Driving Forces Chapter 17

Chapter 17
EPOV
Entertaining little Sara isn't hard while we wait for her uncle Seth to come get her. What I have a hard time with is not wanting to be next to Bella, who’s standing between an officer and Jake. From the few select words I’ve caught Bella saying, I’m assuming the officer is giving Jake shit about his statement. It shouldn't even be an issue considering that not long ago Leah admitted she attacked him, not the other way around.


Someone clears their throat, making me jump. “Shi—oot.” Seth is standing there with a smirk on his face. I roll my eyes at him as he takes Sara from me and picks up her bag.


Seth sighs, looking over at his sister and brother-in-law. “Thank you for watching her.”


Clearing my throat, I reply, “It wasn't a problem. She’s an angel.” My gaze is on Bella as she balls her fists at her sides.


“She’s going to blow,” Seth murmurs as he shifts his weight between his feet.


I see what he sees as she inches closer to the officer. “You should probably take Sara home. I’ll go try to calm Bella down.”


Seth chuckles as he slaps my back, but agrees as he leaves. The speed at which he leaves makes me a tad worried about my task. I swallow hard as I make my way over to them. Tears are streaming down Jake's face, and Bella has taken her phone out.


“I’ve had enough of this harassment. I’m calling for your superior.” Bella begins to dial when I touch her shoulder.


The officer grunts. “Fine. I’ll leave, but you better be around for more questions later, Mr. Black.”


My hands slide up and down her arms as she falls back into my chest.


“Did I ever tell you how much I fucking hate people?” Bella takes my hands and holds them to her chest.


I chuckle, kissing the top of her head. “I think I’ve heard you say that once or twice.”


Bella kisses my wrist then lets me go and faces Jake. “How are you?” She moves closer to his bed.


He shrugs. “I’m scared.”


“Do you need me to stay? I will if I have to, but to be honest...” She turns to me. “We need to get Emma. I’m sure she’s worried.”


Jake attempts to straighten himself on his bed. “I’ll be fine. You go ahead and go. Alistair is on his way to figure out what I should do from here.”


The idea of Jake being left alone doesn't sit well with me. “How about you get Emma, and I’ll stay here with Jake until Al arrives.”


Bella’s eyes widen slightly. “Are you sure?”


I wait for the anxiety to creep up on me the way it always does when I try to be brave. It doesn't come; I feel confident. “Yeah. I’m sure Al will be here shortly, and we can get Jake settled.”


She studies my face. “If you’re sure, baby.”


I nod again with my lips turned up. “I am.”


She kisses me hard before pulling back. “If Leah tries to come back, call me.”


Jake and I agree that we will, and she leaves, kissing me one last time. I take the seat by his bed, unsure what to do now. We sit in an uncomfortable silence for a few breaths before he breaks it.


“She seems lighter.” His voice is low, almost as if he hopes I don't hear him.


Taking my lip between my teeth, I'm unsure how much I should say. I understand the situation he’s currently in, but that doesn't mean I’m not upset over the part Jake played in how broken Bella is.


“Yeah,” is all I can manage to say.


I hear him shift his weight on the bed. “I didn't want to hurt her.”


I start shaking my head. “I don't want to talk about this. You can talk to Bella. I’m sure she wants to talk to you about it. I have nothing else to say on the matter. Now, if you want to talk about what you want to do next, that’s great, but Bella is off limits.”


It isn't long after my rant that Alistair shows up and we begin to make a plan starting with where Jake is going to stay. Jake decides to stay with Al until we get everything figured out with Leah in the morning.


When I get home, Bella is in the living room cuddling Emma and watching some kind of kid movie. As I get closer, I see that she and Emma are asleep and my heart fills at the sight of them.


I tiptoe over to the couch, gently kissing Bella's temple. “Baby.”


She hums, cracking her eyes open. “Hey.”


I smile. “How about we get her in bed, and we get into our bed.”


Bella giggles. “Yes, please.”


*Driving Forces*
Hectic and even crazy would be an excellent way to describe how our lives are currently. Between court and our remodel, and then the holidays, and Bella is also busy with her newfound calling to help out with Alistair’s center with domestic cases and other family court matters. It takes a lot to get Bella to continue to go to her sessions with Kate and to her group meetings on top of mine.
Today is the day she and Jake sit down to talk. Bella needs this for closure. Her other goal is to speak to Leah, but that's difficult right now since she's Jake’s lawyer.
Bella is currently in the kitchen baking cookies to take to the shelter. It's part of Emma's volunteer assignment for her class.
“Babe, I’ll finish this, you’re going to be late for your lunch.” I start taking things from her before she can get any funny ideas.
Her shoulders sag. “Okay.”
I pull her into a hug, kissing her temple. “It's going to be fine. I bet it’ll take so much off your shoulders.”
She makes a grunting sound before she pulls away and kisses Emma goodbye, then she comes back to me and kisses me gently.
“I’ll be back in a while.”
Emma and I bake a few dozen chocolate chip cookies. We take some pictures and videos for documentary purposes for her class.
“Daddy, do you love Mama Bella?”
I drop the empty plastic container I’m holding on the floor. “What?”
Emma tilts her head, looking thoughtful. “Ollie asked me when you and Bella were getting married. I said I didn't know. And then he asked about if you and Mama Bella were in love. And I didn't know so I thought I’d ask.”
My lips press in a thin line as I take a seat next to her. I never thought I would have to explain my feelings to my little girl. Looking in her eyes shining with curiosity and innocence, I tell her, “Yeah, I love Mama Bella.”
Wow, I said it out loud, and not to Bella. My chest swells. Yeah, I love her so much.
My little girl smiles at me. “Does she know? When are you going to ask her to marry you so we can be a real family like Ollie’s?”
I pull her over to my lap. “I think she knows, but maybe I should tell her. What's with all this, baby girl? Is it really just because Ollie was asking?”
She nibbles on her bottom lip. “I worry ‘cause you and Mama Bella have been going to court a lot again, and I was thinking if you’re married then maybe she’d leave us alone.”
“Ah.” I sigh, thinking we never talked about what was going on. “Sweetie, we aren't going to court for that. Bella is helping out a friend, and I’m there supporting him as well.”
Weight seems to lift off her tiny shoulders that I’ve failed to notice these last two weeks. “Okay.”
I kiss her cheek and then blow raspberries. “Silly girl, you have nothing to worry about. I promise.”
She squeals and giggles. “Daddy, stop.” She squirms to get free.
After a few more raspberries just to listen to her laughing, I let her go.

We box more of the cookies up for tomorrow so we can drop them off at the shelter that the school works with. All I keep thinking about is Bella and how much I really do want to spend the rest of our lives together.




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