"Baby," I murmur as I pick up her hand, "I can't wait to put a ring on your finger."
My eyes flutter open as I feel movement around me, and I take notice of the body in my arms. I blink a few times to see Isabella trying to get out from under me. I smile, and tighten my arms around her, pulling her closer to me, her back pressing gently against my chest. She freezes suddenly, and I sneak a hand under neck to hug her to me as I reach up to twirl strands of her hair in my fingers comfortingly.
"No...I don't want to get up yet, go back to sleep," I whisper.
"Jake," she giggles softly, "let me up."
"No," I shake my head against hers, "turn around for me."
I loosen my arms enough for her to twist her body around, and she does. She settles on her side again, only this time facing me. I look down at her face, and smile as I pull her close to me again. I hear her giggle softly as she cuddles up to me.
"I love you, baby girl," I whisper softly.
"I love you, too."
I reach down with my hand, and place it under her chin. I gently push her head up and our eyes meet. My lips come down onto hers, and I watch her eyes flutter closed just as our lips meet. I let my eyes drift close as well as I kiss her softly. I pull away after a few moments, and rub the tip of my nose against the tips of hers. She giggles again, and I smile before pulling her close to me. I close my eyes as her head falls into place right under mine as I hold her.
"Remind me again why you're not letting me up," she whispers teasingly and I chuckle before answering.
"If you get up, I'm going to have to get up, too, and I don't want to get up yet."
"You don't have to get up if I do."
"Yes, I do."
"Why? It's not like I haven't been here before. I know my way around."
"Baby," I say, "after holding you all night, do you honestly think I can just lay here by myself? I don't think so."
I watch her smile as she suddenly understands the deeper meaning of my actions. She wedges her arms around me, and cuddles into me. We're so close that she's almost lying under me. I run my hand through her dark hair as she relaxes against me. Never in my life will I get tired of holding her in my arms. There's just no greater feeling. I watch as her eyes drift closed again and her breath seems to come in slower puffs. She feels slightly heavier in my arms, and I pull her even closer to me. I simply watch her as she sleeps. Her face holds such a peaceful look. Suddenly her eyes seem to close tighter and her hands ball into small fists. I stroke her face as I hold her slightly tighter and she slowly calms down. Her breathing evens out once again, and she slowly lets go of my shirt, her hands resting flat against my chest. I press my lips against her forehead, before moving to her cheek, and then slowly her lips. I capture them in a soft kiss; a simple brush just to feel the softness of her lips against mine. I pull back, but I linger close to her. I close my eyes as I breathe in her scent. I slowly lean into her neck, and I kiss it softly, my eyes still closed. She sighs softly in her sleep, one of her arms sliding over me to hug me. I bring my hand to her hip, letting it mold to the perfect shape of her body. I give it a soft squeeze as I give her neck a gentle bite. I feel her take in a deep breath, and she holds it before releasing it slowly. I pull back slowly as my hand slides to her side. I look down at her to find her still sound asleep. I smile to myself-and she thought she wanted to get up. Keeping my left hand on her side, I shift around so that I can gently comb her hair away from her forehead with the fingers of my right hand. I bring my left hand up and touch the bruise on her cheek and frown. Nobody was ever going to lay another hand on her this way.
"What would I do without you, sweetheart?" I whisper softly as I press my lips to her forehead, "you're my entire life."
I always found myself confessing things like this to her while I watched her sleep. I'd simply caress her face and run my fingers through her hair and voice heartfelt confessions of my feelings to her. Don't get me wrong, though. I had no problem voicing these feelings when she was awake, but it was different this way. When she sleeps, she's safe. She's in the contours of her dreams where no one can hurt her; and everything except happy thoughts cease to exist. I smile suddenly and wonder if she's dreaming of me. I know I dreamt of her all the time. She was in my head twenty-four seven. If I didn't know any better, I'd say I was stalking her. I wasn't exactly a clingy person, I was far from it-but I hated to be away from her. I don't know if it's because I know how vulnerable she is and how easy she is to hurt. I had yet to toughen her up. I combed back her hair with my fingers as I looked down at her once again. I leaned down and kissed her cheek, my lips moving towards her ear.
"I mean it, baby, you're my entire life," I whispered as I nuzzle my nose in her hair, "you're all I think about. One day we're going to get married, and I'm going to make you so happy, sweetheart. You're going to make wonderful wife someday, you know that, don't you? And you're going to be an even better mother. We're going to be so happy. I promise not to be one of those husbands that's always working and never spends time with his wife. I'm always going to have time for you, always, no matter what. We'll do stuff together all the time, and I'll take you out. You know how people say marriage changes a relationship? Well, that's not going to happen to us. We're going to be perfect."
