Many people dislike Paprika. They find its smell too pungent, its taste too strong. In many ways, it is like love, too fast, too deep, and too strong. Jacob finds, he actually rather likes it.
Well, I don't own anything but the ones who are mine. Sadly only few of them are.
2. Chapter 2
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After being dragged through the mall for an hour by Charla, Jacob—as much as he yearned for her companionship—needed a quiet moment. Preferably with her in his arms.
On their way home, Charla had insisted on carrying the bags. Jacob had snatched them from her, and had had to listen to her whine about how she was grown, and she didn’t need his help until he silenced her with a lift of her injured hand. It pained him deeply to look at it, and even more to hold it.
“I need to do this.” He bit out, and they walked the rest of the way home in silence. Charla opened the door quietly, and sped up to his room to hang up the jeans and shirt that had come out of their shopping trip.
“I really don’t need all of this,” he said, watching as she straightened and turned to look at him.
“Listen, you are my guest. Until you are fully up and running, I need to make sure that you are going to be properly cared for,” she responded automatically, sounding more like a doctor than he had thought previously. The question of why she hadn’t told was burning in his throat, but Jacob already knew the answer. She had only just met him. Regardless of how he wanted to interpret any of what she did, the truth of the matter was, she was doing all of it out of kindness. Without meaning to, he let his face fall. “Is something wrong, Jacob?”
“Oh, nothing. I just… I don’t like you spending all of this money on me,” he said, scowling playfully. She waved it off.
“No, no, no, no, no. I don’t mind. It’s just that… these are my brother and my father’s clothes. They won’t mind you wearing them of course, but I don’t think you’ll want to be wearing everything they own.” She said laughing quietly. Unfortunately, this was another lie. Jacob hadn’t realized he was so good at seeing them until he met Charla. Maybe it was because she kept lying to him. First, she lied about why she had to learn to take care of people medically, and now, she was lying about why he couldn’t borrow her male relative’s clothing. (He didn’t mind not wearing them; it was the fact that she had lied about it that made it strange.) Without thinking, he blurted.
“Why do you keep lying to me?” at first, he hadn’t realized that he’d said it out loud, but then he saw her face. Charla’s mouth hung open slightly, and her bi-colored eyes were wide with surprise and frustration.
“I-I-I’m not lying to you. It’s true! You shouldn’t be wearing their clothes! Won’t it make you uncomfortable? There. See? No lies.” She hurried out of the room, avoiding him when he came downstairs to see her starting to make dinner.
“It’s fine,” she said with false cheeriness. “It’s understandable, you just met me, I just met you, and trust doesn’t come that easy.” Her smile didn’t reach her eyes, and her hands shook as she carried the vegetables she’d chopped over to a pot, and poured them in.
“I’m sorry.” He said, walking over to stand next to her. “I shouldn’t have said anything.” She didn’t respond, instead taking out some raw chicken, and laying it in a bowl with seasonings and some sort of marinade. “Charla, I said—”
“I heard you. Do you want a medal or something?” she said, her voice lacking any real bite. “Why don’t you go into the living room or something, we have cable.” He sighed, and walked out of the room, heading for the last room on the first floor. Without much trouble, he found the remotes, and plopped down onto the couch, wincing when his weight made the couch squeak and shudder. He turned his attention to the television, and was about to turn it on, when he noticed the pictures on top of it. He walked over to it, and picked one up. He could pick out Charla, and what she assumed were her brother and father. There was no other woman in any of the more recent pictures, but in the ones where Charla and her brother looked several years younger, there was a woman in the pictures. She was, Jacob assumed, their mother.
She was missing in more than half of the pictures.
He looked at each of the pictures, and the oldest man grew more and more sullen and angry looking. Before he could observe anymore, Charla walked briskly into the living room.
“Well, dinner’s pretty much done. It’s stir-fry.” She turned, and walked back out of the room. When Jacob joined her at the kitchen table, dinner was awkward and silent.
“This is really good,” he complimented, wishing more than anything that he had better control over his mouth.
They finished up in silence, and as Charla went to get the dishes, the phone rang. She picked up without hesitation, and spoke quietly. He pretended not to hear, although, with his abilities, it was difficult not to. He could even hear some of what was being said on the other end.
