The motel room was dirty and so was he. Empty pizza boxes, drained beer cans and a mysterious black bra littered the floor. His black hair was long and unkempt. He didn't care. His job at the mechanic across the street didn't require cleanliness, only punctuality and skill. He could handle that.
These days it seemed like those few things were all he could handle. That much was painfully clear. Otherwise, he wouldn't be in this fuck-tastic Montana town in the first place. If Jacob Black could handle his shit, he'd be the Alpha of his pack back in La Push. He would finally grow a pair and tell Bella to get the fuck out of his life. Forever. He wouldn't be stuck in a shit job that paid just enough to keep him in this motel room. Oh yeah, enough for the beer and pizza too. Can't forget that. However, handling things just wasn't in the cards for him. He'd run away.
Jacob knew when he rolled out of the world's most uncomfortable bed on Monday morning that his day would be a long one. His head pounded from all the beer he'd consumed the night before. What with his werewolf metabolism and all, he had to drink inconceivable amounts of the stuff to even get a buzz. The glass neck of a larger bottle was poking him in the ribs. This explained the headache. Liquor. In an attempt to drown Bella from his thoughts, he'd gone on a binge. But Jacob knew that he would never be able to get drunk enough or fuck hard enough to erase her completely.
He righted his body from its crumpled position on the floor and stumbled into the tiny bathroom. Just as he twisted the knob on the sink that claimed hot water but never delivered, there was a loud knocking on the door. Jacob quickly calculated the date, trying to be sure he wasn't late with his rent. Another series of loud knocks interrupted him. He stomped loudly across the small room and roughly yanked the door open. In a knee-jerk reaction he immediately tried to slam it shut. They'd found him.
A large arm and foot wedged themselves between the door jamb and the door. "Come on, Jake! Open the fucking door! We know it's you, and we're not going away." Jacob gave his effort one final go, before collapsing against the door. He took a deep breath before opening it and granting the two men entrance.
"What do you want?" His voice was meant to be menacing, but his guests were not impressed.
"Shit, dude, you reek! Do you live here?" Quil's voice was dripping with disgust. He wouldn't look too closely at the room's contents. He wasn't sure he wanted to know how deep his friend's depravity went. As much as he would have liked to, he couldn't miss the scattered condom wrappers and skanky bra.
"You can't answer a question with a question. What the hell do you want?" Jacob crossed his arms over his chest and glared at the two. Embry pushed Quil behind him and stepped forward.
"You need to come home. Things have changed. We need you. Billy needs you." He paused and narrowed his eyes. "Bella needs you." A harsh laugh burst from Jacob's throat.
"Right. Bella. Did you think you could just drop in, say the magic words and I'd follow you blindly back to La Push? Wrong." His anger was taking hold. He'd tried hard to deny the wolf these past months. So hard. He would not fail now. Not because of her. "I'm done with Bella. She made her choice. She chose the fucking bloodsucker! I'm done!" He was practically yelling, but yelling was better than phasing.
"Things have changed, Jacob. You don't know what's happened." Embry's voice was just as commanding, but didn't have the undertone of Alpha that Jacob's had.
"I don't care, Embry. Whatever mess Bella's buried herself in, well, she can fucking drown in it." He turned away from Embry, not letting him see the lie.
"Charlie's dead." Embry's words were like a punch to the gut for Jacob. His resolve wavered.
"That's not my problem," he whispered. He refused to be ensnared.
"The Cullens are gone. Bella…" Embry was cut short by a roar from Jacob.
"I don't care about any of this! Why are you here? What do you want from me? I have nothing!" He threw himself across the very poor excuse for a bed and summoned every last bit of will power he had. He would not cry.
"Bella moved in with Billy. His diabetes got real bad, Jake. He wouldn't take care of himself after you left, and she had nowhere to go after Charlie was shot. She didn't want to live in his old house and she refused to go to Florida." Embry continued as if Jacob hadn't thrown a fit at all. "She's waiting for you, Jake. Everyone is. How long are you gonna drag this out?"
