TITLE: Tempest

PAIRING: Jacob/Bella


SUMMARY: Bella sits on the cliffs watching a storm roll in while the wolves are hunting Victoria. Talking herself into jumping, she is stopped by Jacob who finally opens her eyes to what's been in front of her the whole time. Reference to suicide/depression.

Bella POV
I drove up to the cliffs to wait for Jake, knowing that no matter where I was, he would be able to sniff me out. As I parked the truck and shrugged on my jacket, I realized that something about the air didn't feel quite right. The atmosphere was heavy, oppressive, and it did little to lift my dark mood.

Jacob, my best friend, my sun, was out in the woods somewhere risking his life and it was all my fault. I was the human stupid enough to be lured in by vampires and now the Pack was paying the price.

The worst part was, I couldn't even confide to him just how fucked up my mind truly was. Jake had tried to help me out of the dark hole of my depression, reminding me to find joy in everyday things, but I really wasn't as "fixed" as he thought I was.

Even our plans for the day- cliff diving- was something he thought we were doing to help me conquer my fear of heights. I wondered what he would say if I told him I really just needed the adrenaline rush and potential danger in order to hear the imaginary voice of my vampire ex-boyfriend. Even Jake's devotion wouldn't keep him here if he knew I really had lost my mind.

Settling myself at the edge of the cliff, I turned my attention to the view around me. I hadn't noticed before, but the forest was strangely silent. The absence of wind left the trees standing as silent sentries, and the animals had all taken cover ahead of the impending storm.

No bird calls, or scampering little feet could be heard. I was sure there must be a wolf nearby- Jake hadn't left me unattended since he learned that Victoria was actually trying to get to me- but my weak human ears couldn't detect their presence. Besides, Billy said the pack had the red-head cornered up by the base of the mountain. If you could actually corner a vampire, something I sincerely doubted.

A glance up at the clouds showed angry slate-colored swirls that didn't bode well for my impending jump. Jake would probably pull the over-protective card and back out on me again. I was really getting tired of being protected "for my own good."

A sudden gust of wind caught my attention, and I glanced down to see the waves crashing angrily against the base of the cliff, spitting foam into the air with increasing regularity. A person would have to be crazy to jump into that.

As I stared at the waves, my thoughts quickly turned darker. If I were gone, Victoria would have no reason to continue her relentless pursuit. Jake and the wolves would be safe, Charlie would be safe, and whoever she was using for meals would be safe. Just one could save so many; I was selfish, really, to fight so hard for my own lousy life.

I tipped my head back to gaze up at the whirling clouds, the dark shades of grey that aptly mirrored my fractured soul. The faintest of smiles tilted my lips as the decision firmed up in my mind. Taking myself out of the equation was the best thing for me to do.

My heart ached briefly as I pictured Jacob's devastated face. He would probably blame himself, but it wasn't his fault that I was just too broken to repair. Charlie would be sad, but it wasn't as if I had been the best company the past few months. I was doing him a favor, really.

The first cold drops of rain felt cleansing as they fell like teardrops on my upturned face. They washed away the last traces of fear and gave me hope for what I was leaving behind. My heart began to pound as I stretched my arms out, rising up slightly on my toes, and his voice finally reached me- Bella!

My smile was relieved now. I wouldn't die alone. Bella, please!

His words were immediately echoed by a louder voice, rougher and frantic, from the cliff adjacent- "Bella! Stop!"

I didn't open my eyes to see which wolf had spotted me. It didn't matter; they would never be able to reach me in time. I knew it wasn't Jacob- I would recognize his voice anywhere. I felt it somewhere deep in my bones.

My pulse was pounding in my ears as the anticipation rose up, and I gathered the last bit of courage I needed. I didn't realize the pounding was more than just my heart until I felt the rush of heat at my back as sharp teeth grabbed my jacket and jerked me back from the edge.

The air rushed out of my lungs as I fell to the hard rocks, and it took me a minute to gather my wits and look behind me. I turned just in time to see the angry russet wolf phase seamlessly back to my angrier best friend.

"Bella! What the fuck do you think you're doing?! Are you trying to get yourself killed?!" I couldn't answer because my bones rattled when he grabbed my arms and shook me roughly. His warmth chased the haze away, and I was instantly filled with remorse for what almost happened.

