Well, howdy readers! Glad you could join us for another chapter of Osa Bella. When we last left our sordid affairs, Bella was reeling from a massive bitch slap from reality, courtesy of Charlie's engagement to Sue. How will this change things for our reluctant heroine? Will she give the boy up?
If you're new here, you may want to start at the start. I think the story's a bit more coherent that way. If you'd like your twismut pdf style, here ya go.
Thank you, as always for your comments. I'd like to bottle you all up and drink you three times a day.
It was time to be honest with myself. I had a real problem and I had to do something about it.
For months I'd entertained ridiculous fantasies about Edward. There was one where instead of a high school senior he was really undercover with the CIA and just a very young looking twenty eight. Then he’d whisk me off to some foreign country and fuck me in twelve different languages. There was another where he was a secret agent from the US Department of Education who was auditing Forks High School. Then when his cover was blown he’d get fired and sail me to Tahiti where I’d spend the next ten years birthing beautiful Swan-Cullen babies that all looked just like him. And there were variations on these fantasies, but in every one he was not the real Edward Cullen—the seventeen year old boy who went to the school where I worked.
I used to tell myself these fantasies were harmless. But now I acknowledged that they were occupying valuable real estate in my mind and heart, keeping me protected in a little world of glittering falsities where I could never really get hurt, and never move forward in my life.
What was worse, I would hurt Edward if I wasn't careful. He had feelings for me—this was clear. If I allowed myself to use him as the object of my desire, I would send the wrong message, consciously or not. In fact, I was afraid I already had. And if I led him on and his crush turned more serious, eventually I'd have to cut him loose. That disappointment could damage his ability to have real intimacy with someone who might be available to him. While I still didn't know all the details about Edward's past, I could tell he was well defended—didn't let people too close. He'd known heartache. I never wanted to add to his pain or his burden in any way. But if I wasn't careful that's exactly what I would do. That made up my mind for me.
I made a decision to pursue Derek—the guy who might actually turn out to be husband material. I was in no hurry to get married, but I turned a corner in my attitude about relationships. I wanted something with promise. No more dark fantasies about young men and no more wasting time on men who didn't take me seriously.
That Saturday after the Mercy Brown show I actually wore a dress, and I never wore skirts or dresses, but Derek was taking me to C'est Si Bon in Port Angeles. He approved—I could tell by the little things. The extra width in his smile when he first saw me. His hand on my arm as he helped me into his Subaru. His long kiss at the end of the night. His reluctance to leave when it was over.
After that, I sent him text messages and hung around his classroom after last period, not only on Tuesdays. I didn't call Jake anymore, and he didn't seem to notice. And most importantly, I avoided Edward. I didn't even allow myself to think about him anymore. I surprised myself with both how difficult that proved to be, and my ability to do it.
I only allowed myself to see him at our Tuesday afternoon club meetings, and even then, I tried to be as bland as I could be. I stilled the beating of my heart, tamed the bounce in my step that the sight of him always gave me. And it worked, because he lost interest in me. He no longer surprised me with visits in my office. At Thoreau club meetings, he paid little attention to me as well. It was as it should be, but that didn't make it any less disappointing.
Derek and I fell into a pattern of regular Friday night dates. He’d come to my place or I’d go to his and we’d cook dinner and listen to music or maybe watch a movie. Sometimes we’d just talk, often about the kids in our club or about other school politics or drama.
I opened up to him about Zachary and my struggle to piece my life back together after he died. I disclosed my struggle with depression, but I left out the bit about the heavy drinking and the pills. Derek had known me during that time, but only in the context of work. He didn’t know the Bella Swan who could go on a three day solitary drinking binge to blot out a wedding anniversary or lay on the couch for an entire week in summer without bothering to shower or change the channel on the television. The only people who knew me that well were Jake and Illeana. I really didn't want Derek to know that part of me. In fact, I wanted to be rid of that part of me, and the more time I spent with Derek, the less I drank and I stopped taking pills altogether.
As people who’d already been married and had once thought they had the future locked up, Derek and I were a good match. In the places where we didn’t always mesh we managed to tread lightly enough to keep things moving forward. Politics and religion, these were subjects that we avoided like polite dinner guests. We came together around music, books, work. We cared about the stewardship of the earth and the natural world. We had similar tastes in B movies and literature and a common disinterest in televised sports. Everything was moving along well, except for one thing.
