We're far away from Forks, now. And what a lovely city Knives is- the perfect place to start afresh, don't you think? Edward is long gone and Jacob loves his wife-to-be. Bella is not happy- but then again, she hasn't been for four years. She's used to it. But mistakes have been made, and a destructive chain of events has been set in motion. Nothing can stop it. The storm is fast approaching- it's too late to get out now. Much too late. The Cullens are back.Char made my banner. She's an awesome person who has good things waiting for her in the afterlife.
I'm alone, And more alone with every passing day; The danger is increasing every second that I stay. But the storms are fast approaching, And I cannot get away.
2. Further Screwage, This Time Only Partially Jacob's Fault.
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The area I was racing through was the over-housed region in which Jacob and I lived. It was derelict and dirty, with graffiti everywhere and rusting cars abandoned on street corners. The constantly falling rain collected in the potholes which pockmarked the road. Rainbows grew on their surface- the pretty colours caused by leaked oils from the ramshackle cars most people owned. The traffic lights never worked, the windows were broken and patched up with soggy cereal boxes, and the pavements were so covered in gum that they looked like they had developed some kind of advanced skin disease.
It was a relief to leave the district and launch myself onto the highway. I had hit rush hour; thousands of stressed drivers, who were more coffee than human, sat in their cars tapping on the steering wheel and looking fed up. The traffic inched along the road painfully slowly.
But this was no obstacle for me- I pressed down on the gas and deftly wove my way around the cars, leaving a trail of blaring horns in my wake. I ignored the angry looks I was getting; I didn't care. It almost made me feel smug, watching them all stuck in the jam, while the congestion did not hinder me in the slightest. I wasn't restricted by lanes.
It didn't matter how fast I moved now; Jacob should already be at the court. As I turned on my indicator and veered off the highway into the city, my thoughts returned to my troubled husband-to-be. I couldn't stop myself fretting over him, over how perplexingly stressed he had been. I comforted myself with the thought that all my questions would be answered soon. In next to no time this whole business would become clear.
But it struck me that I shouldn't have to worry like this. Jacob shouldn't have secrets from me; he ought to be able to tell me anything. If he couldn't trust me... my heart fell. If that was true, if he really couldn't confide in me, then we had a huge problem in our relationship.
Well, as well as all the other little problems, like the fact I didn't love him in the same way he did me, and the fact that I didn't really want to marry him.
I shot past all the retail shops which lined the main streets, ignoring all the impossibly pretty supermodels who leered at me from behind designer glasses and perfect make-up. I had just the same feelings towards shopping as I ever had- that it was a pointless exercise which resulted in unbearable tedium. And anyway, comparing myself to models wasn't something that boosted my self-esteem.
I passed the yellow front of the garage Jacob worked at and the turning I usually took to get to the hospital. I glanced at the city pedestrians as I sped along; they were clutching croissants and Starbucks cups, and glancing uneasily at the grey sky. I could easily tell the locals from the visitors- people from around here knew to carry umbrellas.
As I raced into the quarter of the city which housed the office blocks and town buildings, the traffic thinned. I drove past a few Mercedes and Porsches, but the roads were mostly empty- clearly the upper class didn't nine-to-five. I spotted a man in a suit unfurling his umbrella and walking faster. Casting a fleeting look to the heavens, I saw that the clouds had grown darker.
I had just pulled up to the Court Building when the first heavy drops started landing on the asphalt. I slowed down as I entered the small parking lot, and parked in the nearest available space. There were already quite a few cars here- obviously Jacob wasn't the only miscreant in the area. Peering around, I spotted his Rabbit parked in between a Mercedes and a Mini Cooper.
I switched off the engine, slid off the bike, and pulled out the little stick of metal that supported it. My hands were still tingling from the vibration of the motorbike, and I wriggled my fingers, trying to get rid of the funny sensation. Then I turned away from the bike and took in the building that stood in front of me.
