Beneath A Shattered Sky
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Edward and the Cullens left Forks for the second time after the battle with Victoria and the newborns – this is set two years after this. Bella was heartbroken but found solace in her best friend, Jacob Black, and they fell in love. Bella is utterly in love with Jacob, but her past is only waiting to catch up with her...
Bella's POV, some other POVs later. Disclaimer: Twilight and all associated characters and concepts are the property of Stephenie Meyer. I'm just playing with Jacob and Bella :P.
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Chapter 4: Contrition
Heart, we will forget him,
You and I, tonight!
You must forget the warmth he gave,
I will forget the light.
When you have done pray tell me,
Then I, my thoughts, will dim.
Haste! ‘lest while you're lagging
I may remember him!
Heart, We Will Forget Him - Emily Dickinson
I lay in stillness beneath my blankets, not wanting to move or think. I felt numb. The ragged, empty hole in my chest had returned the moment he had left. A few minutes later, although it felt like it had been hours, I sat up in bed and yanked the covers off me. I felt exhausted, and my eyes felt swollen from last night's tears. Come on, Bella, you've got to get up now. There was no use in staying in bed all day. I had homework to do, and besides, Jake was coming over later. That thought sent a panic through me. I would have to erase all traces of Edward before he got here.
Stepping out of bed cautiously, I remembered I was still nude. A flashback of last night washed over me.
A cold mouth placing icy kisses along the length of my body, down, down...a soft voice whispering, "Relax for me, Bella."
I shook my head, trying to banish the thoughts even as I flushed at the memory of Edward's mouth on my most intimate area. I chanced a peek at my naked form in the mirror and saw what I had feared: deep thumb-shaped bruises on my hips. Clapping a hand to my neck, I realised there was an enormous hickey there, caused by Edward's near-lapse of control. Shit! Jake is bound to notice that. I'd have to wear a turtleneck sweater or something.
I threw on my dressing gown. It was a Saturday, so Charlie would be back soon from Billy's. As I stripped the duvet cover, pillowcases and sheets off my bed, I felt like a cheap whore. I couldn't recall ever loathing myself as much as I did right then, and I was certainly no stranger to it.
I had a wonderful man who loved me, who took care of me, and I'd let it all go out the window last night for the man who'd left my life twice before. The passion of Edward's night and mine had overwhelmed me. It hadn't just been about sex, even though, by God, he was good. It had felt so loving, the way he had channelled his excesses, holding back even though it was hard for him to resist my blood, for he loved me too much.
And I loved him too much. Much more than I'd realised, until the dam had burst open last night, spilling out all the feelings I'd struggled to suppress. I couldn't believe what I'd done to Jake, however. I certainly wasn't going to tell him. No, I'd done this, and I wasn't going to absolve my guilt by hurting him. I'd just have to get over it.
Trying to be businesslike, I took all my bedding downstairs to the washing machine. I allowed myself to smell the pillowcase once, deeply breathing in his sweet scent for one long second before I shoved it in the machine. I poured a cup of bleach into the drawer before starting it. Then I went back upstairs and opened my bedroom window to air out the room. What next?
Dumping my dressing gown in the laundry basket, I headed to the shower. As I stepped into the stream of hot water, I sighed at the feeling. It unknotted the tension in my back and shoulders. I shampooed my hair twice, spending longer in there than I needed to, as it felt so soothing. Back in my room, I dressed quickly in a blue high-necked sweater and khakis. Blue is Edward's favourite on me. No, shut up, Bella!!! I shook my head, exasperated with myself. Checking the clock, I saw that it read 10:30 am. Not a moment later, I heard Charlie's car pull into the drive.
I ran downstairs and quickly got myself some cereal and juice, trying to look normal even though my mind was overflowing with thoughts. Charlie came through the door and smiled at me warmly.
"Hi, Bells," he said cheerfully. "Sorry about last night, the storm was just too bad, would have been pretty dangerous to drive back. Hope you weren't too lonely on your own."