Every Friday night would end the same way—the two of us kissing on the couch like teenagers waiting for a parent’s car to pull in the driveway. I’d wonder all evening how things would unfold, knowing we’d probably never get much past, well, first base. Derek would politely wind things down just at the point where I was getting interested, but I didn’t push him. I was trying to be the new Bella—the one who pursued the good, stable guy. Not the old Bella who got drunk and fell into bed twenty minutes after the first real kiss.
Derek told me he was conservative in relationships and he wasn’t kidding. He’d been married ten years before his marriage fell apart. Like me, he’d also wanted a family, and when his wife didn’t get pregnant and then refused to go for a fertility work-up, he began to suspect something wasn’t right. Then he found her birth control pills. Then he found her fucking their neighbor. It’d been two years since they divorced and I was the first person he’d dated. He said needed to take it slow and I understood that—respected it. I even thought I should be more like him.
But I wasn’t. I was very impatient to get laid. I was growing more attracted to him as time wore on, too. He had the hard, lean muscular body of a cyclist. His face was handsome and his eyes were a calming light blue. He had strong hands and soft lips and a gentleness to him that I’d come to crave. But I couldn’t even entice him to cop a feel, let alone get naked. I knew he loved to kiss me and hold me and I suppose a lot of women would be happy to take things really slow, but I wasn’t.
One night when we were necking on my couch I decided to push it a little. He was leveling me with tantalizingly soft kisses so I climbed into his lap and unbuttoned my shirt, kissing him harder. He groaned softly, and then moved his lips down to my neck and placed a hand on my back, underneath my shirt and then stopped.
“Wait,” he said. “I… I can’t do this.”
“Yes you can,” I said, kissing him on his neck and then his ear. I whispered, “I’m sure you’re very good at it, too.”
He exhaled as I started to grind into his lap, but then he held my hips firmly to make me stop.
“Please, Bella, really. I mean it.”
I almost wanted to throw him out of my house, I was so frustrated.
“I’m sorry,” I said, buttoning my shirt, completely embarrassed. “I just really like you.”
He put his arm around me and let out a big sigh. “I really like you, too. That’s why I don’t want to move too fast.”
“Okay,” I said, trying not to sound as exasperated as I felt. “I don’t get it.”
“I know it probably sounds really archaic to you, but I don’t have sex outside of marriage,” he said. “I should have explained this to you before things ever got this far. I’m sorry.”
I nodded and stayed quiet for a minute, grappling with the overwhelming sense of disappointment.
“It’s okay,” I finally said, and tried to mean it. “I’m sorry for being so…“
“No, don’t apologize,” he said, holding me close. Then he whispered in my ear, “I’m very glad that you want to… with me. Who knows, right? I think things are going well. Let’s just take it slow and see what happens.”
I nodded and buried my face in his shoulder, hoping to rest it there until the blood drained back out of it and I could look at him without feeling like my parents had just walked in.
The day before winter break, Edward came to my office. I wasn't expecting that. And I wasn't prepared, either.
Dating Derek had made it a little easier to control my inappropriate attraction to Edward, as long as I wasn’t alone with him. Because there was nothing quite like having Edward to myself in a small room. And when he came into my office that Friday, the entire room seemed to collapse around us, erasing all that ground I thought I'd covered in my journey away from him in my heart.
“I want to give you something,” he said. “A Christmas gift.”
"Yeah," he said and smiled. “It’s just a small thing.”
He pulled a small box out of his pocket, beautifully wrapped with antique brown paper and a small gold ribbon. “This made me think of you.”
I opened the box and inside found a small, white stone carving of a bear on a chain.
“A fetish?” I asked. “It’s absolutely beautiful,” I said.
“It’s very old,” he said. “It’s from the Zuni in Colorado. This one is supposed to signify healing and protection.”
I held the stone bear in my hand, closing my fingers tightly around it, a cascade of feelings raining down. I wanted to hug him but didn't dare.
“I love it,” I said. I felt a small catch in the back of my throat as I caressed it with my thumb.
“Good. Merry Christmas.”
I went to put the necklace on but in my nervousness, dropped it to the floor. In an instant he was behind me, draping it around my neck.
“Let me help,” he said. I felt his cool hands brush my neckline as he fastened the chain. I lifted my hair so he could see and felt a chill that made me shudder. Goosebumps suddenly erupted all over me, from the backs of my hands to my... I hoped my nipples weren’t showing under my cashmere. Then Edward uttered a strange sound, as if the air had suddenly rushed out of his lungs. I felt the fetish sink into place on my chest as he let go of the chain. He stepped back and braced himself against the wall behind me.