It was an imposing one- with red brick walls and large windows looking into wooden interiors. Broad grey steps lead to a large and slightly daunting door. Raindrops were falling onto the stones of the stairway, and left dark circles on the surface. I suddenly wished Jacob was here with me- it all looked very intimidating.
I took off my helmet and ran up the stairs, keen to get out of the ever increasing rainfall. I tripped over my own feet at the top step, and only just managed to stop myself crashing to the ground by halting my fall with my hand. I winced, stood up, and brushed myself down, and cursing my own clumsiness.
I hesitated at the door; I was suddenly unsure whether I really wanted all these answers. There must have been a reason Jacob hadn't wanted me to come. No tiny, minor issue would have caused his huge overreaction. But the pattering of water was loud in the air, and the rain was getting heavier. I wanted to get out of the wet, and I wanted to know what it was that was being kept from me. I shook my head and opened the door.
It was a small, brightly lit reception, with dark green velvet sofas that had seen better days. The walls and carpet were cream, but dirty looking- there was a brown stain just by the heel of my boot that I certainly did not want to know the history of. A faint buzz resounded around, caused by the heating system. A water dispenser stood by the door, and a curved desk was on my right.
A severe looking elderly woman eyed me from behind this desk. Her eyes drifted to my helmet, then to my black leather jacket, and then her nose actually wrinkled as she took in my boots. I felt a blush colouring my cheeks.
"Hello," she greeted me frostily, with a sharp English accent. I smiled at her, but she did not smile back. Her pale dead eyes glared at me from behind half-moon glasses. I was suddenly very aware that my hair was still wet.
"Um, hi." I resisted all the references to Albus Dumbledore's spectacles that bubbled to my lips, and got straight to the point. "I'm here to see the trial." The phrase sounded more like a question. My voice seemed very soft and quiet next to hers.
She sighed in a reluctant sort of way, before turning to her computer. I reluctantly walked forward, and eyed the desk. It had very little on it- a pile of leaflets with titles like, "Your Rights" and "Effective Communities", a bowl of sweets, and a clock. I checked the time- there were fifteen minutes before the trial started. Fifteen minutes before I found out the cause of Jacobs abnormal behaviour. Because, no matter how hard he was going to try to keep this, whatever it was, from me, I would not let that happen.
The receptionist spoke again, her tone curt. "Which one?"
She looked coldly up at me, and said, very slowly. "Which trial?"
"Jacob Black's," I replied, feeling stupid.
She stared at the screen for a while, clicking keys and fiddling with her mouse. "Yes, here it is," she said suddenly. "Room four." She turned to look at me. "Toilets are in the hallway, next to the cloakrooms," she looked pointedly at all the leather I was wearing. "Feel free to hang up your... coat. The court session should only take half an hour. Have a sweet." She said all this very fast, with no inflections or emotion, and then promptly turned back to her computer screen as if I wasn't there. I glanced at the bowl of nearly empty boiled sweets, and then turned away without taking one. That woman was one scary lady.
The corridor behind the reception was long and badly lit. There were about seven wooden doors on either side of it, and a stairway at the end. Each door had a number, and I could hear murmurs coming from rooms one, two, three and four- the room Jacob was in. I glanced at the shiny, faded looking ‘4', but did not enter the room. There was still time for Jacob to see me and send me home. Besides, I had to get my boots off and trainers on, and hang up my helmet, before the British lady came and shot me.
I spotted the toilets, and next to them was a door with the letters "Cloa_room" engraved in flaked gild. I pushed it open. It was a small, square room lined with coat-pegs and full of black raincoats and umbrellas. Judging by how expensive looking these were, most of them belonged to the lawyers and judges who worked here.
I hung up my helmet, and untied my boots, throwing them into a corner. My drawstring bag was still on my back- I took it off and emptied my trainers out onto the floor. I slipped my feet into the more appropriate footwear and hung up my jacket.
The toilets next door were small, wet and white, with a clinical smell and two cubicles. I glanced at my reflection in the large, grimy mirror which hung above the sinks. My hair was still embarrassingly limp and wet. I bit my lip in irritation, and cast my eyes around for a hand dryer; there was one next to the cubicles. Bingo.
