|From This Day Forward
Author: Hopesparkles PM
Betrayed just days before her wedding, Bella's personal and professional life hang in the balance. When one of her closest friends offers to be the stand-in groom, Bella will find that sometimes the best things in life really aren't what you planned.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Edward & Bella - Chapters: 21 - Words: 71,566 - Reviews: 2,146 - Favs: 1,719 - Follows: 1,945 - Updated: 11-06-12 - Published: 06-25-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8253956
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I don't own anything.
Huge thanks to Sunflower3759 for cleaning up my messes and making this so much better for you.
"I specifically asked for daisies. Everything has been chosen around those colors – white, yellow and silver. How can you tell me you don't have them available?"
Bella pressed the heel of her hand against her forehead in an effort to relieve the headache she could feel building. The caterer had made several mistakes in their planning and Bella had spent the morning fixing those issues, now she was faced with a florist who had neglected to secure enough daisies for the centerpieces. Alice, noticing her distress, quickly took the phone from Bella's hand and replaced it with a glass of tea.
"This is Alice Whitlock, a friend of the bride. Who is this?" After a moment, Alice began to walk away, leaving Bella to try to calm herself for a moment. "Well, Karen, what do we need to do to get this taken care of?" Her words trailed off as Bella sat on a nearby chair and took a deep breath.
She had planned every detail of her wedding, and up until this morning, everything was under control. She and Jake had been dating for about six months when he proposed. It had seemed sudden to Bella at first, but she assumed that unlike most guys she knew, Jake had just been ready to settle down. He had taken her to dinner and proposed in the restaurant over dessert. It was a bit cliché, and at that moment, Bella had wondered briefly if this is what she really wanted. As seemingly perfect as he was for her, there was always that nagging little feeling in the back of her mind that she couldn't quite shake. She had known him her whole life and her dad would have been thrilled when they began dating. He had always thought of Jacob as the son he never had. Charlie, her dad, had been killed in a car accident about a year ago, and Bella couldn't help but wonder if her decision to date, and eventually marry Jake, had something to do with wanting to honor her dad's wishes.
Her editor, Jane, had been beyond excited. Her third novel would be released on the day of her wedding and her publisher had seen it as the perfect opportunity for publicity. The storyline of her latest book followed the story of a young woman who, after much adventure and angst, marries her childhood sweetheart. What better way to promote her book than to have her own wedding coincide with its release? Honestly, with everyone else so excited and happy, he must be perfect for her, right?
The problems came in finalizing the edits and planning the wedding at the same time. She was often overwhelmed with one or the other, and would sometimes go for days without seeing the man she was soon to marry. Her friendship with Alice had been her salvation. Alice had stepped in and taken over many of the details, relieving Bella of a large amount of stress. However, today was two days before the wedding and everything had begun to fall apart.
First, Jane had called early this morning and informed her that local media had picked up on the news of her wedding and wanted to send someone to interview her about it and the release of the book. Next, the caterer had called to finalize the menu and seating plan which had led to an impromptu meeting to fix their mistakes. It was while she was meeting with them, that the interview aired on local stations and someone from the national media had immediately picked up the story. Her last novel had made the New York Times bestseller list, and this one had already surpassed that novel in presales. It was expected to be her best selling novel yet. Her publisher had invited them to send a camera crew out, promising the first interview with the couple on the eve of their wedding.
Now, the fiasco with the florist had sent her into a panic. And on top of everything, she had been calling Jake for hours, and he didn't answer her calls, nor had he returned them. No one seemed to know where he was, and Bella found herself becoming angry. Not that any of this was his fault, but she would have liked to have him to lean on a bit.
She glanced up to see Alice and Rosalie walking toward her. At least they were smiling.
"Everything is under control with the daisies. What's next?"
Bella checked the time on her phone and heaved a sigh. "Well, my mom's flight should be arriving in about an hour. I need to be there to help her get the rental car and get her to the hotel."
Rosalie reached over to pat Bella's hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. "Emmett and I are headed home. We can meet her and take care of getting her settled."
"Mmmhmm. And I would never hear the end of it. I have to face her sometime. At least I only have to deal with her until the wedding is over. Once we are on the plane, she's all yours."
Both girls gave her a look of mock horror before all three broke into hysterical giggling. Eventually the giggles died out and Alice checked her list for a final time.
