Throwing the cardboard box onto the bed, I sat down excitedly. It didn't show on my face, though.
"Whoa, what's up?" Jacob asked me. "You look pissed."
"I haven't talked to Gran in years," I replied. "I haven't talked to her since I moved up here when I was seventeen."
"Wait, so your mom and dad have been hiding these letters from you?" he asked.
"That's what it sounds like."
I ripped open the ends of clear tape on the box and opened the cardboard flaps to find three stacks of letters sitting there. Jacob sat down across from me on the bed.
"What the fuck?" I whispered.
I took out all the letters and fanned them out in front of me. Plenty of years' worth of interactions from my grandmother was in front of me, and I was just discovering this now.
I figured out that there were little dates scratched on the backs of the letters, and once I did, I read all the letters from Gran in order. Jacob sat in front of me, just watching. I read some letters aloud, and some I just read to myself. Each letter brought tears to my eyes. They dated back from two thousand eight until my twenty-first birthday. She'd written to me every couple of months.
That night belonged to Gran and me, sharing long-distance, overdue secrets; Jacob was a witness. By the end of the last letter, I was in tears. No, it wasn't even that; I was sobbing a river.
Gran had known about me smoking weed. She'd known about Edward being a bad influence, too. She'd known about me running around in the streets and sometimes never coming home. She'd known about me being in love with my appearance. She'd known that I'd been trouble for my parents, and she hadn't given up on me. I liked to think that she still wasn't.
The worst part, though, was knowing that Gran would have taken me in and that she would still take me in.
I read one paragraph over and over that night. It wasn't her tight, small cursive that made it nearly illegible; it was my tears. It had been in one of the more recent letters, back when I'd been only twenty.
You should come live here with me in Vegas, where the sun always shines. You would love it here—all warm and nice. I won't force you to change, Bella, but I'll help you. I know you want to be the whole world's girl, but you already have everything. You crazy girl. I'll always help you try to remember who you are. I'll always leave the lights on for you, Bella. You'll always find your way back home.
Gran could have helped me—she was totally willing to help me.
Jacob didn't ask me what I wanted for the rest of that night; he already knew. He held me tight in his arms, and he let me cry. I couldn't have asked for anything else. That would have simply been more than enough.
I woke up late the next morning—too late. I guessed that was what I got for crying all night, but I didn't mind. Jacob woke up even later, though. I was outside, sitting on the porch, when he met me that morning. The sun was shining just a little bit, but I couldn't have noticed. My nose was stuck in a book, and it was a book that Jacob recognized. I needed some new material to read, anyway—the letters broke my heart.
"Are you reading The Count of Monte Cristo?" he asked.
I looked up from the novel and smiled. It felt strained, but I was glad to be smiling. "What?" I asked. "Did you expect me to be reading something by Danielle Steel or someone like her?"
He shook his head. "Nah. It's just that nobody reads the classics anymore. And that, my friend, is a classic."
"It is," I agreed. "You make it sound like it wasn't me who got you to read it in the first place."
"Sure, sure. You know, we never really discussed this, but… who's your favorite character?"
I didn't even have to think about it. "Definitely Benedetto."
He raised an eyebrow. "I thought you'd say Maximilien or Valentine."
"Ugh, why?" I asked. "They're so annoying. I thought I told you thank already."
"Well, then, why do you love Benedetto so much?" he challenged.
"This is cheesy but… he reminds me of myself."
Jake plopped down next to me on the porch chair next to mine. "If you're an escaped convict, then I'm a little concerned."
"It's not that," I assured him. "It's the whole 'nature versus nurture' theory. I mean, he didn't grow up in a bad environment at all, but he ended up being a terrible person."
"Bells, you're not a terrible person."
"Don't you know the whole 'nature versus nurture' thing, though?" I asked. "Benedetto didn't grow up in a violent home at all, but he grew up as this… this menace. When I think about it now, I grew up around my mom, who's so fucking uptight about everything, but I grew up to be dirt-poor and a loser."
He thought about that for a second—his face was deep in consideration. Then he nodded slowly. "That's kind of true," he said insightfully. "Only you're not that much of a loser."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm kind of the same way, but the opposite. I mean, I grew up with people having low expectations of me and bringing me down, but I grew up to be more successful than them. Not very successful, but still better than them."
"Did people expect you to fail because you grew up on the reservation?" I asked.
"That's exactly what people expected."
"I wish I could prove people wrong in the right way," I sighed.
"I'm pretty sure people hate me, Bells," he said. "They all think I think I'm better than them for leaving the rez."
"That's bullshit," I replied sharply. "Just because you have goals doesn't mean you're bad."
"Tell that to them, then."
"We'll go to the rez tomorrow," I decided.
I nodded. "We have nothing else to do in Forks."
I smiled. "Alright."
The rest of the day—Saturday—consisted of more time with Billy and Charlie (and I didn't talk to Charlie about the letters at all), but by the time Sunday arrived, I was sick of having the parental guidance, and I could say the same for Jacob.
Sunday morning, I dragged Jacob to the grocery store. I remembered the last time I'd gone to this specific grocery store in Forks. I'd possessed twenty dollars in my pocket, and I had been a doll. Plastic. Fake. My life had been a play, and I'd been unhappy and indecisive with just about everything.
Not today, though.
