First and foremost...(Because I have to spell it out every single time...Like we don't know I'm not Stephenie Meyer!)
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
And now that thats done—A little history...
Once upon a time Leah Clearwater believed in love…that is until love shattered her in ways she'd never imagined. Now, all grown up, she refuses to fall victim to her foolish emotions and pushes away anyone who tries to break through her carefully constructed walls. She'd rather end up alone than take a chance. But what happens when she catches the eye of not just one, but two men who will move mountains to prove her wrong. To show her that love is worth the fall, especially when they are both there to catch her.
Dual Commitment is the story behind Taking Chances (a one shot I submitted for JBNP's Autism Awarness fundraiser. You do not need to read the one shot, unless you want to see what your getting yourself into. This story will cover it in greater detail). The one shot gave us a glimpse into the lives of Jacob, Leah and Paul, the magical moment they met and their instant connection. But a glimpse doesn't tell you the whole story. How had they all come to be there that fatefull night and what did the future realistically hold for them? A relationship with two people is hard, with three it's damn near impossible. Will they get their happily ever after? Is their love strong enough? Or will their personal demons and the narrow minds of society end it before it even has a chance to began?
"You not only broke my heart, you broke my expectations of how love is supposed to be" ~Rashida Rowe
Leah looked at the clock above the cash register and swore under her breath. Shit. Shit. Shit. She had wanted to stop by her house and get cleaned up and now she wouldn't have time. Damn him. This is not the way this was supposed to happen. She hurriedly checked on her customers one last time before running to the galley to start on her side work.
"Clearwater. You're Cut." Her boss yelled around the corner.
"Thank god!" Grabbing a bucket full of lemons she started frantically slicing them. If she could just get this done she might still have a little time. She was only two lemons in when the knife cut into the side of her finger. "Dammit!" She yelled, putting the bleeding digit in her mouth. The metallic taste of her blood immediately overpowered the bitterness of the lemon.
"Whoa there, O-Ren Ishii, take it easy with that knife. You're gonna hurt somebody." Her friend Angela teased as she quickly set down her tray and grabbed a clean towel for Leah.
"Who?" Leah asked, wrapping the towel around her still bleeding—and now throbbing—finger.
"O-Ren Ishii. You know, Lucy Liu's character in Kill Bill?" At Leah's blank stare she rolled her eyes. "She was bad ass with knives. Anyway…what's up with you, you're wound tighter than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs."
"I know. Sam called me earlier on my break and wants me to meet him at the beach. He says he wants to talk to me about our future."
"Ohmygod! Is this it?" Angela asked, jumping up and down with excitement.
"I don't know. What else could it be? We graduate in two weeks and the plan was always to get married after graduation. I was trying to get out of here and started rushing—hence the hemorrhaging finger."
"I'll do your side work. Get out of here. This is much more important than stocking the refrigerator and cleaning the shake machine."
"Thank you, but I can't ask you to do that."
"The hell you can't. A girl only gets proposed to once…well hopefully only once and trust me, you do not want to be wearing a tacky Dixie's Diner uniform and smelling like a sour dishtowel when it happens."
"I don't know…" Leah hesitated. She really wanted to take her up on her offer but hated asking for help. Angela didn't give her a choice. In a matter of minutes she rallied the other two waitresses working and as one they clocked her out and pushed her out the door. Literally.
Leah parked her car and looked over the nearly empty beach. She had lived in the small town of North Bend, Oregon her whole life and for as long as she could remember all she wanted to do was escape. It was ironic that now, when she was finally on the path to do just that, she was questioning her decision. Both her and Sam had been accepted to UCLA and they were going to apply for married student housing as soon as they could. Their well laid out plans were almost realized, except for this one last detail. Getting Married. Was this really what she wanted? She was only eighteen. Was she too young?
Her parents had gotten married around the same age and they had had a long and wonderful life together. Her mom was a nurse at the local elementary school and her father was one of the many men in the area who earned their living as a commercial fisherman. They had never been rich but they made sure their children never wanted for anything. Leah and her brother Seth were brought up with strong values and appreciated everything they were given. They were happy and their lives were full of love and support.
But times were different now weren't they? Marrying your high school sweetheart was so 1950's and not a very popular notion these days. Now you were expected to live life before settling down and her opportunities to do that were endless. She had received scholarships' to several colleges and the world was hers for the taking, so what was she doing? Shaking her head she mentally slapped herself. What was she questioning? This was Sam; the love of her life and this is what she wanted. They would take the world by storm together, the way they'd always planned and screw anyone who doubted them. She double-checked her hair and make-up, got out of her car and headed to the little cove where she knew Sam would be waiting.