I dropped my gaze, but Jacob wouldn't let me off that easy. He hauled me to my feet, jerking my chin up to face him, and the look in his eyes took my breath away. I had never seen him so enraged, so upset, so- unhinged?

His eyes were dark black and narrowed with fury, and his nostrils flared with each jagged breath, like a horse that had been raced too hard. His normal sunny smile was long gone, teeth clenched tightly as his lips were thinned and drawn back in a ferocious snarl. He looked closer to his wolf in human form than I had ever seen- he actually looked a bit like Paul.

He searched my face before dropping his eyes and hands to the rest of me, tracing over me with frantic urgency as he checked me for any injuries I might have sustained. He kissed my scraped palms with unexpected gentleness, though he still trembled as if he was fighting his wolf.

I was startled when he pulled me roughly into his tight embrace, "Oh, Bells, I thought- I was almost- I just- God! Bells, why? Why would you do that? Why would you even consider it? Why would you leave me?" The last words came out a mere whisper, heavy with a pain that cut straight through me.

He dropped to his knees suddenly, taking me with him in an undignified heap. I could feel his hot tears as he buried his face in my neck and hair, sobbing brokenly and almost hopelessly. I had to do something to fix this.

"Shh, Jake. I'm sorry. I wasn't leaving you. I just-" I didn't know what to say; I couldn't confess my shame, so I settled for hugging him as tightly as I could and stroking his wet hair back from his face.

His tears showed no indication of slowing, but my legs were starting to lose feeling and I needed to rearrange myself in a better position on his lap. I pressed one hand to his broad chest and moved my hips enough to realize that Jake was still completely naked.

I don't know how I didn't realize it before- I watched him phase right in front of me after all. Now that I had noticed, I couldn't look anywhere else. I was frozen, eyes locked on that, and my thoughts were a swirling tempest taking me to lands I'd never dreamed of before.

I wasn't completely naïve, I knew Jake wanted more from me than I was willing to give him at the time, but he was always so careful not to push me too far or ask me for too much. He freely shared his hugs, his warmth, but never once tried to make it sexual.

My eyes were glued to him now and I watched, fascinated, as he hardened impressively under my heated gaze. I had never seen a man aroused before; I was too embarrassed to search out pictures on the internet, and up until now Jake had been carefully modest in my presence, even when we slept in the same bed at night.

I had brushed against him on accident before, first thing in the morning, and I didn't miss the look of pain he tried to hide when I pointedly ignored his aroused state. Now there was no brushing it aside. He was right there.

"Bella," he whispered quietly, hoarsely, and my eyes shot up to meet his dark, inscrutable gaze. For a long moment I was helplessly trapped in his eyes, drawn like a magnet to the sheer sensuality he exuded, something I had somehow never seen before.

I knew Jacob was beautiful, but I had never felt drawn to him in that way. In an instant, everything changed. Now he was all I could see. His scent, his heat, those wise dark eyes were filling me, surrounding me, and I felt like a ship tossed about on the waves. I no longer knew which way was up and which way was down. All I knew was Jacob.

Moving slowly, giving him plenty of time to stop me, I leaned forward until our lips were less than an inch apart. I could taste his hot breath as he exhaled harshly, and I closed my eyes to better savor his presence. Opening my eyes again, I stared into those stormy eyes that I loved so much. Eyes that were filled now with a strange mixture of fear and hope. "Jake."

The second our lips touched, I was consumed with desire. I pulled myself closer to him, intensely aware of every square inch of his beautiful body pressed tightly to mine. He groaned when I tentatively pressed my tongue against his lips, and he quickly opened to let me in.

His tongue met mine with a sudden fervor, and his flavor filled my senses, making me wonder briefly how I had ever lived without him. His arms wrapped around me tightly, one hand reaching up to tangle in my hair, pulling my face and body impossibly closer.

Time seemed to stand still as we poured our emotions into that one epic kiss- my first real kiss- until we were suddenly jolted back to reality. A loud chorus of howls sounded nearby and Jake jerked his head toward the forest, chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath.

A loud clap of thunder made me jump and he automatically rubbed my back to soothe me without a second thought. I realized that the rain had grown heavier and we were sitting in the middle of a hurricane, the wind cutting through me like a knife now that I wasn't pressed tightly to Jake's searing heat.

I was staring out at the water, trying desperately to control my thoughts as I watched the waves rise even higher than before. I shivered, a combination of the cold rain blowing against me, and the dark thoughts that I was almost down there, beneath the sea, until Jake pulled me back, saved me.

