At the Cliffs

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

← Chapter 11: Imprinting      Chapter 13: Prom →

Chapter 12: Waiting

I couldn’t sleep that night so it was lucky that I didn’t have much on my plate at school the next day. My calculus and physics finals were back-to-back on Wednesday. I knew that I’d need to do some serious studying the next two nights if I wanted to do more than just pass, but somehow, with everything else going on, I just couldn’t focus.

I felt like my brain was overflowing with so much … stuff … that it made me unable to do anything but exist in a persistent state of worry and fear. The whole imprinting thing had thrown me for a loop. I didn’t know what to make of it. Jake was everything that was dependable and constant in my life. And now … to find out that he was predestined to be anything but dependable and constant.

I sat up half the night wondering which was worse - having a boyfriend break up with you because he wanted to or having a boyfriend break up with you because he was forced to. The first would probably hurt more in the beginning – I knew enough about what that felt like - but at least there was some resolution to it. With the latter, there would always be this false sense of hope that it wasn’t really “his” decision, that maybe one day he’d snap out of it - at least that’s what I suspected Leah would tell me if we were ever close enough to be confidants.

And then, of course, there was all the stuff about Victoria and what might or might not be going on in Seattle. Despite Sam’s brave promises or old Quil’s reassuring words, I knew that the pack was in tremendous danger because of me. I felt like we were sitting ducks, waiting for the day - if and when - she decided to pounce. I tried to remember Sam’s confident tone when he said that he thought that Victoria had moved on, but then my mind would blur over with the memory of James’ attack - except instead of James, the blurred figure had a mass of orange-gold curls and moved with a feline grace that made it hard to predict her next move.

I was so out of it that it took Jessica three tries to get my attention at lunch. “Earth to Bella?!”

“What?” I stuttered, looking up in a daze from my yogurt, which I had been stirring and restirring obsessively as I let my brain race through all the worst possible outcomes of the situation with Victoria.

“I’m glad you could join us,” Jessica drawled with a glance at Lauren who was barely hiding her smirk behind Tyler’s yearbook which she was signing. “I was just asking if you wanted to come to my post-prom party on Friday?”

“Prom?” I repeated stupidly. “Oh my god, is prom this Friday?” With everything that had happened, I had completely forgotten about it.

“Umm … yeah, I thought Angela said you were going,” she replied as she raised an eyebrow at Angela who was sitting across the table from me with a wide-eyed innocent expression on her face.

“Oh yeah, right … yes, I am … going, that is.” I blurted out before I had too much time to dwell on it. I didn’t even know if Jake still wanted to go given … well given what happened yesterday.

“Alright, well I’m throwing a party afterwards so you’re invited. You know where my house is, right?” Jessica spoke slowly, enunciating each word as if she were talking to a small toddler.

“Yes, yes,” I replied as I tried harder to gather my scattered thoughts. “I’ll be there … we’ll be there,” I tacked on as an afterthought.

“So …..” Mike interjected smoothly from the other side of the table where he had been pretending to be absorbed in perusing the class superlatives in the yearbook. “Who are you going with?”

I blushed fiercely. I couldn’t help it. “My friend, Jake,” I replied as casually as I could despite the fact that my ears were flaming red. “You know, the one that went with us to that movie that time.”

“Yeah, I remember,” Mike snorted as he turned back to his yearbook without another word.

I looked up just in time to see Jessica giving me – for the lack of the better word – the stink-eye from across the table as she and Lauren abruptly got up and left to attend the last prom committee meeting. Mike and Eric didn’t seem to notice as they got into a heated debate about why Eric hadn’t been voted class clown. I turned to Angela with a quizzical look on my face. Angela shrugged as she leaned in so that the guys at the end of the table couldn’t hear.

“I don’t know. They broke up a while ago, but I guess she’s not over it even though she’s going to prom with Scott, this new guy that she’s been seeing. I hear Mike is going solo.” She smiled wistfully as she continued, “I hope it’s okay that I badgered her into inviting you. I just figured that if you were going to prom then-“

“-I’m not sure if I’m going,” I cut her off before she got too invested in the idea.