"As long as I want! I didn't want this kind of life, but like everything else, it's been pushed on me." Jacob whined from his position on the bed. Embry's well of patience was running dangerously low, he'd had just about enough of Jacob's tantrum. He needed to grow up and accept the responsibilities that came with his ancestry.
Embry lifted his foot and swiftly delivered a kidney kick to Jacob's side. "Grow the fuck up, man! Get off your ass and come back to La Push with us. We're not leaving until you do." Embry mimicked Jacob's stance from before and crossed his arms over his chest. Quil, who had been silent since his previous quip about the motel room, stepped forward.
"He's not joking, Jake. Sam told us we can't leave without you. Get your shit together, man. We gotta split! I'm not staying in this room." Jacob sighed loudly and sat up. As much as he wanted to throw these two clowns out on their asses, he knew they were right. He couldn't stay hidden forever. Even if going back meant telling Bella off once and for all… Oh. Charlie. He couldn't push her away now. She was living with Billy. He growled loudly and scrubbed his face with his hands. These concerns were for another time. They needed to get moving.
Against Jacob's protests Embry and Quil gave him a very detailed play-by-play of what had happened after he'd taken off in a fit of rage. He'd seen Bella's wedding invitation and read Edward's enclosed note. No force on earth could have dragged him to that unspeakable joke of a wedding.
The thoughts of his brothers revealed that after his departure, Bella called off everything, including her relationship with Edward. She never completely explained herself, but everyone (including Edward) assumed it had something to do with Jacob's disappearance. The Cullens left Forks, promising not to return. Three weeks later, Charlie was shot by a gunman in the diner who was high on crystal meth. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bella fell apart and Jacob felt a surge of heartbreak as he saw her through eyes that were not his own. Unable to look away, he watched as his brothers helped Bella through her suffering and eventually to sell Charlie's house so she could move in with his dad. They had taken care of her in his absence, and in turn she'd taken care of Billy. Immeasurable guilt overtook him when he realized how childish he'd been acting. If he'd bothered to phase even once he would have seen the whole mess and could have gone home right away.
The three wolves ran for hours. Without consulting one another, they ran in a natural formation with Jacob at the point position and Embry at second. Regardless of how deep he tried to bury it, Jacob's rightful place as Alpha always shone through. He couldn't help it. When they finally reached Quileute lands, Embry and Quil broke out of the formation.
Wait! Where are you going? You can't leave me alone! Jacob's thoughts were frantic when he realized his brothers were not going to accompany him home.
Hey, we see Bella and your dad all the time. We aren't the ones with issues, Quil thought as he and Embry disappeared into the trees and phased shortly there-after, leaving Jacob alone with his revelations. He circled the house widely several times, waiting for the sun to completely set before approaching.
He could see with his superior vision Bella and Billy sitting in companionable silence on the wood planked porch. Jacob watched the pair from the cover of the forest. Seeing Bella again, so human, made him want to run to her and beg for her forgiveness. He was supposed to be her best friend, and he'd gone missing when she needed him most. However, something kept him hidden.
"Do you think he'll ever come home, Billy?" Jacob heard Bella's voice float on the night breeze. Billy did not answer her right away.
"Yes, Bella, I do. He's got a hard head, that boy. He'll come 'round though." Jacob chuffed at Billy's words, but he knew they were true. He watched and listened as Billy wheeled himself into the house and made his way to bed. Bella stayed out on the porch well into the night as Jacob watched her from his position. On several occasions he almost lurched forward; it would only take a few feet for her to notice him. He knew she'd recognize him right away. Consumed with his guilt and shame though, Jacob could not bring himself to go to her just yet. So he waited.
Even several hundred feet away under the cover of the forest, Jacob could hear his dad and Bella sleeping. He listened to their even breathing and tried to decide what to do next. When he could stand listening to his own indecision no longer, he phased back into the man and pulled on his dirty shorts. With purpose he marched across the lawn and up the stairs leading to the porch. Stopping to inhale deeply, he took in Bella's scent that still lingered in the darkness. His heart rate sped up, and his palms started to sweat. She was so close.