I choked on my cereal and took a quick gulp of juice. "No, I was fine. Just did some homework."
Charlie shifted from one foot to the other, looking a little uncomfortable. "Are you sure you're okay, honey?" he said, sounding concerned. "Just that you've seemed real down this past week or so. You and Jake aren't fighting, are you?"
I shook my head. "No, Dad, it's fine. I've just been tired. And Jake's had lots of overtime this week."
Overtime he's doing so we can save up for our own place, I thought bitterly. And look how you've repaid him.
Charlie didn't seem convinced, but he let it drop and headed into the next room, slumping down on the sofa and turning on the TV. Phew. At least I was free from his scrutiny for a time. I finished my cereal, not escaping the fact that my hands were shaking. I had to calm down. Dumping my bowl in the sink, I sprinted upstairs to absorb myself in homework until tonight.
Homework had helped slightly, taking my mind off my painful thoughts and getting me in the right frame of mind. I had nearly finished the cooking when I heard a soft knock at the door.
"Come in," I called, knowing who it would be. Jacob Black stepped through the door, his footsteps quiet as always. "As usual, you arrive just in time for dinner," I added, trying to keep my voice light and teasing.
"Wolf senses, baby." He winked, and his face creased into a smile. He was wearing a black t-shirt that strained tightly over his muscled chest, and black jeans. The black set off his russet skin perfectly. He looked good - really good.
"I missed you, babe," he said in a low voice, drawing me into his arms. In Jake's hot embrace, I momentarily felt at peace. It didn't matter what I'd done, or how I felt, these strong, warm arms were always a comfort to me. I loved this man very much, and he'd brought me so much happiness these past two years. Yes, it was worth it, I told myself. Worth it to lock away my feelings for Edward, to concentrate on Jake.
"You're so small. My little porcelain doll." Jake grinned, stroking my hair.
"Hey! I'm not that weak," I protested feebly, but he silenced me with a deep kiss. His warm lips gently forced mine open and his tongue entwined with mine. The heat of his mouth felt strange after the coldness of Edward's mouth. I closed my eyes and tried to concentrate on the sensations. They were pleasant, arousing even. But it didn't feel like when I'd kissed Edward. No fires burst beneath my skin. There was only a muted warmth.
"Charlie!" I called when we finally broke apart. "Dinner's ready."
"Hey, Jake," Charlie nodded to him.
"How it's going, Chief?" Jacob said with a grin as I began doling the spaghetti and meatballs that I'd prepared for the three of us onto plates.
We all sat down to eat, and Jake put his arm around me for a second. I felt a little awkward in front of Charlie, but he seemed quite pleased at seeing Jake's affection towards me. Charlie and Jake chatted about Jake's work at the garage, and I joined in intermittently. After the insanity of what had happened to me last night, it was nice to feel normal again. It almost felt as if last night had been a dream...
As I quickly washed up the dishes, Charlie went back into the living room. Jake came over and started to help me dry up.
"Thanks," I smiled, though it didn't reach my eyes. I think he noticed, for when I looked up again he was staring at me curiously, though he remained silent as he wiped the tea towel across the dishes. The washing up was soon finished and we went up to my room.
"Seriously, Bella, what's going on with you?" Jake burst out as soon as we got through the door. For a second, I thought he could smell something, but I breathed a sigh of relief when he said nothing.
"I don't know what you mean," I said crossly. I'd been trying so hard to act normal, and the fact that he'd seen through it meant all my effort was wasted.
"Bella, I noticed it when I was over the other day. You're tense as hell, you hardly smile. And your face looks just like it did...the first time he left. Don't try and deny it. You're thinking about the bloodsucker, aren't you?"
I felt a blush creep to my cheeks, and I was so glad that Jake couldn't see inside my head right then. I bit my lip, and a tear fell from my eye. A wave of guilt washed over me at what I'd done to Jake. To my surprise, his face softened and he pulled me into his scorching arms, where I dissolved into sobs. I didn't deserve this comfort from him. But I needed it, I needed it so badly.
