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Tempting Fate

Summary:
It's been six long months now since Edward was killed by James. The rest of the Cullens have long since moved away. I feel more and more like this hole in my heart will be the death of me. They say everything happens for a reason, but I don't believe that anymore. Rated Adult for later chapters. This is not going to be one of those Bella's in love with Jacob by the fifth chapter, things are going to get bad before they get better. :D


Notes:
This story takes place as if James killed Edward and the rest of the Cullens killed James. Bella's safely back in Forks, and she's starting to emerge from her loneliness, venturing outside the safety of her own thoughts.


2. Beginnings

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 2001   Review this Chapter

After lunch, I washed the dishes Jacob and I dirtied. He was leaning against the refrigerator, watching my every move like a hawk.
“Aw, Bella, you don't have to do that,” he protested. I looked at him over my shoulder and shrugged.
“Of course I do. You fed me, now I'm cleaning up. It's a fair trade,” I said.
“Sure, sure,” Jacob mumbled. I had to laugh. I finished washing the dishes, then began to dry them.
“You get to put them away. Washing them is as far as my hospitality goes,” I said, grinning at him. Jacob rolled his eyes and grinned back, putting the dishes away.
“Now what?” Jacob asked, crossing his arms over his strong chest. I mirrored his stance and watched him curiously.
“Why don't we... go for a walk?” I suggested. Jacob's grin grew and a mischievous look crossed his face. Almost immediately, I regretted making that suggestion. He had crossed the room and was out the front door of the house before I even had a chance to protest. Of course, I followed him reluctantly, groaning inwardly, and wondering what I'd gotten myself into.
“There's this little place in the woods that I would like to show you,” Jacob said as he stopped walking, turning to face me. So he answered that question. Great.
“Um, Jacob... I'm not really dressed for hiking today,” I said, trying to appeal to his non-existent better sense. I'm definitely in too deep, I thought to myself.
“Bella, you'll be fine. Trust me,” he said, a gentle smile now playing across his lips. It was reassuring, boosting what little bit of confidence I had. I knew Jacob would keep me safe.
We started walking, entering the woods by way of a very well-worn path. I was taking longer strides than I was used to, in a pitiful attempt to keep up with Jacob's quick pace. His tall frame weaved through the trees and he stepped over the low ferns without the first problem. That wasn't the case with me, however. I managed to stumble at least a dozen times in a twenty foot stretch. Of course, I also missed it when Jacob stopped, so I abruptly crashed into his back. The impact sent me falling towards the ground, and I'd hardly had time to react when Jacob's strong arms were around me, supporting my wobbly frame.
“Jeez, Bella, could you be any more accident prone?” he asked, unable to hide the laughter, finally just letting loose with a great, loud guffaw. I giggled in spite of the awkward position I was in; crushed against Jacob's broad chest, his muscular arms locked around my petite body. I was clutching the back of his shirt with a death grip, as if I would plummet to my doom if I were to let him go.
Let go. Suddenly, it dawned on me. Standing here, awkwardly holding Jacob so close to me, I was very slowly beginning to let go of the pain. Slowly but surely, I was healing.
Jacob chose that moment to let me go, and in letting go, he was able to see the strange expression that had now glued itself to my face.
“Are you okay?” he asked, concern heavy in his voice. I just nodded, licking my lips nervously before I stepped away from him, cautiously distancing myself from him.
“I – I'm fine, really. I'm fine,” I said, stumbling over my words. I was quite obviously not very sure of myself in that particular moment, but I looked up anyway into Jacob's face, trying to convince him that I was absolutely fine. He narrowed his eyes, looking me over suspiciously before he nodded. He took one of my tiny, alabaster hands in his, and his expression was normal again.
“Alright. Well, let's go! We're almost there,” he said with a grin. I nodded and followed Jacob's lead, my hand still in his. The warmth of his hand around mine felt exquisite, and reminded me that it had been far too long that I had gone without normal contact with people.
We made our way up a fairly steep incline, and finally came to the top of the hill. Once we'd made it to the top, and looked out in front of us, I was breathless. What I was seeing was almost too beautiful to be real. Jacob stood next to me beaming, and I stood frozen, gazing out at the scene ahead of me.
A bubbling brook carved its way through the ground, lush green foliage was growing along the banks. On one side of the brook was a path that lead to a stone bridge. The bridge looked frozen in time, as if it'd been carved from the very earth it stood on. Rocks the size of softballs, smooth from the water that ran over them, were scattered across the bed of the brook. Large, leafy trees stood proudly next to this beautiful companion, leaning over it to shroud it in shadows.
“Jacob... it's beautiful. Absolutely beautiful,” was all I could say as I strode down through the trees to the brook, kneeling next to the clear water to dip my hand into it. I ran my fingertips across one of the smooth stones, marveling at the silky texture of it.