Jake suddenly stood, lifting me effortlessly as he rose, and I grasped blindly at his shoulders as my hands slid off his wet skin. I blushed as heavily as I could in my cold, shivery state when he pulled my legs up to wrap around his trim waist, leaving me pressed tightly against his stomach, just above that. "Look Bells," he said, pointing off to the trees to our left.

I squinted in the direction he indicated, but it took me a few seconds to make out what he saw. A faint plume of smoke rose from an area near the mountain- purple smoke. My brain was still a bit slow but I finally made the connection as a pain-filled memory of Jasper and Emmett throwing hard stone limbs on a fire in a ballet studio came to mind. A vampire was burning.

"Did they get her? Is that really Victoria? Is she gone?" I looked back at Jake excitedly, begging him to give me the good news. I couldn't handle another dramatic swing in my emotions; I was too close to spent.

His smile was indulgent, familiar, as he cupped my cheek and leaned in to press the lightest of kisses to my cold lips. "Well, it's somebody. Any dead vamp is good," he said, his low voice rumbling against my chest made me suddenly aware of my very cold, very hard nipples. "But we need to get you warm, Bells. There's a bit of a storm out here."

We stared at each other a bit longer until I wrapped my arms around his neck and tightened my legs around his waist, burying my face against his warm skin. "Take me home, Jake," I whispered, pressing a kiss to his racing pulse.

His breath hitched slightly before he turned and started walking to my truck, and I blushed again as I remembered he still hadn't put his shorts back on. At least with the storm there was little chance of anyone being on the trail where I parked. Unless another wolf wandered by.

I was shaking uncontrollably once we finally reached my truck, and Jake practically had to pry me off him to let me into the cab. As he walked around the front of the truck to the driver's seat, I watched him bend over and untie his shorts, feeling a strange combination of relief and disappointment as he slipped them on before opening the door.

His cheeky grin made me wonder if he knew what I was thinking, but he didn't say anything, just held his arm out for me to slide against him and soak up some of his soothing warmth. The truck started with a loud rumble, and he circled around to drive back down to the beach. I knew we needed to talk about what happened up on the cliff, but I had no idea how to go about starting that particularly loaded conversation.

I needed to examine my own feelings as well, determine if I was ready to pursue this whatever-this-was with Jacob. Something shifted between us up there at the top, and I was fairly certain there was no going back from it. Not that I wanted to; no, I wanted to go forward, if he would have me. "Jake-"

His arm squeezed me briefly and he leaned over to press a kiss to the top of my head, "Shh, Bells. Don't talk about it right now, ok? Just let me have this, for now."

The pain in his voice took my breath away. Did he honestly think I was going to reject him? Let him down gently or something? Did he not feel the same thing I felt up there? Glancing up at the worried frown marring his beautiful features, I knew the answer. He didn't believe I wanted him. Well, I would just have to show him.

Jake drove to his house in silence, looking a bit startled when I grabbed his hand and followed him out the driver's side door. He led me into the house, standing awkwardly in the front room looking anywhere but my face. "Um, you probably need to get a shower so you can warm up a bit. I can find you something dry to wear and-"

I stepped up and pulled his face down my level, silencing him with a kiss as I pressed my body against his much warmer one. I wanted there to be no mistaking my intentions here. His eyes were wide when we finally separated enough to breathe, and I reached around to tuck my hand into the back pocket of his cut-offs. "I can think of another way you can warm me up, Jake," I said lowly, happy that my voice remained level and didn't give away just how nervous I really was.

He looked almost terrified as he stared down at me in disbelief. He didn't say anything for so long that I began to doubt myself and wonder if I had imagined his feelings. Of course he didn't want me. Why would he?

Lightning lit up the window, dangerously close, and a huge clap of thunder shook the house. Jake pulled me into his arms again, shushing me quietly as he rocked slowly from side to side. Being close to him was so easy, so effortless. Touching him didn't require conscious thought; it was as easy as breathing.

The only sound was the rain pouring down outside, and the steady ticking of the clock on the mantel. It seemed to tell me I had waited long enough, I needed to hurry up and claim Jacob as my own before something else worked to pull us apart. We'd had so many hurdles to get past already- Edward, Sam, the pack, Victoria- but in this moment there was only us. Jake and Bells.