“Don’t say it like that, idiot, you know who it is.”
“You are sorry, aren’t you? That’s not the point. Tristan and I are coming home next week. You better get that house spotless. Some of my business associates are going to be making the return trip with us. We’re going to want to use the house. Your brother thinks that this is a good idea.”
“It better be, Charlotte.”
The phone clicked, and Jacob feigned tiredness. Charla looked almost green when she got off of the phone, and she smiled falsely. “We can leave these dishes till tomorrow, don’t you think?” he nodded mutely, and followed her up the stairs, where they bid each other brisk goodnights.
‘Who was Charla on the phone with?’ Jacob wondered, stripping down to the boxers she had provided him. ‘It couldn’t have been her father, could it?’ he severely hoped it wasn’t. That would explain much. Too much.
Jacob closed his door, and locked it, knowing that Charla was probably asleep. She had had a long day. He opened the window, and climbed out, landing silently on the grass below. He listened for any cars or people, before taking off the boxers as well, and striding into the thin woods beside the road. He let go then, feeling his bones ache as they broke and reformed, carrying him from human to wolf. He almost howled for joy, but he knew he was too close to the town for anyone without a gun not to hear him. He ran as fast as his paws would carry him in the direction that was most wood filled. It felt good, to be running this way, and the itching of his skin died down to nothing. He liked becoming the wolf, it was part of him. He enjoyed it, the sweet fierce ache of his muscles as he ran, holding his shape. Before he knew it, the sun was rising, glinting off of the grass. He hurried back to the house, and put back on his boxers. Jacob leapt back into the room; falling asleep on top of the bed instantly, forgetting to unlock the door.
Jacob didn’t wake until he heard Charla pounding on the door.
“Jacob! Jacob! Get up, dammit!” He checked quickly to make sure that his boxers were pulled up, and rushed to the door. Unlocking it and opening it, he found her small hand raised in a fist to knock on the door again. “It was about time you got up…” she trailed off, noticing his state of undress. The boxers did little to cover him, and Charla began stammering nervously. “Y-you should h-have gotten up earlier… I-I-I mean, I have cleaning t-t-t-to do, and I could u-use your h-help…” she turned away, and Jacob tried to hide his amused smirk. Charla cleared her throat.
“Anyway, I just… I need some help cleaning. There are, um, fresh towels in the bathroom.” Charla hurried away, leaving Jacob in the doorway of his room, scratching his head. Did this have something to do with that phone call? He showered hurriedly, and rushed downstairs still toweling off his hair. Jacob found Charla in the kitchen loading the dishes into the dishwasher, while filling a bucket to mop the floor. Jacob walked in, and leaned against the wall. He’d worn a sleeveless shirt in anticipation of the hard work he was going to do.
“Can I help?” he asked, folding his arms over his chest.
“Mmhmm.” She responded, not turning away from the sink. Jacob had a feeling it was more because of the distraction he provided than a diligent interest in what she was doing. Charla handed him the bucket, and tossed a sponge into it, still not looking at him. Jacob smirked to himself, and leaned a little closer to her. Sure enough, a light, but noticeable blush appeared on her cheeks. It was a little difficult to see against her darker skin, but his sharp eyes picked it out. He hoped it meant that she was too embarrassed to admit that she liked being near him. Anything otherwise boded ill for any relationship. Jacob took the bucket, and was about to ask what she wanted him to clean when his brows furrowed.
He smelled blood. Charla’s blood. He leaned over the sink slightly, and noted the pinkish hue on the soap bubbles around her injured hand, and growled low in his throat.
“Put the sponge down, Charla.” She shuddered at his guttural demand, but kept working diligently.
“I have to finish cleaning this place up. My folks are going to be back in two weeks. My dad is having some of his clients over. He’s a graphic artist.” Her short answers did nothing to appease Jacob’s displeasure at seeing her bleeding, and he only leaned himself up against the countertop, directly in her peripheral vision.
“Your stitches are getting damaged. Just let me do this stuff, okay?” he goaded, trying to nudge her out of the way. She wouldn’t move.
