AN: This was tough to write. My mother passed away in March, but we had some issues. This story is about helping me look at my past. The good and the bad.
Thanks for reading.
"Miss Swan, I had you come in concerning your unpaid tuition payments," Dr. Sawyer explained to me. I felt like a very confused child being chastised for a crime I didn't commit.
The Dean of Students had kind, blue eyes as she regarded me from her seat behind her cluttered desk. Her hair pulled up into a bun and held in a place with a pen stuck in the middle that made her look a bit flustered and absent minded. She pushed her bifocals up from where they were slipping down her nose. There was a good possibility that this was all a big mistake.
"I'm sure my parents—" I began to say, but she shook her head sadly at me.
Dr. Sawyer tapped a pile of papers that rested on a manila folder. "Haven't paid any of this semester's tuition. I'll need it or you will be asked to pack up your things and go home."
"This must be a mistake." Oh God, all my dreams were crashing around me. They would have told me if there was a problem sending the check. "My parents must have paid. Maybe it got lost in the mail or there could have been in an issue at the Bursar's Office."
There was a look of sympathy on the face of the woman, but no budging in her opinion on the matter of my unpaid tuition. "There isn't a mistake."
"What can I do to fix this?" I clutched my sweaty fingers together and blinked away tears.
She smiled sympathetically at me. "Would you like to call your parents? We can have them wire some money to the Bursar or they can give them a credit card number. How about you call them from here and I'll give you a few minutes of privacy."
She moved her phone over to me and left the room quietly, shutting the door behind her. My fingers shook as I tried to dial the number to my house. It took me three attempts until I finally pressed the correct numbers. I felt tears finally slip from my eyes, as I listened to the ringing of the phone.
It had to be a mistake.
What if they don't pick up and I have to leave school?
The ringing continued. My head began to pound.
Finally, my mother's breathless voice answered, "Swan, residence."
"Bella . . . oh hi, honey! I was doing laundry. You still coming home this weekend?" Mom sounded hopeful. "I was thinking we can go shopping at the outlets."
"I might be coming home sooner than you think," I muttered, as I wiped tears from my eyes using my sleeve.
My mother didn't reply right away. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm in the Dean's office, Mom. They're going to kick me out, because my tuition hasn't been paid." I was struggling to stay calm. I sniffed loudly into the receiver.
"Oh." That was her only answer.
"Oh? Mom, they are going to make me leave school! I'll have no degree! Nothing!" My voice growing louder with each word.
She whispered harshly, "It wouldn't be the worst thing to happen, Isabella. Come home and apply to start at community college this summer. You can always transfer to a state school nearby in the fall and major in something sensible."
"It was your decision to go that school," she pointed haughtily. "We knew it was going to be a stretch financially. We need a new shed for the backyard. The extra money we save can pay for it. I made a choice not to pay for it anymore."
"You stopped paying on purpose! Why did you let me go here?"
I heard my father's voice in the background, "Renee, is that Bells?"
"Yes, Charlie, she's just telling me about one of her classes," my mother replied sweetly. It was jarring the way she could lie so easily. "We can go to Home Depot in a few minutes. Just let me wrap this up."
"He doesn't know, Mom? What the hell do you think you're doing?" I asked. I was shaking in rage, my voice quivering. "You should have told me. I had no clue what was going on. I feel like an idiot."
"You can pack up your things and I'll come and pick you up. We can tell your father that you missed being home," she said this as if it was the most practical thing in the world.
Home? My mother threw me under a fucking bus? There was no way I could go back.
I clutched the receiver in a death grip. "I'm staying here. I'll figure it out myself."
"With what money?"
"I have savings." There was a piece of plastic in my pocket that sang to me to use it. A line of credit that would solve all my problems. I was Alice about to go down the rabbit hole of debt. The only thing that gave me comfort was that I saved money from working all summer. It would help pay things off at least a little. A dent in an oppressive number. I still had other needs for money. My brain filled with worry. I was completely cut off.
"Stop being silly and come home. This is ridiculous! You're turning into a snob at that school! Use that brain of yours for once, Isabella!"
I hated her for doing this to me.
"When you stop being a bitch," I hissed. It just tumbled out of my mouth. I didn't care if I hurt her.
The other side of the line went silent for a moment, but finally she said, "I'm your mother. You will not speak to me that way."
"You are nothing to me right now. I just . . . I will pay for my own tuition. Don't worry about it or me. I won't be coming home." My heart hardened against her that day. I was sure it would never melt.
She didn't say anything. There was complete silence.
"Don't worry about Dad finding out. He'd probably be happy that I'm being responsible and paying for school myself. I know how much he hates how much this place costs."
Still nothing from my mother.
I didn't say good-bye. It wasn't worth the effort. I hung up the phone quietly. Sitting in the chair, I wept quietly.
"Bella, dear, are you okay?"