Looking up at his beautiful face, surrounded by the steady strength of his arms, I realized that just this once he needed me to be the strong one. He needed to know that he had me, and I had no intention of letting go. "Jake," I whispered, knowing he would hear me, "I want you."

He reeled back, stunned at my words, but then ducked his head and kissed me with everything he had. He hadn't said the words, but I could feel his love seeping into every pore, soaking in my skin, my mouth, everywhere he touched. As the storm raged around us, a new one was brewing between us, ready to wipe out everything we thought we knew.

I barely registered the movement as he lifted me and sprinted down the hallway to his bedroom. He stopped in the doorway and set me gently on my feet, not looking at me as he slipped one hand under the edge of my soaked t-shirt. "Bells, are you sure?" he asked quietly, his voice strained with barely bridled passion.

I put my hand on his cheek and lifted his face enough that I could see his eyes- eyes that burned with a strength that took my breath away. This was a side of Jacob I had never seen before- the rightful alpha wolf, Ephraim's heir. "Once we do this, Bella, you're mine, and nothing can change that," his fervent words struck a chord, burrowing down into my chest and latching tightly around my heart. "Are you sure?"

Numbly, I nodded almost without thought, as if my very body and soul were answering for me. On a fundamental level I understood the magnitude of what we were about to do, but I also felt there was something I was missing. It was a fleeting concern, disappearing as I stared into his eyes, feeling the complete rightness of the situation.

"I've never been more certain."

With a fierce growl, he threw off all caution as he ripped my shirt from bottom to top, startling me with his eagerness. A soft giggle escaped me as he struggled to unhook my bra, but when his hot mouth closed over one nipple, while his right hand covered the other entire breast, I just closed my eyes and tried to press myself closer to him.

His left hand snaked around my back, and his fingers spread wide to press against my shoulder blades. I felt incredibly small as he covered almost my entire back with one large hand. A firm pressure against my hip caught my attention and I looked down to see him pressing his erection firmly against me.

With shaking, inexperienced hands, I reached for the button on his shorts and carefully slipped it from its hole. I was nervous as I pulled the zipper down, worried I might accidentally hurt him since I knew he wasn't wearing anything underneath the wet denim.

He groaned loudly as he spilled out into my waiting hands, and I carefully wrapped my fingers around his heavy length, a bit startled when I realized my fingers would not go all the way around. How on earth would that ever fit inside me?

He must have sensed my fear, because he slowly backed off a bit and pulled me into a safe, familiar hug. "Shh, Bells. It's ok. We don't have to rush. You don't have to do anything you're not ready for," he crooned softly in my ear, pulling me closer when another loud burst of thunder startled me.

I shook my head, there was no way I was backing out of this, and he wasn't going to reject me the way he always did. "No," I said firmly. "I want this. It's just, you're so... big."

He chuckled lightly as his face relaxed a bit, making him look more like my Jacob, and he kissed the end of my nose almost playfully. "Thanks for the compliment, Bells. But don't worry, I promise it will fit," he smirked, finally bringing out my ever-faithful blush.

"Here," he said, stepping back enough to reach down and peel off my jeans that were practically glued to my skin with rainwater. It took both of us working, and I almost fell over twice, but I was finally standing before him in nothing but my underwear.

Underwear that was damp for more than one reason, and based on the way he was sniffing the air, I was pretty sure he could smell my arousal.

I shivered as he watched me, feeling the cold air of the house against my drying skin, and he ducked out the door. Before I could figure out where he went, he was back with a huge towel that he wrapped around my shoulders to dry me off.

His hands moved carefully, almost reverently, as he rubbed my body with the towel, leaving behind a trail of heat. My shoulders, then my arms, then my chest, and finally my legs; all were dried with his soft, loving touch.

When he moved to dry my hair, I pulled the towel out of my hands to wring the curls out gently. I knew he had long hair once, but his soft, sleek hair wasn't as prone to knots as my frizzy curls. He watched every move I made with rapt attention.

I finished squeezing out as much water as I could, then I reached over to rub the towel over his damp hair. The water had already evaporated from his hot skin, but he sat obediently on the edge of the bed and let me rub the rain from the disheveled black strands. I ran my fingers through it wistfully, "I miss your long hair."

His eyes were guarded; we had already discussed his reasons for cutting it, and he even offered to grow it out again if it mattered that much to me. Looking at him now, I knew it wouldn't make a difference. Nothing he could do would make me love him more or less than I did at that particular moment.

