What if Alice never saw Bella jump? Will Bella ever be able to let go of Edward?
Bella continues life in Forks with out Edward. Jacob has picked up the pieces, will she finally realize he is there for her? Will she ever be able to let go of Edward?
9. Chapter 9
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Bella’s Point of View
Edward’s words still swirled in my head, perfect and clear when I woke up the next morning. He was too late; just a few short days too late. No, that was a lie. He was a few months too late. Jacob had saved me and I had fallen in love with him somehow. The part that sickened me the most was that whether he was a few days or a few months too late, I was still willing to throw away everything I had built up with Jacob to be with Edward again.
I got up and went to the bathroom to take a shower; I wasn’t in the mood for small talk with Charlie right now. The warm water did nothing to calm my nerves or clear my head so I got out as soon as I had finished rising the soap from my hair and body. I stood there, dripping on the shaggy green bathmat, as I stared at myself in the mirror. My eyes were red from crying and my body looked more fragile and pale than I normally did; I tried my hardest to convince myself that I could somehow make this work, so that everyone could be happy. I grabbed a towel and wrapped it around myself and quickly left for my room; I couldn’t deceive myself no matter how hard I tried. I would never be able to fix this.
The phone rang shrilly behind my head; I jumped and dropped my spoon into my bowl of cereal. My hand was still shaking when I picked up the receiver. “Hello?”
“Bella.” He knew. I could hear it in his voice. Still, I had hoped that maybe I could save him from the pain for just a while longer. “Are you busy tonight? We’re having a big bon fire at Emily and Sam’s.”
“Ok Jake. I’ll meet you there. What time?” My heart sank.
“Around eight o’clock. Some of the Elders are coming; they were going to tell some old legends or something. I thought you might like it.” He tried to sound happy, but I could hear the pain in his voice. I took a deep breath before responding.
“That sounds great, Jake. Really.” And it did, I missed him, but I didn’t want to do this. I wanted to crawl under a rock; or better yet jump off a really high and dangerous cliff. Knowing my luck someone would probably save me so that was out of the question. “I’ll see you at eight.” I didn’t wait for his reply. I was almost done with my cereal so I finished quickly and put my bowl in the sink. My coat was around my shoulders and I was on my way to my truck before I really knew what I was doing.
I found myself driving the familiar winding road; the last time I was here I left with a gaping, throbbing hole in my chest. I just hoped history wouldn’t repeat itself. Edward was waiting for me on the porch when I finally arrived. His arms were folded across his chest and his face was smooth; expressionless. I parked my truck and took a few minutes to gather the confidence to open the door and walk up the short path to my ever impending fate. I never had a choice; Edward was my life, my love. I couldn’t turn that down no matter what had happened before. This is right; this is what you want. My feet carried me slowly up to the porch; I nearly bumped into Edward in the process.
I looked up at him, the tears already forming in my eyes, to see the same pained look distorting his beautiful features. There was nothing romantic about this moment; I was on the verge of hysteria and I couldn’t think of anything to say. With his anxious eyes burning through my resolve I squared my shoulders and planted my feet; please don’t let me fall, I thought to myself.
“Edward, I want you back.” I tried to smile but it seemed like my lips had forgotten how. Relief crossed his face as he wrapped his arms around me. “Thank you.” He whispered in my ear before crushing me to his chest; I cried into his shoulder. My crying turned to sobs as I felt my heart constrict and sear in my chest. But my tears were not for Edward, they were for Jacob.
I cried for a long time; Edward held me tightly, consoling me. “Are you sure you’re making the right choice, love?” He rubbed circles into my back. I knew he could see that I was in pain; I just hoped he could be patient with me while I had my little break down. I had made my choice, and it was the right one; how couldn’t it be? I looked up at him, my eyes were dry now.
“Yes, Edward. I have.” I pressed myself closer to his chest and he hugged me back. His sweet scent filled my lungs as I buried my face in his neck. My fingers trailed over the plains of his perfect chest and I could feel his muscles beneath his crisp black button down shirt. He was cold, and hard as stone beneath my hands; I shivered in response. His hand slowly found my chin and he pulled my face up to his level.
