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Dreamcatcher

Summary:
Dream Jacob/OC. Post-Eclipse. Elizabeth Foster is your typical grad student. When she interns on a summer research project looking for dire wolves in the Olympic Peninsula, she finds more than she bargained for.


Notes:


13. Trouble in Paradise

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2090   Review this Chapter

PART THIRTEEN: Trouble in Paradise

[Jacob POV]

If you ever have the opportunity to kiss your soulmate, I highly recommend it. I will never forget the kisses I shared with Bella. The awkwardness of the first time, the desperate triumph of the second, they're extremely important memories for me... But I have never felt the way I did in that moment. Girls have their whole lives to prepare for this kind of feeling. Guys are more concerned with the physical stuff. The whole emotional thing is weird and scary. When it happens to you, all you can do is ride it out, see how far it will take you; like being flattened by a huge wave, you only have a split-second to decide whether you're drowning or having the time of your life.

I pulled back and cradled her face in my hands. She had her eyes closed, a smile beginning to curl up the corners of her mouth. Beautiful didn't seem like the right word for her, it was too small to contain the uncanny creature who had changed my world. "I have something I want to tell you," I said quietly. She opened her eyes, looking up into my face. "But I don't want you to freak out."

"Uhoh, a stunning revelation?" her eyes widened in mock-horror. "What could it be?"

"I'm serious." I tapped her lightly on the nose and she wrinkled it at me, giving her head a slight shake.

"I'm listening." There was still a threat of laughter in her voice, but she composed her face, waiting.

Hesitant, I rubbed my hands along her arms. These weren't easy words to say, not when they were so vitally important. "I'm falling in love with you." That wasn't entirely the truth, the falling part was over and done with, but I figured it was best to start slow. "I have been since the moment we met."

"Wow." Her smile hadn't faded, but I knew from her voice and the expression on her face that she was taking those words very seriously. "That's a a little scary when you hear it out loud."

"Yeah..." I laughed, but it was as much to hide my discomfort as anything. "It was pretty terrifying to say it."

"Jake... I'm not sure I'm there, yet." I closed my eyes at those words, gritting my teeth. "No, don't do that." She touched my face, waiting until I looked at her again. "How can I explain? I wish I could show you what I'm feeling in here." She placed her hand over her heart. "Our feelings are all tangled up together, and I think even if I tried to run away that sooner or later I'd find my way back." Looking down, she took both of my hands in hers. "If I'm honest with myself, there's a part of me that knows I'm in the same place you are. That I'm falling." Then she lifted her head, and her blue eyes gazed directly up into mine, begging for understanding, for patience. "But I've been in love with Josh for a long time. He was my world." She swallowed hard. "I have to find a place in myself where I can balance those two things. Can you be patient with me? Just for a little while?"

I smiled a crooked smile, and tried not to feel disappointment over her answer, tried not to let my impatience win. "One of the other things that comes with being a wolf is a long lifespan." I wrapped my arms around her waist. "I suppose I can afford to be patient."

Those blue eyes narrowed, and the way she looked at me, it was like she knew what I was thinking. Or maybe I was just that transparent. "We still have a lot of questions that need answering about one another. We need to learn how to be together." She ran her fingertips over my bare skin, apparently unaware of just how tantalizing that was. I winced slightly, trying to keep the hormones under wrap. "I'm not saying we can't see each other. That's kind of what I have in mind, actually. More like dating, less like forever."

I frowned, it was hard not to. "Even if that's what it's supposed to be?"

She hesitated, and for just a moment I though I saw something akin to panic in her eyes. "Well... yes. I just think we need time."

"Okay..." Pulling away from her, I went to retrieve my shirt. "You need time. I hear you loud and clear."

"Jake..." There was hurt in her voice, but I didn't turn around to confirm it in her eyes. "There are so many things I don't know about you. And you barely know anything about me." She waited, but I didn't feel like answering her. Instead I busied myself with putting my shirt back on. "Okay... well, you haven't even answered all of my questions about today."

Turning back to her, I crossed my arms across my chest. I supposed I wasn't being fair, but it all... just hit me the wrong way. "What do you want to know?"

Instead of being intimidated, she was annoyed. "For starters, you said 'we', explain."

"I'm part of a pack of werewolves. Tribe members. The others that you've met are Quil and Embry, but there are more." I kept my tone as flat and unemotional as possible. Just delivering the information as requested.

That startled her. "Embry, too? Is he going to tell Kat?"

"Not unless he has to." Considering Sam had forbidden us from sharing the information, it seemed highly unlikely.

She frowned. "You told me."

"Sure, sure, that's a completely different situation." I frowned back, a little hesitant to explain exactly how I knew that. I was certain she felt the depth of our connection, but I was in no hurry to use the word 'imprint'.

"Kat's not going to see it that way," she insisted. "She has a right to know."