Without a word, he laid the towel aside and scooped me up into his arms, laying me carefully on his bed as if I was made of glass. Instead of feeling sheltered or stifled, I simply felt treasured. Jacob loved me enough to be gentle with me.

He knelt above me, covering me completely, and I felt my body slowly return to its normal temperature. His hands danced over my skin, tracing every piece he could find as he kissed me slow and deep.

My own hands rested on his broad shoulders, clinging to him tightly as if he might disappear at any moment. I took comfort in his strength, his desire, and I watched through lowered lashes as he worked his way down my body until he was lying on his stomach between my legs. He put his hands on either side of my panties and looked up at me in question. I couldn't find the words to answer so I just nodded, yes.

I felt my insecurities rare up again as he looked at my newly bared skin. His fingers moved from my hipbone down and across to my neatly trimmed curls. I blushed in embarrassment as I wondered if he wanted me completely bare- guys liked that better, didn't they? My worries disappeared when he lowered his face and I felt his tongue trace lightly over my clit. "You're so beautiful, Bells. So perfect."

With no further warning, he spread me open with his fingers and just devoured me. His tongue felt even hotter than the rest of his body, making me shiver as I thought about what was still to come. One longer finger slid into me with little problem, and I felt him move it around as if he was searching for something.

He raised his head and watched me as he slowly added another finger, and I tried to relax as he moved them slowly, stroking me with a careful rhythm. Satisfied that I was ok for the moment, he returned his mouth to my clit and my head fell back at the intense sensations. He licked and sucked, stroking constantly, and the tight coil of desire built higher and higher until I was sure I would explode.

His fingers suddenly pressed deeper as he bit lightly on my little bundle of nerves, and I was gone. I felt a slight twinge of pain but it was quickly lost in the waves of euphoria that washed over me. After I came down and caught my breath, I pried my eyes open to see Jake sitting back on his heels, watching me carefully as he licked his fingers clean. I felt a light wave of nausea when I saw blood streaking the fluid, and I understood that he must have broken my barrier.

Seeing that he had my full attention, Jacob crawled slowly up the bed and lowered his forehead against mine. He stared deeply into my eyes and then he spoke, "Bells, I want you to know that I love you. I have always loved you, and I will always love you. There will never be another for me."

Even knowing how he felt, his words still touched my heart and tears clouded my eyes at his earnest declaration. I pulled on his neck and pressed my lips to his, gently. "I know Jake. I love you too."

He held himself up on his arms as we kissed for minutes, or hours, it was hard to tell. The rain still hadn't eased, but the thunder was moving further away so only low rumbles sounded every now and then.

I began to wonder if he was going to do anything, when he rolled carefully on the small bed and carried me with him. I ended up straddling his waist and I looked down at him in question. His beautiful face blushed darker than I had ever seen, but he managed to get the quiet words out, "I haven't um, done this, or anything, but I've seen stuff in the guys' heads." He ran one hand over his eyes before looking back up at me, "It's supposed to be easier for you if you're on top. You can, um, control how fast and everything. So it doesn't hurt as much."

His tender consideration warmed my heart even more, and I couldn't resist leaning over to kiss him again. As I started to sit back, I could feel his erection brushing against me, and I pushed back without hesitating.

It was slow going at first, I had to rock back and forth to work him in, but we were finally joined and I sat up on his groin in triumph. His eyes were tightly clenched and his lips were moving quickly as he muttered something under his breath. "Jacob?" I asked, more than a little worried about him. "Jake? Are you ok?"

He finally looked at me and smiled so sweetly, "I'm great, Bells. Just trying not to embarrass myself by coming too fast."

We chuckled together at his words and I gasped as he moved inside me. His hands grasped my hips and he began to raise and lower me as he pumped slowly into me from beneath. The feeling of connection was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. He filled me in more places than just where we were physically joined. He filled the throbbing hole in my heart, the dark place in my head, and every cold corner of my body. He made me whole.

Jacob growled a bit when I tried moving my hips around, and his rhythm faltered slightly. He moved one hand so his thumb could rub furiously on my clit, and my head fell back again at the waves of heat that spread through me. "Come on, Bells. Come for me," he begged, and my body instantly obeyed as I clamped down hard on him.