I pull back to look at her face, and I smile once again. She still holds that peaceful look on her face. Her breathing is still steady and soft. Her body's still completely relaxed against me. Suddenly I feel her shift slightly, moving against me. For a second, I think she might be having another nightmare. I bring a hand to her forehead as I smile. As I'm lightly brushing my fingertips against it, I notice how hot it is, and my smile slowly fades. I gently lay my palm against it, and I frown. She's burning up. I carefully roll out of bed, and pull the covers back from her, letting the coolness of the room cool her off. I open the door and rush down to the hallway bathroom. I open the medicine cabinet and grab the thermometer. I set it down on the counter before opening the bathroom closet and grabbing a pan and a few washcloths. I open the faucet and check the temperature of the water until cold water is pouring out. I fill the pan with the cold water, picking it up and taking it, the washcloths, and the thermometer back to my room. I look at Isabella and I see that she's flipped over on her stomach, and she's curled up in a little ball as she shivers. I close the door and walk towards the bed. I set the stuff down on the nightstand, before sitting next to her. I carefully lift up her shirt, peeling it off of her back and bunching it up close to her neck. I grab a washcloth, and soak it in the cold water, before wringing out the excess. I lay it flat against Isabella's back and she shudders suddenly. I reach up and move her hair so that it doesn't cover her face, before flipping the washcloth over. I pull her shirt down over the washcloth, and carefully roll her over onto her back.
"Jake," she whimpers softly in her sleep.
"I'm here, baby," I murmur back as I dip another washcloth in the cold water.
This time, I fold it long ways and lay it against her forehead. I dip another washcloth, and tenderly patting her flushed face with it. I do the same to her neck, and her throat before dipping it in water again. I roll her shirt up a little bit to expose her stomach, and I lay the washcloth on it. She shivers visibly, and I frown. I grabbed the thermometer, and I gently opened her mouth. I slid the thermometer under her tongue, and clicked it on. I move stray hair from her face as I hold the thermometer in place. When it beeps, I slowly pull it out and frown as the numbers 101.2 stare back at me. I take the washcloths from her forehead and stomach, before slowly rolling her onto her stomach again. I peel the now warm washcloth from her back, before rolling her onto her back again. I re-dip a washcloth in the cold water again, and gently pat her face and neck again, before placing it on her forehead again. I grab another one, and dip it in water again also before laying it on her stomach.
I frown as I look at her face. She looks peaceful, but I know she'll be feeling the effect of her cold soon. I get up and walk out of my room, and head back to the bathroom. I open the medicine cabinet and riffle through it to find something to get rid of her temperature, but I don't find anything. I frown and walk out of the bathroom, making my way towards my bedroom again. I grab the cordless telephone from my desk, and dial mom's cell phone number as I look towards Isabella again.
"Mom," I say into the receiver.
"Oh, hi, sweetie, did you just get up?"
"Yeah," I start, "listen, Isabella's running a fever. I can't find anything in the medicine cabinet to get rid of it."
"Oh dear, let me think," she says, "Look in the cabinet in the downstairs bathroom. There should be something there."
"Okay, I'll go check. I'll call you back if I don't find anything."
"Okay. Also, there's chicken noodle soup in the cupboard. You should make some for Isabella; it'll make her feel better. Listen, boil some garlic, onions, and oregano, and serve it to her as tea."
"What? Mom, that sounds disgusting. I can't give her that to drink."
"Put a little honey and lime in it. She has to drink it hot, though."
"I don't know. I'll try it. If I can't stomach it, I'm not making her drink it."
"Okay, darling," she says with a slight laugh, "call me if you need anything else."
"Oh, don't forget that Beast is in the backyard."
I hang up the phone and shake my head. I make my way downstairs and into the bathroom. I open the medicine cabinet and find a bottle of Motrin. I grab the bottle and look at the back of it. Ages 3 through 21-still works. I close the cabinet and head into the kitchen. I put the bottle of Motrin down and open the refrigerator. I grab an onion, some garlic and a lime before closing the door again. I set the stuff down on the counter before opening the cupboard and getting a can of chicken noodle soup out, along with the honey and the oregano. I grabbed a pot from the sink and filled it with water before setting it on the stove. I quickly chopped up half of the onion and the garlic, before dropping in the water, along with some oregano. I turned the heat on, and grabbed another pot while I waited for it to boil. I opened the can of soup and dumped the continents of it into the pot, before adding a little bit of water. As I was making the soup, the pot of tea started to boil and I took it off the stove. I brought it to my nose and sniffed it. I pulled it back as I gagged. It smelled disgusting. I couldn't give this to her and expect her to drink it. I sniffed it again-maybe the honey and lime would help. I served some soup in a bowl for her, and squeezed some lime into the soup, chuckling softly as I did. She had the weirdest taste in foods sometimes. I opened the bottom cabinet and grabbed a tray, flipping open the legs and setting it on the table. I placed the bowl of soup on it, before grabbing the pot with the so called tea, and pouring some of it in a coffee cup. I grabbed the honey and squeezed a generous amount of it in there along with some lime. I tasted a tiny spoonful of it, and made a face. It wasn't terribly disgusting, but it was far from good. I set it on the tray, and grabbed a tall glass. I had to give her something besides that tea. I opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of strawberry kiwi water I knew she liked so much, and poured some in the glass. I set what was left of it on the tray and grabbed a straw, two spoons and the bottle of Motrin, before heading upstairs with it.
I stood in the doorway and saw her still sprawled out on my bed. I couldn't help but smile and watch her for a moment. She was lying on her back, with her arms thrown above her head on either side of her face. Her hair was lying freely on my pillow as her head was slightly angled. Her eyes were closed and her lips were slightly parted. Her flushed skin looked flawless, almost as if she were made of porcelain. I quietly walk in and set the tray down on the nightstand. I sit down next to her and gently comb a hand through her hair.