With all the stealth he possessed as a supernatural being, Jacob stepped inside the house he used to call his own. He could see how the space now subtly reflected Bella's presence; it made him smile. Continuing through the living room and stopping in the kitchen, Jacob briefly considered whipping up a snack. He then promptly chastised himself for allowing such a ridiculous thought into his head.
When Jacob reached the hallway his already erratic pulse flew off the tracks like a runaway mine car. One slow, shaky step at a time he made his way to the guest room, which he assumed would now be Bella's. The door was closed and it squeaked loudly when he turned the knob and pushed it open. This was indeed Bella's room. Jacob sighed as he took in her sleeping form. She was still just as beautiful as he remembered.
He took a step forward and carefully sat on the edge of the bed. Jacob reached out and lightly touched her cheek. She stirred, and before he could exit the room her eyes flew open.
"You're home," she said in a dreamy voice. Jacob wasn't sure if she was fully awake or not, but he'd certainly take a half asleep happy-to-see-him Bella over an angry get-the-hell-out Bella.
"Yeah." Jacob brushed the slightly rumpled strands of hair from her neck as he caressed it; he wanted a few moments of bliss before the shit hit the fan. "I'm so sorry, Bella…" he whispered.
"Shhh, Jake. No apologies tonight. Just come to bed." She reached out and tugged on his hand, indicating her desire for him to join her. Jacob slid into the bed, and pulled Bella close to him. He felt her sigh, and nuzzle her head under his chin. The hard edge he'd taken on in the past months was dissipating. Sharing a bed with her just felt so right that he allowed himself to melt against her body.
"I love you, Bella." He whispered this more to himself than her. Just as a reminder, as if he could forget.
"Love you too, Jake…" Her voice was barely a breath, but he heard it.
Billy woke just as the sun came peeking through his windows. After so many years of waking at sunrise, he didn't need an alarm clock. He pulled his aching body into a sitting position and eased himself into his chair. He'd come to terms with the thing many years ago and now viewed it as an extension of his natural body.
At his own slow pace he went through his typical morning ritual before wheeling out of his room and down the hallway. He noticed that Bella's door was slightly ajar, but the house was silent around him. Slowly, he approached the room. When he got a glimpse of a dark skinned calf hanging off the edge of the bed, he smiled to himself. Billy didn't need to get a better look at the leg to know it belonged to his son.
"About damn time," he mumbled as he wheeled himself down the hallway, towards the kitchen.
When Bella opened her eyes the sun had climbed high enough to dapple her room with its light. She sighed contentedly, enjoying the weight of Jacob's arm draped across her body. His face was buried in her hair and she stifled a giggle when she realized his right hand was loosely cupping her breast. Bella traced patterns onto the smooth skin of his arm as she contemplated what she would say to him when he woke.
The past months had been hard, yes, but she didn't want to dwell on the past. Part of the desire to move on was selfish. She'd rather not address all the heartache Jake had suffered at her hand. However, Bella knew they would never be able to have a future until every last issue had been resolved. She owed him too many apologies to possibly count, and there couldn't be any room for resentment.
She felt Jacob waking beside her. He shifted his arm and she quickly rolled onto her side to better see his face. Despite hours of sleep his eyes were red and had bags under them. She reached up and pushed a strand of his once beautiful hair out of his eyes.
"I have so-" They both began at the same time.
"You first," Jacob said, resting his forehead against Bella's.
"I have so many things I want… and need to tell you, Jake. But-" She was interrupted by a rumbling from Jacob's stomach. She smiled. "How about this? We'll have breakfast and then walk down to the beach. We can talk then."
"That sounds great. I'm starving." Bella smirked, and Jacob quickly continued. "I mean, I want to talk too, but I'm really hungry, Bells."
"Before you do anything, Jacob, you need to take a shower."
He tried to protest but knew the battle had already been lost.
Once Jacob left her for the shower, Bella dressed for the day. She practically skipped into the living room, but came to a halt when she was greeted by Billy's grinning face. She blushed.