"Shh, honey, it's okay," he murmured, his face pressed against my hair. We were still for a few moments, until my tears lessened. He felt so warm against me. I remembered how I used to call him my personal sun. Jake really was my sun, shining light on the darkness in my life. He carried me to the bed and sat down next to me, kicking his boots off.
"Bella, you don't have to feel guilty, you know," he said finally, turning to look at me. His face was so beautiful, so warm and open and his eyes shone with love for me. "Charlie told me the other day that you went for a walk in the woods. He was worried about you, said you were really upset afterwards. He didn't know what it was about, but I figured it out. I knew it must have made you think about the bl- er, Edward."
I blinked at Jake, confused. Over the past couple of years, I'd noticed that it was difficult for him to even mention Edward without fury flashing behind his eyes. Although that hardly mattered, as I'd barely mentioned, let alone thought of Edward until recently. I was surprised that Jake was being so understanding about it, but that only made me feel worse.
"I know what that jerk did to you," Jake went on, his eyes tightening a little. "I know that's the kind of thing that leaves a mark on you. And I think you suppressed it all, kinda, a couple of years ago. I remember thinking you dealt with it amazingly well, but maybe you didn't deal with it at all. If you are thinking about Cullen a bit, that's only natural, I guess. I wish you weren't though." He smiled tersely.
"Jake, I'm sorry. It's not...him so much. I just feel...lost." I snuggled into his warm chest, breathing in his delicious, masculine scent as I tried to forget the sweet honey-lilac smell of Edward's skin.
"I'll always be here for you, baby," he murmured, placing a soft kiss on my cheek. "I know you're in a funk right now, but just take the time you need. Delayed reaction, sometimes it just hits you. All that time ago, when I lost you to him - I tried to forget, shove away my hurt in some secret place inside me. But it came out eventually, and it was fucking awful. I know you don't still love that asshole, but I guess I'll have to accept that you might still be grieving for him."
Jacob's shoulders were starting to shake, and I could see how hard it was for him to say this. However, he managed to compose himself in seconds and curled his arms about me tightly, stroking my hair.
Bella, you bitch, said the small voice inside of me. You've messed up everything. This guy is everything to you. And you're everything to him, so much that he doesn't even care that you're thinking about your ex. Whom you FUCKED last night. I winced at the thought of that word, but there was no escaping what I'd done. I was in too deep. Jake made me feel better about myself, like I might still be a good person despite the fact I'd lied to him, and so I clung to the man I loved. I did not love him the same as Edward, but Jake and I had built a different love together over the past two years. Different...but was it really enough for me?
A little while later, Jake pretended to leave, for Charlie's benefit, and then snuck back in through my open window. Another memory surged to the surface...
The swift sound of the window frame whistling up. The silent sight of Edward stepping into my room. His words: "Bella." Words that sounded like the smoothest velvet on his lips...
I tried to shrug it off. Jacob bounded through the window gracefully and headed back to me, capturing my lips in a warm, sweet kiss. Was I going to do this? I almost felt as if I was betraying Edward. But I had to make myself forget about him...
Jake seemed surprised when my lips moved insistently against his and my small fingers insinuated themselves beneath his shirt, sliding it up his torso.
"Bella, w-what the hell?" he spluttered, breaking the kiss. "I'm not going to make love to you when you might be thinking about that bloodsucker." His eyes flashed for a second, but then it was gone and his face was impassive. I could tell this bothered him a lot more than he let on, and this sent a fresh wave of guilt pulsing through me. My heart was thumping, and I knew he could hear it.
"I don't know...I just want to feel good again, like I'm a good person!" I cried, putting my head in my hands. Jake reached over and gently, but firmly, pulled my hands from my face.
"Bella, honey, you are a good person," he said, shaking his head as if it was ridiculous to think otherwise. If only he knew, I thought bitterly. "But maybe you just have a little too much to deal with right now. Look, I think I'm gonna go now."
