At the Cliffs

My take on New Moon / Eclipse - written from Bella's perspective

← Chapter 10: Talk      Chapter 12: Waiting →

Chapter 11: Imprinting

Finally, Jake spoke. “Bells … about what happened earlier today… I just thought … well maybe …” Hearing the uncertainty in his voice gave me an inexplicable rush of faith in what I was about to do. I pulled myself away slightly so that I could turn to face him, but Jake misread my actions and backtracked hastily, “... Nevermind. Forget it. I’m sorry. You’re right. It’s better this way. I don’t-“

“-No,” I cut him off, unable to watch the pain of rejection continue to spread over his face. Suddenly, words were tumbling out of my mouth, “I mean, no, don’t wait. I mean, you don’t have to wait. If you don’t want to. Because I want this … I want you …” I finished lamely as my burst of confidence petered out.

Jake stared at me for the longest time. His face entirely immobile except for a vein that was throbbing in his left temple. I reached out to touch it, to try to smooth it down, but he grabbed my hand and held it between us, suspended in mid-air, as he continued to stare at me as if nothing else existed in the world. Then, just as suddenly, he dropped my hand so that he could cup my face, and I felt his lips come down onto mine.

It was like no kiss I had ever had before. It started off sweet and tentative, as we explored this new ground for the first time, but a rush of tangled heated emotions soon overwhelmed the initial shock and somehow my arms ended up wrapped against his neck, my fingers enmeshed in his hair, as I pulled him closer towards me even though it felt as if he could never be close enough.

The heat was unbelievable. Unlike anything I had ever experienced with him. I wouldn’t think his name just now. In fact, I couldn’t think of him. My brain wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t think of anything except Jake and the insane warmth that radiated from every inch of his body. The warmth drew me in and made me never want to let go. I don’t know how much time had passed – eons maybe – when just as suddenly, Jake pulled away.

My arms were still wrapped around his neck and his hands were still cupped around my face so he couldn’t go far. His brown eyes – deepened now to an inky-black – stared into mine, searching, penetrating, hoping for something, I stared back, in a slight fog, the only thing registering in my head was that something didn’t feel quite right. Mixed in with the raw hunger and longing written all over his face was a touch of worry. And fear.

“Jake …what is it?” I asked slowly when I finally found my voice. “I’m sorry … I didn’t mean to …”

“No, no,” he whispered immediately, leaning back in to nuzzle his face into mine so that our noses touched. “It was perfect. Beyond perfect. I never dreamed … it’s just … I have to tell you something…”

I shivered at his touch, but I forced my brain to click back into gear so that I could take a better look at him. And when I did, I read fear in his eyes. And I also saw guilt. Something I had never seen before in Jake’s eyes. My spine went cold. What could he have to say that would make him look so uncomfortable? Suddenly, Leah’s words from earlier today popped into my head.

“Does this have something to do with imprinting?” I whispered hesitantly, not sure that I should be bringing up something that Leah probably told me just out of spite.

“What?! Where did you hear about that?” Jake pulled back in shock, dropping his hands from my face as if my skin had burned him.

“Just today,” I stammered. “Leah… she said I should ask you about it. I didn’t know. I just saw your face and thought of it, that’s all…”

Jake pulled away from me then, reaching up behind his neck to unclasp my hands as he sat back against the tree with a heavy sigh. The vein in his temple was now beating wildly as he tried to find the words to respond. Watching his hesitation scared me. Suddenly, for the first time with Jake, I felt insecure. He was and had always been the dependable fixture in my life, the one person I could count on in a crazy crazy world. But now … I wasn’t so sure anymore.

When Jake finally turned back towards me, I found myself unable to look up for fear of what I would see, so I fixed my gaze at his neck as he prodded me gently, “What did Leah say about imprinting?”

“Just that it made Sam break all his promises to her …”

“It’s not that simple,” Jake muttered with a sigh. I watched as he swallowed deeply and then looked away to stare out at the ocean waves that were pummeling the sandy beach. “Imprinting, according to Sam, is what helps the wolves find their mates.”

“Their mates,” I said stumbling over the word in shock. I didn’t know what I expected to hear, but this wasn’t it. “As in, soulmates?”

Jake grimaced. “That’s what Sam would call it,” as he went into a mock imitation of Sam’s voice, “Imprinting helps us identify our perfect mate, the person who will best help us pass on the werewolf gene and produce stronger werewolves in the next generation,” he voice dropped back to a bitterly frustrated sigh. “It’s some f*d up version of werewolf Darwinism if you ask me.”

“How does it happen?” I asked mechanically, my voice sounding strange even to my own ears.

“According to Sam, you imprint on your soul mate the first time that you see her after you complete the werewolf transformation,” Jake explained. “That’s what happened to Sam with Emily. The first time he saw Emily after phasing, he imprinted on her, even though he had been with Leah for years. It was a force stronger than him and it made him break every promise that he made to Leah,” Jake’s voice faltered now, his eyes closing, but not before I saw the genuine fear reflected in them.