"Did you two get much sleep?" he asked, eyeing her over the top of his newspaper. "Where is he, by the way? He's got time to cuddle with you, making my breakfast late, but no time for the old man? Kids…" He pretended to grumble into the paper. Bella ignored him, smirking.
"He'll be out in a minute. As for your breakfast, you and I both know those oat and fruit bars I got for you are right inside the pantry. You don't need me for that." She smiled at him as he wrinkled his nose. Billy appreciated the efforts Bella made to take care of him and regulate his diet. He did not, however, have any appreciation for diabetic cuisine.
He didn't say another word as Bella padded into the kitchen to make his breakfast. She was just bringing Billy's plate to the old kitchen table when Jacob made his appearance. Billy glanced up from his paper, and tossed it aside.
"Well, well. Mornin', sunshine." His tone was sarcastic, but the wide smile on his face was genuine.
"Hey, Dad." Jacob leaned down to give his father a warm hug. Bella noted, even from across the room, that he smelled much better and his hair had been cut short again. Looks like he used the bathroom scissors too, she thought shaking her head.
"Your plate's on the table, Billy," she said in a quiet voice. "Have a seat, Jake; I'll get you something to eat." Jacob fell into a chair across from his father's place and eyed the food suspiciously.
"What's that?" He asked, pointing to Billy's plate. Billy made a long face, and Bella giggled.
"That's an egg substitute omelet and whole wheat toast, Jacob. It's a low cholesterol breakfast. Would you like that too?" She asked this innocently, even as she ducked into the refrigerator, pulling out the real eggs and bacon.
"Uhh…" Jacob floundered. Billy burst into laughter and Bella tried to retain her composure.
"Well? Want to show some solidarity with your dad? It's never a bad time to start eating healthier, Jacob." The last bit came out in a muffled laugh.
"Very funny, guys. Hilarious." He rolled his eyes as his father and Bella had a good laugh at his expense. He let out a secret sigh of relief when Bella put a plate of normal food in front of him. Jacob noticed that her breakfast habits had not changed. She munched silently on a bowl of cold cereal.
As he ate his food, Jacob thought sadly of all the mornings he'd missed with his dad and Bella. His throat threatened to close when he remembered the many times he'd tried to drown Bella out with booze and sex. He could have been here. Home. With her. A light knocking at the front door brought Jacob out of his remorse.
"Hello? I smell food!" Sue Clearwater's feminine voice carried into the kitchen.
"Back here, Sue!" Billy called. He backed his chair away from the table slightly just as Bella stood, taking the dishes back to the kitchen. Jacob thought the scene looked familiar to them, as if this morning had played out hundreds of times before. More regret.
"Jacob!" Sue gasped. She rushed over to him and gave him a tight hug, even though he was still shoveling his food into his mouth. "I'm so glad you're home! Everyone will be so happy to see you!" Sue quickly wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. "I hate to rush out of here, but Billy's got an appointment in Port Angeles in two hours. We need to get going."
"We'll catch up later, son." Billy smiled and turned to Bella. "Don't let him keep you in the kitchen all day, you hear? Get some of that sun." Bella winked at Billy from her station at the sink; her hands were covered in soap suds. Sue gave Jacob one last squeeze before wheeling Billy out of the house.
While Bella's attention was on the dirty dishes in the sink, Jacob once again called on his stealth skills. He silently stood from the table and set his plate on the counter. Stepping behind Bella, he snaked his hands around her waist, startling her and causing her to jump slightly. Neither of them said a word as Bella finished the dishes and set them to dry on the rack. She finally turned to face him, still in his grasp.
"You don't have to sneak up on me to do that, you know. We have a lot to talk about." Jacob studied her face and took her hand in his.
"Let's get down to the beach while the sun's still out," he said, smiling. He led her out the door and down the gravel driveway. They were silent during the walk. There was no discussion about where they would go. The white driftwood log was always their destination.
Bella and Jacob sat side by side against the log, facing the water. Bella was the first to speak.