"Sweetheart, wake up,"
"Hmm..." she murmurs as she moves slightly.
She moves around a little bit before her eyes slowly flutter open. She covers her mouth and coughs softly. I help her sit up and I pat her back as I grab the cup of tea. I bring it to her lips as her coughing subsides, and she takes a little sip. She pushes it away, making a face and I frown.
"Eww, what is that?" she asks softly, and I shrug.
"My mom told me it would help. You're running a fever. Is it too bad?"
"Well...it's not exactly good, but it's not horrible. It's just that I was expecting something else, that's all."
"Sorry, baby, I should've probably given you some kind of warning. Think you can take another sip or two for me?"
She nods her head and I hold it to her lips again. She takes a few large sips before handing it to me, her face holding a look of disgust. I kiss the top of her head before grabbing the bottle of Motrin. I twist open the cap and drop two capsules into the palm of my hand before grabbing the water.
"Here, take these. They should help your fever, too," I whisper.
She takes the capsules from me, and puts them in her mouth before taking the water from me. I watch her swallow them both, and I set the water back on the tray. I stand up and grab the tray, and set it on her lap, the legs of it on either side of her lap.
"I made you some soup."
"Yum," she smiles, "does it have-"
"You know me so well."
"Of course," I say as I kiss her forehead, "eat up."
She slowly eats the soup, coughing a little every now and then. I walk over to the movie cabinet, and slowly browse through the titles for a specific few. I pull out 'Pretty Woman' before going to my next selection. Finally, I settle down next to Isabella as she eats. I smile at her and poke her side as I show her the movies. Pretty Woman, The Notebook, Say Anything, 10 Things I Hate About You, A Walk To Remember, Fever Pitch, Garden State, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, I Am Sam, Just Like Heaven, Moulin Rouge, Sleeping With The Enemy, Swimfan and Stepmom. She looks up at me with a knowing grin.
"I guess this means you're making me stay in bed all day," she says, and I notice her soft voice is now raspy.
"That is correct, my love," I say and she smiles, "I'm going to take care of you until you're all better."
"I'd like to take a shower before we start watching movies. I feel all sweaty and icky."
"Maybe your fever's going down. I'll check your temperature after you finish eating."
"Since when are you a doctor?" she asks with a teasing grin and I poke her side again.
"Mom's not the only one that takes care of Jennifer when she's sick, you know," I tell her and she laughs, "plus, who do you think takes care of mom when she's sick?"
"That's sweet, baby."
"You're sweet," I whisper as I lean towards her.
She smiles and I bring my hand under her chin, slowly pulling her face towards mine. She turns her head just as my lips are about to touch hers, and I catch her cheek instead. I close my eyes and keep my lips against her cheek, before kissing her ear.
"What's wrong, baby?" I ask softly, my lips brushing against her ear.
"You shouldn't kiss me if I'm sick," she whispers back, "I don't want you to catch whatever I have."
"Let me worry about that, sweetheart."
"I don't want you to get sick."
"Baby," I sigh as I try to turn her face to face me.
"Jake," she whispers, not letting me turn her face.
"Okay," I whisper as I kiss her cheek again, "I'm sorry."
She looks up at me with apologetic eyes, and I touch her face lovingly. I lean up and kiss her forehead, before smoothing her hair back from her face. I set the movies down on the bed, and I get up.
"Finish your soup. I'll get you a new pair of pajamas out."
"Are you angry?" she asks.
"What? No, of course not, why would I be mad, baby?"
"Because I wouldn't let you kiss me."
"No, silly," I smile as I sit next to her, "I'm not angry, or upset at all. I know you're thinking of me."
"Okay," she smiles back.
I kiss her forehead again before getting up and walking to her suitcases. I open the one that has her clothes, and I start to fish through it. I grin as I pull out her red Superman pajama pants, and I fish around for the tank top. Once I find it, I sling the blue tank top over my shoulder, and I zip up the suitcase again. I walk into the bathroom, and set the pajamas down on the side of the sink. I turn the shower on to let the water warm up before returning to the bedroom. I sit next to Isabella, and she smiles up me.
"The soup was delicious, thank you," she says.
"You're welcome, baby. Did you just finish or has it been a few minutes?"
"It's been a few minutes."
I grab the thermometer, and turn it on before holding it up to Isabella's lips.
"Open up," I say and she does, "under your tongue, baby."
She lifts her tongue, and I gently slide the thermometer into her mouth, letting her close it to hold it in place. I kiss the top of her head before getting up to remove the tray. I grab the movies, and I hold up 'Pretty Woman' up to her and she nods. I chuckle and set it on top of all the others, and put them next to the TV. Suddenly, the thermometer beeps and I make my way over to her. I take it from her, and see the numbers 99.6 staring back at me.
"You're a little irritated, but it's definitely going down," I tell her as I sit down next to her again, "Okay, I set your pajamas in the bathroom, and left the water running. I thought I'd let you get whatever else you need. While you shower, I'm going to start putting some of your clothes in my closet, okay?"
"You don't have to. I can do that."
"I don't mind, sweetheart. I don't want you to do more than you have to."
"Okay," she smiled.
