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.
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PART FOURTEEN: Relapse
"As far as bathrooms are concerned, I'm really going to have to give this two stars. It's... adequate, certainly. You have the expected amenities, of course. Toilet, bath with shower, but it has a certain institutional feel that largely detracts from the overall experience..."
"That's it, I'm blocking the Home and Garden channel when we get home." Kat's voice carried clearly through the door. I was fairly sure she was sitting against it, as she had been for the past few hours.
"I'll give them pluses for the little bottles of shampoo, though. That's not something you normally see in this grade of lodging." I think I'd finally cracked. At the very least, babbling on about the bathroom was the only safe subject I could think of at the moment. Aside from the conclusion I'd reached earlier that the stain on the ceiling was likely older than my boytoy. Not that it would take much.
"I wouldn't use that shampoo, actually. It'll dry your hair out." I heard her sigh. "Honey, can I tempt you to come out for just a little while? Sitting on the floor is making my butt numb."
Hm. I don't know, could she? I leaned my head back against the tub I was currently reclined in, contemplating the question. "I'm not sure, Kat. I'm actually building quite a nice relationship with the bathroom. I think we could live together happily for quite a while."
"Yes darling, I'm sure you could." She paused, and I waited patiently to hear what she might cook up to entice me. No guarantee that it would work, of course. "Actually, if you don't mind my leaving for a few minutes, I think I have just the thing to take your mind off your troubles."
Intriguing. "You didn't have to stay this long. The bathroom and I don't need a chaperone." Unlike the other boys I'd been seeing lately. "Anyway, I think all of my plans for stealing the virtue of sixteen year-old boys have been canceled for the day."
"Just stay put for me?"
"I shan't so much as twitch." After all, the sixteen year-old in question was probably lurking outside the motel room.
I heard her get up, gather her things and leave. It got very quiet, and I was stuck somewhere between relieved and annoyed that Jake hadn't come to bother me while she was gone. Damned teenagers, they simply weren't dependable. I'd like to give him a piece of my mind, the little bastard, how dare he lie and take advantage of a vulnerable older woman in her time of need? No, I'm sure he thought the entire situation was just hilarious, that it had never crossed my mind to question him as he'd played me like a fool.
Had I really imagined the sincerity in his eyes? Was the emotion in his voice when he'd spoken of his feelings a well-played act? I scrutinized my own actions over and over again, trying to figure out if I'd been the one to lead him on in this ugly game. I tried hard to make sense of the information I had, but the only thing that made sense was that he had thought it a was rush, an opportunity to improve his reputation, to score off of someone like me. Was I so pathetic, so desperate to drown out the pain of my lost love that I would cling to lies instead of facing the truth? Yes, apparently I was. For a little while, I had believed. And it devastated me.
"Christ, I am not going to cry over that little jerk again," I snarled angrily, scrubbing at my eyes. I was all cried out, I swear I was, I couldn't keep doing this. Not over a teenager I'd met a few days ago. "God Josh, if you could see me now." My voice broke, and then I really was crying again. "I'm so gullible and pathetic and stupid and lost." What had happened to his Beth? Where was the girl that the amazing, wonderful creature named Josh Wolfe had gone down on one knee for? When had I lost her?
But I knew the answer to that question. She had died on a midsummer night when the pavement was still warm from the sun, kneeling in a pool of his blood. I screamed in rage, in denial, in the absolute frustration of someone who is powerless to change the present or past. The shower curtain was the unfortunate victim of my temper, I ripped it down in a fury and left it in a ragged heap as I curled on the floor with my arms around my knees.
"Betts?" Kat's voice was tentative, I think she'd heard my temper fit. Wonderful. "Are you alright?"
"Do I sound alright?"
"Not particularly." The door opened slowly, and she stuck her head in. "You're still in one piece, that's good." Her eyes moved to the shower curtain. "I see there have been casualties." A pause. "But that's alright." Stepping inside, she sat down on the lid of the toilet. "Will you come out for a few minutes? I have something that should help. At least for a little while."
"What?" I asked softly, dully.
"Normally I'm not a big fan of this sort of self-medication, but I think we've earned it. So let's just call it a painkiller." She smiled, but it was a tight, lips over her teeth sort of smile. It meant she was hiding her anger.
