So last summer my super beta Donna had a dream. From the sound of it, it was a very good dream, and she told me all about it. This is the story Donna's dream inspired.
Oh, I missed Twilight. This is going to be so fun! It's lovely to be back.
I own nothing. Donna is the best beta (and she made the banner). Thank you so very much for reading.
Chapter 1: Not on the Syllabus
There is a chunk of wispy hair that picks today of all days to be difficult.
I am in my childhood bedroom, standing in front of a mirror that hangs over the dresser I myself painted at age five. It is a finger-painting project I undertook with my mother right before she took off. The paint job is not half bad given what it is and the color only turns brown from too many different shades smeared together in a few places. Overall, it's not a bad piece of furniture for a kid.
I kept it through my teen years as a testament to my mother, some last hope that she would someday come back, and I could proudly display the finger-painted dresser as proof that I never forgot her.
Not like she forgot me.
But I am no longer a teenager, nor do I harbor any delusions that Renee might one day return. At twenty-five, this shit is just depressing.
I look over the dresser at the mirror, unable to decide if I find the odd angles of this patch of wispy hair or this room's decor more irksome.
It's the hair, I decide after five more minutes of messing with it. Giving up, I slip on a headband and call it quits.
Bacon grease hits my nose as I make it halfway down the stairs and I pause, closing my eyes and counting to ten to get a hold of my anger.
After two heart attacks in as many years Charlie was forced to retire, and maybe I didn't have to return to Forks and get a job at the local high school because of my father's health, but it certainly felt like a daughterly requirement.
I'm here in basically the last place I actually want to be because of his heart and the smell of bacon grease hits my nose before I fully make it downstairs.
I count to ten again, slap a smile on my face, and walk down the remainder of the stairs, not stopping until I make it to the kitchen.
"Good morning," I say, planting a kiss on his cheek as I peer over his shoulder at the pan. "Bacon?"
"I know, I know," says Charlie, smiling ruefully. "But today is a special occasion! You need a proper breakfast on your first day as a teacher."
There is so much about this statement I find extremely vexing, but somehow I refrain from being a total bitch. This is Charlie. This is my dad. He gave me everything and I will not resent him. I will not resent him. I will not resent him and his goddamn failing heart.
"The kids are just registering today, Dad," I explain for the fourth time. Still, I manage to keep my voice gentle. "They'll pop into my classroom to meet me or talk about the syllabus, but there won't be any actual class. Plus, it's hardly my first day as a teacher."
Charlie waves a dismissive hand at me. I lean against the counter, watching as he gets the bacon out of the pan, its grease turning the paper towel transparent before oozing into the newspaper below.
That dismissive hand wave is much more annoying than the patch of wispy hair that won't lie flat.
Charlie likes to pretend the last two years since graduation never happened. To him I followed the plan and came home to teach after college. It's as if anything that occurred south of the equator didn't actually happen at all.
They were the best two years of my life. It counts, although even to me there were moments that felt like they didn't.
"Bacon and eggs," Charlie says, grabbing a plate.
"This looks great, Dad," I say, stealing the spatula from him. "I'll take mine to go. And I don't want to make the other teacher's jealous. I think I'll fill up the Tupperware and hand out the goods."
I stick an apple in his mouth before speed loading all the bacon and eggs into a large plastic container. My father chews his apple, frowning at me.
"I've gotta go," I say, giving him a bright smile. "Thanks for breakfast, Pop. You have a good day."
Charlie grumbles under his breath. Since the second heart attack forced him to retire, no day has been a good day. People still call him Chief even if he is no longer in charge of the ridiculously small police department. Seeing him like this, reminding myself of his sadness, makes it easier to not resent him.
But then I see the bacon grease and the recycling full of beer cans.
"I love you, kid," he says as I shoulder my bag.
"Love you too, Dad." I kiss his cheek. "I'll be home to make dinner."
Jasper doesn't look up from the book on his desk until I drop the breakfast on top of it. He jumps slightly in his seat, glasses sliding down his nose as he gapes up at me.
"Shit," he says, clutching his chest. "You scared me."
"You were engrossed," I observe.
"Fuck yeah I was engrossed," he says, carefully lifting the Tupperware and smoothing out the pages. "This is the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave."
"So just some light morning reading, huh?"
He glares at me. "Can I help you, Isabella?"
"I brought you breakfast," I explain.
Jasper lifts the lid, inhales deeply, and seems to forgive me for disturbing his reading. "Why did you bring me breakfast?"
