Four Years Before:
"Bells, someone's here for you!" Charlie called from the foot of the stairs, too exhausted from his last shift to climb up the small staircase and tell me to my face; I applied the last brush of lip gloss and rushed down the steps, kissing my dad lightly on the cheek before swinging the door open. I was awaiting Steve Waers on the other side, whom was suppose to take me to meet our usual troupe of friends on Friday nights, but to my ultimate surprise it wasn't the pimply face of a college classmate. He was taller than I last saw him, mere months before, but held steady that familiar magnetic pull of before- was this a weird joke or cruel dream? What was Jacob Black doing on my doorstep?
When my face visibly fell, Jacob sprung into action. "You don't look happy to see me." Was it a surprise to him? Jesus, this man was piece of work! Who breaks up with a girl and shows up three months later with a smile and high expectations? "Am I not allowed to show up unannounced anymore?" I wanted to scream "of course not" but pushed the impulse aside and chose to stay cool and calm.
I crossed my arms over the deep V cut of my oversized sweater and jutted my chin out. "I told you, we're still friends but you can't-"
"Can't what? Visit once in awhile?" I rolled my eyes at the dramatic tone he was taking. "Is it so bad that I wanted to check up on you? I missed you, ya know." Jacob shrugged in a small motion, but the arrogant look on his face said otherwise. Did he assume I was dressed up to see him tonight? Sure, gossip of him coming back into town had been circulating Forks and the Rez alike for the last few days… but I had assumed we would avoid each other at all costs. I certainly didn't entertain the idea that he would decide to pop up so unexpectedly at my doorstep!
"Yeah well, I'm getting along just fine." I lied through my teeth. It was horrible at first, being so thrashed and alone without him there with me. He was off at some grad school and I was just starting college here in Washington- I had to deal with the fact that he would be meeting older, sophisticated women out in the big world. He requested a "break" and I gave it to him! He didn't need to know that the last three months were pure, unadultered torture with him gone so far away. He would never know how badly it hurt to see him now, just mere inches away from my grasp yet so damn far away emotionally. We were in different ballparks, living on different planets now.
Jake smirked at that. It pricked harder than one of those yellow jacket bee stings. "Really? That's good to hear then." Did it hurt him at all, hearing me say that to his face? All communication ceased between us, whether or not that was the best solution to the problem we faced, and so there was far too many things left unsaid for my own good.
"Really." I added sourly. "I was actually on my way out…" Would it be absolutely rotten to add that a member of the male species was going to pick me up? Jake was absolutely insane, and that part of him I didn't want to enrage so soon. But damn it, victory was right there on my tongue. "Steve should be here any minute now." A pang of regret started in my chest, tightening every blood vessel belonging to my right and left chest cavity, when a flicker of sadness passed over his face. Steve wasn't my boyfriend but neither was Jake. "I think you'd like him, Jake, he's a great guy." Sure, he wasn't all that great of a person, but my ex-boyfriend didn't need to know that, did he? After spending so many lonely nights in pure torture imagining the gorgeous women he was seeing on a daily basis out there in the big city, he deserved a piece of the cake as well. For all he knew, Steve Waers was Mr. Right on a silver platter.
Jake's hands balled into fists at his sides, but there was a serene look to his face. Those onyx eyes gave away the brewing storm within him, and this should have made me feel better about myself… but I only felt worse. "This 'great guy' of yours… he's showing up here, in a few minutes?" Why did I feel like there should have shortened air quotes around everything he parroted from me? Steve was a great guy, even if he wasn't exactly mine, and he would arrive sometime soon! Why the cynicism?
"You've been gone for quite some time, Jake. Things change after awhile, that's just how it is." My voice shook towards the end of my speech. "Forks isn't big enough for the likes of you, but for the rest of us it's-" That was a lie and he knew it, but I was interrupted before I could even begin.
"Oh shut up, Bella, you left too!" Jacob yelled down at me.
"To be closer to my mom, not just because Forks wasn't glamorous enough for my liking!" I fumed. I remembered at the end of my Senior Year of High School, when he pretended to be so happy for me when my acceptance letter to the University of Arizona arrived. Arizona meant better weather, more opportunity, and actual driving distance to my mother's home. "And besides, I came back." Sure, that wasn't exactly the most proud thing I could have said… but it was true. I missed him and Charlie so much that I was willing to give up whatever ill-fueled dream I had of making a life outside of Washington. "I came back to salvage whatever morsel of a relationship we had left, and to be with the people that truly loved me!" Rene didn't love me; I learned that the hard way.
