Bella slammed the ancient phone back into the receiver. It was the hundredth message she'd left with Billy who, she knew, was lying to her. There's no way Jake had been unavailable for two straight weeks. Even if he had mono, he could have called her back when his fever broke or finally hauled his sorry ass out of bed to take a leak.
At first she felt badly for the way she handled things at the movies. She thought she'd hurt his feelings when she'd turned down yet another advance. At first she thought he needed a little bit of time and then he'd call her back if she kept trying. But two weeks was too much. His silence was making his message quite clear—he was done waiting for Bella to be ready for something more. Bella thought his silence proved that there was another person to tire of her presence. Another in a long line of people throughout Bella's entire life.
Fuck him. Fuck them all.
Bella surprised herself by her own thoughts. She generally didn't use crass and naughty language—mental or verbal. Maybe that was part of the problem. Maybe people found her too bland. Maybe she needed to add some spice to her personality. Some flavor. And it kind of felt good to her, to let out some of the steam of all that boiled inside her. She'd kept the lid on that cauldron sealed tight.
"Fuck you, Jacob Black!" she tried aloud. She felt the pressure drop infinitesimally.
Because Jake had promised he'd wait for her. He'd told her that she was perfect just the way she was, even if that made her like a broken down car that'd never run right. And then he didn't talk to her for two weeks?
Fuck that! Bella thought. Jake had some serious explaining to do. Bella turned on her heel, grabbed her keys, and was out the door before she thought to change clothes or grab a jacket.
Half way to La Push, Bella shivered as she looked at the ancient heat dial; it took forever to warm up. Her short sleep shorts showed off her pale, white legs, and her shoulders were puckered with goosebumps as she reached to turn up the heat of her antique truck. She slid the spaghetti strap back up her shoulder while she thanked Taha Aki she'd left a pair of her converse in the truck. Her orange beast roared down the 110 as she pushed her speed faster than she ever had.
She was pissed.
She wanted to yell and scream at him. It'd been a long time since she felt anything. Now that emotion was registering after months and months of nothing, she wanted to release it. She was formulating the speech out loud in the cab of her truck.
"How dare you, Jacob Black! How dare you promise me something and pull the carpet out from under me not even a day later. And after what that shithead did to me! Who do you think you are?" she screamed into the empty cab as she hurtled down the road to La Push, she was trying hard to ignore the fact that she was actually considering taking him up on his offer. She had almost been ready to admit that the butterflies she felt when his gaze turned hungry were because she was starting to wake up from her emotional coma.
"And then he pulled this shit," she actually said out loud. That felt good. To say things out loud.
She was sick of being left behind. Renee was happy to be rid of her and alone with Phil. Bella had overheard her talking to her friend on the phone. In all the years she's lived with Renee, her dad never really pursued custody even though he knew how flaky her mom was. And, Edward…well Edward had left her for dead on the cold forest floor after telling her she wasn't enough. Even though she was willing to give up her life and mortality for him.
"What the fuck else did the blood sucker want?" she screamed aloud. "Cause I tried to get him to fuck me! He can't say I was frigid! What kind of guy turns down sex?"
And now Jake. Jake, who'd promised to wait however long she needed. And then he didn't. Like her heart, which had already been shredded to mush, could take another stomping.
She skidded into the long drive that led to the little red house. Her brakes squealed as she came to a stop near the front porch. Another thing Jake promised to fix, but then didn't. She pulled her shoes on her feet without untying them and marched right up to the front door, banging three times. She didn't wait for Billy to answer; she just walked in.
"Bella?" Billy's surprised face crinkled into alarm as Bella marched herself back to Jake's room where he was supposed to be sleeping. She threw his door open and the knob hit the wall with a bang. She looked across the dark room to the empty, rumpled bed with the faded Star Wars pillow case.
"Well now I know he comes by lying honestly," Bella yelled to Billy as he wheeled his way down the short hallway towards her. "You gonna try to tell me he's in the hospital now? Are you going to keep up this charade that he's 'sick'?" Bella made little air quotes to highlight the lie.