“Bella, thank you. You have truly saved my life.” He leaned forward slowly; inch by inch he closed the gap between our lips. He hovered there ask if asking for permission, his sweet breath washing over my face as he did. My mind was blank, I couldn’t think of what to do but I knew I wanted to feel his lips against mine. I squeezed my eyes shut and gently pressed my lips to his. He kissed my lightly, sweetly. His lips moved slowly against mine, cold and real. This kiss was so much more than any kiss he had ever given me before. Love and adoration rolled off of him in waves, each one bringing another tear to my eye. Soon my eye lids were overflowing with silent tears that slipped down my cheeks. They ran down over my cheekbones and slid to the corners of my mouth; he stopped. He freed his lips just enough to speak, but with every word he formed his lips brushed mine. “What’s wrong, love?” He pressed his forehead to mine.
“I don’t deserve you.” I whispered back. He was silent for a long moment. Maybe he would finally realize I actually didn’t deserve him.
“Bella, that’s not true.” Agony tinged his tone. He ran his hand through my hair and tangled his fingers at the base of my neck holding my face to his.
“I love you, Edward.” My heart burned in my chest. I did love him, I always had and I always would, but it would never be enough. He exhaled slowly and pressed his lips to mine softly, passionately.
It was dark by the time I arrived at Sam and Emily’s small house in La Push; laughter floated in the air as I walked up the path to the front door. Jacob stood there waiting for me, his arms folded neatly across his broad chest. His face was blank and hard; my Jacob had been replaced. I fought back tears as I climbed the few steps to where he stood. “Hey Jake,” I said weakly. My heart twisted roughly in my chest as his arms wrapped around me. I clung to him, and my arms locked around his neck as I pressed myself as close to him as I could. Thankfully he sensed my urgency and hugged me tighter; he buried his face in my hair. I breathed in his scent; woodsy and musky like the forest. All too soon he released me and took my hand, pulling me toward the back of the house.
The back yard was filled with guests; I recognized them as pack members. A huge fire was blazing in the center of their little ring and many of the huge teenage boys were roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire. It was cool out, colder than the bonfire the night of the funeral, but you wouldn’t know it by the way the boys dressed. Many of them wore just shorts, a few had on thin, white tank tops. I shivered, and Jacob wound his arm around my waist; I hadn’t thought to bring a jacket. “Hey, Bella, long time no see!” Embry crowed over the laughter. I tried to organize my features into a smile, but I couldn’t get it quite right so I waved instead. Jake pulled us over to the other side of the fire where there were less people. He released my waist and sat down cross legged in the dirt; his face still a perfect mask. I sat down clumsily next to him and he wrapped his arms around me, pulling me to his chest. I pressed my face to his neck and let the waves of emotion roll over me. Pain, regret, and helplessness washed through my aching body. He rubbed my arm gently over and over again to calm me; it didn’t help.
A husky voice sounded from beyond the fire. I lifted my head and saw Billy sitting across from us in his wheel chair. Sam was on his right side and an old man, Old Qui I guessed, was sitting on his left. I glanced around the circle quickly and found that everyone had finally settled in to listen to the legends. Everyone seemed to be here, even Leah showed up. The fire cracked and popped warmly sending a shower of sparks into the night sky as Billy’s voice echoed through the small clearing. Jake pulled me up onto his lap and I snuggled up against his chest, my head nestled under his chin; all too soon I would have to leave him. It finally dawned on me that this would have to be my goodbye.
Jacob’s heart was beating slow and steady under my ear as his father’s voice filled the cool air. I wasn’t really paying attention to the stories he was telling, I was trying to memorize everything about Jake while I still had the chance. I wanted to remember the way his skin glinted in the dim fire light; the way his muscles rippled down his chest, and the way I fit perfectly into his arms. The way his hair, black and smooth, jutted out at crazy, awkward angles around his face. I memorized the way it felt to be wrapped up in his arms; safe and warm next to my own personal sun. Every once in a while Billy’s voice would break through my reverie, jolting me back to reality. “…the world would shift; change. Suddenly she would be the center of his world. Everything he did, everything he thought would revolve around her. She would be his life…”
I hadn’t thought much about his words, he was talking about some Quileute tradition I couldn’t understand; something about finding the one girl who would complete them. I didn’t want to think about it, I wanted to focus on Jake, but something about Billy’s story kept gnawing at the back of my mind. I looked up at Jake, his eyes were intensely focused on his dad; he didn’t even notice me move to look up at him. Imprinting wasn’t something I’d ever really heard about, but from the details of the story I gathered that Sam must have imprinted on Emily. The way he looked at her, the passion and love that flowed freely between them, was the most intense emotion I had ever witnessed. It was something I felt like I was intruding on; something I couldn’t keep myself from watching. Had Jacob ever looked at me like this? Could I ever be that important to him? Was I that important to Edward?