Jasper gives me a stern look, but it doesn't take him long to figure it out. We were close in high school, even if we drifted in college, but now that we are both once more back at Forks High we picked up our friendship like we never stopped so it doesn't take Jasper long to figure it out.
It never took Jasper long to figure it out.
"Charlie cooked this," he says, digging around in a desk drawer and emerging with a couple of plastic forks. "Charlie was going to eat this."
"Charlie was going to eat this," I agree, taking a bite of egg. I'll leave the excessive amount of bacon to Jasper. The sight of it alone is making me angry again. It makes it hard not to resent my wonderful father who worked his whole life to ensure that I never missed out on anything.
"And you stole it?" he asks.
"I shoved an apple in his mouth and spouted some bullshit about wanting to share this with the rest of the staff so they wouldn't be jealous," I say.
Jasper snorts and munches happily on his bacon. "Kids are going to be trickling in any time now."
"How exactly does this work?" I probably should have asked this before now. "What am I supposed to do?"
"You just need to be hanging out in your classroom, getting your shit together for next week," he says. "The kids register in the cafeteria, pay for their yearbook, all that admin shit. They get their schedules and a lot of them like to wander around the school, finding their locker and seeing where the rooms are so they don't have to figure it out on the first day. They are just rearing to meet the new teacher."
"Bella, it's going to be great."
And maybe that is a possibility but I will still be teaching seventeen-year-old boys.
I have a terrible track record with seventeen-year-old boys.
"Right. Yes. Great." I take a few deep breaths. "It's going to be great."
My school in Chile was fancy. People are so divided by class there, and my school catered to the richest of the rich. It was the best education money could buy and the teachers were required to look the part. It was all suits and pencil skirts and neatly ironed button ups.
On my first day at Forks High a week ago I showed up in khakis and a blue blouse. I walked into the auditorium and it felt a bit like I was naked.
Before me was a sea of jeans and Chacos and t-shirts.
This was something I should have remembered from my time as a student here, but business casual in the best private school in Reñaca is not business casual in Forks.
These people were once my teachers and they were staring at me like an outsider. I walked down the aisle, not knowing where to sit, hearing familiar whispers.
"Jacob Black," some said.
"Too good for Forks," said others. "A woman of the world."
Jasper tugged me into a seat beside him. "Students aren't even here for another two weeks," he said. "Why don't you go casual?"
"I thought this was casual," I muttered, blushing.
"Jeans, Bells," he said. "Jeans."
Today is the first day I will actually meet my students and I just couldn't quite manage jeans. Still, I tried to "go casual," choosing a black cotton skirt, tights, a white blouse, and a pink scarf.
Fiddling with the unfortunate chunk of wispy hair and messing with my headband, I stand in the very center of my classroom, trying to figure out what to do with myself as I wait for students to trickle in and say hi after they get their schedules. Turning in a slow circle I take in the cheesy READ posters that depict celebrities with books, the bulletin board devoted to my travels, and the wall of bookcases filled with thick textbooks and easy reads, just for fun.
The white board is spotless. The desks form a wide oval, none of those shitty rows, and I really don't know what to do with myself.
Since moving back to Forks I've had far too much time and nothing to do but resent my father and wallow in the lost possibilities. In the two years I was away, America became foreign to me, Forks became foreign to me, and all the free summertime made it that much worse.
It gave me time to miss places and people. Especially people. Especially one person.
The second they assigned me a classroom I was here, setting up shop, writing out lesson plans, and now with less than a week to go until the students descend, I've run out of tasks. It doesn't seem possible, but I really, truly do not know what to do with myself.
I've lived in this classroom for days because it's so much better than home. I like the quiet.
I spin on my heel towards the tentative voice at the door. There is a student here, clutching a white piece of paper, his mouth agape. He is calling me Bella and damn, do those blue eyes look familiar.
"Mikey?" I ask, horrified when I make the connection.
He grins as he enters the room, emboldened by my shocked and decidedly un-teacher-like statement. With much more confidence than he was displaying before I remembered his name, Mikey Newton hops up to sit on one of the desks, his legs swinging.
"Wow," he says. "I guess the rumors were true. It's just weird to see you here, is all."
I nod dumbly.
"I have you fourth period," he says. "AP Lit."
"Right. Yep. Here I am." I fiddle with my hair and berate myself for sounding like an idiot. "I haven't seen you since you were about nine."
"You were the best babysitter," he says. "I was pissed when you went away to college."
I did not go far, but rarely did I venture out of Seattle after I moved. Compared to experiencing all the big city had to offer, Forks felt so small.
"It's Mike now," he says when I just gape at him.
