I listened to his steady breathing as he slept. I marveled, as I often did, on how much I really did love him. Who would have thought I would have truly moved on?. When Edward left, that gaping hole in my chest seemed as though it would never be filled. I thought I'd never be whole again. But Jake had been patient, and caring, and... there. He was my best friend, my lover, the father of my daughter, Ava, and my savior.
There was one moment, really, when I realized that I needed to move on from Edward. I had jumped off a cliff- at the time, doing dangerous things had somehow brought him back to life, at least in my head. At first, as I was falling, the speed was thrilling, and I was revelling in it, already thinking of when I'd do it again.
But, when I'd landed in the water, and the power of the ocean was doing its best to drown me, I realized something. I was risking my life for glimpses of a man who I'd meant nothing to. The idiocy of that sunk in, as I struggled to breathe, and I made the decision right then and there to forget Edward- to somehow try to live, somehowt, and learn to live with the ache of my loss. I knew the ache would never really fade, nor would my love for him, but I was determined to try and live my life anyway.
Seventeen was too young to give up, and I had no desire to be one of those desperately pitiful women you read about in old novels that pine away for their man until they are ghosts of who they once were. That wasn't romance- that was suicide. As my vision faded and my lungs burned, I felt Jake grab my arm, and knew, just like in this moment and many others before it, that he would always be here to save me.
I was 21 now. Jake and I had gotten together shortly after graduation. In the beginning I was constantly comparing him to Edward- with some shame, I remembered how at first Edward always won those comparisons. But as time went on, that faded as I let myself see how, in so many ways, Jake was the superior man. We could go out in the sun together. He could kiss me and make love to me with as much passion as both of us wanted. Best of all he trusted my judgment and let me make my own decisions.
When I was 20 and Jake was 19, I'd gotten pregnant with Ava. At first... well, let's just say the 'happiness' wasn't the foremost emotion I was feeling. But Jake was elated.... my mind drifted back to that day:
I'd begun the morning like most others. I was living in Olympia and going to the community college there, studying to be an English teacher. I had gotten up, gone to school from 8am til noon, then drove down to Pete's Cafe to start my shift- Charlie had offered to pay my expenses but I just didn’t feel right about it. Around 5pm, just as I was about to get off, Hannah, a girl I'd known for almost a year and who was shaping up to be quite a good friend, asked if I wanted to come over and take a dip in her apartment's hot tub.
"Ah, Bella, it will be fun! And bring your boyfriend- and hopefully some of those hotties he hangs out with." She winked, and I smiled. Hannah- and I suppose any girl who caught sight of the impressively buff Queleute boys- was quite taken with the lot of them.
"Maybe," I replied, hesitating. It did sound fun, but tonight was Thursday, which was one of the regular nights that Jake came up to my apartment. And I was really looking forward to some quality time with him. And by quality, I meant naked and moaning.
Hannah noted my hesitation. “Aw, come on Bella! Come and and play with me! But hey, quick favor. Can you loan me a tampon? I forgot an extra and it’s a long drive home for me.”
"No, I don’t have any-" And then I froze. Because really, I should have those on me. Really, I should have been dealing with that same issue right now. But I wasn't.
"Hannah, I... I have to get home. I have... something... I need to check. Do." I was stuttering.
"Bella? What's wrong?"
"Nothing." I said to quickly. "Can you finish up my side work for me? I really need to go."
"Sure," she replied, her voice worried. "Call me, k?"
"Yeah, sure sure."
I left quickly and raced over to the local corner store, bought the dreaded test, and raced home. There, I gulped down god knows how much soda. Then I took it, and waited. Three minutes seemed like an hour waiting for that damn test to finish. And there it was, plain as day. Bella Swan, mother. I threw the test in the garbage, then checked the clock. 5:30. Jake would be here in less than half an hour. Suddenly I really needed a shower to calm my nerves. I started the water, then stood in there for what seemed like eternity, just letting the hot water run down my back. When I was as calm as circumstance would allow, I shut off the water, grabbed a towel, and stepped out of the bathroom- then found myself face-to-face with a smiling Jacob Black.
"Bella," he said with a smile. "Sexy," he said then, clearly admiring the dollar store (and therefor small) towel I had wrapped around me.
"Hey Jake," I said, wincing as I realized that the pitch in my voice was all wrong. "What's up?"
"What's up?" He repeated. Then he sauntered toward me, wrapping his arms around my waist. "What's up is that I'm here, with you, wrapped in a deliciously short and easily removable towel." He winked.
"Yeah, er, let me get dressed."
"O-kay," he said slowly. "What's wrong, Bells?"
"Nothing. Well, something. I need to talk to you, but I want to do so in actual clothes. Can you give me a sec?"
"Sure thing," he replied, and I hurried up to my room, his curious eyes following me.
When I emerged from the bedroom, in a tank top and sweats, I found him sitting on the couch, soda in hand, watching some random 80's movie. Well, his eyes were on the TV anyway, but I didn't think he was doing much watching. He turned to face me as I entered and I sat down next to him.
"What's up, babe?" He asked, trying to keep his voice light.
I really didn't know where to begin. "So, I have some... news... and I'm not sure exactly how to say it. And I'm not sure how you'll feel about it. I'm not sure how I feel about it."