I bent my head under the hot air and ignored the burning, just ruffling my tresses in the heat. One of the many perks of having short hair is that it dries really fast; it only took a couple of minutes. I turned back to the mirror. The dark brown strands hung around my face, and I ran my fingers through them, trying to reduce frizziness. I managed to get it almost straight, and then gave up. I didn't really care what the judge would think, and the scary receptionist should be reasonably happy.
I supposed that I had burned enough time for it to be safe to enter the courtroom. If I was quiet Jacob might not notice me, or at least wouldn't notice me in time to yell at me and send me home.
I felt ridiculously like some schoolgirl sneaking into a party that I wasn't allowed to go to. If Jacob had only told me what was going on, there wouldn't have been all this fuss. I left the bathroom, padded across the carpeted hallway, and lay my hand on the handle to room four.
The answers to Jacob's weirdness were all in here. I pressed my ear to the wood and listened hard.
There were quiet voices coming from within, and even some laughter. I frowned. Who was making all the noise? Was that the jury? I hadn't even expected there to be one for such a small case- it was really basically just a disciplinary hearing. Maybe there were more people coming to watch the proceedings. Jacob had said the other guy was influential. Maybe he had a lot of equally influential friends.
I opened the door very slightly and slipped in.
It was small, not at all like courtrooms I had seen on T.V. There were two rows of benches for the onlookers, then the stands where the jury would reside (only there were no jurors, I had been right). A large light-wooded podium stood at the other end of the room, underneath a large window. I presumed this was for the judge, who hadn't arrived yet. Two small, lower podiums stood facing it, for the offenders to stand in. I saw Jacob in one of them; he was stood turned away from me in the podium on the right, leaning over the edge, and clenching his fists against the wood. He had rolled his sleeves down, and the predicted creases lined the material.
The noise did not falter when I came into the room, and I glanced at the row of people in the bench to my left who were the source of the babble. They were all talking, and the one nearest to me was laughing.
I turned away before I fully took in what I had seen. As the images slowly clarified in my mind, I whipped my head back around and stared.
The laughing man had extremely familiar broad shoulders. He had familiar brown curly hair. Familiar bulging muscles, familiar deathly pale skin.
I knew this person.
Emmet Cullen. There was no mistaking him. My lips parted in astonishment.
Emmet was still chuckling when he turned around to look at me. As our gazes met, his eyes grew wide, and he stopped laughing. We stared at each other. I was overtaken by shock, and could only watch on as his mouth opened, and his lips formed a word. My name.
A blonde figure next to him turned sharply, but I wasn't looking at them anymore.
My eyes had been wrenched, by some new gravitational pull, upwards—into another person’s eyes, the gaze which came from the other podium.
No, no, he can't be here, he can't...
I felt my knees weaken. There was the pale face, perfect features, bronze hair-
Jacob's voice sounded so distant. I almost didn't hear him- all my senses were focused on the tall figure in the right hand podium.
I couldn't look away from the angular, ivory countenance before me. My mind was completely blank, empty, empty except for the words, He can't be here, he can't be here, he can't be here...
But he was. He was.
I stared, and stared, then stared some more. I couldn't do anything else. Nothing, nothing at all, just stare. My eyes were locked on his face. I was paralyzed. Our gazes held, as though by some magnetic attraction. He was here. Edward was here.
With this realisation, the bomb inside me which had tick tick ticked away for four years hit zero and detonated. The explosion ripped apart my heart, tore at every part of my being. I felt my senses go into overload; felt my chest buckle backwards against the agony. But I couldn't move to wrap my arms around myself, because those golden eyes were holding me still, immobile.
Then, Edward's eyes jerked away from my face, and the connection was broken. It felt like something had been ripped from me, as if a cold hand had been plunged into my stomach and torn out my insides. I watched his eyes snap to my hand- staring at the ring finger. His gaze was more intense as he lifted his head and stared back into my eyes again.
I knew my mouth was hanging open and my eyes were gaping, but I seemed to have absolutely no control over myself.