“Are you okay?” I turned around to see him scowling, his eyes burning black into my own. As he caught my startled reaction he moved quickly to the other side of the room and pulled a cigarette out of his shirt pocket and sniffed it. “What are you doing? You know you can’t smoke in here.“
“I won’t,” he said, opening a window.
“Are you feeling ill?”
“A little,” he said, his voice overly controlled. He stuck his head into the freezing cold air and took a deep breath. I shuddered again as the draft hit me and pulled my cardigan tight around my shoulders. "I'm all right," he said.
He looked off. Maybe it was regret he was feeling, or confusion. I didn’t know what to think. What was I to him? Some aging old maid who had a small time career at a high school? A dark fantasy like he was to me? A projection of some forgotten parental figure?
“Are you doing anything fun over the break?” I asked, to distract him.
“We’re going up to Alaska to visit some old friends,” he said, calmer. “Snow boarding and maybe some hunting. Are you spending Christmas with Mr. Banner?” He took a seat across from me, his eyes softer but his voice still had an edge to it.
“He’s going out of town to visit family,” I said. “I’ll be having a quiet one at home.”
“You’re spending Christmas alone?”
“I’ve got Chief Swan to keep me company,” I said. “Never a dull moment with him.” He leveled one of those skeptical looks at me. “What?”
“Why aren’t you going with Mr. Banner to see his family?”
I wasn’t sure what to say, given it was none of his business. The truth was I had never been invited.
“And leave Chief Swan all on his own? I wouldn’t dream of it.”
Charlie and I spent Christmas at his place with Sue, Leah, and Seth. They’d soon be my step siblings, which felt a little weird, but was also okay. They were plenty good company. We also invited the Blacks to come since they were close with the Clearwaters and enjoyed a good party as much as we did.
I cannot cook. This is a well known fact among my family and friends. But I can decorate, so I made Charlie put up a huge Scotch Pine that we decked out with antique ornaments and homemade trinkets from my childhood. I had garlands draping from every mantle and doorway and blue lights outside on the porch. I’d done the same to my own place, surprising my father when I asked him to come hang lights on my roof. It was the first year since I’d been in Forks that I shown much holiday spirit.
“I’m glad to see you happy, Bells,” Charlie gave me a squeeze around the shoulders as I rearranged some garland. I smiled and realized that for the first time in awhile, I thought I might actually consider myself happy. Confused, maybe. But hopeful, despite that confusion.
Charlie and I helped Sue prepare a turkey and stuffing feast for all of us. Jake played bar tender while we waited for the bird to finish, and with several rounds of cocktails before dinner, we were all well lit by the time we crammed into Charlie’s little dining room for the meal.
“When are you bringing your little clan back to La Push?" Billy asked over dinner. "We’ve got even more bears for them to interview now.”
“Dad,” Jake said. “I don’t think bringing the kids back to La Push would be a good idea right now.” He gave his father a warning look.
“Those bears aren’t going to hurt anyone,” Billy said, dismissively. “They’re tame as kittens. Unless you’re worried about them seeing you…”
“That’s enough, Billy Black,” Jake said.
“Worried about us seeing what?” I asked.
“Yeah, what?” Charlie asked.
“If Charlie’s going to marry Sue,” Billy said, the alcohol fueling his speech, “he’s going to find out sooner or later.”
“Find out what?” Charlie asked, getting his police chief voice off the shelf, buzzed as it was. Sue shook her head as Leah, Seth and Jake grew visibly uncomfortable.
“It’s nothing,” Jake scowled at his father. “Just Billy flapping his gums after too much holiday cheer. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have too many tourists on the reservation with all the bears around, that’s all.”
I didn’t believe him, and neither did Charlie, but the look on Sue’s face told us both to drop it. No doubt he’d get it out of Sue later, and I could work on Jake better when we were alone. Billy just grumbled into his plate and said, “Pass the eggnog, will you?”
“I want to come and see the bears myself,” I said. “I won’t bring the kids.”
“No way, Bella,” Charlie said. “I don’t care how harmless the bears seem to Billy. He can go play cards with them if he wants. But I don’t want you playing naturalist around a pack of wild bears.”
“He’s right,” Jake said.
“Bah,” Billy said. “Tame as kittens.”
“We had one wander into our kitchen last week,” Seth said.
“What? Sue, you didn’t tell me that,” Charlie snapped.
“Seth,“ Sue shook her head at him. “It was nothing,” she smiled. “I shooed him out like a stray dog. No big deal.”
