|The Only Exception
Author: coldplaywhore PM
Lonely and divorced, Bella escapes to Aspen for the holidays and comes across something she never expected to find - love with a much younger man. FGB short story for acinad.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 7 - Words: 32,354 - Reviews: 739 - Favs: 537 - Follows: 332 - Updated: 12-26-10 - Published: 12-19-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6570696
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Those of you who follow me on Twitter, Facebook or have read my profile on know that my RL has taken a turn for the worse. My mother unexpectedly passed away on Thursday, leaving behind 3 children, 7 grandchildren and one heartbroken husband. This has taken me away from the fandom for a while. However, CPW mama was very supportive of my writing, even at a young age when i used to write newsletters about random crap, so i refuse to quit writing because she wouldn't want that.
This short story was written for the lovely acinad who bought me in the last FGB auction and we couldn't come up with something for me to write until i got an idea that became this story. She loved it, and since its holiday themed, I decided that I am going to try and post it once a day for the next several days as a Christmas gift of sorts to my readers. It's also my attempt at writing a third POV.
I hope each and everyone of you has a wonderful and safe Christmas, filled with family and friends. I don't own Twilight; i just put the characters in Aspen for the holidays.
Chapter 1 – Sigh No More
Love that will not betray you,
dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man
you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
At my heart you see,
The beauty of love
as it was made to be
Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons
"Why do I have to go with them? You know Jessica doesn't like me. She thinks I like Hannah Montana cause I'm eight. I don't think she has ever listened to me, Mom, like ever." Bella ran her fingers through Charlie's long dark hair, which was a mirror image of her own at that age, and held back a sigh. Bella wasn't a fan of Jessica's either, but this was the agreement she and Mike had decided upon when they finalized their divorce two years earlier. They decided it would be best if they alternated holidays, and since Bella got Charlie for Thanksgiving this year, Mike got her for Christmas and New Years.
"She's just young, honey. I'm sure that she's trying to be friends with you the only way she knows how."
"But she makes it so hard to like her," Charlie said in exasperation as Bella frowned lightly at her daughter. She wasn't impressed that Charlie wasn't making much of an effort to be friendly with Jessica, but Bella found it hard to blame her. Jessica was very self involved and difficult at best. "All she wants to talk about is make-up, doing her hair and movies I'm not old enough to see. I don't get why Dad married her."
Bella wanted to reply that Mike married her because she was seven years younger with fake tits and a fake nose, but she withheld her urge to be snarky. Jessica wasn't to blame for the deterioration of her marriage to Mike, but she certainly wasn't making their life easy these days. It seemed like every time Mike needed to change a weekend, or pick Charlie up a little later than usual, it was always because of something involving Jessica. Bella wasn't impressed, but was trying to give Mike the benefit of the doubt.
"Your father loves her very much, Charlie." Bella couldn't help but snort with derision when her daughter did the same. She really was a mini-Bella in almost every sense of the word. "You guys will have a great time this Christmas."
"Won't you be lonely without me?" Charlie questioned, as Bella helped her pack her final belongings into the luggage she would be taking with her down to Florida. Just before the divorce, Mike's parents had retired and moved to Orlando, thinking it would be the ideal spot for them to live out their remaining days. Unfortunately for them, they forgot all about Disney World being located there and this year, Mike was taking Charlie and his new trophy wife, Jessica, there for the holidays.
Bella wasn't bitter about them taking Charlie to Florida though. After all, Bella had dragged her to Forks to see her Grandpa for four days a month earlier for Thanksgiving. They had baked, played games and watched movies, all the while really enjoying their time together. Charlie was like Bella, in that she enjoyed the little things, rather than the ostentatious. Sure, she would love her time at Disney World with her dad, but Jessica was making the trip out to be some grand plan to win over Charlie, but Bella was certain that wouldn't happen.
