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Chasing the Storm

Summary:
AU - What if Alice had seen Bella jump... but Bella answered the phone when Edward called? What if Alice saw a vision of Bella happy... but it wasn't with Edward? What if Edward returned to Forks, with every intention to check on Bella and leave... but when he sees her with someone else, his motives change? How do you choose between the person who was there to catch you when you fell… and the person who was there to make the jump with you in the first place? He let go of my arm, but kept staring at me, and I stared back up at him, eyes wide. "If you're going to let him go, then let him go." --Chapter 12 now posted!


Notes:


3. Chapter 3 - Empty Promises

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 2817   Review this Chapter

After my crying jag, I was so worn out that I could barely keep my eyes open. I’d forgotten what it felt like to cry that hard, to just let everything out and not hold it all inside. I couldn’t say that I felt any better. I was sure that I couldn’t feel any worse.

I left a note for Charlie on the kitchen table apologizing for not making dinner, saying that I didn’t feel well, and that I’d gone to bed. Hopefully, he wouldn’t come to check on me until I’d actually fallen asleep. I knew that this type of behavior would probably remind him of zombie me, and I didn’t want to worry him unnecessarily.

My sleep was plagued with the unfortunate and all too familiar dreams of darkness and blood. If it wasn’t Victoria sinking her teeth into my throat, it was the pack of werewolves trying to tear me apart from the inside out, while Edward looked on, not seeing me at all.

However, this time, there was one very subtle difference. In the distance, Edward was not the only one who looked on with indifference. A rust colored wolf had joined him on the other side of my peripheral vision in the darkness. A wolf with eyes that I knew so well…

I woke up screaming, clutching my blanket to my chest as I shot up in bed.

Charlie didn’t come in to check on me and make sure that I was all right. It was a testament to how normal it had become for me to start the day with a petrified scream at the nightmares that still plagued me.

I rubbed my hands over my face vigorously, trying to forget the images that I could still see so clearly behind my eyelids. When they wouldn’t leave me alone, I let out a frustrated groan and threw off the covers. I made my way over to the window, and let out a sigh. The rain was coming down in torrents, and there was lightning flashing in between loud bursts of thunder across the sky. The roads were going to be slippery. So were the walkways that I couldn’t keep myself from tripping over on any normal day. Fantastic.

I didn’t have the luxury of Alice’s foresight, so I couldn’t be completely certain, but I was almost a hundred percent sure that it was going to be a very long day.

***

I threw my bags down onto the couch, throwing myself down after them. I leaned my head back, closed my eyes, and simply breathed.

The day hadn’t disappointed. As soon as I’d walked out the door, I’d tripped and fell flat on my face, soaking all of my clothes in the process. Luckily, I hadn’t injured myself, but I did have to run back inside and rush to get changed. I wouldn’t push my truck to drive over fifty miles per hour on a day like this – the truck couldn’t handle it, and quite frankly, if anyone was going to get into an accident on a day like today, it was me – so I knew I was going to be late for first period.

Which, with all the insanity that had occurred the previous day, I’d forgotten that I’d had a huge test in that morning. I was barely able to finish with the time I’d had left – less than twenty minutes – and I was almost sure that I’d bombed.

The rest of the day, blessedly, went by without incident, besides the usual clumsiness that came with P.E. I almost tripped again on the way to my car, but was able to save myself using the back of my truck to balance. Grumbling, I’d gotten into the cab and very carefully headed for home.

It probably wasn’t completely necessary to do thirty-five the entire way back, but I figured, the way the rest of my day had gone, better safe than sorry.

Now that I was home, warm, and starting to dry off, all I wanted to do was go upstairs, change, and start dinner.

Fate, on the other hand, seemed to have other plans.

Just as I was about to stick leftover lasagna in the microwave, there was a knock at the front door. I turned around as the door pushed open, and instantly froze where I stood.

“Jacob,” I breathed. I hadn’t expected him to come back so soon. Although a very large part of me regretted the way we parted the previous day, another part of me still wanted to be angry with him for everything he’d said.

Even if it was the truth, a horrid little voice in the back of my mind questioned. I squashed it down. Truth or not, he had no right.

I settled on staring at him blankly and waiting for him to speak. He seemed to be taking in my appearance and the expression on my face, gauging whether or not he should continue walking through the door or just walk right back out again.