He didn't immediately notice her as she walked up. He seemed preoccupied, nervous. She smiled. It couldn't be easy proposing to someone, even when you knew she was going to say yes. Admittedly it was a big step and some apprehension was expected. She took a quiet minute to admire him, amazed by the butterflies fluttering around in her stomach. You would think after three years together that they would have gone away, but they didn't. She was just as crazy about him today as she had been the day they met.
"Hey, how long have you been standing there?" He asked when he finally noticed her. His eyes roamed her body, glowing with approval. Thank god for Angela and the girls, she owed them big time!
"Not long." She closed the distance between them falling gracefully into his arms. "You looked like you were thinking about some pretty heavy stuff."
"I was. I was thinking about us and the future." He kissed her softly before giving her a small sad smile that seemed out of place considering what they were there to discuss. His hand ghosted over one of her long ebony curls. "You look beautiful. Always so beautiful."
"Thank you. I got off a few minutes early so I ran home to change. I couldn't imagine doing this in my uniform." She gave him a teasing smile and when he didn't return it she started to get nervous. Something felt—off. Turning in his arms she leaned back against his chest and focused on the setting sun. She was about to ask him what was wrong when he started to speak again.
"So…have you heard back from any of the other schools you applied to?" His question had her head whipping around to look at him.
"A few, why?"
He shrugged his shoulders, "Just curious. I'm really proud of you, ya know. I always knew you would do well." He picked up her left hand and started twirling her promise ring. A ring he had given her two years earlier.
"Sam, Is something wrong?"
"Yes, no…fuck.I don't want to do this to you." Letting go of her hand he got up and started pacing. "Leah, I think you should take one of the other scholarships." His words hit her like a kick in the stomach.
"What? Why would I do that? I don't understand." She would not cry. She. Would. Not. Cry. Even as she argued with herself the tears started to fall. This was not what was supposed to happen. They were supposed to be getting engaged. "We're supposed to get married. We're going to UCLA. Together. That was always the plan, Sam."
"I know that was always the plan." He yelled, frustrated. "It's still is…. it's just not our plan anymore." The pain in her heart was temporarily numbed by icy dread. "Leah, there's something I need to tell you."
"No! It is our plan. It's always been our plan." She whispered. Her whole world had just been thrown into a flat spin and she knew whatever he had to tell her was only going to make it worse.
"I'm sorry, Leah, but there's someone else."
"Someone else?" She repeated unable to believe his words. The pain in her chest was a physical thing now, crushing her. She couldn't breathe. Her whole body was having a physical reaction and it took everything she had to keep herself upright.
"I've been seeing someone else for a while. She just found out she's pregnant. It's mine. I'm so sorry; this wasn't supposed to happen. You were never supposed to find out. It was just fun, you know. Just sex. I love you, Leah, but I have to do the right thing by her."
She was going to be sick. "You love me?" She questioned, totally floored. How could he love her? You didn't hurt someone you loved this way. "Who?"
"Its not impor—"
"WHO?" She yelled getting the attention of several people on the beach. Lowering her voice she argued. "I think I have a right to know. I deserve some answers. Who, how long and most of all why? God…why Sam?" She asked, her voice so low she wondered if he heard her at all.
"I just think knowing will make it harder than it already is."
"How long?" Jesus, did she really want to know the details.
"Almost a year." He answered looking more embarrassed than ashamed.
"A year? How?" She couldn't believe this. They had been inseparable for the last three years.
"Usually when you were at work. That was the only time we weren't together. Sometimes I lied. Said I was hanging with Mike or that I was crashing. " A small ball of something started to unfurl in her stomach. Anger. No that was too mild an emotion. She was experiencing full blown rage. He had been cheating on her while she was working her ass off making and saving money for them. She had nearly fifteen thousand dollars in her savings account waiting to be spent on their future and the son of a bitch had been off screwing someone else?
"Who is she, Sam?"
He sighed, and then with one word he destroyed everything she'd ever believed in. "Emily."
"Emily?" She looked confused for a minute, refused to believe what he was telling her. "My Emily? You've been seeing my cousin Emily behind my back...for a year?"