"I always miss you, baby girl. Even when you're at school. You're going to have a great time with Dad and Jessica though. Plus, you'll get to see Grandma and Grandpa Newton, so that will be fun right?" Charlie grumbled at Bella's side as she suddenly grabbed two more books from her overflowing shelf and shoved them in her bag. "Oh come on, Charlie, you're not going to need those too. You already packed two books for the plane ride."
"Mom, be serious. Grandma will spend all her day knitting and ignoring me before taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon, and Grandpa will insist on trying to get me to either play or watch sports with him. We both know I have no co-ordination and he wanted a grandson. "
"That's not true, Charlie, and you know it. Grandma and Grandpa Newton love you just the way you are." Well okay, that's not completely true. They had both been certain that Mike and Bella were having a son and may have expressed a little concern when it was a girl. Apparently in the Newton family, going back seven generations, all the first children born had been boys, and Mike was the first to have a girl. His mother, Eileen, may have even implied during the first July 4th with Charlie that perhaps she wasn't really a Newton. Bella grabbed her daughter and headed to her father's for the remainder of that night.
"Plus, their house smells funny. I'd rather sit on the porch and read."
Charlie was a lot like Bella, more than she probably cared to think about actually. She was a creative and introspective child who wasn't interested in sports, preferring to spend her days listening to music or reading books. She loved to write and draw, and was very imaginative. However, except for her long dark brown hair and deep set brown eyes, she looked just like her father, at least to Bella. Everyone else thought she was the spitting image of Bella.
Charlie was born in April 2002, almost a year after Mike and Bella got married. They had been high school sweethearts, having grown up together in the small town of Forks, where Bella's father Charles, still resided and worked as the Chief of Police. Once they graduated high school, Bella and Mike headed together to the University of Washington where she studied Business Administration and Mike became a chiropractor.
As soon as they finished school, they took their first real paychecks and flew to Las Vegas on a whim. It wasn't romantic, or anything like Bella had pictured while she grew up, but she was happy with Mike, so they eloped at a small chapel just off of the strip. They spent the next few days reveling in being married in Sin City, acting like tourists and just enjoying themselves, but their happiness was short lived.
Bella managed to find a wonderful job working for an advertising firm, but her hours were horrendous at first. When she discovered she was pregnant, Mike was overjoyed because he was under the wrong assumption that she would be home more often. However, Bella loved her job and truly enjoyed what she did. Bella stopped working on a Friday afternoon and Charlie was born three days later. Bella hadn't even had time to decorate the nursery properly and prepare for her daughter's arrival and Mike had been no help. He kept insisting he was working so hard so that he and Bella could give their child the moon, but even after Charlie was born, Mike was absent most of the time, insisting it was the busy schedule of a Chiropractor, but Bella knew better. She sensed Mike was cheating on her, but was too busy focused on her daughter and giving her the best life she could, so she let it slide. Bella still regretted it to this day. She couldn't help but feel that she gave Mike too much of her time, when he really didn't care.
"Okay fine then, sit on the porch and read, but at least try and spend some time with your Dad. You know how hard it is for him to get time away from work." Charlie nodded at her mother reluctantly and together they zipped her luggage shut and while Charlie dragged her larger bag to the front door, Bella carried her carry-on. Mike was due to arrive thirty minutes ago, both girls knowing full well he was never on time for anything, so they didn't rush.
"I got it, Mom. I'll spend as much time with him as I can. Are you sure you will be okay while I'm gone?"
"Yeah, I'm going to be fine, baby girl. I'm taking a little vacation of my own for a few days."
"Really? Without me?"
"You don't want to go, believe me. There are sports involved."
"Ick. You're right, keep me out of it, but why are you going then? You hate sports."
"Aunt Alice bought me the vacation for my birthday this year, knowing you would be away for Christmas. You can reach me on my cell any time you need me, okay?" A sharp series of knocks on the door startled Bella and Charlie. Bella knelt down beside her daughter and clutched her hands tightly in hers as she stared at her intently, clearly worried. "I'm serious, Char. If something goes wrong or you feel uncomfortable with anything, don't hesitate to call me."