“We’ve sort of adopted them,” Leah said. “People have just been leaving them food like feral cats. I don’t think they’re ever going to leave now. May as well get used to it.”
“I don’t like it,” Charlie said. “I don’t care if it’s a pack of teddy bears. Sooner or later someone is going to do something stupid and get themselves hurt. Or worse.”
After dinner Jake and I took a walk. The cold air and the quiet were a relief from the heady, stuffy dining room and the boisterous drunken laughter of the party. Jake pulled out a flask of whiskey and we took turns sipping from it as we walked down Main Street.
“So can I ask you a question?” Jacob took my hand in his.
“Are you seeing that Derek guy?”
“Mr. Four Time Teacher of the Year?” I smirked. “Sort of. Why?” I raised an eyebrow and passed the flask.
“I never hear from you anymore,” he said, taking a pull.
“Oh please, you never call me,” I said, taking my hand out of his. “I get tired of always being the one to call.”
“Come on, Bella, this isn’t high school. I’m a teacher. You know how busy I am during the school year,” he said, putting his arm around me. “Are you really into him or what?”
“Yeah, I think I am.” I looked for his reaction. He frowned. That gave me a good, satisfied feeling.
“Come on Jake, you’re not into me like that,” I said. “We’ve been there before, remember?”
I reached for the flask and took the last swig, my face hot from the buzz. He didn’t look, didn’t respond. I got in front of him and forced him to stop walking. He crossed his arms and stuck his tongue out like a bratty kid. I cracked up. “You really piss me off sometimes, you know that?” I said.
“I know.” Then he pulled me into a full-on dip, right there on the sidewalk and kissed me. I would have laughed again, but his lips were insistent and I could only kiss him back with equal intensity. The light from the street lamp made me self-conscious, though the road was deserted.
“Let’s walk to my house,” I said.
“Sure,” he said, and took my hand again.
As we walked along I felt elated and confused and frustrated and fairly fucked up from all the booze. Even in my fuzzy head I was certain I was headed for the same pattern of falling into bed with Jake, drunk, knowing he would leave before the morning and that I wouldn’t hear from him again for awhile because he’d be afraid of the weirdness resulting from banging your good friend under the influence. I’d let it happen too many times already. We had a lot of fun and were good in bed together, sure. But he already acted like I was some long term girlfriend that would never leave, that would never tire of him. I was sick of that treatment and now I had other options.
I opened the door to my house ready to start another confrontation, but then he picked me up and threw me over his shoulder and I couldn’t help laughing. Damn it. That was the problem with Jake. I could never stay mad enough at him. He carried me into the bedroom and I landed on the bed with a bounce that sent me into a ridiculous giggling fit. He smiled as he leaned over me on the bed and then he kissed me again, more softly this time. I kissed him back but then I pushed him off. I wasn’t going to make it that easy.
“You’re only doing this because you think I found someone else,” I said. “Admit it.”
“No, I’m doing it because you look hot in those jeans and because you know you want me to, so shut up about your new boyfriend for five minutes.” He kissed me again. “It’s a real mood killer.”
“I need more booze,” I said.
“You’re hardcore, Swan.” Jake got up and went into the kitchen and opened my liquor cabinet. “What do you want? More whiskey? Or are you ready for beer?”
“Whiskey,” I said. “Bring it.”
My phone rang while Jake was out of the room. It was Derek. After debating for a couple of rings, I answered it.
“Merry Christmas, beautiful,” Derek crooned over the phone.
All I could think was, “Okay, Bella, try not to sound drunk.”
“Hey, Merry Christmas,” I said. “How was your day?”
“Great. Parents are doing well and I ate too much. How about yours?” he asked.
Jake hollered from the other room, “If that’s Charlie, tell him you haven’t passed out yet, but we’re working on it.”
“Who was that?” Derek asked, sounding a little annoyed.
“Oh… it’s just Jake. I had Christmas dinner at Charlie’s with the Blacks and the Clearwaters.” I hoped he’d believe we were still there. “One of those meals where the food didn’t keep up with the imbibing.“ I felt guilty, awkward. Answering the phone was definitely a mistake.
“I see,” Derek said. “Tell Jacob Black he can keep his hands off of you this time,” he said, trying to sound like he was teasing but the edge was obvious. “I don’t care if he is your old buddy, or if you’re both drunk.”
“Is that so?” I said, pleased to hear a little jealousy. “I think if you’re worried about that, we should discuss a few things, don’t you?”
“Maybe I should come home right now and discuss it.”