I thought about it for a long moment and looked around the confines of the bathroom. How long could I stay in here, honestly? I hesitated, and then someone knocked on the door, loudly. Kat scowled, and I could tell she was tempted to ignore it, but then they knocked again.
"Just a minute, sweetie. I need to do some pest control." She swept out, but left the bathroom door open. I stared at it for a moment, then lurched to my feet and followed her. Kat was already at the door to the room, hissing furiously at whomever stood there. Embry, it sounded like.
"We heard screaming," he insisted. "I just wanted to make sure everything was alright."
"Everything's fine, no thanks to you." Kat snapped. "Anything else?"
"Good," she slammed the door in his face. "Okay, where were we?" She caught sight of me and smiled. "I'm glad you came out." Moving to the dresser, she started unpacking several bags. "I tried to think of what might take the edge off. And this seemed the most likely choice." I sat on the edge of the bed, watching as she combined ice cubes, cranberry juice, sprite and a liberal dose of Grey Goose. "We'll just call it a quick and dirty Cosmo. Close enough." Stirring the plastic cup with a straw, she handed it to me, then attacked another bag.
I took a small sip, found the taste to my liking and went in for a healthy swallow. The burn was pleasant, promising relief in a relatively short time. "Mm, this is good."
"If you like that, you should love this." Kat pulled what looked like a cake out of the bag, followed by plates and forks. She opened the container and I sniffed appreciatively. Chocolate cheesecake. "I'd have gotten ice cream, but we don't have anywhere to keep it."
"I think what you brought will be perfect." Oh yes, my drink was being very helpful.
"I'm glad you agree." She gave me a plate with a generous slice of the cheesecake on it, then busied herself with making her own drink. "You were pretty lucky the first time around. Oh, I know Josh wasn't perfect. But he wasn't nearly the idiot some of the guys I've dated were."
"True." I'd seen some of her exes, she had a good point.
"Boys are stupid creatures. Barely worth bothering with, really." Producing a cocktail umbrella, she popped it into her cup and took a sip. "Oh, this is excellent."
"Do you like Embry, Kat?"
She hesitated and then turned around. "Does it really matter at this point?"
I frowned, and then concerned myself with my cheesecake. "I don't know, does it?"
Kat took a healthy sip of her drink and sighed. "Yeah. I do. He's a really nice guy. Refreshingly low on ego, fun to be with. I mean, we talked the whole time I was driving up here, and I can't immediately think of an ex-boyfriend I'd want to do that with. Good kisser." She took another sip. "Pity he's barely old enough to drive."
"Yeah." Pity. Tipping back my drink, I finished it off, handing her the cup. "I'll be needing some more of that, bartender."
"Yes ma'am, coming right up."
It didn't seem to take long at all before both the cheesecake and the Vodka were done for. Kat was flopped on her bed, a cocktail umbrella tucked behind each ear, singing the soundtrack from Wicked. She was quite good.
I was sprawled on the floor between our beds, chewing contemplatively on the end of my straw. Odd how much brighter the world looked with half a bottle of Vodka and a blissful level of chocolate in the blood. The injuries on my back didn't hurt, my body felt light, and my heartache was pleasantly muffled.
In fact, I felt downright fearless, and perhaps even a bit righteously indignant now that I'd thought of it. "You know, I think I was far far too polite earlier," I posited, gesturing expansively with the straw.
Kat left off her singing, rolling over to regard me with an affectionate grin. "Absolutely~"
"I practically let that infuriating boy right off the hook!" Oh now I was truly indignant.
"Practically? Positively!" Kat seemed to think it was marvelous. Her support merely spurred me on.
"I have to do something about this." Just as soon as I could claw my way upright, which was proving to be a bit of a challenge. "Really, I owe it to womankind, if I don't correct him appropriately, then I've unleashed a monster." I got a foot hold on the nightstand, lurching half-erect. "This can't go on."
"Oh, by no means. Just a travesty, really." Kat watched me avidly from the bed, making no attempt to follow my foolhardy example.