"Okay Mom, don't worry. I'll be fine. I have my books remember?" Bella pulled her daughter into a tight hug as the knocking started again and Bella let out a small sigh. She really didn't want Charlie to go, but she couldn't deny Mike the vacation he had planned for them. Well, that Jessica had planned with Mike's money. Bella straightened up and walked to the front door of her modest three-bedroom home to greet her former husband.
Pleasantries were exchanged and Bella handed all of Charlie's luggage to Mike as mother and daughter shared another heartfelt farewell. When the door was shut and Bella had watched from the front window as they drove away in Mike's Lexus, she turned back into her quiet house and headed into her own bedroom. She allowed herself a few minutes to cry at the short term loss of her daughter before she pulled her luggage out of the closet and began to pack for her own trip.
Alice was Bella's best friend since the first day she walked onto the University of Washington campus. They had both been business administration students, but Alice was taking a minor in fashion design. Sure enough, when they graduated, Alice jetted off to New York and began working under one of the biggest designers at the time. Shortly after Charlie was born, Alice announced her engagement to a history writer she met on the subway named Jasper. Even though they lived across the country from one another, Alice and Bella never missed a chance to talk on a weekly basis and catch up on what was going on in their lives. Alice was Charlie's god mother and was the voice of reason who convinced Bella that the best thing she could do for herself and her daughter was to divorce Mike. She also graciously gave Bella the vacation she was about to leave on – a 2 week long jaunt to Aspen, Colorado.
When Alice first sent the gift for Bella's 32nd birthday, Bella had called her friend and insisted that she take it back because it was simply too extravagant. Alice, being as stubborn as a mule, wouldn't take no for an answer and politely reminded Bella that she would be alone for the holidays if she didn't do something. As Bella tossed some pajamas into her luggage the night before her flight, she knew Alice had been right. Bella hadn't done anything for herself since she divorced Mike, and even that wasn't very selfish. She was looking out for Charlie's best interest, and listening to her parents fight night after night about everything under the sun wasn't exactly great for her daughter.
Sure, she had gone out and bought some new clothes when she was promoted to Vice President of Operations at the publishing firm she currently worked at, but that had been more of a necessity than a treat. Bella was focused on making a great life for her and Charlie, with a savings account that saw almost half of her paycheck each month, and a college fund for her daughter that was thriving. Bella had used the money from her divorce settlement to pay for their small house, and any child support payments she received from Mike went straight into Charlie's college fund. She wasn't struggling, but Bella couldn't find it in her to spend money on herself.
Thankfully, Alice disagreed with her.
The next morning, Bella boarded her flight bound for Denver out of Sea-Tac and when she arrived in Denver, she had a small connection to Aspen. When she walked out of the airport, a soft snow was falling and there was a cab waiting at the curb. With her bags in hand, Bella got into the car and directed the driver to take her to 'The Aspen Lodge'.
Bella had been anxious throughout the flight, but as they drove through the quaint snow covered streets of Aspen, Bella began to feel more nervous. Bella was worried she would sit in her hotel room alone for days on end, reading her trashy romance novels and checking her work email on her laptop, even though the company was closed for the holidays. Sure, the hotel had dozens of amenities listed including an outdoor pool, a spa and a fitness center, but Bella felt like she had to do something different because she was on vacation.
Skiing was at the forefront of her mind, but Bella knew that she was treacherous enough on her feet, let alone with long boards strapped to them as she barreled down a hill. When the cab driver began to strike up conversation with her, asking her about why she was visiting, Bella admitted she had no plan in mind and that she just needed to get away. The driver suggested she learn to ski or snowboard, just to try something new and Bella thought about it long and hard as he began to tell her about the ski hills in the area.
Bella had never skied in her life and was dreaming up all sorts of scenarios where she would end up in a full body cast based on her lack of balance. When the car pulled to a stop in front of the luxurious hotel, Bella handed the gentleman a hefty tip and wished him a Merry Christmas before making her way into her hotel.