Whatever he saw must have calmed his fight or flight response, because after a few moments, he closed the door behind him and walked into the kitchen, dropping his backpack by the couch on the way.

“Hi,” he said awkwardly, leaning forward against one of the chairs.

“Hi,” I responded. I tried to make my voice sound as casual as possible.

There was another awkward period of silence. Jacob fidgeted where he stood. I crossed my arms, scratching at a nonexistent itch. I couldn’t stand the silence, but knew that pacing was out of the question, so I headed for the living room and sat down on the couch. Jacob, of course, followed, but stayed standing. He towered over me. It was slightly unnerving.

“So…,” he said, finally. “About yesterday.” He paused again and sighed, running a hand through his hair. “I know that I upset you. And I’m sorry. What I said to you… it was out of line. I’m not saying it was wrong, but…” His voice trailed off.

He looked at me, his eyes wide, open, and honest, and all of my remaining anger bled away. I dropped my arms and let out a breath. “Look,” I said, standing up so that I could face him properly. I put my hand on his shoulder. His muscles tensed. “What you said…” I paused and took a deep breath. “It was out of line. And I wish I could tell you that I didn’t think you were wrong for saying it, but I can’t. Even if that makes me a hypocrite, even if it means I’m lying to myself… I just can’t, Jake. Can you understand that?”

I could feel the tension leave his body at my words. Something I had said must have gotten through to him, because he gave me a little smile and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. “Oh, Bella,” he sighed, giving me a squeeze.

Something about the way he said my name set off warning bells in my mind, and I couldn’t figure out why. I shook my head to try and rid myself of my suddenly foreboding thoughts, but found that I couldn’t.

I slowly pulled myself out of his arms and sat back down on the couch. I gave him a smile and tried to shake off the tension that was beginning to mount in the room. “So, do you have a lot of work to do?” I asked nonchalantly, beginning to pull my books out of my bag, “Because I know I’m just about drowning in it.”

Jacob shrugged and sat down beside me. He took one of my hands in his, stilling my movements, then put his other hand under my chin and looked into my eyes. I was suddenly brought back to the last time this had happened, and fought down the panic that was suddenly building up in my chest. He was going to try to kiss me again. He was going to try to kiss me, and I wasn’t sure if I was anymore ready this time than I was last time.

With his eyes boring into mine, his skin seeming to burn under my chin, I rationally thought about what was possibly about to happen. Last time, had we not been interrupted by that phone call, he would have tried to kiss me, and I would have let him. I might not have been ready, but I would have let him kiss me anyway, because he was Jacob. He was Jake, my best friend Jake. Werewolf or not, he had been there for me when no one else had known how to be, and as much as it hurt, maybe he was right – maybe it was time stop waiting for something that would never return to me.

But would I ever really stop waiting for Edward? I didn’t want to think about it, so I did the only thing that seemed right to do in that moment.

I closed the distance between us and kissed him.

I’ll never know what quite gave me the courage to actually do it. He was there, had been there for me through everything these past few months, and he...Edward…was somewhere else, not thinking about me, not loving me.

Jacob’s eyes popped open in shock as my lips met his. I could feel his lashes flutter against my face. I guess, although it was something he’d wanted for a while – and I knew it was something he’d wanted, he’d made it abundantly clear several times, specifically that day that he almost kissed me in my kitchen – he hadn’t expected me to be the one to go through with it.

I opened my eyes to meet his and I could see that he was staring at me.

I pulled away and my face flushed. Maybe he hadn’t been about to kiss me. Maybe I’d gotten the signs all wrong.

I was going to apologize, but before I got the chance, Jacob leaned forward again and pressed his lips to mine.

The kiss was warm – that’s the best way I can describe it, so much different to what I was used to. Jacob ran his hand through my hair, but he was careful not to push me too far too fast. This time, he seemed to be taking my lead.

I tried to open myself to the kiss. I tried to close myself off to everything else I was feeling and just feel this, but more than a small part of me was relieved when Charlie’s cruiser pulled into the drive.

Jacob’s ears picked up on the sound a fraction of a second before I did. I must have distracted him pretty well then. He was usually a lot more alert.

He pulled away from me with a sigh. “Charlie’s home,” he said. There was a definite sound of disappointment in his voice.