"C'mon, I'll help you up."
I stand up, reach down, and slowly help her up. She runs a hand through her messy hair, and blushes. I smile at her and she smiles back before walking towards one of her suitcases. She opens it, and shuffles around it, before discreetly pulling a few things out and heading towards the bathroom.
"I'll try to be quick," she says as she holds the doorknob.
"Take your time, baby. Come out whenever you're ready."
I smile at her again and she returns the gesture before softly closing the door. I grab her suitcase that has her clothes, and I hoist it onto the bed. I unzip it and chuckle softly. She had a lot of clothes. I looked towards my closet and silently wondered if it would all fit. I made my way out of my bedroom, and jogged downstairs and into the laundry room. I opened the closet, and grabbed two boxes of clothes hangers, before making my way upstairs again. As I passed the hallway closet, I realized that I hadn't left a towel for Isabella. I put the boxes down, and grabbed two towels, before laying them over the boxes and picking them up again. I walked into my room, and set the boxes down before grabbing the towels. I walked over to the bathroom door, and slowly turned the doorknob, finding it unlocked.
"Baby, I forgot to leave towels," I said as I walked in.
My breath caught in my throat as I saw her. Her body was covered by the thick black shower curtain, but she was peeking out of the side of it. Her hair was drenched and dripping water as she looked at me with her big innocent dark gray eyes. As I looked at her, I had to fight the urge to walk over to her and kiss her.
"Jake?" she asked, blinking in confusion.
"Uh...I forgot to bring towels...but, I've got them now...yeah."
"Thank you," she said with a little smile and a light blush, "umm...could you close the door? The cold air's getting in and it's making me cold."
"Oh, right, of course. Sorry."
Without another word, I left the bathroom, and shut the door. I walked over to my bed, and sat on the foot of it. I leaned my elbows on my knees and buried my face in my hands, trying to get her image out of my head-but it was almost like it'd been etched permanently. Our relationship has always stayed on the innocent side of intimacy, and that was something I always respected of her. The temptation was big, and we had more than plenty of opportunities to do so. But, I knew she wasn't ready for that kind of thing yet, and she was well worth waiting for. She was nothing like other girls I've dated before her. I could see myself spending the rest of my life with her, as corny as that sounds. She's what my dreams, ambitions, fantasies and so much more are made of.
Suddenly, my thoughts were broken by the sound of the door opening. I looked up and saw Isabella, dressed in the pajamas I'd chosen for her, towel drying her hair. She looked down to the floor before looking back up at me. I motioned for her to come closer, and she did after hesitating for a second. She sat next to me, and simply held the towel in her hands as she stared at the floor.
"Do you ever get angry at me for making you wait?" she asked softly.
"What are you talking about?" I asked, even though I knew exactly what she meant.
"You don't have to pretend like you don't know...I saw the way you looked at me."
"I'm sorry, baby," I whispered as I looked at her, "I guess I kind of lost it for a second. I wasn't expecting you to poke your head out or anything. When I saw you, I instantly wanted you in my arms. You looked...breathtaking. But, no...I don't ever get angry at you."
"Are you sure? I mean, I'd rather know if you do."
"I'm sure, sweetheart. This isn't an issue for us, remember?"
"I know," she whispers as she looks down, "it's just that, I know you're ready for us to move onto that step. I don't know, sometimes I feel weird because I'm not. I mean, it's not that I don't want to, because I do. But, I'm not ready. It's something beautiful that you can only share once, and I want it to be perfect. I don't want it to be rushed or anything. And-"
"Baby, look at me," I cut her off and she slowly looks up at me, "you don't have to explain anything to me, I know. And it's okay. I'm not going to ever pressure you into doing something that you're not ready to do, do you understand me?"
"Have I ever told you that you're not at all like other guys?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, any other guy would've either already left me or cheated on me, and you've had the opportunity to do both," she says, "but you haven't done either; you're understand and you love me just the same. Can you say the same thing about your friends?"
"No, I can't," I tell her, "but baby, I'm understanding because I love you for you, not for what you can offer me."
"You're amazing, Jake."
"No, baby," I whisper, "you're amazing."
She blushes as a smile tugs at her lips, and I reach for her body, pulling her onto my lap. She links her arms around my neck and smiles at me. I bring my hand to her cheek, and I press my lips against hers, kissing her deeply as she whimpers. I slide my hand past her ear, and into her wet hair, remembering the way she looked in the shower. I close my fist around it, being gentle enough not to hurt her. I let go of it, and slowly pull away. I look at her face to find her eyes closed, her lips parted-her bottom lip slightly swollen, only making me want to kiss her again.
"You're not supposed to kiss me," she whispers as she opens her eyes.
"You can't ask me not kiss you. I've kissed you at least once everyday for the past two and a half years," I whisper back, "since I came back from Florida after being gone for a week, remember?"
"Yeah," she says with a small grin, "when you got back, I came over and we literally spent hours just kissing. You told me you were going to kiss me once for every time you thought of me. And believe me; you kissed me a lot of times."
"Well, I thought about you a lot," I grin and she giggles, "I thought about you so much during that trip. Chad was so sick of hearing how much I missed you.
"Want to see something?"
