I felt completely at home sitting here in Jacob's garage as I watched him fiddle with some sort of car part that I had already forgotten the name of. Every now and then he would glance at me and throw me one of his huge smiles that almost made me feel whole. My mind wandered, revisiting last week's adventure. Jake had finally taken me cliff diving… or tried to at least. At the last moment I had heard Edward's voice in my head and chickened out. Jake was never going to let me forget it, though I had promised to try again once the weather warmed up enough that I could leave my jacket at home.
Time with Jake was usually so easy and peaceful, but even on our best days I could still feel the hurt lurking just below the surface. Jacob was my personal sun, but Edward had been my life, and when he left, he took with him my ability to ever trust myself with my emotions again. I thought that I could love Jacob, I probably already did. However on the one previous occasion that I had tried to swallow the burning hole in my chest and allow Jacob to kiss me, I had ended up curled up on the floor sobbing as my mind had filled with thoughts of Edward. Since that day Jacob has been even more careful with me. Even when he reached to hold my hands he would raise an eyebrow in question at me first. My heart ached when I saw the hurt in his eyes, but I knew that I wasn't a strong enough person to change anything just yet.
"You're thinking about him again, aren't you?" Jacob said gently, interrupting my musings.
I looked into his eyes and gave him a sad smile, "I'm sorry Jake. I guess I'm not much company today." I stood and tried to brush the mechanical grime from the floor of the garage off of my jeans. "I should probably head home soon anyway to start on dinner for Charlie."
Jake nodded and wiped his hands carefully. "You know you can talk to me about it, if you want," he said with a smile that doubled as a grimace, "I'm here for you no matter what."
"I know," I said quietly, forcing a grin and moving to wrap my arms around his warm waist in a hug, "I'll be ok..."
The drive to Charlie's house was spent in a comfortable silence. Jacob knew by now that when I was in these moods it was the better part of valor to let me work it out for myself. When I climbed out of the truck, I felt conflicted with indecision. Why was I letting my foul mood spoil our day? Why did I allow my thoughts of Edward to stand between Jake and I. Maybe I couldn't love him, but perhaps I could still give him something of myself that might make him happy. "Stay for dinner?" I asked, trying my best to sound cheery and bright.
Jacob grinned, not fooled for a moment by my efforts but he climbed out of my truck anyway and came around to take my hand. "What are we having? I'm hungry as a wolf!" He stated loudly, tugging my arm and smiling broadly to make sure that I got his joke. I gave him the courtesy of a laugh and pulled him inside with me.
As we entered the house, I pulled myself up to sit on the kitchen counter; ankles crossed, and opened my arms for a hug. He stepped in and wrapped his arms around my waist, always eager to oblige. I left my arms wrapped around his neck for several seconds longer than a platonic hug needed to be before I released him and trailed my hands down his arms to lace my fingers through his. My heart gave a squeeze and I came to a firm resolve that I could give him this, but I might have to betray my aching heart in the process.
"Can I ask you something?" I whispered, swinging our hands lightly from side to side.
He grinned at our swinging arms and squeezed my hands in his. "Sure, is everything ok?"
I nodded slowly and stilled our arms, pulling his hands back so that they rested on the counter beside my hips and causing him to take a step towards me.
His eyebrows pulled together and he looked at me with uncertainty. "Bella?" He whispered, matching my quiet tone.
"Can I just be selfish for a minute?" I asked softly, feeling my heart flutter in my chest, "Then, if you want to, you can leave…"
He started to take a step back but I grabbed at his arms desperately, throwing him a playful grin when the surprise registered on his face. He stayed where he was but traced the design on the tiles without looking at me. I realized that my proximity was probably making him nervous or afraid that I was going to break down again, but I couldn't bring myself to let him go. "O-kay… but I can't think of one good reason why I'd want to leave." He said with uncertainty, flicking his eyes to mine for just a moment before flashing me an embarrassed grin and returning his gaze to the countertop.
"Jake, look at me," I said gently, setting my hands on top of his to still them.
He looked me in the eye then, and my breath hitched as I realized how very close his face was to my own.
"I, um," He began but stopped as I brought one hand up and laid it against the side of his neck.
"Just tell me if you want me to stop, okay?" I whispered.
Confusion, and then sudden understanding flashed across his face as I brought my other hand up to rest on his cheek and pulled his face down to meet my lips. He was still at first, and my heart gave a shudder of disappointment when I thought that I was wrong about what he had wanted. Just as I was about to pull away I felt his warm hands slide up off of the countertop to rest on my waist. He tilted his head slightly and his unyielding lips began to move and mold to mine in glorious ways that were better than I had imagined.
Everything else melted away in that moment and it was as though time stood still. I barely remembered bringing my arms up to wrap around his neck to pull him closer, and I definitely didn't remember when his hands had slid under the fabric of my shirt to trace circles on my bare back. All I could see was him and I and how this was meant to be.
Meant to be.
The thought brought my mind racing back to the present and I pulled away from him suddenly, bringing my hands to cover my mouth as tears pricked me eyes. I shouldn't be here, I realized. My track record for recognizing what was meant to be was sadly lacking. The carefree days when we could touch and kiss and forget about the world outside were gone. Things were different now. We had, well, I had baggage.
I sucked in a shuttering breath as my hatred for what I had convinced myself that I had in Edward squeezed my heart. I realized, though, that I hated myself even more for what I was doing to Jake. I was using him. I had let my own crushing loneliness convince me that what I was doing was ok because I was giving him what he wanted. What he wanted. I scoffed at myself, knowing full well that this wasn't only about what he wanted. I ached for Jacob with every fiber of my being, which is why I had to stop this. He doesn't deserve to be tied to someone who only has half of a heart to give.
"Jake," I began haltingly, not daring to look up into his soulful face, "I am so sorry… I shouldn't be here… I can't do this… It's too soon…"
"Bella, look at me." He whispered. I closed my eyes as he leaned in to repeat his whisper into my ear. "Look at me, please." His breath on my neck made me dizzy and I had to square my shoulders and push him back slightly before I dared look into his eyes.
"This is right where you should be, Bella, this is where you belong." He began, setting his hands back on the tile counter top and leaning in slightly. "I don't want to leave."
"Jake, you know that this," I muttered, gesturing between our bodies, "Is all that we can ever be. I don't know if I can give you any more than that…"
"Maybe I don't care, maybe your body is enough," He huffed, though the look in his eyes made it clear that that thought hurt him more than he would ever admit. He drew in a ragged breath and then stared into my eyes, making my knees feel weak. "Bella, can I ask you a question?"
I nodded once, not trusting myself to utter any more words for fear of hurting him again.
His hands slid back up to my waist and squeezed gently, "Can I just be selfish for a minute? Then, if you want me to, I'll leave…" His eyes drilled into mine as he turned my own words on me and I felt a little bit of my resolve crack.
"Jake… I don't…" I trailed off, not really knowing what I was going to say anyway.
He leaned in and brushed his lips against mine. I considered pushing him away again but the look of longing in his eyes banished the thought from my mind. The familiar velvet voice in my head that usually warned me of danger sounded then, "Be happy…" Without really thinking about it I returned Jacob's kiss, sliding my hands up his chest and around his neck once again. The kiss was different this time; it began gentle and innocent but quickly morphed into something deeper, more focused. Jacob's hands slid over my sides, leaving hot trails wherever his fingers brushed bare skin. "Be Happy" his voice had said. Sitting here, wrapped up in Jacob's arms, I realized that maybe it was possible. My heart was shattered when Edward left, but here, feeling the love radiating off of Jacob as he kissed me, I think that I can feel some of the pieces fitting themselves back together.