“I’m guessing based on your reaction that I’m not … that you didn’t …” My mouth was as dry as sawdust but somehow, I managed to get those words out.

Jake’s face clouded over as he shook his head curtly without meeting my eye, still staring blankly at the rippling ocean waves ahead of us. Now it was my turn to close my eyes and look away. I felt shaky and numb as I replayed his words in my head. I didn’t seem possible that five seconds ago, I had been so thrillingly close to everything that I thought I wanted. And now, it was slipping through my fingers before I even had a taste.

Jake pressed on now, a fresh sense of resolve on his face, even though he still refused to meet my eyes. “When Sam first told me about it a few months ago, I didn’t know what to think, so I just tried to ignore it. But now that Leah’s joined the pack, I see and hear the pain that Sam has caused her every day …”

My eyes widened as I realized exactly how much Leah’s life sucked right now, to be stuck sharing her every thought and emotion with a pack of teenage boys, including her ex-boyfriend.

“… so I decided that I had to tell you about it. You had a right to know. Because it wouldn’t fair. Damnit!”

Jake slammed his left fist against the tree trunk with such force that the entire log shook behind us.

“This whole thing is f*ing unfair. I know I love you. And yet, there’s some crazy thing out there that’s supposed to happen to me that will override what I feel? What the hell is that?”

Something in his words penetrated the thick layer of shock. Without thinking, I blurted out, “Did you say that you love me?”

Jake stopped short as he turned to look at me with undisguised confusion in his eyes. “Yes, of course, I do … more than I can say … I thought it was obvious. I think I always have … I just … God, I suck at this, I’m sorry,” he finally muttered, his face turning a deep red, the way it used to do in the pre-werewolf boyhood days.

I felt my face turn equally red as I looked away, elated, despite everything. Even though I had known that to be true deep down, somehow, hearing it made a huge difference. I didn’t realize how much time had gone by when Jake spoke again.

“Bells … please … say something …“

I looked up in alarm as I realized that I didn’t know what to say back. Did I love him? Yes. Did I love him the way he loved me? I didn’t know … I think I did. But it wasn’t the same way that I felt about him. So what did that mean?

I felt panic set in as I worried about saying the wrong thing, but as always, Jake knew me far too well as he shook his head dismissively, “No, not about that … I know that you’re still figuring stuff out … but about what I said earlier. About imprinting?”

I blanched as he said the word again. “I don’t know what to think …” I admitted slowly, struggling to find the words I needed. “Does it happen to everyone in the pack?”

Jake sighed in frustration. “I honestly don’t know. Sam thinks so. He says the legends say so. I’m not so sure. So far, it’s just been Sam and Jared. But …” Jake swallowed deeply as he forced himself to continue. “… I had to tell you. I didn’t want to make any promises that I couldn’t keep. I promised you once that I would never hurt you – not the way he did – and I want to try to keep that promise as best as I can.”

“But you’ll leave me one day. The way he left,” I whispered, my voice choking over, as the enormity of what imprinting meant finally washed over me. An unimaginable ache of loneliness spread through me making me feel hollow to the core. I never realized how much I had always taken Jake’s presence in my life for granted. I had always been sure that he – of all people - would never leave me hurt and vulnerable. And now, it was just a question of when.

“Maybe not. Maybe I’ll be the exception …” Jake’s voice broke as he said that, his eyes glossing over with unshed tears of pain and frustration. “I don’t know. I can’t promise you that I won’t-” Jake turned and cupped my face in his hands to pull me towards him as he continued, his eyes glowing more fiercely determined with every word. “-I can’t promise you anything, except this: If it happens to me, it will be against my will. The same stupid supernatural genetic quirk that forced me to become a werewolf may force me to imprint, but it has nothing to do with me. I want, more than anything, for our lives to be normal. No supernatural sh*t messing up everything. If it were up to me, I would just want you. I love you. No matter what happens, I want you to know that.”

He crushed his lips to mine again and I melted. In his kiss, I saw everything as it should have been in a world where crazy horror stories didn’t come to life. We would be the childhood friends who grew into high school sweethearts, we would get married and raise a family of black-haired brown-eyed toddlers, and we would grow old together, sitting on a porch swing in our old age surrounded by friends and family. But just as quickly, I saw it all fade away from me, as the shadows crept in, surrounding our embrace and pulling Jake away from me into the darkness. The intensity of the vision made me cling tightly to him, as if I could hold him to me by sheer force, but finally, I couldn’t take it anymore so I pulled away, putting space between us.

Tears began to flow as I watched the pained understanding flash through his eyes. We sat there in silence for a long time, a million conflicting thoughts swarming my head, as we stared silently at each other, wishing desperately for a solution to this seemingly unsolvable problem.

“You’re right. It’s better this way. There’s no point if one day, I might … I understand,” he said finally, his voice hollow and his eyes empty.