"What?" I said, dismayed. My only source of comfort was about to leave me too? That's nice, Bella, letting your boyfriend comfort you while you think about your ex. I winced as that thought hit me.
Jake looked at me, and I could see his soft eyes were full of agony he couldn't hide.
"I'm sorry, Bells, I tried to pretend I was okay with it. It's just too hard for me seeing you like this, and knowing it's got something to with that bloodsucker -" he didn't bother to cut himself off this time "- makes my blood boil. To think that you'd fuck me just to forget about him, agh! Honestly, I'm not sure that I'm in control of my anger. I might phase, and I could hurt you. I won't let that happen."
I said nothing and looked at the floor, my eyes welling with tears. Jake was my best friend, my lover, my protector. Was he trying to suggest that we go on a break? I knew what that meant.
"Does it have to be like this?" I said, my voice barely a whisper. I couldn't breathe. I had got everything I had ever wanted last night, and it might be costing me everything I already had.
Jake stroked my face with his warm hand, callused from mechanic work, and smiled sadly.
"For now," he said quietly. "It's okay. I'm just finding this difficult. I should have known you weren't over him. Look, we'll get through it. We've been through worse."
I couldn't argue with his last statement. Although he didn't know the full extent of my feelings, how far Edward had twisted his way into my heart even since last night.
"I love you, Jake," I choked out, and it wasn't a lie. I cared about this man so much him not staying tonight made my heart feel like it was splintering in two. I needed his warmth. I wanted to beg him to stay, to tell him that Edward didn't matter. But I couldn't, and so I stayed silent, my heart holding back the words my head wanted me to say.
"I know." And with that, Jacob Black squeezed my hand and leapt from the window. I felt an overwhelming sense of loss, and dissolved into silent tears, letting them trail down my cheeks, soaking my sweater.
I didn't sleep well that night, tossing and turning in fitful dreams. I dreamt of golden eyes set into a pale, perfect marble face, that seemed as immovable as stone to me, and just as enduring. I could spend a lifetime staring into those eyes. Every time I awoke and my eyelids snapped open, I could still see his face. I awoke yet again and stared at my clock. It was four in the morning, and I was unable to fall back into slumber. At least not a slumber that would give me any peace.
Edward Cullen, the voice in my head chanted. Edward. I don't know what to do. What we did was the worst mistake, and yet the most beautiful thing that's ever happened to me. Everything's a mess, and I don't even know how I feel. I need you. I...love you.
I searched under my bed for the photo album I'd hastily shoved away all that time ago when he'd left me here in this room. It had gathered dust after all this time, and I brushed my fingers over it, wiping the grey flecks from the shiny cover. Opening it, a knife twisted in my heart. A photo of Edward and I smiling at one another, taken by Alice. A photo of us at graduation, his face strained from the news we'd heard about Victoria. And the most heartbreaking yet, a silly photo Edward had taken of us kissing in his room, the side of his arm visible from where he'd held the camera towards us. We looked utterly in love, laughing into each other's mouths as we kissed.
How things had changed since then. I remembered the future I'd looked forward to, joining that perfect family of immortals. It seemed like a distant dream now. I missed Carlisle's acceptance, Esme's compassion, Alice's exuberance, Emmett's wit, Jasper's calm, even Rosalie's haughtiness. I missed them all, to the point of acute pain. I had scarcely believed Edward when he'd told me he didn't feel whole without me, no matter how genuine he seemed as he passionately made love to me, and even the next morning. How could he feel whole with someone as weak, as inadequate as I? The beauty he claimed to see in me was but a shadow of the flawless beauty I saw every time I looked at his face.
I didn't deserve him, and I didn't deserve Jacob either. Jake had told me I was like a little porcelain doll, and right now I felt as if I was made of that exact material, ready to shatter into a million pieces. I was trapped. Jake said he'd give me time, but how much time did one need to forget the brief taste of perfection I'd been given last night? A glimpse into a life that was all but gone now. I could hear my heart beating in time with each tick of the clock, and I knew that right now, it beat only for him.