"Okay, well, everything here seems to be going smoothly. Jasper will meet the truck with the chair and table rentals which should arrive in an hour. Esme gave the photographer your final choices earlier and the caterer will be here at 4 p.m. tomorrow to set up for the rehearsal dinner. Go take care of Renee and get a good night's sleep."
Fifteen minutes later, Bella was on her way to the airport enjoying the silence in her car. She had been surrounded by noise all day. Questions about wedding details, calls from Jane, her friends teasing and picking at her trying to ease her worries… she was finally feeling the tension leave her and hoped to greet her mother with at least a somewhat calm outlook.
While driving, she tried once more to reach Jake. After four rings, his voicemail picked up again. "This is Jake. Leave a message."
"Jake, I'm getting a little worried. Please call me as soon as you get this." Heaving a sigh, she hung up and tossed her phone on the seat beside her. Minutes later, she parked the car and headed into the airport and made her way to baggage claim. It was just her luck that her mother was already there, waiting with a scowl on her face.
"Hi Mom, was your flight early?"
"No, it was just on time, Bella. If you had other things to do you could have said something and I wouldn't have been left waiting."
Bella bit back the ugly reply that desperately wanted out. Instead, she picked up the bags and led her mother out to her car. Once they were settled and driving, they agreed on a restaurant for dinner, before Bella dropped her off at the rental car lot.
Twenty minutes later they were seated and looking over their menus. Renee never took her eyes off of the menu as she spoke.
"So, Jacob chose not to come with you, I see."
"No. He offered, but I thought it might be nice for us to have dinner together, you know, just us. Probably the only chance we'll have with all of the festivities."
Renee put down the menu and glared across the table at her daughter. "What you really mean is that you have scheduled yourself so tightly that you won't be forced to spend any time with me."
Bella took a deep breath and silently counted to ten before looking up at her mother. When she finally spoke, she kept her voice as even and calm as possible.
"Mom, I really hoped we could enjoy a nice dinner and conversation. I know that you haven't been thrilled with my choices and I understand your reasons. But please, please, can we just put it aside for the next two days?"
Renee grudgingly agreed as the waiter appeared to take their order. The next hour was filled with conversation revolving around the wedding and the plans that Bella had made regarding her novel. She had opted for a short media tour after the honeymoon instead of a book tour, not wanting to forfeit her first weeks as a newlywed for her career. Renee asked questions and listened to Bella's answers with an obvious edge of tension and disapproval, but never said as much. It was more than apparent to Bella, though, and she was already eager for the evening to be over.
Throughout dinner and the drive to the hotel she checked her phone for a call or text from Jake. There were none. Between the tension with her mother and the lack of communication with her fiancé, Bella's nerves were on edge.
After dinner, she drove quickly back to her apartment and ran a bath. Adding in some lavender oil and setting her iPod to a soothing instrumental play list, she settled into her jetted tub and closed her eyes.
She tried to push thoughts of the tension with Renee from her mind, but was having a hard time with it. Renee had been very vocal about her opinions on Bella's future when she was in college. Of course, she had been more than a little upset when Bella chose another path and even after the success of her books, Renee still could not let go of her irritation. She took every opportunity to make cutting remarks and voice her disappointment in her daughter. Jacob had been yet another source of contention with Renee. She hadn't like him at all, and considered him beneath her. Bella knew it was to be expected. Nothing she did was ever good enough for her mother. Why would she think her wedding would be any different?
She had grown to view another woman as her 'mother' – Esme, Alice's mother, had always been Bella's ideal. She was loving and supportive, even when her children made choices and decisions that she didn't agree with. She treated Bella as one of her own and Bella adored her. She and Carlisle had what Bella considered the perfect marriage. She idealized what she saw in their home, and based the characters in her books, in part, on them. They had raised three children – Alice, the youngest, and two boys, Emmett and Edward.
Emmett was a huge teddybear of a man. Athletic and always active, he was fiercely protective of those he loved, including Bella. He was exactly what she always wanted in a big brother. Edward was the younger of the boys, and where Emmett was the more 'brotherly' of the two, Edward was the one who always made Bella's heart skip a beat. He was incredibly handsome and very creative. Where she expressed herself through words, he found his outlet in music. He began composing at a young age and now made his living composing scores for movies and television shows. He played several instruments, but preferred the piano, and next to Alice, he was the closest friend Bella had while growing up.
Eventually, they had grown up and moved on into their adult lives. Emmett graduated college when Alice and Bella graduated from high school. He had met Rosalie during his sophomore year and they were married the following summer. Edward graduated two years later and had moved to New York to pursue his career. Alice married Jasper while they were in their last year of college and now worked as a buyer for a Macy's.