"Bella, I just don't know what to tell you…" he said remorsefully shaking his head. Bella thought he really did look contrite, but he still wasn't telling her anything. So she assumed the worst. Her life had always been the worst. Why would that change now? she thought to herself.
"If he was sick of me, he could have just told me, you know? It'd be better than…than…" she struggled for words and fought back the tears, "than this shit!" She didn't give Billy time to respond. She marched right on back out of the little, red house and down to her truck. All the anger she'd bottled up, all the hurt that she'd repressed and denied, it was just beginning to surface.
She climbed into her old truck and twisted the keys already in the ignition. "What the fuck is so wrong with me?" she whispered into the empty cab. Maybe, she thought, maybe she just had shitty taste in men. She thought she'd always picked the nice guys. Maybe that was her big mistake. Nice guys finished last "because they SUCK!" she screamed into the cab.
Gravel flew as she raced back down the driveway. She took a left out of the drive instead of heading back home. She didn't know where she was headed, but she didn't want to go home. It was then she realized she hadn't brought her cell phone. Alarm washed over her for just a moment and then…
Bella pondered the profanity in her thoughts and what she'd already said aloud as she sped down the dark, tree lined road. It felt good. It was a release. She hadn't let anything out. Shitty things, cruel and utterly shitty things had happened to her and she never let herself feel it.
"Fuuuuuuuuuck!" she screamed again just to see what it would do. Nothing bad happened. In fact, she felt a little bit better.
"Stupid, fucking Edward!" she punched the steering wheel with the heel of her hand. "He would never fucking touch me with a ten foot pole! Then I get stupid horny Mike who'd do anything to get his fucking, sticky fingers into my pants and couldn't take no for an answer." She seethed at her shitty luck with relationships when she noticed Jake's hair tie on the seat next to her. "Then, Jake chases after me like a fucking lap dog when he can see I'm not ready for anything else. I fucking had my heart ripped out of my fucking chest and he wants to look in the fucking cavity and poke around?" She clawed at the fabric covering her chest. "What the fuck? Did he think he could just fill up the hole? It's fucking lined with venom!" She laughed at her own pun and realized she probably sounded fucking crazy.
But, for once, she didn't care. She continued to rub her chest, which she expected to hurt and ache like it always did when she mentioned his name. But it didn't ache from thinking about Edward. She thought the name again. Edward. It throbbed, but it felt kind of…better.
She slowed down and stopped at the stop sign. Her breath was heavy from her yelling. She smiled at her own audacity. It felt good to be honest with herself. She stepped on the gas, turning left onto a road she knew would take her to a part of the rez that she'd rarely been to. She knew Billy went drinking there in his younger years, right after his wife died.
"Then, I finally decide to maybe, just maybe, fucking let Jake in and he FUCKING DESERTS ME!" Bella's knuckles were white as she gripped the steering wheel hard, her locked arms shaking as she continued driving. "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?" she screamed again. It was the first time she'd vocalized any of that aloud. Every time she'd thought about how she felt, guilt washed over her and she pushed it back down. That's why it was so much easier to feel nothing.
"What the fuck is that?" she said aloud, more quietly, questioning that guilt. "Why do I feel guilty about being pissed off that every fucking person, who was supposed to fucking be there for me, deserted me? Why do I feel guilty?" She drove for a few minutes considering that. When the answer came to her, she slammed on her brakes and stopped in the middle of the deserted street. She crossed her arms over the steering wheel and leaned her forehead forward as she caught her breath and thought.
"Fucking Renee. I never let myself be angry because it never did any good." She sat up straight at that realization. Looking at the inky black outlines of the forest trees, she took another cleansing breath. "Shit. I fucking raised my own mother and married her off to a man a decade and a half younger than her. Good job, Bella." She reached over and patted herself on the back. "Now you never need to have kids since you fucking raised your fucking mother. And now you 'mother' your father because you feel you need to." She thought about that for a minute. Charlie always protested when she doted on him. He appreciated her food and the care she showered on him, but he always told her it wasn't necessary.
And that brought tears to her eyes.