"I know why you left and for what it's worth, I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you, but I know I have. No excuses, Jacob. I used you. I did." She paused, but Jacob didn't speak. He wanted her to be able to say what she needed without interruption. She exhaled shakily, and he squeezed her hand to show her that he was listening.
"When Edward left me, I felt like he'd taken a piece of my heart with him. I lived in a state of numbness; I didn't want to feel anything. But…" She paused again for a moment. "I would have been okay. I was starting to be okay anyway, thanks to you. If Edward had never come back I would have been happy with you. I might have been a slow learner…" Bella glanced up at Jacob and smiled. "But I would have caught on eventually." She sighed again and stared out at the water.
"When you left it was so much worse. It wasn't just a piece of my heart that was missing; it was a part of my soul. There was no numbness, just nothing. Everything was so empty and wrong." She laughed once and wiped away a few tears. "When I told you that I knew who I couldn't live without, I was so stupid. I just didn't know." She was trying very hard not to break out into a full tilt cry.
Bella turned to face Jacob. "I need you. You're my family. You and Billy. The pack." She scooted closer to his side. "I love you." She paused and took in a quick breath. "I… I'm in love with you, Jacob. I know I've said that before and that it didn't matter. I can never take that back. All I can do now is tell you how wrong I was and that I'm sorry. Please don't leave again." She blinked away her tears but didn't bother to wipe them from her face.
"Bella-" Jacob took a deep breath and exhaled as he ran his hand through his freshly shorn hair. He looked down at their intertwined hands. "I could never leave you again, Bella. I'm sorry for not being there for you when Charlie…" He broke off when he heard her sniffle. "God, Bella, I'm sorry. I was being so selfish."
Bella climbed into Jacob's lap and straddled his thighs. She leaned forward to rest her ear on his chest over his beating heart. The sound of it was comforting; she'd never had this with Edward. She sighed as she wrapped her arms tightly around his large body. The feeling of his strong fingers threading through her hair, the slight pull as the strands were detangled… it was exquisite. He brought her long hair to one side of her back and placed his hand over the sliver of flesh between the hem of her t-shirt and the khaki shorts she was wearing. Even in this restful moment, her heart was racing.
Jacob rested his cheek on Bella's head and breathed in her scent. To be with her like this was better than any fantasy he'd had. The skin of the small of her back was soft and he had to touch it.
"Hey," he whispered softly into her ear. "You know I love you, right? That I'll always love you. Forever." Bella lifted her head and looked into his eyes. Her face was a fraction of an inch away from his.
"What happens if you imprint, Jacob?" She winced at her own question. It was not her intention to drag that out today, but there it was.
"I won't," he said with force.
"But, what if-"
"Bella, I'm not going to imprint. Not everyone does. Please don't let it get in the way. Please… I can't take it." He closed his eyes, willing the tears away. The thought of losing Bella again tore at the very flesh of his heart.
"Jake, I couldn't walk away from this if I tried." Her chocolate eyes closed briefly, several more tears escaped. "Until it happens, I'll be right here with you. I love you."
"I love you too, Bella," he whispered before softly brushing her lips with his. Jacob had survived without her kisses since that day on the mountain before the battle with Victoria's army. Now that he was feeling her mouth on his, and she was returning his kisses, he knew he'd never live without them again. Bella was essential to his survival. He didn't need to imprint. He'd already found his mate.
Once again his fingers were in her hair, doing more tangling this time than not. He couldn't get enough of her. Her hair, her lips, her scent, the feel of her skin beneath his fingers. It would not have been enough even to absorb her being into his. Her lips yielded, and she moaned softly as her arms wound around his neck. When her mouth opened and he tasted her, his body shuddered with pleasure.
Bella was everything soft and beautiful in the world for Jacob. He was drawn to her like a bee to a rose. He wanted to surround himself with her and drink her in. He began to place hot kisses down her jaw; she let her head fall to the side to give him access to her neck. She gasped and pressed her body closer to his when she felt his mouth latch onto the skin there and begin to suck softly.
"I've missed you, Jacob," Bella breathed into his ear as she clung to him. He released her neck and started to kiss her lips again.