She carefully gets off of my lap and walks to one of her many boxes, opening it. She digs out a tin can, and walks back to me with a light blush. She sat next to me, and handed me the can.
"Open it," she whispered and I did.
Inside, there were red rose petals, along with a small rectangular card. I reached in and picked it up.
Beautiful flowers for my even more beautiful girl. I think about you every minute of every day you're not by my side. Love, Jake.
"These are the flowers I sent you?" I asked, and she nodded, "Wow."
"That was the sweetest thing that anyone had done for me, I couldn't just throw them away."
"That's beautiful, baby."
I drop the card back in the tin can, and replace the lid. Before either of us could say anything, we heard loud barking outside. Isabella looked at me with wide eyes.
"Is that coming from the backyard?"
"Yeah, I forgot to tell you that Ritchie's dog is here. We're going to keep her."
"You mean that huge rottweiler?"
"She's a friendly dog, baby," I tell her as I get up and take her hand.
"Yeah, she sounds like a friendly dog," she mutters as we hear Beast bark again.
I laugh softly and gently pull her down the stairs. I lead her into the kitchen, where we see Beast standing on her hind legs, her front paws on the sliding glass door, barking loudly. I let go of Isa's hand, and walk towards the glass door.
"Hey, baby girl," I said with a smile as I open the door.
Beast rushes in, and jumps on me, panting heavily as she wags her short tail. I laugh slightly and pet her lovingly. I look over at Isabella and see that she looks terrified.
"Beast, down," I say firmly, and she obeys, "Sit!"
She sits down, and simply looks up at me. As I walk over to Isa, Beast jumps to her feet and growls almost violently. I put an arm around Isabella's waist and I feel her tremble as Beast starts to bark.
"Hey, knock it off!" I yell and she immediately stops.
"I think I'll just wait for you upstairs..." Isa whispers, but I shake my head.
"She has to learn not to bark at you."
"She scares me, Jake."
"I'm not going to let her hurt you," I tell her before turning my attention back to Beast, "come."
She comes closer, and starts to growl at Isabella again.
"Knock it off, Beast!"
I lace my fingers with Isabella's, and I hold our hands in front of Beast's snout. As Beast sniffs our hands, Isa trembles.
"I'm trying, but this dog could eat my arm if she wanted to."
I looked down at Beast and watched as she licked Isa's hand.
"Lay down," I said and Beast only looked up at me, "lay down."
She slumped down to the floor and I kneeled down, and patted her head.
"Good girl," I looked up at Isa and motioned for her to kneel next to me, "pet her, she's not going to hurt you."
Isa slowly kneels down next to me, and I grab her hand and guide it to Beast's head. I watch intently to make sure Beast doesn't try to bite her, and I watch as Isabella gently pets her; her slender fingers scratching behind her ears. I smiled as Beast scooted closer to her and Isabella laughed nervously.
"See? She likes you already," I say, "She's not so scary, is she?"
"No, it's just-"
"Uh, I was talking to Beast."
I laugh when she turns to give me a shocked expression, swatting at my shoulder.
"Jerk," she says with a little smile.
"Yeah, but I'm your jerk."
"Yes, you are."
"What do you say we head upstairs?" I suggest as I stand up, "you should be in bed."
"I'm feeling much better, though," she pouts.
"But you're sick, baby. C'mon, don't make me haul you up the stairs."
"Beast would bite you. She likes me now, remember?"
"So what?" I laugh, "She's liked me longer than you."
Before I can ask what she means, she stands up and walks towards the stairs. I look down at Beast, and see that she's watching Isabella intently. She turns around and claps her hands.
"Beast, come!" she coos, "c'mere girl."
I watch as beast gets up and starts to make her way towards Isabella.
"Beast, come," I call her and she turns to look at me before continuing over to Isa.
I watch as Beast walks right up to her, and nuzzles her head against Isa's leg. I smile as Isabella kneels down and cups beast's face, scratching behind her ears. I walk over to them, and stand over them. Beast looks up at me and I take the opportunity to fling my arm out, pretending to throw something towards the kitchen.
"Fetch!" I yell, "Go get it, girl!"
Beast takes off towards the kitchen, and I reach down and sling Isabella over my shoulder. She lets out a high-pitched squeal, and kicks her legs. She laughs as I hurry up the stairs, laughing as well. I hear Beast barking behind me, and I drop Isabella on my bed. I laugh as I fall beside Isabella, trying to get away from Beast, who's barking at me.
"Great, my own dog likes my girlfriend more than me," I say and Isabella giggles.
"I still think she's scary when she barks."
"That's the point of having her."
"Protection," I tell her, and she looks at me.
"Protection from what, though?"
"Anything, I'm not risking you getting hurt again. I thought a dog is necessary."
"Did you decide that?" she asks.
"It was a mutual decision between me and dad."
"You didn't have to do that."
"Yes, I did. I'm not going to be able to always be around, and I'll feel so much better with Beast here. All you'd have to do is open the back door if she wasn't already inside."
"I still don't think it was necessary."
"Well, maybe it's not, but she's here and she's staying."
I feel her nod, and I turn on my side to look at her. She turns to look at me, and I smile at her. I bring my hand to her cheek and caress it gently before moving that same hand to wrap around her waist, pulling her closer to me.
"I love you," she whispers as she looks up at me.