After checking into her overly lavish suite and unpacking her meager bags, Bella lay back on her bed and stared at the ceiling. "I'm on vacation and I'm feeling tense. This isn't good. I'm supposed to be relaxed and enjoying myself to the fullest. Think Bella… what would you do if Charlie was here?"
Bella glanced at the clock and saw that it was only two in the afternoon, so she called down to the spa and made an appointment for a massage. It was the first thing she could think of to alleviate her tension that didn't include drinking herself into a stupor down at the hotel bar. Three hours later Bella felt refreshed as she headed into her hotel room and ordered room service for dinner.
Once she had finished eating, Bella curled up on the couch with one of her books and planned to stay in for the night. However, after spending hours in the spa talking to the girls there, Bella became determined to learn how to ski. There, in the back of her mind, was a nagging voice telling her to try it and get out on the slopes. Bella theorized that the worst thing that could happen was that she broken a wrist or an ankle on the bunny hill and she could spend the rest of her vacation in front of the small fireplace in her suite with her books and some wine without remorse.
Little did Bella know just how much her decision would affect her life.
The following morning, three days before Christmas Day, Bella ventured to one of the stores in town and bought herself a brand new outfit for skiing. It was a little extravagant with the insulated jacket, ski pants, gloves, hat and boots, but the saleswoman assured Bella that she would be prepared for the weather and stylish, not that Bella cared much about the latter. Once back at the hotel, Leah, the concierge, gave Bella details for the private lesson she had booked earlier in the morning. She was supposed to meet Jake, one of the local instructors, in the gondola building at 12:30pm. Bella had booked a half day session, assuming that was all the time she would need to learn the basics. Sure, it had been a bit expensive, but Bella knew this was probably the only time she would get this chance for a very long time. So, at 12:30 Bella waited anxiously in the gondola building for her instructor.
"Are you Bella Swan?" a young man, no older than 20 asked her, as she looked out the window watching the other skiers who effortlessly moved around the base of the hill. Bella simply nodded. "I'm Jacob Black. I'll be your instructor today, but the first thing I notice is that you have no gear."
"I had to buy the snowsuit this morning, so I think it's obvious I came ill prepared."
"No problem, there's a rental shop on site and we can go get you some skis and boots. Did you want to learn to ski or snowboard?"
"Ski. I think it would be easier if I went that route."
"Have you ever skied before?"
"I almost tried once, several years ago when I was a teenager, but I chickened out and never made it on the snow."
"You don't look old enough to have been a teenager that long ago, Bella" Jake winked creepily at Bella and she tried to hide her anxiety, but the way Jacob was looking at her made it hard to feel comfortable around him. Bella let out a sigh as Jacob's hand pressed against the small of her back and he pointed in the direction of the rental shop.
The moment they walked into the store, Jacob began making suggestions regarding the equipment she needed, rhyming off words like pole and composite shaft, which made Bella giggle like a schoolgirl. Jacob didn't seem to notice her random laughter as he recommended a set of women's ski poles, but Bella turned away briefly and noticed a set of dark green eyes staring at her from across the store. Blushing profusely, Bella looked back at Jacob who was now offering her several choices of ski boots, mentioning things like flexibility and energy transmission that completely confused Bella.
"You're the pro, right? You tell me which boot is the best."
"I would go with this one," Jake said as he held up a pair of white and grey boots that Bella thought looked very futuristic. "They are perfect for beginners and not too difficult to put on."
"Well that was an easy decision then." Bella glanced across the store again, and green eyes was now chatting to a bubbly young blonde who kept dragging her hand down his arm, trying to be seductive. Bella had seen the look before, and even though she wasn't as bold herself, she admired those who could simply go out and get what they wanted.
In the business world, Bella took charge of every aspect of her job; however, the same could not be said for her personal life. Bella hadn't even gone on a date since she split with Mike years earlier. In fact, if Bella was being honest with herself, she hadn't had a real date since before she was married to Mike. Once they began their jobs and had Charlie, life became a little too hectic for something as trivial as a date.