"Mike," I repeat. This whole teaching in Forks thing is going to be so fucking weird. "Right. Hi, Mike. And it's Miss Swan, now."
"Right. Miss Swan. Hi."
"So AP Literature," I say, trying to cloak myself in my teacher persona.
When I first got the job in Chile I pretended to be an actress playing the role of teacher. It helped until I started to feel like an actual real life teacher, but Forks has me out of sorts and I fall back on the old coping mechanism now.
"Are you a big English fan?"
"Well," he says, rubbing the back of his neck. His eyes drop to my chest and I am oddly comforted that at least there is one thing the same about teaching state side. Seventeen-year-old boys everywhere ogle the goods. "It's okay. I thought it would be cool to have you as a teacher and this was the only junior class you teach."
I blink at him, realization donning. AP Lit is the class I am most excited about and my only honors class this year, but my stomach sinks as I come to understand that I'm going to get a lot of students more interested in me than Margaret Atwell.
I am the Chief's daughter. I am the girl that left little by little until I put a continent between this town and me. Last time I was home I dumped my boyfriend of six years in the diner. It was a scene.
No one leaves Forks, not really. Of course the kids are interested in my story.
"Here's the syllabus," I say, retrieving a copy from my desk and handing it over. Mike tries really hard to brush my fingers with his during hand off, but after two years on the job I know all the tricks and avoid his grubby little paws. "Check out the reading list."
"This is going to be like reading a book a week!" He is horrified and I try not to grin.
"Well, you do get college credit for the course. And all these books will be on the test. Did you do the summer reading?" I ask.
"Um," he says, exceedingly uncomfortable, on. "Yes?"
"Great! It was only recommended, not required, but I am thrilled you are a head of the game. What selection was your favorite?" I ask, smiling pleasantly.
Mike breaks after only seconds.
"Okay. I didn't do any reading. You weren't even here last year. How could you even assign any reading?"
"Turns out they have the internet in Chile. I posted it after I got hired."
Mike rolls his eyes. I wonder if he'll even last two weeks in AP land.
"So, Bella," he starts.
"Miss Swan," I correct.
"Right. Miss Swan. So what have you been up to the last couple years while I was growing up?" he asks.
I open my mouth, ready to direct him to the bulletin board that includes a map of South America, all the places I traveled, and recommended reading from each country, but I'm interrupted.
I freeze, staring straight ahead at a poster of Johnny Knoxville reading Hemmingway. The voice is coming from my open door and if I just turn my head only a few inches I could easily see the newcomer, but I can't move.
The voice is English and happy and so painfully familiar.
There are three options to explain its presence in my classroom now.
One, I am crazy. In the long months since seeing the owner of that voice I've developed some sort of abrupt onset auditory delusion. His voice could easily be in my head only.
Two, my memory is faulty. Perhaps I simply want to hear his voice once again, crooning in that ridiculously attractive and unique accent of his, making me laugh. So desperate am I for the voice, any vaguely English sounding person becomes him.
Or three – most probable and horrible of all – he is here.
Except he could not possibly be here.
I don't want him to be here in my school, being so painfully young and way too fucking sexy for his own good.
Or my own good.
Or the good of anyone anywhere, really.
There is no way that he is here in my school, in my home town, in little nowhere Forks.
Turning my head ever so slightly would solve the mystery, but suddenly I am terrified. I cannot decide what option is worse. If he isn't here, the disappointment will be crushing and if the voice really is him I am screwed.
I'd rather just stay frozen in place, looking at Johnny Knoxville.
The choice is taken away from me because the owner of the voice moves to stand next to Mikey Newton, the whole glorious length of him is suddenly right in front of me. He is blocking my view of Johnny and for a few moments I hold on to the hope that I am crazy. I hope the auditory delusion now has a visual accompaniment because the alternative is too outlandish and terrible and wonderful to truly contemplate.
"She's been having adventures, mate," says my delusion to a gawking Mikey Newton.
"What?" sputters Mike. Perhaps he is in on the delusion.
"While you were learning to ride a bicycle without stabilizers she was having adventures," repeats the delusion, slinging an arm over my student's shoulders.
The delusion is staring at me, smirking that knowing smirk. His eyes travel down my body, bright and knowing. I realize that I've been fiddling with my hair.
I drop my hand and bump into my desk as I back up, unable to hide my nerves even with my teacher persona shrouding my body like the most useless imaginary armor.
"Dude," says Mike, shaking off my delusion. "Who are you?"
"Edward Cullen," I murmur. My eyes are wide and my stomach is revolting, but I can't look away, don't want to.