“Please do,” I said. “I’d love that.”
“We’ll talk about it over New Year’s,” he said, relaxing. “We’re still on for your friend’s party, right?”
“Definitely,” I said. “Can’t wait.”
Jacob walked in with the whiskey and gave me a fake menacing sort of look.
“Is that your boyfriend, Bella?” he said artificially loud. “Tell him he shouldn’t leave you alone with a liquor cabinet on holidays.”
“Shut up, Jake."
“I’ll let you go back to the party,” Derek said. “See you Friday.”
“Hurry home,” I said and hung up. Jake handed me a shot of whiskey and I threw it back and then fell backwards onto the mattress. He laid down next to me, propping himself on one arm, clearly pleased with himself.
“You dick,” I said. “Don’t you want me to be happy?”
“Of course I do,” he said. “I'm about to make you very happy, in fact.” He smirked and I rolled my eyes and tried to think of some witty retort, but before I could get the words out he was on top of me, kissing me hard. My limp, drunken body revved in a way it hadn’t in a very long time. Some of this was due to my alcohol-drenched hormones and some was the frustration of being in a very slow moving relationship with someone else. But the biggest turn on was just doing something I probably shouldn’t have been doing. That dynamic was something I’d thought a lot about in recent times.
My blood pumped like gasoline through my veins, igniting as I soaked in the heat of Jake’s hard body. He kissed me again and filled my mouth with his tongue. I groaned as he unbuttoned my shirt and unhooked my bra with dexterous, greedy hands. Then he lowered his lips to my throat and held them there too long. I thought for sure he was going to mark me with a hickey like a high school tramp, but just as I started to protest he laughed and moved his lips down to my chest, pulling my shirt to the side, exposing my breast, and then he suddenly stopped.
“Who gave you this?” he asked, fingering the bear fetish I wore around my neck.
“Nobody,” I said, pulling the white stone from Jake’s fingers. I unfastened the chain and held it in my hand and felt myself blushing from head to toe.
Now Edward’s face was firmly lodged in my thoughts as all my girl parts lit up. Jake kissed me in the valley between my breasts and I began to breathe easier, but then he took the bear from my hand and dragged it over my nipple. I gasped as the cold hard stone teased my aching skin.
“You’re such a bad liar,” Jake said. “Was it a Christmas present from him? Your new boyfriend?” He dragged the fetish over my belly. I grabbed it out of his hand and he looked at me fiercely. “Tell me.”
“No,” I said.
“Fine. Be that way,” he said. Then he started kissing my neck again, stroking my breast, and I felt his hands slide down my body, towards the gold. I held the bear tightly in my hand and tried to keep my mouth shut, to make certain in my drunken state I didn’t accidentally let Edward's name slip.
I reached for Jake’s cock through his pants and felt him rock hard. He unbuttoned my jeans and edged his fingers softly along the waistline. I ran my hand hungrily through his thick black hair as he kissed my naked belly.
And then my cell phone rang again.
“Ignore it,” Jake said as he dragged his hot lips down to the open top of my jeans and snaked his tongue over my skin. I exhaled slowly and tried to blot out the thought of Derek checking up on me, tried to push Edward’s face away from my mind even as I clutched at the gift he’d given me. My phone stopped ringing, but then Jake’s phone rang.
“That can’t be Derek,” I said.
“Don’t worry about it,” Jake said.
“What if it’s Charlie?” I asked. “What if something’s wrong?” I was suddenly worried. Charlie wouldn't bother me in this state if it wasn’t important.
“Jesus, Bella,” Jake said. “Do you always have to worry so much?” Jake’s phone stopped ringing and he shut it off. Then he took off his shirt and laid back down on top of me. “Let’s try this again,” he said, more patient now.
Then my house phone rang.
“Oh my God, somebody really does not want me getting laid tonight,” Jake muttered and went to pick it up.
“Hey Charlie, Bella’s fine, she just got sleepy so I walked her home,” he paused. “What? How high? Shit. I’ll be right there.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked, thoroughly frustrated.
“It’s Seth,” Jake said, sounding annoyed and concerned all at once. “He’s come down with something. He’s got a really high fever.”
“So? Why can’t Sue deal with him?” I asked. “Give him some Ibuprofen or something.”
“They did and it’s not helping and Sue’s too drunk now,” he said. “So are Leah and Billy. I’m sorry babe, I have to go take them home.” He kissed me and pulled on his shirt. “I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?” He ran out the door.
I turned the stone bear over and over and over again in the palm of my hand. Just thinking.