“But I thought that you and Jake were good…”

I flushed. I didn’t know what to say. The truth? Which truth? That I might be dead – scratch that, we both might be dead - by Friday because I was being stalked by a murderous vampire. Or the other truth? That Jake might imprint on his supernaturally predestined soul mate by Friday and taking me to prom would probably be the last thing on his mind then.

Angela reached over to pat my arm. “It’s okay. I understand if you don’t want to go.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to go,” I replied truthfully, “I just don’t know what’s going with us right now…”

“Spill.” Angela said automatically as she scooted in closer to me and adjusted her trendy purple glasses to sit better on her nose. “It sounds there’s actually something going on…”

I sighed, “It’s complicated.”

“I think I can follow …” Angela replied with a gentle smile.

I chuckled. “I know. I just don’t know if I’m ready to talk about it…”

“All right,” Angela said with an unconvinced frown. “But if you do …”

“Yes, yes,” I laughed. “I know, you’ll be anxious to get the latest scoop.”

“I just want you to be happy, Bella,” Angela said soberly as she refused to laugh at my offhand joke. “It seemed like you were for a while – these last few months with him - but now … I’m not sure anymore.”

I sighed. If only she knew.

*******

When I pulled up to the house after school, Charlie’s cruiser was in the driveway, which I don’t think had ever happened in the year and a half I had lived with him. He never came home before 6 pm most days and I suspected that was mostly because I had come to live with him. If I weren’t around, I was sure that he would be a bona fide workaholic, grabbing dinner at his desk most nights.

I tore into the house, panicked that something was wrong, only to find Charlie laid up in bed with a headache and a slight fever. He refused my offers of food and medicine and insisted that he just wanted to get some rest. My heart wrenched as I watched him sleep, knowing that the last few months of strain and grief over Harry’s death had finally taken its toll on him.

I set up my stuff in the dining room, diligently lining up my calculus textbooks for some hardcore studying, but I found myself spending most of the late afternoon staring unseeingly through the window that looked out over the back yard, lost in uncomfortable and unpredictable thoughts, which was why I almost jumped out of my seat at the sound of a sharp rap on the back door.

I padded over silently in my bare feet, wondering why Charlie had never bothered to install a peephole, and hesitated for a long time before realizing that I was being stupid. The people … er … the beings … that I was afraid of wouldn’t be stopped by a door. I grasped the handle and flung the door open with a false sense of bravado. It was Jake.

“Shouldn’t you have a peephole or something?” he asked with a wry smile as he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the side of the doorway. He was wearing his usual cutoffs along with a gray shirtless tee that was a smidgen too tight – it looked like he had outgrown his clothes yet again – which served only to further accentuate the perfectly molded contours of his chest.

I smiled wanely but didn’t say anything. I didn’t know what to say, so I just stared resolutely at his chest, too rattled to meet the questions that I knew I would see in his eyes.

Finally, Jake chuckled softly as he teased, “Well … I guess that answers my question about whether or not things will be awkward…”

I laughed outright this time and it seemed to cut the tension. Jake reached out to grab my hands as he stepped into the house.

“Look. I know that we’re trying to figure this out, but I’m still me and you’re still you. There’s no reason things have to be weird while we figure us out.”

“I’m just worried that there won’t be an us,” I replied honestly, looking up in time to see him flinch slightly at the painful truth of what I was saying.

“There will always be an us,” he replied steadfastly, his dark brown eyes glowing more intensely with every word.

“I thought you didn’t want to make promises you couldn’t keep,” I reminded him.

“I’m not,” Jake countered quickly. “There will always be an us because I will always be your best friend. Even if I can’t … if I’m not … damnit…” He cursed fluidly then as he pulled his hands away to run them through his hair.

“Hey … it’s okay,” I said. This time it was my turn to grab his hands. “You’re right. We’ll figure it out.”

He smiled weakly as he slipped one arm over my shoulder and used the other hand to close the door behind him. We headed to the living room where we slumped down on the blue couch, comfortably close but not so close so that we would be crossing any boundaries that we hadn’t decided for sure whether or not to cross.

“I just came by to check-in. I just swapped with Quil. It’ll be my turn to watch over you guys tonight. Quil said that Charlie came home mid-morning?”