"I'm so sor—"
"Oh my god. I'm so fucking stupid. The signs…they were all there…but I couldn't believe she would do that to me, that you would. I mean, she's been my best friend my whole life. She was going to be my maid-of-honor. She went dress shopping with me just last weekend." Like a movie montage the last year flew before her eyes. "Ohmygod…all those times she gloated about her new boyfriend…how hot he was… how great the sex was…she was talking about you wasn't she? And you knew it? She would tell us both the stories. She would be on the phone with you when she was with me. I can only imagine how hard you laughed at me when you were together. Poor, stupid, clueless, Leah." Her head was starting to spin. She sat down and buried her face in her hands praying this was all a bad dream.
"Leah…" His voice no longer held any emotion, only impatience.
"Do you love her?"
"Yes. No. Fuck, I don't know. I mean she's hot and she's a great lay and I guess we get along ok. She's having my fucking kid, Leah, and I have to do what's right. I didn't want all this shit; I'm only nineteen years old. All I wanted was to have sex with someone who didn't just lie there. With someone who knew what the fuck they were doing. Fuck! This entire mess is your fault. If you'd just—"
"MY FAULT?" Getting up from the bench she got in his face. "Are you out of your fucking mind?"
"Yes, your fault. I love you, Leah, but…Jesus, I don't even know how to tell you this. Sex with you…it just wasn't what I wanted. You never sat—" She flinched as if he'd physically hit her and stepped back. Wrapping her arms around herself in a vain attempt to hold herself together she asked the only questions she could.
"I didn't satisfy you? Was…was I bad at it?" She was bad at sex? What little was left of her self esteem crawled away with its head down and its tail in-between its legs.
"You're like a god damn sex camel. You could go months without it and when we did do it, it was boring. I had to do everything…all the time. You never seemed to know what to do. I needed more and you couldn't give it to me so I found someone who could."
"That's because you were my first…and only. I didn't know what to do. You never told me to do anything different or that you wanted anything more. I thought…I thought…"
"Look. It's not important and we can't change it. I asked Emily to marry me tonight and she said yes. She's coming with me to UCLA. I think it would be best for all of us if you just went to school somewhere else. You have other options and I don't. UCLA is the only school I applied to and I only have a partial scholarship as it is. I think we all just need a little bit of time and space to get over all of this and move on. You're smart and beautiful and I know you'll be okay wherever you end up. It's just going to take some time."
"I can't believe this is happening. Please tell me this is all just some sort of sick joke. Please."
"I'm so sorry, Leah. I never meant to hurt you."
"But you did." She said as she started crying in earnest, her heart breaking all over again. Not only was she heartbroken, she was lost. Her entire future had just been stollen ou from under her and she didn't even know where to start picking up the pieces left behind.
"Good-bye, Lee-lee. You'll always be my first love." Sam kissed her temple and turned around, walking away from her and out of her life forever. Well maybe not forever…the bastard was marrying her cousin after all.
Time seemed to stop. Leah didn't know how long she sat there crying. Crying for her broken heart that would never be the same. Crying for the future she lost and worse the unknown future ahead of her. Crying because she didn't know how she was ever going to survive this. Eventually she lay down and curled into a little ball on the weathered old bench of the picnic table. She kept her eyes glued to the water. The ocean had always been her favorite place. It used to bring her peace and happiness, and now it was forever tainted. Sam had taken everything from her. He ruined her completely and then took away the one thing that gave her solace. Exhaustion eventually overwhelmed her and she closed her eyes. Alone in the cold dark night she listened to the melancholy lullaby of the ocean and slowly drifted off to sleep.
"She's over here! I found her! Hurry!" The familiar voice echoed in Leah's head.
"Mom?" She croaked. Her brain was foggy and unresponsive.
"Oh my god…Leah, sweetie, wake up. Please, wake up. Harry, she's freezing, get a blanket. Oh baby. What did he do to you?" Leah could hear her mother's tears in her voice.
"Sam." She whispered before her own tears took over, letting the pain—that was momentarily forgotten in her slumber—invade every pore and nerve ending in her body. And then it really started to hurt. "Oh god…Emily." She was wrapped in a warm blanket and lifted gently into her mother's arms.
"I know, honey. I am so, so sorry. I…I don't know what to say or do to fix this for you but I would do anything to take away the pain. I know it seems like your life is over and you probably don't want to hear this right now but I promise sweetheart, there is someone special out there just for you. Someone who deserves you and your love, someone who will cherish it." As a mother there were many moments when you felt helpless, but this time she was completely powerless. Sue knew she couldn't kiss this boo-boo and make it all better. Only time was going to heal her daughters shattered heart. Time and love.
And so it begans...let me know what you think :)