Just the shock of seeing him again, unannounced, here, in the flesh, 3D, actually in front me- it was like a rug had been pulled from under my feet, and everything that had been the right way up before was slanted, changing angles in front of my eyes as I fell, falling deeper and deeper into those wide gold eyes, unable to regain my balance...
I vaguely heard a high, alarmed voice saying, "Jasper, are you okay?" before my legs gave way.
But I didn't hit the ground, because hot, strong arms caught me around the waist, holding me up.
"Bella, let's get out of here, okay?"
I didn't react to Jacob's voice, just carried on staring into Edward's face. I was shaking viciously from the combined unbelievable shock and unimaginable pain which tore through my body. I couldn't break my gaze, and he did not look away. I was beginning to feel dizzy, the world around me blurring slightly, but I didn't know why.
Jacob's arms were the only things keeping me upright. He was walking backwards, dragging me out of the court room, and kept saying things to me that I did not hear.
I had to speak, had to say Edward's name, call out to him, but I had no air in my lungs. I hadn't been breathing- that explained the dizziness- and I heaved in a lungful of air. My throat was dry.
I was unintentionally moving my legs, inadvertently aiding Jacob's attempts to forcibly remove me from the courtroom, and I tried wildly to speak, to call out. Edward was still staring at me. He looked perfect in his suit. He looked perfect all over. And the hurt of seeing him again was nothing, nothing compared to the wonder which took over my emotions as I stared stupidly at him.
I heard Jacob pulling open the door; saw the doorframe from my peripheral vision. I desperately swallowed, frantic to make some sort of noise, call out. I gasped, and managed to choke, "Ed...Edward?"
Then I was in the dim, windowless corridor and the door was shut and Edward was gone.
I felt Jacob's strong hands setting me against the wall. I didn't act in response, just flumped where he placed me. He kneeled down so he was at eye level, and cupped my face. He stared into my eyes, but I just stared. Stared at nothing, as my brain imploded and crashed.
"Bella?" He said.
I was struggling to process everything. Things I knew were true but could not be, realities and impossibilities, facts and imaginings, fought inside my skull. It was all so bewildering.
"Bells, snap out of it."
I blinked, and looked blankly at him.
His face suddenly seemed so normal, so unexceptional; his dark brows furrowed, his dark hair hanging around his face in straight, boring lines.
I struggled against everything in my head, tried vainly to work out why I was in this hallway when Edward wasn't. I shook my head, trying to clear it.
"Bella," Jacob shook my face gently. "Are you okay?"
Still the silence, as all the thoughts in my head flew away, to be replaced by a bright image of a perfect, pale face. Angular, with wide, golden eyes rimmed with dark, thick lashes. A square jaw, hollowed cheekbones, full lips. The image was branded onto my brain, and I let out a small cry.
Jacob's breathing sped up, and he leaned in closer. "I told you not to come, I told you!" He shook my face with his hand. "Bella, why don't you listen?
But I didn't pay attention to the reprimand.
Everything was suddenly crystal clear. I knew what I wanted, and it wasn't in here. I broke free of Jacob's hands, and struggled to stand up, reaching for the doorknob to number four. Any inkling of rationality had left my consciousness. All I knew was that I wanted to be on the other side of this door. The metal handle winked at me. I stretched out my hand to grab it.
I didn't even touch it. Jacob grabbed my shoulders and pushed me back onto the floor. "No, Bella, no. Don't go in there."
I struggled violently against his hold. "Jacob, get off!" I wriggled out of his grip, desperately reaching for the door, waving my arms frantically. All that I wanted, all I had ever wanted, was behind that wood. I had to get at it, get in there. I had to.
Jacob grabbed me around the waist, restricting my movements and hauling me back. I thrashed against his hold, kicking and shouting at him, but he didn't release me. Why wasn't he releasing me? I needed to get in that room!
"Jacob, let me go!" I stretched hard, trying to grab the metal of the handle- my fingers brushed the cold surface, but before I could grasp and twist, Jacob pulled me down again. "What the hell, Jake, I want-"
"I'm not going to let you in there, Bella," he said, quietly.