Now, only a few days before her own wedding, Bella found herself longing for days that were simpler. Days without the worry of being responsible for another person's happiness. Days when her fiancé would actually answer her phone calls.
Reaching over, she picked up her phone to check once again for a missed call or text. As she stared at the screen, she knew it was useless to look as it had been sitting beside her, silent, for the past thirty minutes. Just as she placed it back on top of the towel, it rang. Glancing at the caller id, she answered quickly.
"Hey Bella. Just wanted to check on you. You seemed a little overwhelmed earlier."
"I'm okay, Alice, just trying to stay calm. I haven't heard from Jake all day. I don't know whether to be angry or worried sick."
"He'll turn up. Quit stressing! How's Renee?"
Bella sighed and chuckled, "Same as always. You know, you can always count on Renee to let you know exactly what you are doing wrong."
"Hang in there. Only two more days, then you'll be off to a sunny beach and no worries. But for now, I do have something to cheer you up. Hang on a second."
Before Bella could respond, Alice was speaking to someone else and Bella could hear the sounds of the phone being passed off to another caller. A moment later, a smile spread across her face and she felt herself relax back against the tub.
"Bella? What's this I hear about you freaking out? You missed me, right? Well, have no fear, I'm here now, you can relax."
Bella giggled and shook her head. "Hey Edward. I've missed you so much."
"Of course you have, I'm a loveable guy." Edward was quiet for a moment before asking in a softer voice, "Really, how are you, B?"
"I'm okay. I'm really nervous and I'll be glad when this is all over and I can fade back into the corner again. But it really does help to know you are here. It means a lot to me that you came, Edward. Thank you."
"No thanks necessary. I wanted to be here for you, Bella. Besides, Emmett and I made a bet. He says you make it 10 steps up the aisle before tripping or stumbling. I say 5. With fifty dollars riding on it, I had to come to make sure he doesn't cheat!"
"Great, thanks for the vote of confidence." Edward laughed at the sarcastic tone of her voice. Bella had forgotten how much she loved his laugh, "It's so good to hear your voice, Edward."
They continued talking for a while. It was only when Bella was beginning to shiver a little from the cooling bath water that they said goodnight and hung up. Edward always had a way of soothing her nerves, which she found odd since he had been her first crush and the one boy she measured all others against. Every other boy she'd known, including Jake, made her a nervous wreck. They had teased each other as children, looked out for one another as teenagers, and now he was willing to support her even though she knew he didn't really approve her choice in a husband. He didn't have anything against Jacob personally, he just didn't think he was worthy of Bella.
Once she was out of the tub, she called Jacob one last time and when she didn't reach him, she left another message and crawled into bed.
Some time later, Bella awoke to a buzzing sound. Turning over and lifting her head, she noted the time – 2:17 a.m. Picking up her phone and accepting the call, she cleared her throat to answer.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Bella sat up as she felt her shoulders tense with the anger and frustration she knew was coming. She worked hard to keep it from her voice as she spoke.
"Jake, why on earth are you calling in the middle of the night? I called you all day and you never answered and I've been worried and nervous." The line was silent. "Jake, are you there?"
There was silence on the line for a long time. Bella knew he was there because she could hear him breathing.
"Jake? You're scaring me. Are you alright?"
Finally, she heard him take a deep breath. "Yes, I'm okay. Bella, I…" His words trailed off and Bella waited, knowing something was wrong. She didn't have to wait long.
"Bella, I'm so sorry. I don't know how to make this right."
"What is it? Jake, please, tell me what's wrong." She could feel the panic rising and stood from the bed as she turned on the bedside lamp.
"Are you alone?" Alone? What did it matter?
"Yes, now please tell me what is going on."
"Do you remember Leah Clearwater?"
"Bella, I – I don't know how to do this."
Feeling the fear and panic in his voice, Bella began to shake. Whatever it was he was trying to say, it was going to be bad.
"Just say it, Jake. You can tell me anything. Just, please, you're really scaring me."
In the minutes that followed, Bella would wish she had not begged him to speak.
"Leah and I have known each other for a long time, Bella. We've been close since we were kids. I love her. I think I have always loved her. We tried to fight it, but it was just too much. I can't marry you, Bella. I'm so sorry."
The words began to tumble from Bella's lips before she could stop them.