He is so much more than I remember; more attractive, more cocky, more of a mistake.
And he's not a delusion. He's really here. I can't recall ever being this shocked in a quarter century of living, but then he speaks again, making the whole thing so much worse.
"Looks like we're classmates," Edward says, patting Mike on the head without ever looking away from me. "Exchange student."
"Uh, welcome to Forks?" Mike manages.
Edward laughs and my stomach muscles tighten. I have to lean against my desk to keep my legs from completely failing to hold me up.
"Cheers," says Edward. It's a purr. It's a promise.
I am so totally screwed.
"I should have learned Spanish." Despite the gloriously sunny day, my groan is miserable. "Why didn't I learn Spanish?"
"Why are you complaining?" asks Rosalie. "They don't want their English teachers to know Spanish. I speak Spanish. Do you know how difficult it is to keep my classroom an all 'English zone' now that the little shits know I can understand them? It's so fucking hard to enforce the English only rule."
I open my eyes to look at my coworker turned friend, but the sun is too bright, even through the protective layer of my sunglasses. I close my eyes again, trying to enjoy the fact that I am sunbathing in December.
It feels strange to be sunbathing in December, but most things way down south still feel strange.
Rosalie's a veteran. This is her second year teaching and she says eventually things are not so strange.
Still, I'd rather have ice and freezing toes because Charlie is too cheap to turn up the heat, even on Christmas. I never thought I'd be overly homesick, but here I am, craving cold toes and my dad rather than a beach in December.
"You shouldn't call your students little shits," I say.
"Do you know how they found out I speak the language?" Rosalie asks, pissed now. She shuffles on her towel next to mine, getting my arm sandy. "A group of them were talking about all the ways they want to fuck me, with me right the fuck there. High schoolers are little shits, regardless of nationality."
I change my opinion on speaking the native tongue.
"I don't want to know what my students say about me," I amend.
"Oh, they want to fuck you too," she says as if I was worried they didn't. "But they also want to marry you. You're the nice one. I'm the bitch. We make quite the team, Madonna and the whore. If they were better English speakers I'd throw some feminism into the curriculum."
"Yeah," I say, snorting. "Like the administration would sign off on you teaching The Handmaids Tale."
"Stick to the syllabus!" shrieks Rosalie in a dead on impersonation of our boss. We both giggle.
Sitting up on my towel, I put more sunscreen on my face and look at the endless ocean. Rose drinks piscola – the national booze of Chile mixed with coke– out of a water bottle, handing it to me when she's had her fill.
I cough after taking a large gulp, forgetting that with Rose it is more like pisco with a splash of coke for color.
"You are shit at Spanish," Rose muses. "You've been here for a whole semester already and can still barely get an order in at a food truck. It's damn funny."
"It's not funny," I insist. "The staff thinks I'm one of those horrible Americans who moves to another country with no real interest in the language, just expecting everyone to speak English. I genuinely want to learn but it's just so hard and I am so bad."
"It's not that hard."
"It so hard."
Everything about my move to Reñaca has been hard.
They warn you when you decide to teach English abroad that it will be a struggle, but I didn't really get it until I arrived last July.
Teaching is hard.
Learning to navigate a new city – especially one that jams up into two other cities making it all seem like one giant, confusing city – is hard.
Apologizing to your landlord for ruining the pipes because no one mentioned that here in Chile toilet paper gets placed in the trash rather than flushed, is extremely hard.
But taking this job south of the equator is also proving to be the best decision of my life. For the first time, I am my own person.
A group of boys wolf whistle in our general direction and I spill a bit of piscola as I hand the drink back to Rose.
Getting used to the way Chilean men feel the need to constantly, verbally express their attraction was also hard. At least with my short stature and dark hair I can blend in. Rosalie has no chance with her height and blonde hair and model face.
"You're lucky you found me, Swan," Rosalie says. "If I wasn't here to provide some direction you'd have been back state side in less than two months."
I am about to reply, to agree, but a body is flopping into the sand at my side. I stare at him, blinded by his beauty. For a second this doesn't even seem real and I blink a few times to make sure my eyes are still functioning.
Because he is just stunningly beautiful.
Really, there is no other word to better describe the jaw and the body and the hair. The sun makes the bronze strands shine and I can do nothing but ogle.
His mouth is moving, forming words, presumably speaking to me in a language I cannot understand, but I am beyond hearing. Staring at all the toned, tanned, sculpted man at my side is all I can do in this moment.