I looked around to see that Billy had finished his story and many of the guests had disappeared. The few that were left talked quietly in small groups around the dwindling fire. My arms and legs felt stiff, and my eyes were clouded with sleep. I must have fallen asleep. “I better get you back to your truck, it’s getting late.” Jacob got up quickly, pulling me with him; my head spun at the sudden movement and little black dots danced across my line of vision. Jacob’s arms circled around my waist, steadying me until I was balanced again. We walked in silence to my car; Jake held my hand tightly in his. I very nearly had to run to keep up with him; I took three steps for every one step he took. I managed to only trip a few times on the journey back. Why is he in such a hurry?
We stopped next to my truck and he wrapped his arms around me. I settled into his chest and laid my head on his shoulder, my lips just inches from his neck. We were utterly alone, obscured by my truck, but I felt comfortable alone with him; complete. Something wet hit my cheek, and I wondered if it was raining. My thoughts swirled as I tried to prolong the moment. Another drop hit my cheek and I squirmed in Jacob’s arms until I was looking straight into his eyes. They were over flowing with tears; small trails ran down his smooth cheeks, glistening in the moon light; he stared over my head, eyes unfocused and I felt my heart constrict in my chest. My fingers found their way to his face and I gingerly wiped the hot tears from his cheeks. I pressed my forehead gently to his and closed my eyes; letting my tears come. My arms drew up around his neck and I could feel his shoulders shaking with quite sobs beneath me. I pressed my lips to his, softly at first and then more intensely. He crushed me to his chest and kissed me frantically, tears continued to stream down his cheeks and they slipped into the corners of his parted lips. I tasted the saltiness of them on my tongue as he filled my senses. It was just us; nothing else mattered at that moment. I could feel pain through his kiss and it only made me more distressed.
His shoulders shook more violently beneath me as a fresh torrent of sobs crushed down upon him. I wanted to help him, I wanted to calm him and tell him I would never leave him but I knew that was a lie. All I could do was kiss him and hold him against me, although it never seemed to be quite tight enough. His lips broke free of mine suddenly and I found myself gasping for breath. He trailed a line of kisses down my neck and settled his lips into the hollow above my collar bone, his chin resting on my chest. I could feel his tears drop onto my exposed skin and roll downward as gravity pulled them toward the ground. His hand pressed into the small of my back and I inhaled slowly as his lips followed the trail of tears down my chest and then back up my neck to my lips.
His hands ran slowly up my back and sides, over my shoulders, up my arms and finally to my hands where his fingers laced themselves with mine. He pulled our hands down slowly between us and placed his hand over my heart as he broke our kiss. “Bella, you always have a choice.”He whispered and his lips found mine once more. He kissed me slowly now, and with more passion and pain than I had ever known. Tears were still sliding down my cheeks as he pulled away; my heart twisted painfully beneath his hand. “Good bye, Bella.” His hand dropped from my chest as his fingers slid from between mine.
“I love you Jake. I always will.” I choked.
“Love you too, Bella. I always have.” His face crumpled before my eyes as he turned toward the house.
I grasped the car door for support and gasped for breath. The hollow whooshing of my gasps assaulted my senses as I clung desperately to consciousness. I managed to pull myself into my truck and I collapsed on the bench seat after locking the doors behind me. Hysteria was threatening to pull me under, and then I heard it. Somewhere in the distance a wolf cried, its howl mimicking my anguish. My heart thudded loudly in my chest once and then split down the middle, tearing me apart with it.
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