Today, I had a marvelous man by my side, a good head on my shoulders, and a heart. A real heart that could grow and shrink and ache and feel absolutely wonderful. I wasn't plastic anymore, and I didn't want to be.
Only one thought could ring through my head, and I wasn't sure where I'd heard it before. Maybe it had come from a song… I didn't know, but I didn't really mind, either.
I feel celestial.
There had been plans for a picnic.
There had been plans for a wonderful little picnic between Jacob and I on First Beach in La Push. We'd been going to have a romantic, miniscule, "official" second date with champagne and sandwiches and perfection. We might have even had sex for the very first time (cue the gasps!) after that date.
As if I'd been paying attention to the weather, anyway.
On the drive to First Beach that Sunday afternoon, it started to rain.
Okay, no. I couldn't sugarcoat it.
It wasn't just rain. It wasn't poetic or inspiring at all, and there was no poetic or inspiring way to call it. The constant water from the sky wasn't "magical, sprinkling drops of God's tears." If I had to draw any sort of parallels to God, it would have been more like God's piss. The Holy Urine.
So, no, it didn't just "rain."
A fucking ocean was dumped down onto La Push. An ocean in God's magical bucket was meant to be dumped in a bigger ocean, but—whoops. It managed to hit a little speck of sand named La Push, right next to that ocean it aimed for. If you asked me, God had some terrible aim.
With an ocean falling from the sky, my picnic with Jacob was already ruined, so he insisted on taking me back to his house, where he assumed everybody was. Jake had to have been a psychic, too, because that was where everybody was.
The small red house was loud and boisterous when Jake and I arrived, and then it got even louder. Jacob had to have been lying about nobody liking him because he left the rez, because at his house, he was treated like a hero.
"Guess who's back!"
"How's the city life treating ya?"
And not only was Jacob treated nicely, but they all treated me the same way. Most of the people there were men around Jacob's age, and they made me feel welcome. I met a total of at least ten new people including Sam, Emily, Jared, Kim, Embry, Brady, Collin, Seth, and a few others who I never really talked to. Paul and Rachel were there, too, but no Claire and Quil.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't looking for Leah Clearwater, so I was. I didn't know what I wanted to say or do to her; I didn't want to beat her up, but at the same time, I wasn't scared of her. There was nothing to be afraid of. However, she wasn't there. I couldn't blame her, though.
To everybody at Jacob's house, I was "Jacob's girl." It didn't sound like such a bad thing—not at all. It was like I was one of them. I listened to their embarrassing stories about Jacob and laughed with them. I held Jacob's hand like I belonged there, and I truly did; I wasn't just the overdressed white girl on Jacob's arm.
At some point, once the rain stopped, Jacob and I retreated without anybody noticing. We walked down to First Beach. Even as we'd lost our picnic date, we hadn't lost the opportunity to go to the beach. We would be going back to Everett tomorrow. At least we had this time together now.
I slipped off my shoes and felt the cool, wet sand tickle my toes. "This is paradise," I said. "I would have loved to grow up here."
Jacob shrugged and smiled a bit. "It's nothing."
I laughed. "It's obviously something."
I spotted a swing set in the distance, and before I knew it, Jacob had hitched me over his shoulder and ran us to it. I couldn't stop laughing, but that was only before the swinging contest got serious.
"I'm gonna get higher than you!" I yelled.
"No you're not!" he yelled back. Once he saw that I, in fact, was higher than him, he came up with a new challenge. "We should jump on three."
"Hell no," I replied. "Klutzes aren't supposed to jump from heights taller than they are."
"Chicken," he said mockingly. Then he started clucking.
"I am not a chicken," I told him.
"Then prove it." He started clucking again.
"Nuh-uh. You're being rude."
"And you're being a chicken," he replied. "C'mon, I'll catch you."
I snorted. "Right."
He flew off his swing and into the sand. He quickly regained his balance and held his arms out to me—I knew this wasn't going to end well. I took a deep breath and a few more swings. "I swear to God, Jake, if you don't catch me…"
"I'll catch you," he said. "Trust me."
Trust him. Trust yourself.
Mindlessly, I pushed myself off the swing set once I was high in the air, and screamed as I flew. I wasn't sure what I screamed for—maybe it was appropriate.
Jacob caught me, alright; I landed on top of him in the sand. Looking down at him, there were only a trillion things I wanted to say. Only a trillion different ways to pour my heart out, because I fucking loved him. I loved him, dammit. A while ago, I hadn't thought I could love anyone because it just wasn't me. I hadn't had the heart for it. People changed, though—I'd changed, and it wasn't for the worse, like last time. That was something to be proud of, rather than just being pretty and having the power to take home anyone I wanted. I would much rather be able to love the right person instead of be loved by the wrong people.
With too many thoughts flooding through my head, the words just slipped out of my mouth. The wrong ones.
"God, you're so handsome."
It was okay, though, I guessed, because he spoke at the same time. "God, you're beautiful."
I didn't have to think about it; I kissed him. He put one his hands in my hair and the other at my waist, and then he kissed me back. It hit me right in the chest: I didn't have to fill my heart with emptiness.
We don't have to be lonely anymore.
A/N: Feedback would be deeply appreciated. What did you guys think? I'm always curious, you know.
IT'S GONNA BE MAY,