"There's no reason for her to know."

Beth threw her hands up, exasperated. "They're practically dating! What other reason do you need? And honestly Jake, I don't see the distinction between Kat and me where this is concerned!"

I growled, and she took an involuntary step back, which did absolutely nothing for my temper. "There's a huge difference. Embry and Kat are barely beyond flirting, you and I are soulmates!"

That stopped her in her tracks, and again I saw that flash of panic in her eyes. "I think I want to go back now," she said quietly.

"Beth..."

"No, it's okay." She put a hand up. "You said before that you would do this my way, but it's clear that you can't do that. So I'd really like to go back now."

"Beth, I'm sorry." I wasn't quite sure what I should be sorry for, but it seemed wise to say at this point.

"It's fine."

I sighed in resignation. "I'll take you back."

"Thank you."

Holding her was torture when we were both so tense. What I really wanted to do was snuggle her into my arms and kiss her again, but neither of us would have let it happen. Instead we were silent for the entire way back, lost to our own thoughts. I knew I'd taken a wrong step with her, but I couldn't think of anything I would have done differently. How could I not tell her my feelings? How could I not try to share it with her? There were no easy answers, so in the end it was easier to say nothing.

When we reached the edge of the parking lot, I set her on her feet, prepared to continue on in stony silence. She surprised me then, reaching out to take my hand. "I don't want to fight, Jake." She hesitated, biting her lip. "I was thinking on the way back. The day Josh died we had a fight. If I'd known... if I could have even one of those minutes back..."

Looking down into her face, the brightness of tears in her eyes, it was impossible to stay angry even if I'd wanted to. I pulled her into my arms and held her tightly. "It's not going to end that way for us. I won't let it." She just nodded, but I could feel the wetness of her tears through my shirt. I did kiss her, then, softly and gently. Trying to reassure, to reaffirm the bond that still seemed so fragile and new between us. She responded with the honesty that she couldn't quite commit to out loud, and that was mine to take reassurance from. "I could really get used to that," I murmured against her lips.

"You think so?" She was smiling again, and impulsively I kissed the corners of her mouth, nuzzling away the last of the tears from her cheeks.

"I know so."

We walked back towards the motel, hand in hand, the arguments put aside for the moment. About the time we were passing the pool, Beth's pocket started singing. She pulled out her cell, frowning at it. "Uhoh, Kat." Flipping it open, she answered. "Hello? Hey, yeah-- What? Oh, everything's fine, I think. Yeah, you did just hear my ring--"

The door of the room Kat and Beth were sharing flew open and Kat came charging out, Embry hot on her tail. He immediately caught my eye, trying to warn me about something, but it was impossible to get the message across. "Kat, I don't think it's a good idea to interfere that w--"

"I don't want to hear another word out of you, Embry Call!" She rounded on him like an angry she-wolf and he rocked back on his heels, looking appropriately chastened. Then she turned back toward us, her eyes going immediately to Beth. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Beth answered quickly. She raised her eyebrows, glancing at me. "What's wrong?"

"Don't get me started," Kat said darkly, crossing her arms. "We'll be here all day." Then she glared at me. "Have you told her?"

"Um... told her what, exactly?" There were so many things to choose from. I tried to meet Embry's eyes, but Kat stepped firmly between us.

"Ask him, Beth," she growled, never looking away from me. "Ask him how old he is." Uhoh. I'd been hoping that wouldn't come up.

"What do you mean?" Still holding my hand, Beth looked up at me. "What's she talking about, Jake?"

"Kat, you're making a bigger deal out of this than it has to be," Embry said quietly.

"Tell her how old you are, Jacob," Kat commanded, ignoring him. I clenched my jaw, glaring back at her, but she was showing no sign of backing down.

"Jake?" Taking a deep breath, I looked down at Beth. She was confused, and I would have rather been polite to Edward Cullen again than tell her what she wanted to know.

"I'm 16. I'll be 17 in the fall."

Beth's eyes went wide as she did the math. I supposed to her that it really must sound bad. Seven years was a lot when you were young. There was also the sticky detail that I wasn't 18 yet. Not that we'd done anything or that anyone would make it an issue... but still.

"You're serious," she said quietly.

"Embry and Quil are both the same age he is," Kat again, still angry.

"How?" The question was faint, and almost immediately she looked away, knowing the answer. "I've gotta go." Dropping my hand like it burned, she walked quickly to their room.

Embry was at my side immediately as Kat followed Beth. "I'm so sorry, man. It came up out of the blue." He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "Maybe I should have lied."

"No." I shook my head, watching the door close behind the girls. "It had to come out sometime."

"What do we do now?" He glanced at me uncertainly, unsure of what I might do. To be honest? Not even I knew that right now.

"The only thing we can do." Girls were so damned complicated. This could blow over in a matter of hours, or it could be serious trouble. "We wait."