“It’s just … I’m scared …” I whispered brokenly, feeling as if I were twisting the knife I had plunged into him more with every word. “I couldn’t have survived his leaving with you. I don’t know how I could survive your leaving me … I just need time to think about what to do …”

“It’s okay, Bells … I understand. Take as long as you need …” Jake whispered as he pulled me close, wrapping his long arms around me and tucking my head underneath his chin.

I closed my eyes and let myself melt into him, luxuriating in the warmth and comfort that I always found in his embrace. This was my safe harbor. The place that I came to be reassured that everything would be okay. But one day, his arms would no longer be my safe haven. They would belong to someone else. My breath hitched as the pain of that future loss echoed through me, but I resolutely forced it away. For now, this was still mine. He was still mine. And I would think about all of that tomorrow.

I don’t know how much time had passed before we heard a bunch of footsteps coming towards us in the dark. Jake stiffened suddenly, but then sighed in resignation as he sat up and pulled away from me.

“Yo, you two! Keep your hands where we can see them!”

I recognized Quil’s booming voice as well as the sound of Paul’s braying laugh and Embry’s sympathetic chuckle, and I quickly patted my cheeks to wipe away any traces of tears and straightened myself out while Jake thoughtfully blocked me from their direct view.

“I guess we can see why they didn’t want to join us – more privacy up here,” Paul teased, slapping Quil on the back as the two of them dissolved into a fit of laughter where they had stopped a few feet in front of us in the moonlight.

Embry smiled wryly but didn’t join in. Instead, he continued to walk towards us with a serious expression on his face, “It’s almost midnight, guys. I’m sure Charlie will be wondering where you are, Bella.”

I jumped up, tripping slightly over my feet, but Jake grabbed my arm to steady me. Jake got up more casually, unfolding his arms and legs easily as he stood up from the sand. His face was an impenetrable mask again, no trace of the tumultuous events of the evening, unless you took a hard look at his eyes.

Embry watched us carefully and I felt sure that not much was escaping his thoughtful gaze, but I tried not to think about that now. I had no idea how much time had passed. After the day that Charlie had, the last thing I wanted to do was worry him more. Plus, I desperately needed some space to think about everything that had happened between me and Jake that night.

“What happened to the party?” Jake asked casually as he gestured for all of us to head towards the trail that led back to his house.

“Same old, same old,” Embry replied as he followed Jake onto the path just ahead of me.

“Tell me about it. We need some new girls to mix things up. You got any friends for us, Bella?” Paul asked in all seriousness as he and Quil fell into step beside me.

“I’m not sure they’re your type, Paul,” I replied with a light chuckle. You had to hand it to the boys. No matter what, they always managed to make me laugh.

“They’re all his type,” Quil drawled lazily as he draped his arm protectively round my shoulder. “He’s not exactly picky if you know what I mean. Not like me. I’m still holding out hope that you’ll forget about that lump over there-“ he jerked his thumb at Jake who turned around to roll his eyes “-and let me comfort you instead.”

“I’m not sure you’re my type, Quil,” I replied demurely trying hard to hide the smile on my face.

“What? You don’t like them tall, dark, and handsome?” he replied with mock amusement. “Fine, fine. I did promise my boy that I wouldn’t poach …”

“Like you had a chance …” I heard Jake mutter from up ahead where he was leading the way.

“… so seriously, whatever happened to the senior girls that you promised you’d introduce me to?” Quil continued with a cheeky grin.

“Bella’s graduating soon,” Embry reminded Quil. “Next week right, Bella?”

“That’s right,” I replied. “So they won’t be senior girls any more - ”

“-Even better! They’ll be college chicks!” Quil whooped as he and Paul gave each other a hi-five.

They continued to laugh and banter the whole way back to Jake’s house. It made everything that had happened by the beach seem like a distant dream. I almost wondered if I had imagined it, until I saw Jake’s eyes and the way he watched me.

When we finally arrived at the house, the guys loitered by the porch as I hopped into the truck to head home. The windows were rolled down and Jake put his hand on my arm as I turned on the engine. I knew what he wanted to know.

“I’ll think about it and let you know,” I said softly, unable to meet his eyes.

“Okay … but be careful,” he reminded me, reaching into the car to place a few fingers underneath my chin and gently turned my face towards him. “No matter what you decide. I’m still me. And I’ll still be here. No matter what.”

I nodded mutely, reassured by the steadfastness in his dark brown eyes, and he pulled back and patted the door of the truck.

“Embry will follow you home and camp outside your house tonight. I don’t care what Sam says, we’ll all take shifts to make sure you and Charlie are safe. ”

I nodded again as I pulled out of the driveway and drove off without looking back.

← Chapter 10: Talk      Chapter 12: Waiting →

About Me

I'm a Twilight fan who believes that Jacob Black is better for Bella than Edward, so I wrote these Team Jacob fanfiction stories to try to convert as many people to my side as possible. :)

I've tried to stay as faithful to the original books as possible up through At the Cliffs, which is when I break off from canon and write out Eclipse the way I wish it had happened!

So ... what do you think? Good? Bad? Ideas for other stories?

Please let me know!

Jane

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