"Okay," he said, slowly again. "But if you've somehow discovered you're, like, a demi-god or fairy some other supernatural creature, I have to warn you, I won't be shocked. Not in this state." He smiled my favorite lopsided grin, and I smiled back, a little.
"No, not last time I checked. But I did discover... um, that I am different. Than I was."
"I'm, god I'm not doing this right. But who knows how to do this sort of thing?" I was talking to myself at this point. "Jake, I'm... we're gonna... well if you want, anyway.... I'm pregnant."
The words hung there for about 5 seconds, while Jake just sat staring at me. Then his face broke out into an unmistakable smile of joy and he hugged me tight.
"Bells! I'm.. . this is great! "
"Is it?" I asked, searching his face. "I mean, I'm a 20 year old broke college student, and you're a 19 year old werewolf. An unemployed werewolf. How is this going to work?" Inside I was panicking, and annoyed, though not really at anyone in particular. Maybe the universe. I mean, I'd been careful- I’d done the right things, taken the right precautions. Why had this happened?
"We'll make it work, Bella. We will! I mean, think about it for a sec. Sam can't really ask everyone to constantly run patrols. When Kim and Jared had their kid, do you really think Sam told Jared he had to be a deadbeat dad and not work?"
Actually, I kinda assumed he had. I felt a little ashamed at that suddenly. But I had assumed that werewolf duty pretty much took precedence over anything else.
"Besides, it's not like patrols are really as frequent or as necessary. No more bloodsuckers tends to lighten the work load." The little ache in my heart left by Edward's leaving twinged at that, but the rest of my heart, the heart that belonged to Jake and my Quileute family, was filled with something else. Happiness? Hope?
"Oh Bells," he said, then kissed me with such a passion that I nearly forgot what we'd been talking about to begin with. Nearly. "So, you are happy about this?" I asked, pulling back from the kiss, and instantly missing the touch.
"Yes." He said sincerely. Then, "Aren't you? I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm nervous as hell, and I know we are young and don't even live together, but we love each other, and..." His voice had taken on the tone of someone defending against a line of attack, so I shushed him with a finger to his lips.
"When you're happy, I'm happy," I said. And I meant it. "And, I know this is super weird, especially for me, but I think I am happy." I smiled. "Scared, but happy. And scared for you, once Charlie finds out you knocked me up." I snorted.
"Yeah well, hopefully he just doesn't try to punch my face or something. It'd probably break his hand."
We made love that night, and although I was apprehensive about the future, I was certain of one thing. I was certain of Jake.
Ava's crying jerked me out of my memories. I felt Jake begin to stir beside me, but I whispered quietly that I had this, and he settled back down. I left the bedroom we shared and walked across the hall into 5-month-old Ava's room. Her beautiful face, cutely contorted now with cries of hunger, turned to look at me as I entered.
"Hi pretty baby, "I cooed as I picked her up. "Is the baby girl hungry?" I lifted my shirt, and held her to me so she could eat. Absentmindedly, enjoying the moment, I gazed out the window and into the woods of La Push. Jake and I had rented a house here- rent prices were good when you were a protector of the tribe. We paid a very decent price for our modest little 3 bedroom. At first, it was definitely in need of a little TLC and maybe a spot on one of those home make-over shows.
But Jake had been really crafty with repairs, and I was pretty good with a paintbrush. Emily had come over soon after we moved in- when I was around 6 months pregnant- and helped me plant some pretty things around the little yard. We painted the exterior yellow- I loved the cheeriness- and the inside was a collection of various colors, depending on the room.
The living room/kitchen (no wall to cue the transition, only a change from carpet to linoleum) was painted a light peach, as were the hallways. Our room was a light blue- robin's egg blue, my mom had said when she'd seen it. Ava's room was off-white, because we hadn't known what the gender was when we picked out colors (we had originally decided we didn't want to know, but caved out of insane curiosity around 8 months or so) and the guest room, which also held my treadmill, was red. I have no idea now why I painted a room bright red, but I've chalked it up to pregnancy-related insanity and Jake's been too smart to argue with me.
The woods were peaceful, and as I stared I gently rocked back and forth, watching both the forest and Ava's eyes droop as she suckled. Finally, she was asleep again, and I set her down gently in the crib, careful not to let the diamond on my engagement ring snag on the knitted blanket around her.
Yes, engagement ring. Jake had popped the question soon after we found out about Ava (Or Davin, had it gone the other way). At first, I hadn't really wanted to say yes; Marriage was never something I was interested in. Besides that, I had been worried he was just asking out of some feeling of obligation. But, as he knelt at my knees (I was sitting on our log at the beach), ring extended and eyes hopeful, I had said yes. I would never have dreamed of hurting him like I knew it would have if I'd said no.
As he slid the ring on my finger, he said "You know, this was my mother's". At that, and at the way the ring fit perfectly, I smiled. I was glad he hadn't spent any money (we really didn't have it to spend) and something about how perfect it was that the ring fit reassured the panicked part of me that this was the right thing to do.
Maybe that it was even meant to be, though that romantic sappy stuff was not something I put much stock in. Later, I found out from Billy that Jake had actually asked him for the ring sometime back, and was waiting for the right moment. After that, my fears were quelled. Jake was my best friend, my lover... my husband. We had not yet actually tied the knot, but in my heart we already had. Smiling, I walked back into our bedroom, snuggled up with Jake, and went to sleep.