"I won't run away again, Bella, I promise. I'll always be here for you."
She smiled and rested her head on his shoulder. Jacob wrapped his arms around her, securing her body to his. Together they listened to the waves rolling up onto the sand, the shrieks of children playing down the beach and shrill calls of the birds swooping through the air. Neither felt the need to speak.
For Bella, life fell back into the everyday routine she'd become accustomed to in Jacob's absence. She provided three meals a day for Billy and spent much of her free time concentrating on the college courses she'd begun taking online. Jacob joined her in this endeavor once he'd earned his general education degree.
Billy was ecstatic to have his son back, and his chest swelled with joy when he saw Jacob and Bella together. He didn't object when he realized that most nights the two shared a bed. He did, however, make it clear to Jacob how important it was for the two of them to finish their studies before they made him a grandfather. Jacob had rolled his eyes at the warning and assured his father that he had nothing to worry about. Despite the pain everyone suffered to get to this point, Billy knew Charlie would have been pleased with how things had turned out between their children.
Even though Jacob reassured her on a daily basis that he loved her and would never imprint, Bella could not dispel the fear seeded in the darkest corner of her heart. She tried to push it away, stuff it into a drawer and accept Jacob's promise to her. It was always there, though. Waiting. As much as Bella liked to think she was hiding her fears from him, Jacob was all too aware.
"I'm going to stop phasing."
"What?" Bella looked up from her computer screen to meet Jacob's eyes.
"I've already spoken with Sam about it."
Bella stared at him blankly for several seconds. She wasn't sure exactly what to feel about what he'd said. Jacob sensed her turmoil.
"Look, Bella, the Cullens are gone. There is no reason for me to keep on. If I stop phasing, we'll never have to worry about me imprinting. We haven't smelled anything remotely interesting for months."
Bella continued to stare. Jacob shifted on the edge of the bed and rubbed his neck. "Say something, Bells. Please?"
"You'd do that for me, Jake? Give it all up? But what about your pack? Can you just walk away like that?"
"The only reason we started phasing at all was because of the Cullens. The wolf gene only manifests if it has a reason to. Isn't this what you wanted? I know you've been thinking about imprinting a lot, Bella. Don't deny it." Jacob scooted closer to her body, which was sprawled across the bed. Bella sighed.
"I guess I wasn't fooling anyone, huh?"
"Nope," he grinned.
"Are you sure this is what you want, Jake? Please, don't do this just for my sake."
"Bella, I want you. That's all. I can't stand how much the whole thing bothers you, and how it affects you." Bella sat up and crawled into Jacob's lap. She looked into his eyes and traced the planes of his face with the pad of one finger. She opened her mouth to speak but he interrupted her. "Please don't ask me again if I'm sure. I am. I love you, Bella."
"When?" she asked softly.
"In the next month or so. Sam's stopping too; Emily's due in five months. He wants to be done with everything by the time the baby's born."
"What about Quil?" Jacob shifted beneath her.
"Uh, well, Quil… He's going to keep on phasing until Claire's eighteen. I think Embry might do the same. I don't know how it's all going to work out yet but, Bella, I don't care. I just want you to be happy."
"But, Jake, I am…" He placed one finger over her lips.
"Nope. Don't even say it. You will never be happy until you're sure imprinting is not a threat to us anymore. Suppressing the wolf is the only way to make sure it will never happen." Jacob waited patiently for her to roll her thoughts and concerns over in her head. As he smoothed her hair he was intoxicated by her scent permeating the air around him. Briefly he wondered if it would affect him the same way once he'd stopped phasing. She caught him by surprise when she flung her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.
"Thank you, Jake," Bella whispered in his ear. She felt his arms wrap around her body, encasing her in his embrace. She sighed. There could be nothing as good as this. Jacob's lips were at her throat and he was kissing her. She pulled back from his chest and returned his kisses. Overwhelmed by the force of them, she let herself fall back onto the bed.