I processed these words slowly. Then I denied them.
"Jacob Black, let me go!" I yelled. I pushed against his arms, trying to break free, but it was fruitless. He was too strong. I yelled out again in frustration, but he did not liberate me. "Let go, Jacob, please let me go-"
I froze. I did not freeze because of what he said; I froze because of the way he said it. He spat the word, as if it were venom in his mouth.
Turning to him, I saw his face was hard, his eyes flat. He looked angry.
He took advantage of the lapse of movement to press me firmly against the carpet. "Bella, I'm not going to let you go. You can't go back in there. I won't let you."
The words tore at me. Surely Jacob would understand? Surely he would deny this of me? He knew that all I wanted was Edward. He knew that I loved Edward. He knew!
"Why?" I asked him. "Jacob, please!" I tried again to escape, but to no avail. I was trapped inside his arms. He was my prison.
His mouth stayed firm. He shook his head, and I blinked hard to keep the tears at bay. I struggled against him once again, but he was using all his strength and I could not budge. I looked into his face, hurt and confused.
For a second, his calm expression collapsed into one of anguish.
Guilt shot into my heart.
I had hurt Jacob. I stopped moving entirely, blinking harder and breathing heavily. I saw it now; saw why Jacob did not let me go. He loved me, and I loved Edward, and it hurt him.
But his face was composed again, as he spoke.
"I told you not to come, Bells." Jacob's voice was deep and level. He was in control of his emotions. Why couldn't I be in control of mine? I tried hard to fight back the tears. "I told you to stay home. I didn't want you to see him." He leaned in so close, so our faces were barely a centimetre apart. "I didn't want to give him a chance to hurt you again." Jacob's voice was steady, low.
But it did not matter how reassuring his voice was, because he had just reminded me of a heartbreaking truth, something pivotal that I had forgotten.
Edward Cullen did not love me.
Edward Cullen did not love me, and being with him would hurt me again.
And honest to God, the only thought that went through my head then, was, "Oh."
Jacob's hands were around my face again, and his breath was uncomfortably hot against my cheeks. "I knew... I knew that you, you still..." He shook his head, and cleared his throat. "I knew I couldn't bear watching you go through that pain all over again, Bella. I couldn't let him break you like he did last time." The memories that Jacob's words dragged up were long buried and deeply rooted. They hurt to rip out.
Unaware of the mess he was making of me, he pressed one of his hands on my head, and stroked my hair. "I'm so sorry, Bella." He twisted his fingers in the dark strands. "I should never have lost my temper, I should have stopped and thought about what would happen to you. But when I saw him-"
He got into a fight with Edward.
I blinked a couple of times as I suddenly realised. That was why he had been so stressed. Why he had been so scared. Scared and worried that I would run after Edward Cullen and leave Jacob on his own.
Which was what I had just been trying to do.
Well, a little snide voice in my head whispered, you know all you wanted to know. Hope you're happy now.
But I wasn't. I knew the reasons behind Jacob's actions. But I definitely wasn't happier. The pain inside my body had increased hundredfold since I had left Edward's gaze, and I felt the flames of the fire that raged inside me, licking at my body, burning me away into a hollow shell. I wrapped my arms around myself.
Jacob caught the movement, and his face broke.
"See, Bella, see why I said- you-" he pulled me close in a tight, tight hug, and I felt myself tremble in his arms. I was in shock. I didn't understand my own emotions. The huge pot of confused feelings which mashed around inside of me were baffling.
And I didn't understand how it could hurt so much.
"I'm not going to let him hurt you," Jacob whispered into my ear. His lips brushed against my skin, and they were dry and chapped. I could feel every inch of him against me. As he spoke again, his spit landed my face. "You're mine now, and I'm not going to let him even get close." I knew he thought he was comforting me, but the words were like daggers. "I'm not going to let him touch you." No, Jacob, no, no, no, please no...