“Just scrub the countertops, please?” She asked, still trying not to look at him. Her blush flared up further on her cheeks. “This’ll go faster if we’re working together. Besides, the brunt of the work should be done by me. After all, you’re a—”
“A guest, right?” he grunted, shoving her a little harder. She tumbled away, her soapy hands trailing water over the countertops. “You’ll have to get more stitches if you’re not careful.” She glared at him, but Jacob couldn’t help but smile. She was so adorable… The overpowering urge to touch her washed over him, and Jacob turned quickly to the dishes. “Why don’t you clean the counters?” he had already picked up the sponge, garnering no room for argument. She snatched the bucket off of the counter, and walked to the other side of the kitchen to clean.
“Stupid…Why don’t I clean the counters….” She muttered, attacking the countertops. She only came over for one refill on her water, and accidentally brushed his arm. Charla backed away quickly, muttering an apology. Jacob, meanwhile, was trying not to stand behind her, and sniff her hair. When they were finished with the kitchen, Charla tossed him a broom.
“Since you want to help,” she said grudgingly, after surveying his cleanup of the dishes and part of the kitchen counter, “you may sweep the kitchen.” He smirked, tossing some hair behind his shoulder.
“Why thank you.” He said snidely, bowing. Charla huffed, and wagged a finger at him, reminding Jacob severely of an angry schoolmarm.
“Just make with the sweeping.” She walked out of the room, only to return five seconds later with a dustpan. “The garbage is under the sink, okay?” Jacob nodded, and began to sweep. Within moments, he heard a vacuum cleaner switch on. He relaxed against the counter for a moment, and ran a hand through his hair. When Charla was in the room, it was difficult to think, but when she wasn’t… Jacob was so used to missing Bella; his mind found it hard to grasp that there could ever be someone else. It was almost like he didn’t want to want her. That however was the least of his problems. He’s been gone from Forks for almost a month, and he could feel the pack’s growing agitation like a buzz in the back of his skull.
Jacob had made a bad decision by changing the other night; they had sensed him, and with his luck, they would be on their way here soon. He supposed he could have made it clearer when he left that it might be on a permanent basis. Jacob began sweeping distractedly, not noticing whether he was getting anything into a pile or not.
If the pack came looking for him, he knew that Sam was bound to be highly pissed. Especially if he hadn’t told her by then. The phone went off abruptly, and he flinched. Charla came barreling into the kitchen, skidding to a halt in front of the phone.
“Hello?” he could hear the other voice from the headpiece just as clearly as last time.
“Hello, Charlotte, how is it going?”
“Fine, dad. I’m cleaning. But listen, there’s something I gotta tell you,” she said nervously, glancing at Jacob, who sat down at the table, and rushed to make himself look uninterested. “We, sort of have a guest…” she trailed off then, and he could hear her heart speed up with anxiety.
“That’s fine,” said her father distractedly, “What’s her name?” Charla blanched, and blinked for a moment.
“Jacob.” He heard the heavy breathing through the phone, and when he looked up, Charla had closed her eyes, and was biting her lip.
“There is a man in our house… <i>and I’m not there to supervise?</i>” the voice was sounding angrier and angrier by the minute, and Charla was now holding the phone a couple of inches away from her face. “How could you do something so stupid? He could hurt you, he could rob us! God, I knew you had no common sense, but this is beyond idiotic!” Charla’s face bunched in anger, and she yelled right back.
“He is a good guy, dad! He’s sitting here, helping me clean the house! He was shot! Twice! That’s why he’s here in the first place! Would you rather have him be decomposing somewhere?! He’s from Forks, Washington,” she babbled, pinching the bridge of her nose. “And, um, he’s nice.” He could see that she was searching for something else to tell her father if he asked, and by the look on her face, Charla was coming up short.
“I want to speak to him.” The voice brokered no room for argument. “Now, Charlotte.” She removed the phone immediately, and pressed it against her stomach.
“It’s my father… He’s just… Well, he’s mean, and he’s angry. He wants to make you scared, and bully you a little. Just... Tell him the truth I guess.” She said slowly, pursing her lips. Jacob tried not to stare, and fumblingly took the phone from her.