Charlie was a good and gentle man. He could take care of himself and he was pleased as punch that she'd decided to come live with him. He never hovered. He never pushed. He never demanded anything of her. And he was always there for her. Even when she'd checked out, she'd wake up some days and he was asleep in her rocking chair watching over her to wake her from her nightmares. And here she was out in the middle of the night, with no phone, and she'd left no note. She had to call and leave him a message at least. Just to let him know she was okay.
Bella wiped away the tears and looked around the cab of her truck. She picked up Jake's used hair tie, which had tangled pieces of his long, black mane wrapped and tangled around it, and threw it out the window.
She accelerated again and within just a few minutes she saw the lone parking lot light of a little, rundown bar. She pulled into a space in the back of the almost empty lot. She looked around the cab and realized she didn't bring her purse, either. She had no money to even put into a pay phone.
"SHIT!" she screamed into the darkness, punching the steering wheel with the heel of her hand once more. She opened the truck door which illuminated the cab and the light reflected off a quarter on the floorboard on the passenger side. She leaned over to pick it up, hoping to the gods that no one witnessed her ass sticking up in the air.
"Fuck yeah!" she groaned sitting back up in the seat holding the quarter up into the dingy street light.
"That's what I say," a low and very masculine voice agreed. She screamed as she fell back in her seat behind the wheel. The deep voice chuckled at her alarm.
"Who the fuck are you?" she yelled, feeling stupid and a little embarrassed. She knew he'd totally seen her butt. And liked it from the delighted smirk on his face.
"Wow, you kiss your daddy with that mouth, little girl?" the stranger asked this time with a shit eating grin. He was very pleased with himself.
"No," she spluttered indignantly. She couldn't think of anything clever to say in return. "You don't even know who I am." Now she just sounded like a petulant child. She didn't like that after he'd called her a little girl.
"I sure do. Jake didn't exaggerate how hot you are, either. He did forget to mention what a dirty mouth you have." That enraged Bella even more. "I like it, though." So now she was talking to one of Jake's friends.
"Well, I'm pretty close, but not quite there," he grinned.
"Perfect. I'm pretty close to perfect."
Oh. She'd said that aloud.
He put his hand on the side of his mouth like he was going to tell a secret, but he stated in a normal voice, "some girls say I'm kind of a man whore." Bella didn't know how to respond to that, but the way his t-shirt stretched across his defined pecs, she could see how women would throw themselves at him. And he'd agreed that she was hot. Agreed with Jake. At whom she was pissed.
"Great, so you're one of Jake's friends." She made a move to get out of the truck. She still had to call Charlie.
"I didn't say that," the dark, hot stranger replied as he stepped back, allowing her to hop down.
"But you said…" she trailed off because he was huge! Tall and muscular, he could have scooped her up and carried her like a child. Like a little girl.
"I said Jake said you were hot. I never said we were friends. The little pussy pisses me off to no end. But here, he has not made a mountain out of a mole hill." His eyes raked up her body, stopping at her bare shoulders. "Aren't you cold?"
Bella looked down at her sleep attire. She'd totally forgotten she wasn't dressed. Why she'd chosen tonight, of all nights, to wear something Renee bought her she did not know, but she was regretting it.
"Why do you fucking care?" she retorted, trying to cover herself up. Why was he talking to her? The last thing she needed was another man to let her down. And she needed to call the only one who hadn't.
"Well, you're barely dressed, nipping out in the cold," his eye dropped to her breasts where the thin, taut fabric showed just how chilly she was, "at a rundown bar on an Indian reservation in the dead of night with a flat tire. I'm a bit concerned." Bella's head whipped around to look where the handsome giant was pointing at her front, bald, and very flat tire.
"FUCK!" she screamed and made to collapse in a heap on the ground. She slid down the side off the truck and her ass got caught on the footplate. All she wanted to do was lay on the cold, damp pavement and cry at all that had gone wrong in her life. But she never felt the impact. Sure the tears flowed from her eyes, down her cheeks, and her chest heaved with uncontrollable sobs that she tried to suppress, but couldn't. But instead of the cold, wet ground, she felt the rocking movement of being carried by strong, muscular arms. They were different from Edward's rock hard arms, though. These were warm—so warm. And much, much softer.