"I love you, too, sweetheart."
I lean down slightly and press my lips against hers in a soft kiss, my arm tightening slightly around her body. Suddenly, the telephone rings and we break apart. As I get up to answer it, she crawls under the covers. I smile at her as I hold the phone to my ear.
"Hey bro, what's up?
"Not much, how about you?"
"You wouldn't believe the hang over I have."
"I told you not to drink too much."
"I forgot that I had to work. I don't usually work Saturdays," he says with a sigh.
"I reminded you, though."
"I forgot that, too."
"Idiot," I laugh.
"Anyway, two questions."
"Did Ritchie bring Beast?"
"Yeah, she was in the backyard when I woke up. She's in the room with us now."
"Are they getting along?"
"Now they are; things were a little uneasy when Beast was barking at Isa."
"You need to teach her now, and not let her get away with it. Beast is there to protect Isabella, not scare her."
"I know," I look at them and I smile as I see Beast lying next to Isa, her head on Isa's lap, "they're fine now. Beast's head's on Isa's lap. Beast actually chased me up the stairs because I had Isabella slung over my shoulder."
"I knew you should've gotten Cannibal instead," Chad says with a laugh, "now your dog and your girlfriend are going to plot against you."
"Cannibal doesn't listen to me the way Beast does."
"Oh, that's right. Okay, next question," He says, "mom said Isa was sick, do you need me to bring anything on my lunch break? I know you probably don't want to leave Isa to go get anything."
"I don't think so, but let me ask her," I turn towards Isa, "baby, do you need anything from the store? Chad's offering to bring it by on his lunch hour."
"Umm...no, I think I'm okay."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, maybe some Gatorade; the fizz in the water's hurting my throat."
"Okay," I turn my attention back to the phone, "Gatorade."
"Red and purple?" he asks.
"Alright, I'll be there in a little bit."
I hang up the phone and I move towards the television. I put "Pretty Woman" in the VCR, and turn off the lights. I move towards the window and I close the blinds. I walk over to the bed, and crawl in next to her. I grab the remote controls, and I press play. I set them off to the side, and I wrap my arm around Isabella's waist, pulling her close to me. We settle comfortably against each other, and we start to watch the movie.
My eyes snap open as Beast runs off of the bed, barking aggressively. Isabella stirs as well, her eyes fluttering open.
"What happened?" she asks softly.
"I think Chad's here."
"Hey girl!" we hear from downstairs, "long time no see, beautiful!"
We hear a knock down the hallway, and Isabella covers herself up more, and runs a shaky hand through her dark hair.
"Are you two decent?" Chad calls out.
"Yes, idiot," I call out as I settle comfortably next to Isabella.
"Be nice," Isa says as my head rests on her chest, my arms around her waist.
"I'm always nice," I mumble as Chad walks in.
"Who do you think you're calling an idiot, you loser?"
"Loser? Is that the best you can come up with?"
"Well, you are a loser."
"Baby," I pout as I look up at Isa, "am I loser?"
"No, sweetie," she smiles, "I don't date losers."
"Yeah, see?" I tell Chad.
I flip him off before rolling over onto my stomach as Isabella sits up. I watch as Chad sits next to her, and kisses her forehead, before setting a bag on the bed.
"Let's see, I brought you red Gatorade, purple Gatorade, black and hot pink fuzzy socks so your feet don't get cold, and a black fuzzy bear to cuddle."
"You didn't have to get all of this; the Gatorade would've been enough."
"When Jennifer comes home, ask her if her big brother's spoil her when she's sick," I tell her and Chad chuckles.
"Exactly," Chad says, "you're like my little sister, so I get to spoil you since you're sick."
"Well, thanks," Isabella says with a smile.
"I brought you some fruity ice pops, too, but they're already in the freeze. I brought you a bag of Starbursts, but you should probably wait until your throat stops hurting to eat any of those, which is why I left them downstairs."
"And what did you bring me?" I ask him.
"You screw off."
"Hey! Be nice to him," Isabella says as she rubs my back.
"I'm always nice," Chad grins, "so what do you think of Beast?"
"I like her, but she scares me when she barks."
"She's supposed to sound scary. You just have to know she won't hurt you, she's going to protect you."
"It kind of freaks me out that everyone seems to think I need protection from something."
"Well, we don't want you to get hurt, that's all."
"But the only person that hurt me is locked up, so what exactly am I being protected from?"
Chad looked over at me and I looked away. I couldn't tell her that her dad had people working for him against her. I couldn't tell her how afraid I was that someone could come in while she's alone and hurt her in any way.
"Well?" she asks again.
"I don't know, anything," Chad says.
"Even you don't believe that, Chad."
"I do, it's true. I mean, there's nothing wrong with taking precautions, is there?"
"No, I guess not," she says, "but let's say Beast wasn't inside, and someone tried to get in."
"All you'd have to do is let her in," I say.
"And if I can't get to the back door in time?"
I don't say anything; I simply stare at the wall. She was right, what would happen if Beast was outside? They could get to her before she could get to Beast. I closed my eyes; I couldn't think about that.
"We'll just have to make sure Beast is always inside when you're alone," Chad says, and I nod.
"I think you two are worrying a little too much, but okay."