"You're just scared, Jake. We can figure this out. The wedding is in two days and everything is ready. You won't have to worry about anything and we can figure all this out – "
"Bella! I love her. We're – Bella, she's pregnant. We flew to Vegas last night and got married."
Bella felt like someone had sucker punched her. "Married? What do you mean married, Jake? Our wedding is in two days." Her words trailed off as she tried to grasp what he had said.
"I know this comes as a shock, but it's the right thing, Bella. We'll all be happier this way. I'll help with whatever you need as far as cancelling wedding stuff. Just tell me …"
Bella lowered the phone from her ear and disconnected the call a few minutes later. She stood for a long while, just staring at the wall, trying to come to terms with the fact that her entire world just came crashing down around her.
She had no idea how it happened, but she came to realize that she was sitting in her car in the Cullen's driveway. Glancing down at her phone, she knew there was no way she could knock on the door at 4:00 a.m., but she didn't know where else to go and couldn't get her mind to focus beyond the fact that her fiancé was married to another woman.
A woman he loved.
A woman who carried his child.
She was startled by the sound of her car door opening and cool night air flooding into her car. She heard his voice before she could bring her eyes up to meet his concern-filled green orbs.
"Bella? Why are you sitting out here?"
He took in her pale blue tank top and plaid cotton sleep shorts. There were no shoes on her feet and she was pale and trembling. Edward knew something was desperately wrong and knelt beside the car, cupping her cheek and turning her face toward him. "What is it, B?"
She whispered one word repeatedly. He had to lean in close to understand her and was confused by what he heard.
Standing to his feet, he pulled her from the car and helped her into the house. He sat her on the sofa, pulling a lap blanket from the nearby chair and wrapping it around her shoulders. Racing up the stairs, he ran to the spare room at the end of the hall, not pausing to knock, and woke Alice.
Within minutes, Edward, Alice and Jasper surrounded Bella as they tried to understand what she was mumbling about. Jasper, as patient as he was, was tired and short-tempered. Rising from his seat, he knelt directly in front of Bella and spoke firmly and directly, demanding that she focus.
"Bella, we can't help you if you don't tell us. Now, look at me and tell me what has happened."
When her eyes focused on his, fat tears began to stream down her cheeks as she struggled to get the words out before breaking down.
"He- he's married. He's married. In Vegas."
Alice's eyes widened as she comprehended Bella's words. "Jake? He married someone in Vegas?"
"Leah Clearwater." As soon as the name passed her lips, Bella covered her face with her hands and let the tears pull her under. Jasper rose and wrapped his arms around her, looking helplessly to his wife and brother-in-law. Alice simply held her hand, too shocked to offer any words of comfort.
Edward stood silently, watching the scene in front of him. His demeanor was deadly calm, but his clenched fists and the raging fire in his eyes would have stopped anyone cold. He was glad in that moment that he had no idea where Jacob Black was, because he was certain he would kill him.
Three hours later, as the household began to awaken, Alice entered the kitchen to make coffee, only to find Edward leaning on the counter, sipping a cup. While Alice sat on a stool at the bar, Edward poured a cup and set it in front of her, along with cream, sugar and a spoon.
"How is she?"
Alice continued adding cream to her coffee as she answered, "Sleeping, finally. Dad offered to give her something, but I think she finally just cried herself out." Looking up at her brother, she continued. "If I could find him right now, I would kill him. Castrate him, then kill him. Leah is pregnant. Apparently it's been going on for some time."
If he had not been so angry, Edward would have laughed at the look on Alice's face.
"You know? What do you mean, you know?" By the time she finished speaking, Alice was standing on the bottom rungs of the stool, leaning forward in an attempt to intimidate her brother.
Taking a deep breath, Edward confessed. "I saw them together when I was in Portland last month."
"How could you not say anything? You let her continue planning this wedding knowing that he had betrayed her? How could you do that, Edward?" Alice's voice rose until she was nearly shouting. Edward immediately put his hand up, covering her lips with his fingers.
"I demanded that he tell her or I would! I assumed he would man up and do it until you called last week about the wedding and I realized he hadn't said a word. I never imagined that he would run off to Vegas and marry her."
"We have a million calls to make. The NBC affiliate will be here in three hours to interview Bella and her fiancé. The rentals are here already, and the caterers are bringing everything. I need to get my list."
Alice stood to leave the room when Edward reached out and caught her arm.
"Wait, Alice. I have a plan, but I need your help."