"Where," she sniffed, "are you," she hiccuped, "taking me?"
"Inside, little girl. You can't be sittin' out here dressed like that. You're freezing." She felt him pull her closer to his body. He was hot. Like, literally, HOT. Not in the good looking way that made her stomach flip when he looked her over and smirked. He was that. But, he was like burning up. Like Jake was the last time she saw him.
"Put me down! I'm not a little girl!" she tried to protest. She tried, but he just chuckled. Her sobbing had stopped, but the tears still streamed down her face.
"Yes, you literally are. Now hush. We gotta figure out something to do about that tire." He kicked the front door open as he smirked down at her again.
"I don't fucking need your help! Let. Me. Fucking. Go!" She didn't like the way he made her feel. She didn't like being called a little girl. She didn't like that way he assumed he could just swoop in and save her. I'd had enough of that shit! He seemed to think so, too. So he dropped her. On her ass. On the floor.
"Fine," he said, smirking still. But Bella could something else in his eyes. For the first time in a long time someone wasn't looking at her with pity. This man was actually looking at her like he admired her a little bit. His eyes dropped down to her chest again. Her spaghetti strap had fallen off her shoulder again. She hiked it up before she stood up on her own two feet. Without anyone's help.
"What cha got there, Paul?" the bartender asked.
"Well, it seems I found Jake's girl in the parking lot with a flat tire," the handsome stranger returned. So his name is Paul.
"I am not Jake's girl!" Bella seethed. "He's made that very clear the past two weeks."
"Has he now?" Paul asked with another smirk. Bella ignored him. She needed to call Charlie. But she didn't want him to come get her when she was dressed like she was.
"Do you have a phone I can use? I have a quarter," she asked the man behind the counter.
"You can use this one right here," he said, placing an old rotary phone on the counter. Bella walked past the smirking Paul. It made her stomach flop again. He had to be in his mid-twenties. Bella needed to stop those feeling right now! The age of consent was sixteen in Washington State, and Bella was seventeen, but she didn't need more man troubles.
"Jake been giving you the cold shoulder?" Paul asked as he followed her to the bar.
"Again, none of your fucking business." Bella said in a sing-song voice.
"Damn! Jake never told me you cussed like a sailor!" Again, Bella thought his eyes revealed hints of admiration. His voice revealed how pleased he was with that knowledge.
"You must talk to him more than me, then. He's been 'sick.' I haven't talked to him in two weeks." Bella picked up the phone and started to dial Charlie at the station. He was working an overnight. "But the piece of shit wasn't even home when I went over there to see him." The brassy ring sounded in her ear. It reminded her of the phone in her own kitchen back in Forks.
"Yeah, that's because he's out running with Quil. I just saw him," Paul remarked. Bella's jaw dropped and she sucked in a deep breath to try to stave off the wave of anger she felt wash over her.
"Forks Police, you got Charlie," she heard her dad say. She reeled in her anger, ignoring the pain again.
"Dad, it's me." Who the fuck else would it be? She thought to herself. Who else calls him dad?
"What's up, Bells?"
"Nothing much. I just wanted you to know that I'm down here in La Push. I came to talk to Jake and I'll probably be down here for a while. I just didn't want you to worry."
"Why you gonna be down there for a while?" Charlie asked. He sounded a little concerned.
"I got some things to take care of. I'll be fine. I left my cell at home, though. So if I don't pick up, don't call in the feds, okay?"
"Okay, Bells. Thanks for lettin' me know. You'll be home before I get home, right? In the mornin'?"
"Oh, yeah, Dad. Totally." She looked up when she heard Paul chuckle again. She couldn't believe she'd just said, totally. But now she was pissed off at this Paul character again.
"Okay, Bella. I'll see you in the mornin'. Thanks for callin'."
"Love you, dad," she said before she hung up. Paul reached out, taking the receiver from her hand, his hot fingers brushing her, and laid it the cradle. How did he make that sexy?