"Alright Superwoman, give me your feet."
Isabella laughs softly, and pulls her legs out from under the covers. I watch as Chad's hands travel slightly up her legs, and resting her feet on his lap. He reaches in the plastic bag, and pulls out the socks. He slips them onto her feet and she wiggles her toes. He covers her legs back up, and I move around until my head rests on her lap. Chad flicks my nose before standing up.
"Alright, anything else you two lovebirds need?"
"Umm...I don't know, like what?" Isabella asks.
"Oh, I don't know...diaphragm case? Condoms? A crib, maybe?"
"Chad!" Isa squeals as she laughs awkwardly, a crimson blush covering her face.
"What? Protection is key!"
"How is a crib a means of protection?"
"It's not. That's for the baby in case something, you know...rips."
"Get out of here, you idiot."
"I'm gone. Feel better, babe."
I laugh slightly and Chad walks out chuckling. I love up at Isabella and see that she's still blushing, rubbing the side of her neck-something she only does when she's embarrassed.
"Are you okay, baby?" I ask.
"Do you talk to Chad about me about that kind of stuff?"
"Chad was just kidding around, sweetheart."
"You're avoiding my question. But I'll take it that it means yes."
"Baby, Chad's as close to you as he is to me, if not more. It's all talk; guys talk. Don't you talk to your friends about me?"
"That's different," she says as she looks away.
"I only talk to Julie, no one else."
"So then it's not different," I tell her, "I don't sit around with my buddies on poker night and talk about our relationship. I sit down with Chad and we talk; that's it."
"Yes, baby, just Chad. I don't want you to get the wrong idea either, though," I whisper as I caress her cheek, "some things are just between us. Some things are private, and I intend it to stay that way, no matter how close we are to Chad."
I sigh softly as I look up at her, her face still flushed in embarrassment.
"Look, I'm sorry, okay? I didn't think it would upset you this much. If it makes you feel better, I won't talk to him about it anymore."
"You can talk to him about whatever you want."
"Baby, c'mon..." I let out a frustrated sigh, "don't be like this."
"I'm not being like anything. You don't understand. I'm embarrassed, okay? It's like he's mocking you, offering you a freaking condom. It's like, here, want a condom? Oh wait, your girlfriend won't sleep with you, never mind."
"Does Julie know we haven't slept together?"
"You heard me, does Julie know?"
"Yes," she says and I sit up.
"So, why are you making it such a big deal that Chad knows then?" I ask angrily.
"Because it's different! I can just imagine how the conversation came about, subjects like that don't just pop up, Jake! And for your information, the only reason that Julie knows is because when Danny left her after she slept with him, she said that's the only thing guys wanted from girls. And I used us as an example. That's it."
She flips back the covers, and stands up. I watch her wipe at her face as she walks out of the room and leaves. I sigh as I look at the empty doorway, and put my head in my hands. She was right. The reason Chad knew about it was because I told him I wanted our relationship to move on to the next level. She was right for being angry. I knew how different girls feel about being talked about, especially about that particular subject.
I got up, and made my way out of my bedroom. I listened closely to try to hear where she was. I frowned and sighed as I heard her sobbing softly downstairs. I quietly make my way down, and I see her sitting on the bottom step of the stairs. I continue the rest of the way, and I sit next to her and stare at the ground.
"I'm sorry," she cries softly, and I look up at her with surprise.
"What, no, baby. Why are you sorry?"
"Because I made such a big deal out of something stupid, and I shouldn't have."
I move to the step above her, and settle behind her, my legs on either side of her.
"C'mere," I whisper as I pulled her back against me.
"I'm sorry, Jake."
"Shh...stop it, okay? You don't have anything to be sorry about. It was me, I should've been more sensitive about the subject, but I wasn't, and that's not something you should apologize for. And I shouldn't have gotten angry at you."
"But still, I shouldn't have made such a big deal about it, and I shouldn't have gotten mad at you, either."
"There would've been nothing to make a big deal about if I'd been more sensitive in the first place."
"I'm sorry," she whispers and I pull her back until my chest collides gently with her back.
"It's okay, beautiful, don't be sorry, okay?"
"C'mon, let's go upstairs, sweetheart."
She gives me a little nod, and I pull her into my lap. I wrap my arms around her and I lean forward to kiss her. Our lips seal together in a soft kiss and I savor the softness of her lips against mine. We pull away and I stand up, picking her up with me. With one arm under the bend of her knees, and the other supporting her back, I slowly make my way up the stairs. I walk into my bedroom, and I give her earlobe a gentle kiss before dumping her on the bed. I laugh as she falls onto the bed with a bouncy thud, and a shocked expression. She opens her mouth to say something, but before she can say anything, I pounce on her. She squeals with laughter as I tickle her.
Finally when my fingers come to a stop, we're both panting for breath. She looks up at me, giving me a playful smile. I look down at her and my breath hitches in my throat. Her face is flushed, and her hair's slightly disheveled; she looks breathtaking. I lean down and press my lips against hers in a deep kiss. She gasps softly and I feel her hesitate momentarily before kissing me back, as well. Her hands slide down my arms and they wrap around my waist. I deepen the kiss as one of my hands cup the side of her neck, and the other delves to tangle in her hair. I pull my lips away from hers to catch our breaths. She tilts her head to the side as I move to spread small butterfly kisses along her jaw and neck.