"Bella!" Rose yells, making me jump. I drop my gaze to my lap, ashamed to get caught staring at the long limbs and muscles that ripple over his narrow frame. "What, do you not even speak English now?"
"What?" I manage. My voice is hoarse.
"You're American!" declares the beautiful boy, smiling widely. He bumps his shoulder into mind and as I blush I wonder what color his eyes are behind his dark sunglasses. "Brilliant. Where from?"
Holy shit. That accent, that voice.
English and blessedly speaking a language I do actually understand.
"Rosalie is from Texas," I say. This stunning male specimen is practically in my lap but it doesn't make sense with Rose right here.
She rolls her eyes at me and deliberately puts her book in front of her face, forcing me to interact with the British stranger who is so ridiculously out of my league.
"So that's Rosalie," he says, jerking his chin at my roommate. Although the shades make it difficult, it feels like he continues to look at me. "And you are, love?"
The nickname shouldn't charm me. In theory the endearment is creepy and should most definitely not charm me.
"Bella," I say. Hoping he will mistake my blush for an awful, but short-lived sunburn.
"Bella." He caresses my name, pronouncing it like the Chileans do. Their accents make it sound like something special and secret. They make me feel like my name belongs to someone infinitely more sexy and interesting. "Bella. Perfect. And you are American, Bella?"
"Where in America?"
"DC?" In his excitement he kicks out his feet, leaving divots in the sand. His enthusiasm makes me smile. "I practically was raised in the capitol. Well, I was practically raised everywhere, but I remain fond of DC, especially in the spring: Cherry blossoms."
"No," I say, hating to disappoint him. "I'm from Washington State,"
"Ah," he says. "I've also been to New York, but this is on the coast opposite to your soggy corner of country, I believe."
"You're British. How can you accuse anyone of being soggy?"
He throws his head back and laughs. I admire the muscles in his neck and let myself take in the glorious rest of him. He is all lean muscle and sinewy limbs. I blush again.
"Fair point," he says. "Well made. Are you from Seattle? I have a cousin in Seattle. Or perhaps a cousin's cousin. Still, a distant relation. Although I've never quite made it out to your east coast, I'm afraid."
I find even his blathering to be endearing.
"I went to school in Seattle, but I'm from a tiny town north west of there. What about you?" I throw in the question as an after thought. It is something Rosalie says I should ask. I dated my last – and first and only – boyfriend for years and now that I am single again I find myself woeful inept when it comes to simple conversation with excessively handsome boys.
"I, sweet Bella, am a child of the world," he announces, spreading his arms out above his head as if to demonstrate. "Bella means beautiful. You must know this. Surely you get told this all the time, but still. An extremely fitting name."
"Thank you," I say, still blushing. "But it's a weird compliment, talking about my name seeing as you haven't even told me yours."
His friends are yelling at him in Spanish. They are the wolf whistlers. I look at them at the volleyball net, falling all over each other like my students. Rude hand gestures are exchanged and one boy humps the air, making the boy at my side grumble.
"My friends are terrible," he mutters. "Remind me to get new ones."
I laugh, but there is more yelling in rapid Spanish. Rosalie snorts at something they say from behind her book, and the boy at my side is yelling back, waving his hands around his head and scowling. His dramatics make me grin, even though I have no idea what they are actually saying.
Sighing heavily, the boy gets to his feet. Facing me, he backs away towards his friends.
"The teams are uneven," he explains. "Apparently, uneven teams are the end of the world. And my name is Edward. Edward Cullen."
He gets hit in the head with the volleyball and then his foot slips into a hole in the sand. He makes such a scene with his fall that even Rose puts down her book to stare. He nearly catches himself several times before the momentum gets the best of him and he pitches forward, landing face first in some poor child's sandcastle.
His friends are crying they laugh so hard and Rosalie is grinning like an idiot. I am far more charmed than I should be. Edward Cullen lost his glasses in the fall and when he looks up from the sand I can see his eyes. They are green and I blush again.
"I give it a ten!" I tell him.
Edward laughs, brushing off the sand as he gets to his feet. 'Where are you going to be tonight, love?" he asks.
I bite my lip, wracked with indecision.
Flirtation is one thing, but I haven't been with anyone since Jacob. Hell, I haven't been with anyone but Jacob, and I'm not sure if I am ready for anything at all, even if it's casual.
But he is so damn attractive and painfully endearing.
Rose takes the choice away from me.
"She'll be at The Casino," says my roommate.
"The Casino," Edward repeats, grinning at me. "If you're there, then there is where I'll be."
He gives me a salute before turning around and saving the world from a fate of volleyball teams with odd numbers.