"And now you're lying to your father?" Paul let out a low whistle. "I think you're a bad girl and no one knows it. Yet." His eyes raked up and down her again. She let herself like that—she liked being appreciated by this hunk of a man.
"You better step off, Paul," the bartender said as Paul took one more step closer. They were only inches apart and she could feel the heat roll off him.
"Why?" Paul asked, looking at the man behind the bar. He'd put the phone back in its place out of sight.
"If she's Jake's girl…"
"I am not FUCKING JAKE'S GIRL!" Bella exclaimed. "Does everyone here know the little shit? Has he been talking to everyone but me?" Paul caught on of her flailing arms as it hit his chest. I shiver ran down her spine. If Bella was honest with herself, she really liked it. But she wasn't being completely honest with herself.
He bent over and whispered in her ear, "So, does that mean you're not fucking him?" Her toes curled as his hot breath washed across her face.
"Yes!" Her indignation was back. She didn't know what the hell he meant by asking her that.
"Yes that's what that means, or yes you're fucking him?"
"Paul!" the bartender warned as Paul's hand reached out to her hip.
"George!" he mimicked the tender's tone. "I know what I'm doing." His hand pulled her closer and she let him.
"It's your life," George replied as he turned away.
"What the fuck does that mean?" Bella asked, her head shooting in George's direction. She did not pull out of Paul's embrace.
"It means that Paul better watch his step around Jake. Most of us know what the future holds. But Paul never seems to give two shits."
"And what does that MEAN?" Bella pressed. Well, she was pressed up against Paul and she wasn't fighting it. Something about George's statement implied that Paul shouldn't mess with Bella because of Jake. Like, Jake owned her or something. That made something in her mind snap. She didn't want to be Jake's. Not after the last two weeks. But George had gone into the back room, leaving them alone.
"He's trying to imply that even though you're not fucking Jake, that I shouldn't fuck you." His words startled her, but they excited her, too. Edward would never had said anything so crass to her. Ever. And while she knew Jake wanted more from her, had even tried to kiss her on a few occasions, he still saw her as a broken little bird that needed to be mended. She liked the dirty words that spilled from this man's tongue. She wondered what his tongue tasted like. She realized she was staring at his lips, trying to see his tongue. He noticed and smirked. She straightened her back, planting her feet more firmly on the ground.
"Do you want to fuck me?" she asked, trying to keep her voice hostile to mask her desire. She didn't think it worked.
"It's quickly rising up my bucket list," he whispered in her ear. God, he smells good. She wanted him to make another move. But…
She couldn't do anything like that. She couldn't just have sex with someone she'd just met outside a bar. She was seventeen. She was a virgin. She'd never even been to second base.
"Too bad I have to get my tire fixed," she muttered shifting out of his hold. Bella had to use all her strength to pull away from him. His hand had found its way to her bare skin right above the waistband of her shorts. Which she admitted she enjoyed quite thoroughly. She shivered at the loss of his heat.
"Well, little girl, there is no place open right now in La Push or Forks that can help you with that. So here's what I'm going to do for you." He smirked at her, tapping her nose with his forefinger making all the places that'd made her blush to think about throb with desire. He took a step closer to her and they were almost touching…again. "We're gonna walk back to my place and get you a jacket. And then, if we can't find something better to do, I'll drive you home and we'll take care of that tire tomorrow." If he stays this close, I won't need a jacket.
"What do you mean 'something else to do'?" she asked skeptically, but panting just a little. She knew. She thought she knew. She hoped she knew.
"Little girl, if you don't know that, then you're more naïve than I thought."
"I don't need another man in my life to fuck things up," she snorted, but she didn't pull away. Smooth, Bella. She felt his hand wrap around her waist and pull her up against his body again. He seemed proud of the erection he was rubbing into her belly. She thought she had the female equivalent—if there was such a thing.
"I'm not going to fuck up your life, Bells." Hearing Jake's nickname for her in Paul's husky voice made her weak in the knees. "I'm just going to fuck you."