"No, you came back because you got scared and maybe a little lonely." Jake spat. "You couldn't stick it out in the real world, so you came back to this shitwater town where your dad runs everything and nothing is out of your comfort zone. Admit it, Bella, you don't have the fucking guts to go and do what I did!" My lower lip wobbled dangerously, but I refused to let any hurt show itself. I worked my jaw up and down, ready for some mean insult to come to my mind. But all I could think was, maybe he's right. I refused to cry in front of this asshole any more than I already had.
"I think it's about time you took your leave, Jacob." Charlie's voice was cutthroat, so much so that it sent a short chill down my spine.
My dad never got in-between Jake and my fights, he usually stayed out of it and immersed himself in TV and sports casting. But as a comforting hand found its way to my shoulder, I could only lean back against his arm and cast my glance away from my fuming ex-boyfriend. "No disrespect, Chief Swan, but I'm trying to discuss a problem with my girlfriend-"
"Ex-girlfriend!" I shot out.
"You're my girlfriend, Isabella, you always were and you always will be! Nothing can break us up- not your dad, not this douche bag Steve, not a thousand miles between us!" Jacob was going red in the face as his screaming grew louder and louder, surely waking up the entire neighborhood by now.
"Son, you need to leave." Charlie's chest rumbled with the authoritive tone he took, obviously channeling his more professional police guy side. Never had things ever gotten this far, never had Jake taken a sour tone with my father! What was this surreal situation doing in my life?
"No." Jake shook his head restively and stepped forward, completely going against everything my dad was asking of him. "Not until Bella tells me to go-"
"Boy, get the hell off my property! Don't make me use force now, get on!" Charlie stayed put, but I knew his fingers were itching to snatch the family shotgun from the wall hanging he whittled himself some years back; I knew my dad would never use it in front of me, let alone on someone so familiar like Jake, but these boys were having a pissing contest; I wasn't sure who would give in first and just consequences would come afterward. When I didn't speak on either party in the next few seconds, Charlie took it as his cue to take a minuscule step toward him. "See now, she doesn't wanna talk to you anymore. Take that as a sign to leave well enough alone." A part of me wanted to stop my dad from speaking because I did want to talk to Jacob, but I knew that no good could come from a conversation between us in the states were both in. Jacob almost looked convinced and I was very near to breathing a sigh of relief when a familiar head of copper blond hair came up the stone steps of my house on Sudbury Street.
You know that law- the one that says whatever can go wrong will go wrong? I had never given it much thought or relativity, at least not until that night. My eyes scooted to Jake's whilst I prayed Steve would completely disappear into thin air and all of this could be rewound like that of a VCR player. But no, this was real life. And real life had a way of being a fucking nightmare. "Bella? Is everything okay?" Steve was a mild mannered boy of eighteen, nothing in comparison to the viperous twenty-two year old jerk standing beside him now. "Hi, I'm Steve Waers-" He held out his hand for Jake, whom he somehow took for a harmless stranger at my doorstep. Even though I hadn't ever considered this scenario could have ever come true, I still felt somehow responsible for the way things went. Poor Steve, he never even saw it coming.
"Jacob!" Came my shrill scream from some odd direction or another. Was that really my voice? I wasn't aware my voice could go that high before that moment. "Oh my god, look what you did!" I cried loudly, throwing myself forward in an attempt to shield my birdlike companion from taking anymore blows from the madman heaving before me. "Just leave already! Go away." I begged painfully; Steve was moaning and writhing around in pain beneath my guard, having the daylights knocked right out of him.
Charlie took hold of Jake in no time, but I refused to think of what might have taken over me had Jacob laid a hand on my father. Not only would he deal with the wrath of Chief of Police, but he'd also have me to face me. His eyes danced around the scene before him in guilt, as though he wasn't the one that just harmed the kid beside me; that 'criminally insane' act might have worked with me before when I was madly infatuated with him, but not this time. He took it too far. "Isabella…" The pain in his voice was evident to even my dad, who hesitated for just a second in his manhandling to gauge my reaction. Jake sounded like he loved me, like he wanted to fix everything and make it all better with just my name. But that wasn't how life worked; things didn't just repair themselves because Jacob said so. I shook my head in agony, keeping my gaze locked on the bloody nosed boy to my right instead of the man that I loved. Or at least, the man that I thought I loved. I didn't quite know the difference these days. Hell, I was barely nineteen- love was one of those things people didn't master until their late thirties, why did I even for a second think I had the real thing with Jake? "Divers Cliffs, tomorrow morning." I pretended not to hear him, like I wasn't keen on every word that man spoke.
But I was. I depended on him for much of my life, that next morning wasn't so different. Except, that next morning was the end. The end as I knew it at nineteen, accordingly- it was the end of us. That's a longer story, and it's meant to be told at another time. The best stories are the ones greatly anticipated, after all; Divers Cliffs and the tragedy it witnessed that day shaped and shifted my life in so many more ways than one.
It was the day I died and the day I was reborn.