As soon as all of the gear was decided upon and Bella had paid for it, Jake guided her back out to the base of the ski hill where he helped her get everything on. This was the easy part. It was the sliding down the hill thing that Bella couldn't get used to.
Bella spent the next three hours trying to absorb every single thing Jacob taught her, and found herself wishing her assistant, Kate, had been with her to take notes. Bella was able to grasp the basic concepts quickly like her stance, carrying her skis properly and walking with her skis on, but the more involved things like a kick turn that seemed to bring down her morale. Jacob was more than pleasant and detailed as he helped her through each attempt, but Bella found herself getting easily frustrated.
It was on her first attempt down the beginner hill that Bella fell soundly, twisting her ankle and making her cry out in pain. "You didn't fall properly," Jacob chided as he skied up alongside of Bella and stared down at her on the ground, not offering any assistance. "You were supposed position yourself in such a way that it would be easy to get up."
"That's easy for you to say, you've been doing this for years," Bella snapped angrily as Jacob reached his hand up and pulled her up. Bella grimaced as soon as she put any weight on her ankle. "Shit."
"Are you alright?" Jacob asked, as Bella leaned down and began to unclip her ski boots from their bindings.
"Just peachy keen. Thanks for the lesson, but I think this it is for me. I'm sure I can find something else to in Aspen besides skiing for the next week or so." As soon as her boots were disconnected from her skis, Bella gathered up her gear, carrying them correctly as per Jacob's instructions and began to head back to the rental store, limping in pain the entire way. Jacob stayed close behind her as she went, prattling on aimlessly about something Bella didn't pay attention too because she was too focused on the pain in her ankle.
"So, what do you think?" Jacob asked as Bella handed her skis and poles over to the young woman manning the rental desk. She unbuckled the rental boots and was provided hers back, putting them on her feet with a groan of pain.
"What do I think about what?"
"About coming to see my band play tonight? I mean, we're not that great, but we have a good following here in Aspen. I think it would be great if you came." Jacob's eyes were narrowed at Bella and clearly dark with lust, which made Bella a little sick to her stomach. Jacob was young enough to be… Bella shook her head, not wanting that thought to stay in her mind as she turned him down.
"Thanks so much for the offer, and the lesson, Jacob. But I'm going to have to turn you down. I have a feeling I will be soaking this ankle in my bath tub all night."
"Do you want company?"
"God no," Bella blurted out as the sounds of laughter broke out behind them and she turned around to see the guy she had seen in the store earlier, with the bright green eyes. Bella quickly turned away from him, lest he thought she was staring at him, and was greeted with the sad face of Jacob. "I'm sorry Jacob, you've been a great help today, but believe me when I say this, I'm a little too old to be hanging out at bars listening to garage bands play. Thanks though and Merry Christmas."
Bella walked out of the store in pain, leaving behind a very confused Jacob, and quickly caught the shuttle bus back to her hotel. Once in the comfort of her room, Bella stripped off her snow gear and immediately climbed into the bathtub for a long bath to soothe her tired muscles and aching ankle. After a quick call to Charlie to check in with her and see how she liked Florida, Bella called down to order room service and discovered they were extremely busy and it was recommended she head to one of the restaurants for quicker service.
It was with reluctance that Bella went down to the restaurant and sat at the bar, ordering a stiff drink and her dinner. The bartender, a lovely blonde named Rosalie, was very kind to Bella and explained how busy the resort town got during the winter, with all the celebrities and their families coming to town to actually experience snow, which they didn't get in southern California. Rosalie gave Bella a few suggestions on things to do around town and just as she handed Bella her second gin & tonic, the seat beside Bella was taken.
The man smelled really good and in his deep voice ordered a beer as Bella did her best not to seem intrigued. She avoided looking at him, even though she could feel his eyes on her. Rosalie came back over with the man's drink and Bella couldn't help but take a quick glance in his direction, coming face to face with the green eyes that had haunted her all day long.