I knew he was right. I should stay away from Edward. But the pain inside me didn't go away- it just grew, and I was shaking harder. Jacob wasn't going to let me go back to Edward. And Edward didn't want me anyway.
My thoughts were chaotic and blurry, but they wouldn't get out of my head. Jacob held me close to his hot skin, and I folded against his body, shuddering hard. But I didn't cry. Tears would hurt Jacob. I couldn't hurt Jacob. Hurting Jacob wasn't allowed.
Jacob, Jacob, Jacob. Everything I did seemed to revolve around him.
I knew that Edward Cullen was less than fifteen feet away from me, and I knew that it felt like I had left half of myself inside that courtroom. But I also knew that Jacob, Jacob the boy who had cared for me, the man who loved me, the man I was going to marry, was here, holding me, and that I had wounded him.
Edward Cullen did not love me. But Jacob did. I owed it to Jake to keep him happy, and I had monumentally screwed that up. I had been stupid and delusional and disgusting. In a moment of sickening selfishness, I ruined so much. I was so totally useless.
"You're mine now," he had said. And as much as I didn't want to be, I was.
And it hurt.
He held me close against his shoulder. "Sssshh," he whispered in my ear. I clung on, and he held me together as I shook.
I don't know how long we sat there. I wasn't thinking anything. My mind was bare. There was no way I could think about any of this now, no time for me to process it all. I just let myself slip into numbness, felt relief at the easiness of it.
I no longer had to stem the tears. My eyes were strangely numb and dry. I shook like maracas in a food processor, but I did not shed a single tear. I just clung on to Jacob as my teeth chattered and my heart pounded.
After a while, Jacob shifted. "Bella," he said, softly. "Bells..." He gently took hold of my arms and untangled me from him. "Bella, I've got to go." He looked at me, afraid. I was still shaking and quivering, looking through my eyes but seeing nothing.
He sighed. "You can't go home on your bike, not while you're like this." There was a jangle, and he pressed a bunch of keys in my hand. "Take the Rabbit."
I didn't hold the keys; just let them lie flat in my hands. Jacob bit his lip and moved his head forward, looking deep into my eyes. He ran the edge of his hand across my face. His eyes were intense on mine. "Be safe, okay?"
I just stared at him.
A woman walked past us, staring slightly. She was dressed in black and held a leather case, and I supposed she must be the judge. Jacob glanced anxiously at her, then back to me. "It's starting... I have to go, Bells. I'll be home as soon as I can, I promise." I didn't reply. His face looked fearful, and he was completely earnest as he said, "Drive real slow. Don't crash and don't... drive off a cliff, or whatever, okay?" Pause. He shook my shoulders. "Bella, come on!"
I looked up at him, and scrunched up my strength. "Okay," I whispered.
He nodded slowly, squeezed my hand, and stood up. With one last worried glance, he slipped through the doorway. I was alone.
I didn't move for a while, just sat staring at the space where Jacob had been, unfeeling and still. My breath came in short gasps, but then evened out as I gave myself over to total numbness. The shakes faded. I felt completely drained, exhausted.
I noticed the cold weight in my hands which was the keys, and I looked at them for a full minute before I realised what they meant. I closed a fist around them, and stood up.
I swayed slightly, but moved forward anyway, tripping over my own feet a lot. Moving past number four was hard. It was only by lodging Jacob's face in my head that I managed not to hurl myself into the room and stare at Edward Cullen for as long as I could.
I needed to get out of here, and fast. I fumbled my way along the hallway, through the reception and past the disapproving gaze of the receptionist, and out into the cold, sheeting rain.
I blinked against the change in environment, and wrapped my leather jacket tightly around myself. The rain was falling heavily, and everything was wet and shiny. I took one step out onto the slippery step, slid, and fell down the entire flight. The world around me tilted and span into strange, alien positions.
I landed on my side at the bottom of the steps, and winced. I tested my body to make sure that nothing was broken, and then continued to the car as if nothing had happened.
But so much had happened. I needed to get away. I needed to get away from the rain and away from this place and just away from everything.
I just wanted to go.
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