I tried to smile at him, but I wasn’t quite sure how well I succeeded. “I know. I heard him pull in.” I paused. “But – you’ll be back tomorrow, right?”

Jacob’s responding smile practically made his face glow, and it only made me feel that much worse about what I was doing. “Yeah, I’ll be back.”

I watched as he slowly gathered up his bag, then walked him to the door just as Charlie was making his way inside.

“Hey kids,” Charlie said, wiping his feet on the mat at the door. “You two have a good day?”

“Fantastic,” Jacob said with a huge grin. My heart sank.

I walked with him to his car, trying not to think about anything at all. He paused before he got into the driver’s seat to awkwardly lay a kiss on my cheek. I blushed, but it wasn’t because I was embarrassed.

“So, I’ll see you tomorrow?” he asked, and his voice was so anticipatory, so happy, that I automatically wanted to kick myself. What had I done?

“Yeah. See you.” I gave him a little wave and walked back to the house as fast as I could without looking like I was trying to get away from him.

Which was exactly what I was doing.

When I came back into the house, Charlie was sitting in the living room flipping through the channels on the TV. I purposely avoided his eyes as I gathered my books together from the floor. I knew he would see right through me if he took a good look at my face.

“I see you and Jacob Black are back to getting along. That’s good. I’m glad.” And he did sound genuinely happy about it.

“Yeah, Dad,” I mumbled, my eyes still facing the floor, “Its – perfect.”

As much as I wasn’t looking at him, Charlie must have heard something in my tone of voice, or seen something written on my face, because I saw him frown and then stare at me. Hard. “Bella – “ he started.

I cut him off before he could say anything. “You know Dad, I’ve still got a lot of homework to do, so I’m going to go upstairs and finish.”

I started backing up towards the stairs as I spoke. I wasn’t sure for how much longer I could keep myself together.

“Bells,” Charlie didn’t seem like he was going to give up easily. He started to stand up to face me. “Honey, are you sure – “

I cut him off yet again. “I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong.” I gave him a very quick smile before turning around and speeding up the stairs as fast as I could. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Charlie’s dumbfounded expression. “Dinner is in the microwave. Just needs a few minutes!” I shouted down.

I closed my bedroom door as softly as I could. I took a few deep breaths and didn’t even make it to the bed before my books fell from my arms and I fell into a crumpled heap onto the floor.

The gaping hole inside of me that I’d fought so long and so hard to hold together was ripped open wide, and I wrapped my arms around myself, fighting futilely to hold myself together. I could barely breathe against the sobs that wracked my body.

Don’t make any promises that you aren’t sure you can keep. Alice’s words reverberated through my head as everything she’d said to me the day that she left came back in a rush. Suddenly, the reason for the foreboding feelings before I’d kissed Jake became abundantly clear.

Oh - oh, it’s still not clear, but I think it makes sense to me now. It also made sense to me now as to why Alice couldn’t completely make out her vision. She couldn’t see werewolves. All she’d seen is me kissing someone. Someone else. Someone who wasn’t Edward. I began to shiver and found that I couldn’t stop.

Then, I remembered the very last thing she said to me, and the words were almost enough to send me right back down into the void.

Your decisions will make you or break you.

The true meaning behind the words was still as lost to me now as it was then, but at that moment, I was as sure of one thing as I was that there was oxygen in the air I breathed.

I had yet to make the decision that Alice was so sure I would have to make.

What would this decision entail, this decision that could break me? Wasn’t I broken enough already? The thought that came to me then made me gasp and double over, clutching at myself even harder then I already had been. What if this decision had to do with Edward? What if my being with Jacob somehow meant that I would have to give up on him…forever?

The thought was too much to bear, even as my mind once again reminded me of the terrible facts.

Edward was gone. He didn’t love me.

Edward was gone, he didn’t love me, and I’d kissed Jacob. But that didn’t matter, right? Because he – Edward was gone, out of my life forever, and everything we’d ever shared was a lie.

So why did I feel like I’d betrayed him? And more importantly, why did I feel like I’d betrayed myself?

It will be as if I’d never existed. His parting words whispered back at me, making me sob that much harder, clutching at my stomach, then at the place where my heart used to be. Really, how many times could a human heart break before it couldn’t be put back together again?

“I hope this is what you wanted,” I whispered bitterly through my tears. No one answered back – no one but the rain falling outside the window and the empty walls.