With a last heave, I was on my feet, a bit unsteady but mobile. Moving from one handhold to the next, I staggered my way to the door. "I'll be back when I'm done with him," I announced dramatically, and lurched out into the open air.
"Betts! Wait a minute, maybe that's not a good idea!" I heard a crash and some language that was both coarse and physically improbable.
"No Kat, don't stop me! I'm a woman on a mission!" Just as soon as I figured out where the hell I was going. I looked around blearily, trying to get my bearings in the open courtyard, when I heard my name.
"Beth?" I focused on the sound, resting a hand on a lightpost to keep from toppling, and found the very object of my ire sitting on the steps we'd shared, god, had it been a lifetime ago?
"There you are." Gathering myself, I strode purposefully toward him. Or rather, that's what I meant to do. In practice, I staggered about three steps and had to wave my arms to keep from toppling.
"Beth!" I meant to tell him sharply that his alarm was completely unnecessary, but he was infuriatingly fast. He enveloped me in the deep warmth of his arms and surrounded me in his scent, and I had to fight furiously to hold onto my anger when I really wanted to swoon like some ridiculous romance novel heroine.
"Don't do that, dammit!" I shoved at him, but it was a bit like trying to make a brick wall move out of the way.
"What's wrong with you?" He wrinkled his nose and narrowed his eyes. "Whoa, you reek. What is that?"
"Vodka, which you are far too young to drink, puppy!" I wagged my finger at him.
"Vodka?" The look on his face seemed to be caught somewhere between angry and sad. Fortunately, it reminded me that I was the angry one here, thank you.
"Yes, vodka," I snapped irritably. "I'm a grown, 23 year-old woman, I'm perfectly within my rights to drink when I want to." Where had I heard that argument before? I frowned, searching my fuzzy memory. ‘I'm a grown woman, Josh. I'm perfectly capable of having a few drinks when I want to.' All at once, déjà vu hit me like a steamroller, and I tried frantically to get free of the arms that held me. "Let me go. Let me go!"
"No." Jake's voice was soft and grim. "No matter how much you want me to, I can't do that." He laughed bitterly. "I wonder if Cullen would say that makes him the better man?" he murmured against my hair.
"Let me go," I begged, and the tears were flowing again as I tugged futilely at his hands. "I can't... I can't trust you." My voice broke on the last word, because it was a lie. He was not nearly the traitor that I was. "You're not even close to my age, we're completely different people." I kept struggling, but his hold never loosened.
"Everything you've said is the truth," he said quietly. "All of it. But it doesn't change the fact that I love you."
"Stop saying that!" I screamed it, anger and fear and emotions I never wanted to feel again breaking through my comfortable numbness.
"I will say it as many times as it takes for you to believe it," he whispered fervently. "And then I will keep saying it for as long as I still have the breath to speak."
"I killed Josh," I said miserably. The first time I had ever said those words out loud.
He touched my face, a spark of understanding in his eyes, along with a sympathy that made me feel sick. "I'm a lot sturdier than he was. You'll have to be loads more creative about it."
"You're too young for me," I insisted.
"Does that really matter to you?" He looked down into my eyes searchingly. Which would have been more effective if I wasn't seeing double. "Really, Beth?"
"Yes." There was no conviction in my voice.
"I don't buy it," he whispered the words against my cheek, and then he kissed me. I should have been angry, that he'd go so obviously against my wishes; angrier still that he'd taken advantage of me when I was clearly drunk. Instead I clung to him, kissing him back fiercely, needing him more than air or water or life itself.
We pulled back, eyes locked together, and then I did the only thing I could under the circumstances.
I threw up on his shoes.
- Let Sleeping Wolves Lie
- The Magic Words
- Beware of Dog
- The Silver Cord
- An Uneasy Truce
- Constructive Insanity
- Josh Wolfe
- Now and Forever
- First Light of Dawn
- Stop the Bleeding
- Stolen Moments
- Waking the Dreamer
- Trouble in Paradise
- Almost Doesn't Count
- Morning After Cure
- Sister of the Pack
- The Caterpillar Mating Dance
- Practice Makes Perfect
- Sound and Fury
- Storm Warning
- Heavy In Your Arms
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- 29 Apr 08
- 22 Jul 10
- In Progress