He groaned long and loud as hot spurts of fluid filled me, and I collapsed against his chest in exhaustion. We lay there panting and his hand stroked my hair gently, lovingly. I finally raised my head and looked at him. He looked so content, so satisfied, that I couldn't help but wonder just how badly he had been wanting this. Why didn't he push me harder?

When I asked him, he simply said, "Bells, I was willing to be whatever you needed. A friend, a brother, a lover, it was always up to you. I was just waiting for you to be ready."

I stared at him, confused, until my exhausted brain made the final connection. "You imprinted on me?" I gasped, and sat up straighter when he nodded. "When?"

His finger traced down my cheek, leaving a trail of fire in its wake, and I leaned into his hand without a thought. "That first time I saw you, when you came to my house. You weren't ready for me then so Sam told me to back off and let you lead. He said you'd come to me when you were ready, and you finally did."

I tried to be angry that he kept the imprint a secret, but I couldn't find it in me to be upset. He could have pushed me, demanded more before I was ready, but he waited patiently, painfully, until I knew. Until I chose to let him into my heart.

A pounding on the door brought his head up and he looked toward the front of the house in irritation. "It's Paul. I better see what he wants." He kissed me once more before setting me back on the bed. I grimaced at bit at the soreness when he pulled out, but tried to hide it so he wouldn't feel bad.

Jake tossed me a shirt and a huge pair of sweatpants that I hoped I could tie up tight enough to keep me covered. He pulled on his own shorts and grabbed my hand as we walked to the door.

Paul was his normal obnoxious self, whistling and pounding Jake on the back for finally "getting some." Jake shoved back half-heartedly, but I could see how happy he truly was. I stayed in the background listening quietly as Paul told him about the fight with Victoria, and another young vampire she had with her. They both were finally defeated and I sat down with the relief I felt that I was no longer being hunted.

I tuned out their voices until Jake came over and put his hand on my shoulder. "I'm going to check in with Sam, ok? Stay here and I'll be back as soon as I can. I love you." And with a kiss, he bounded out the door, letting out a loud howl a few seconds later. I blushed furiously as I thought about what the pack was probably seeing.

I didn't realize that Paul was still there until he cleared his throat and looked at me pointedly. I usually tried my best to stay out of Paul's way, since I was pretty sure he hated my guts. "What?" I finally asked him.

He stepped into the room and sat down on the coffee table in front of me, staring hard and making me more uncomfortable the longer he went without talking. I glanced away, only to look back when his low voice spoke, softer and gentler than I expected, "Bella?"

His eyes were not glaring at me now, he actually looked almost sad, "Bella, I know what happened with you and Jake, and I'm happy for him, really. But I know you still have a long road ahead of you."

I was thoroughly confused by his words and his strange demeanor until he went on to explain, "I saw Jake pull you back, and I saw Jared's memory from the seconds before that." Well, that answers who the wolf was, I had almost forgotten there was someone else there. "Bella, I know you were going to jump, and I know it wasn't just for fun. You need help, Bella. You need to talk to someone."

I was immediately on the defensive, and I scoffed at him in anger, "Who? You? You gonna be my shrink now, Paul? That's rich. Life advice from the pack bully."

He didn't flinch at my words, just reached slowly to take my hand. "I know how it feels, Bella. I know how you feel. And you may feel fine right now, but that darkness doesn't disappear in an instant. You have to fight against it."

I didn't resist when he moved to the couch, wrapping his arm around me carefully. "You and I both know that Jake will never understand that part of you, no matter how much he wants to. He's too full of life, and light, to get it. You can talk to me, or Emily, or even Sam, but you need to talk to someone, and be accountable to someone."

He raised my chin to force me to look at him. "You're Pack, Bella. And you're important to all of us, not just Jake. We don't want anything to happen to you, ok?"

I couldn't stop the tears as his wise grey eyes saw straight through me, and I knew he was right. I had needed help for a while but I was too scared to admit it. "If he lost you, Bella, we would lose him. That boy annoys the hell out of me, but I don't want to see him hurt because of you, ok? I'm gonna be watching."

The relief that filled me at his words, the fact that someone understood me, even when I didn't understand myself, gave me a small glimmer of hope that fed the joy Jacob poured over me. We stood up and I took his hand, following him out the door into the weak sunlight that was trying valiantly to break through the remaining clouds.

The storm had passed, and for the first time in months I could see the light.