“Yeah, he’s got a bad headache and a bit of a fever. He’s been sleeping all day. I think he may be coming down with something,” I said with a frown as I gestured towards the stairs.

“It’s not good that he’s sick, but it’s good for us.” Seeing the startled expression on my face, he continued hastily, “It’ll just be easier for us to guard the two of you if he’s at home most days. I’m worried that she’ll try to use him to get to you.”

“Oh,” I said as I weighed a new possibility that I hadn’t even considered before. “Wait … are you having someone follow me during the day? What about when I’m at school?”

Jake frowned as he replied. “No, you’re unprotected then. I’m not happy about it, but it’s only a few more days and then you’ll be done. Forks is west of our boundary lines so she or any other leeches couldn’t get to town unless they got by us first. I just … well, we’ve got finals too … and Sam isn’t exactly happy about us doing additional shifts around your house at nights.”

“No, no, I understand. You really don’t have to do shifts at our house. As you said, if we’re beyond the boundary, they can’t get to us without you guys knowing ...”

“No,” he said in a hard tone. “I don’t want to leave anything to chance. It’s bad enough you’re unprotected during the day, but I’m thinking that she wouldn’t risk anything in broad daylight with lots of witnesses. At night though, there’s no reason why I can’t crash here just in case she did manage to sneak by somehow.”

“Crash here? Where?” I said, my cheeks growing warm, as I imagined him spending nights here … in my house … in my bed…

Jake’s mouth dropped open when he realized what he had said and then it was his turn to blush, his cheeks turning a flaming tomato red. “No, I just meant … not like here here … you know, I’ll crash out in the woods … in wolf form ...”

“You could crash on the couch,” I suggested anxiously, my face equally red in embarrassment, but I didn’t want to think that I didn’t want him here. I just didn’t know if I was ready for … that.

“No, no … I know Charlie likes me, but I don’t think he’d be down with me camping out here even if I spent the night out here … I mean, I wouldn’t be in your room or anything …” His voice trailed off as his face turned an even brighter red. It was hard to tell who was more embarrassed as neither of us could really look at each other. “Okay … change of topic …”

“Yes, please,” I latched on gratefully, wanting to talk about anything other than Jake staying over that I ended up blurting out the first thing that I thought of. “So are you still coming to prom with me?”

Great. Embarrassing Topic #2.

Jake turned to look at me in surprise. “Yeah, I said I would. Friday, right? Unless you don’t want me to go anymore …”

“No, no, I do,” I replied quickly, “I just didn’t realize it was so soon. The last few weeks have been a blur.”

“Understandably so,” Jake said with a gentle smile as he settled back into the cushions now that we were out of embarrassing territory.

“I only remembered because Jessica – you remember her, right?”

“Brown curly hair? Overly peppy and judgmental?” he teased.

“Yeah, that one,” I said smothering my smile at how accurately he summed her up. “She invited me – well she invited us – to her after-party.”

“Sure, sounds good. I was just planning to wear a suit,” Jake said casually. “But I could rent a tux if you wanted me to…”

“No, no, suit is fine. It’s pretty low-key. I mean, it is being held in the gym.”

“Yes, I remember,” Jake said watching me carefully. “I was there last year, remember?”

I looked up in shock. I had completely forgotten about that until now. I could hardly believe that was less than a year ago. It felt like a lifetime ago. In so many ways, it was. The Bella I was then was a far cry from the Bella that I was now.

“But this time … you actually want me there, right?” Jake teased, but I could see the vulnerability lurking just beneath the easy-going demeanor. For the first time, I realized how hard the imprinting thing was on Jake too. He was such a good guy. And it killed him to know that despite his best intentions, he might one day hurt me, and there was nothing he could do about it.

“Yes, I really do want you there,” I said slowly, making sure that every word was sinking in with him. Jake just grinned in response, with a very Jake-from-the-old-days type twinkle in his eyes, as he reached over me to grab the remote to flick on the TV. I relaxed into the cushions further, close enough to feel his heat but not close enough to touch it, as we lost ourselves in mindless entertainment for the rest of the evening.

← Chapter 11: Imprinting      Chapter 13: Prom →

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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