“I came across this place while I was out walking the trails one afternoon. Do you like it?” Jacob asked as he walked over to where I was kneeling, dropping down to one of his knees, also, tucking his foot underneath himself.
“I love it, this is great,” I said, grinning now. I turned my attention up to Jacob, and pulled my hand out of the icy water, reaching up to flick it at him.
“Hey!” he cried, laughing as he reached down to splash some of the water at me. I laughed and squealed, and we both sat there next to the water, laughing, taking in the serenity and the beauty of the small, secret glen Jacob had found. I stood up before he did, turning to walk over to the bridge. As I got to the carved stone, I stopped and sucked in a breath, gazing in amazement at the bridge. Jacob had stood up also, and jogged over to where I was, and we walked together across the bridge, stopping in the middle. We both sat down now on the cool stone, looking around more, listening to the sounds of the water as it rushed across the rocks, bubbling and churning beneath us, whispering around sticks and roots that had made their home in the water.
We sat together for quite a while like that, not speaking, just listening to nature. After several long moments had come and gone, Jacob eased his arm over my shoulders and pulled my body to his, hugging me tightly against his side. His warmth pressed against me like an actual physical force, soothing and comforting me, making me feel much more relaxed.
“I'm glad we came out here today, Bella. This makes me happy, being able to share this with you like this,” Jacob said, his voice quiet, an intimate edge around his words. I smiled at him, turning my head against his shoulder, nuzzling against him a little as I glanced up. I took in his earthy smell, closing my eyes to memorize his scent, the way a blind person would touch someone's face to memorize their features. Earthy, salty, musky. Home. That's what I smelled when I smelled Jacob. A sense of home and belonging.
“I'm glad we came, too,” I said quietly, opening my eyes to look into Jacob's face now. His expression was soft, and I couldn't help but smile. He smiled back, and we sat looking at each other for a few minutes before Jacob closed the distance, gently pressing his mouth to mine. His kiss was soft and tentative, and I kissed back, timidly. Jacob pulled back slowly and looked down at me again. I looked into his dark eyes for a moment, just a split second, then blushed furiously, turning my head away. He laughed quietly, a throaty, husky laugh, and hugged me quickly. I stood up, a swift but jerky motion, and immediately lost my balance. I was in the water below me before I knew what had actually happened. I yelped, loudly, and started sputtering as I flailed around in the water. Jacob laughed again as he stood up and hopped off the bridge, landing gracefully next to me on his feet. I sat up and sighed.
“My luck. Always my luck. I would be the one person who would end up falling off the bridge, right?” I grumbled, mostly to myself, but Jacob heard anyway.
“I'm sure other people have fallen off of that bridge, too, Bells,” he said, between laughs. I started to stand up but Jacob caught my arms and pulled me up with great ease, holding me close to him again.
“You're freezing now, Bella, let's get you back and warmed up,” he said quietly, stroking my damp hair now. I nodded my head as an agreement and we started walking. I was shivering by the time we'd made it ten feet and Jacob took that as an invitation to pick me up and cradle me in his arms, pressed against the warm expanse of his chest. For once, I wasn't going to complain, or let myself feel awkward. He was right – I was freezing. He trudged back to the trail we'd taken earlier, and started walking back down the incline, jogging half the way, until we were safely out of the woods, and back in his yard. He carried me up to the door and stopped, looking down at me.
“It's a little early to be carrying you across the threshold, but I guess I can make an exception just this one. It just won't be so special later,” Jacob said with a wink. I laughed and swatted his chest, struggling to get down. His vice-like grip tightened around me as he kicked the door open and stepped inside, walking over to the couch in his living room.
“I can walk, Jacob, I promise,” I said, shifting uncomfortably in the wet clothes. He laughed and disappeared into what I assumed was his bedroom. He came back a few minutes later holding a button down shirt in one hand and a pair of sweat pants in the other.
“You'll feel better once you put on some dry clothes,” he said as he tossed them to me. After he'd disappeared into another room, I stood and quickly changed, tucking my wet clothes against the door, out of the way. I'd already sat down on the couch and curled up into a ball in the corner of it when Jacob came back with a blanket.
“Here, honey, cuddle up with this blanket, you'll warm up in no time,” Jacob said as he covered my body with the blanket, tucking it around me tightly. He smiled at his handiwork and plopped down next to me, pulling his long hair over one of his shoulders, leaning over to me. I looked up at him with wide eyes, and he grinned in response, wrapping his arms around me and hugging me to his body. I knew I'd get warm faster by snuggling up to him, so I did. Wiggling until I was comfortable, I cuddled up to Jacob's warm body, his arm around me, keeping me safe and warm. Slowly but surely, I felt my eyes close and my body start to relax as I slid effortlessly into a sound sleep.