With a grin, Jacob closed her laptop and set it on the floor. He then stood and softly shut the bedroom door, the latch quietly clicking into place. It was not necessary since Billy was at the Clearwater home, a place he'd been spending increasing amounts of time—a fact that had not gone unnoticed by Jacob and Bella.
Jacob crawled onto the bed, hovering over Bella. She smiled as he leaned down and kissed her again. His hands rested on either side of her head; he was careful not to crush her against the mattress. She moaned softly as one of his hands found her hip and the break between the hem of her shirt and the waistband of her cotton pants. His arm circled under her and drew her body to his.
Bella's hands traveled down Jacob's chest. She marveled at the hardness of it and was even more amazed at how soft his skin still was. Now that he'd promised her his future, she realized how much she'd been subconsciously holding back from him. His hands moved beneath the fabric of her shirt and settled on her ribcage. She shivered despite how warm he was. Bella let him push her shirt slowly up her body and pull it over her head.
In the months since his return, Jacob had been very careful not to push Bella further than she was willing to go. He'd always suspected that she and the leech had a sexual relationship. Why else would Edward have been so possessive with her other than to protect his prize? However, he detected an innocence in Bella that confused him. He'd been chalking her hesitance up to the imprinting issue, and he couldn't blame her for that. This time he could tell she was less guarded, but she still had an air of unease.
"What is it, Bella?" He looked into her eyes. "You know I'd never hurt you, right?"
"Yeah, it's just that…" She glanced away briefly. "Jake, I know that when you were gone… you… were living like an adult. I don't know everything that went on, but… look, I just want you to know that Edward and I… well… we never-" Bella scowled and stared at a spot on the ceiling and tried not to cry. She didn't know why she was being such a baby, but she needed Jacob to know she was a virgin. She had a good feeling that he wasn't.
"Bella…" His voice brought her out of her thoughts. "I get what you're saying. I didn't know that you and the le- Edward… I mean, I'm glad that you didn't. I just…" He sighed loudly. He was ashamed of his behavior in Montana. He hadn't wanted her to find out, but it was clear that she knew. Otherwise, this conversation would not be happening. "I know what you're thinking, and you're right. There were other girls. I'm not gonna lie and tell you it was only one or two either. But, Bella, I love you. I do, and I will never, ever push you or hurt you. I can wait." He brushed the loose strands of hair from her face and smiled.
"I'm tired of waiting," she mumbled before pulling him back down on top of her.
Billy never mentioned the shift in Jacob and Bella's relationship, but that didn't mean he didn't notice. Even though the idea of the two of them leaving his house caused him a certain amount of grief, he knew eventually they'd want to relocate to Port Angeles to finish their courses. Jacob and most of his pack brothers stopped phasing and seemed to settle back into human life easily. The only thing standing in their way was Billy's health.
"Sue's moving in," he said bluntly one morning over breakfast. Jacob and Bella stopped their silent eating and stared openly at him.
"What?" Jacob asked; he wasn't sure if he'd heard his father correctly.
"Yep, she is. You two should think about getting a place in Port Angeles. I know you both have been eyeing the Peninsula College there."
"But-" Bella began.
"No, no. It's already a done deal. Seth and Leah are out of her house, and she's lonely." Bella smirked at his excuse. He could hide behind Sue's loneliness and his health all he wanted, but it wasn't a secret the two were very close.
"Right, Dad. Sure." Jacob winked at Bella.
"She's moving in next month. So, you two need to start looking for an apartment. I don't need you cramping my style." Jacob guffawed, and Bella giggled. She stood, walked over to Billy's side of the table and gave him a hug before taking his plate to the sink.
"Sure thing, Dad. We'll get right on that," Jacob said, still snickering.
Within the month Jacob and Bella found an apartment and registered for fall classes. Jacob managed to retain a job at a small garage, and Bella waited tables to pay the bills. Even though the apartment was tiny, their classes challenging and their work hours long, they were blissfully happy.
After all the dark and winding paths their lives had led them down, together they felt at peace. Together they would face all that life had to offer. With the dangers of vampires, imprinting and everything supernatural behind them, Jacob and Bella would finally have a chance at their very own happily ever after.