"Jake," she murmurs as her hands caress my back, "don't get too worked up, sweetie."
"I know, I stopped," I murmur back, "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," she whispers softly, "I just...you know, I didn't want to start something I couldn't finish."
"I know, baby. I'd never take advantage of you; you know that, don't you?"
"Of course I do."
We continue to lie this way for a few more minutes, lingering in the comfortable silence. Finally, I roll off of her, but I bring her with me. She cuddled in close to my side, her head cradled on my shoulder as she wrapped an arm around me. I lay on my back, my left arm extended for her to rest her head on, and for me to wrap around her waist.
"Do you ever think about the future?" she asks softly.
"Yeah, you know, kids, having a family of your own."
"Our," I corrected her softly.
"Our family, and yes, I do think about the future."
I look down at her, and I smile slightly when I see the look of surprise on her face.
"Why do you look so surprised?"
"I don't know, I guess I never thought you saw me as wife material."
"You're girlfriend material, so why would I feel differently about you being my wife?"
"I don't know, because there's more of a commitment, I guess."
"Baby," I murmur as I pick up her hand, "I can't wait to put a ring on your finger."
"Really. You're going to be a wonderful wife, sweetheart."
"Do you want kids?"
"Eventually. I think first I'd like to be a married couple; then after a year or two, try to have some kids."
"I've always thought we'd have a big family," she says with a smile, "maybe two or three kids."
"I think I could handle three kids," I say with a smile of my own, "hopefully we have two boys first, and once their big enough to be considerably older brothers, we can have a little girl."
"Do you feel that way because that's the way your mom had you guys?"
"Not really, I just want my boys to be able to protect my little girl."
"Jake," she laughs softly.
"What? My boys will be very protective of my little girl."
"Don't be one of those Nazi dad's though."
"Nazi dad? What exactly is that?"
"You know, one of those dad's that flip when a boy breathes in her direction."
"Boys are evil little creatures, baby."
She giggles and I smile at the sound of her laughter. She looks up at me and grins teasingly.
"Were you an evil little creature when you were younger?"
"Baby, I was an evil little creature right up to two years ago, almost three."
"Yeah? What changed?"
"Well, I met this gorgeous girl who was going through a really rough time. All I wanted to do was spend time with her, but I knew she didn't like being around guys like me, so I cleaned up."
"You must've really liked this girl to change for her."
"You have no idea. The moment I saw her, I knew she'd be the girl I'd end up with. I never believed in love at first sight until that day. I didn't believe in love at all."
"So, how'd you know you were in love with her?"
"Because she was the only girl that could make my heart beat faster, she was the only girl that could make my day by just smiling at me," I whispered as I gently took her hand, "and you know what?"
"You still are."
"I'm glad," she whispers.
"Me too. I love you so much, baby."
"I love you, too."
I turn over to face her, and wrap my arms around her slim body, pulling her close to me. I give her lips a light kiss before touching her face with the back of my hand.
"How are you feeling?" I ask softly.
"I feel a little weak and I'm a little cold."
"You feel a bit warm, I hope you don't have a fever again, baby."
I pull away from her, and climb over her to reach the thermometer. I settle next to her, and I motion for her to open her mouth and she does.
"Under your tongue, sweetheart."
I slide the tip of the thermometer under her tongue, and she closes her lips. I press a kiss to her forehead, and brush her hair away from her face, waiting for the thermometer to beep. Finally, when it does, I frown as the numbers 101.9 look back at me.
"Your fever's coming back," I tell her and she blinks at me slowly, "I'm going to give you some more Motrin, okay?"
"Okay," she whispers.
I sit up, and grab her bottle of water, and help her sit up. I open the water and hand it to her, and she takes a small sip. I grab the bottle of Motrin and I drop two capsules into the palm of her hand. I watch as she swallows them both, one after the other, before handing me her water again. She moves to lie down again, and she turns onto her side.
"Tired, sweetheart?" I ask her, and she nods, "go to sleep then, baby."
"Stay with me?" she asks softly and I nod.
"I won't leave your side."
She gives me a soft nod, and settles against the pillows, closing her eyes. I smile lightly and run my fingers through her damp hair. I lean down and press a gentle kiss to her forehead. She murmurs softly as her breathing evens out. I lean over and grab the black teddy bear that Chad bought her from the bag, and I gently tuck it under her arms. I lean over to my night table, and grab the black sketch pad sitting there. I open my drawer, and pull out a case, laying it carefully on the bed. I lift her arm, and I get out from her grasp. She whimpers softly before hugging the teddy bear.
"Jake," she mumbles softly.
"Shh, it's okay, I'm here, baby," I whisper as I lean down to touch her face.
She calms down again, and I sit on the bed again, only this time I'm facing her. Suddenly, I feel the bed move, and I look up to see Beast lie down next to Isabella, curling up next to her. I chuckle softly and I reach over to give Beast a gentle pat.
"Good girl, Beast. You're going to protect my baby, aren't you?"
She simply looks over at me before resting her head on Isa's side. I smile and open the case from my drawer. I grab one of the pencils before opening the pad to a blank page. I look up and smile before I begin to draw my girls.