Dr. Sawyer came up and placed a hand on my shoulder in an attempt to comfort me.
I smiled through the tears and I pulled out my credit card. "I can pay with this."
Trembling, I held it out to her.
Dr. Sawyer took it and read the name. "Bella, is this your credit card?"
"Yes, I will be taking care of my tuition now." I looked at my knees. "I need to find a job, I guess."
She squeezed my hand. "My friend runs the bookstore. I can get you a job there."
I hugged her tightly. "Thank you!"
"I going through what you are when I was in school," Dr. Sawyer admitted. "I understand. Let's get your tuition taken care of."
The woman's gentle smile warmed my broken heart. It was lovely to find a kind person when you felt like your world was crumbling.
Thirty minutes later, I was heading back to the dorms. The weight of the world on my shoulders. Here's the thing that I discovered. Your parents are your first loves. They feed, clothe you, and make you feel like you're the most perfect thing in the world. In return, you put them on a pedestal. As you grow, it changes. The imperfections begin to show. The cracks in the perfect finish you imagined start to become more apparent, until you see the real person that lies underneath. A person that has beliefs and prejudices that you had ignored. All their faults are fully on display. My mother showed me her true colors today. I didn't know if I could ever forgive her.
"Hey! Bella, wait up?" I turned to Edward's voice instinctively. I couldn't help myself. He took my arm. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." I wanted this day to be over. I had a box of macaroni and cheese in my room and I was planning on gorging on it.
Edward frowned. "Did that asshole do anything to you?"
"Emmett McCarty? No, because I find it insulting that my bad moods are always deemed to be caused by some guy." I took out my ire toward my mother on him. "I'm not that much of a loser."
"I'm trying to be here for you!"
A sharp laugh came out of me. "No one is here for me, Edward! I'm all on my own. Fuck! She was so cruel! You take care of your kids, right? They should be first! God, I hate her right now."
I crumbled in ugly crying and clutched my stomach. I felt sick.
Edward pulled me into his arms and let me cry. Tears for the loss of childhood innocence and the uncertainty of my future.
It was a night full of laughter with friends and giddy nervousness over what was possible tonight with Edward. We were all at Andy's again. There was a comfort about this place. It was my favorite hangout, because I was always safe here.
I glanced over to where Alice was sitting off to the side with Jasper. He was trying to get in all of our good graces. Alice was mocking him and he took it with a smile. He looked at her like she hung the moon and the stars. I still hated the guy.
Edward noticed my glare. "If you stare hard enough there is a possibility that he'll burst into flames."
"Promise? I would love to see a crispy Jasper."
"He isn't that bad," Edward said with a strung. "He was always the nicest guy in that frat. Did you know that he did defend her?"
"Bullshit." I saw her after the fact. The mascara running down Alice's face from her tears. The look of embarrassment and pain that filled her face. I could only try to hug away her sadness.
"Maybe you should talk to him and see what his intentions are? I heard that's why he quit the fraternity. He was angry at what they did to Alice. It makes him a little bit of better man in my estimation," Edward said thoughtfully. "That dick stayed though."
I knew exactly who he was talking about. "Emmett is the King of the Dicks. I wouldn't think he would do something out of the kindness of his heart."
"You want to get out of here?" Edward gave me an eyebrow wiggle. It wasn't exactly seductive, but more adorable and cute.
"I'm just going the bathroom before we go." My goal was to try and calm down before heading back to the inn with Edward. My nerves were at an all time high. I wanted the night to be close to perfect.
He gave me a kiss before I stood and I could tell be the look he gave me that he might be slightly nervous too.
I had barely made it into the bathroom, when Emmett followed me in.
"Hey, button," he greeted me. His dimples were full in effect tonight.
My face was made of stone. "This is a woman's bathroom."
"I figured by the picture on the door." They way he looked at me was full of glee. I wanted to punch him. He angled his body in front of the door and locked it. "Can we talk?"
"Not in here! Have you not heard of boundaries, McCarty? I have no idea what your deal is, but I don't care. You made it perfectly clear about your feelings for me years ago." I headed toward the toilet as if I was planning on using it. My true intention for coming in here was to just rinse my face to calm myself down before getting intimate with Edward. I wanted to appear to be a confident lover, not a giggling school girl. "You need to leave so I can go to the bathroom."
He chuckled darkly. "I would love to watch. I seem to recall sneaking off into bathrooms with you before, baby."
I was pissed. Whipping my body around, I got into his face and started poking him in the chest. "I need you to get something straight, Emmett. I'm not some game. You're an asshole. I hate—"
My thoughts concerning how much I detested him were stopped when he lifted me up and placed me on the sink with my back against the mirror. His hands held my hips in place as I squirmed and Emmett's lips hovered over mine.
"Quiet down, little girl, and listen to me. I haven't made many mistakes in my life. I'm pretty fucking perfect, if I do say so myself. Until you came around and made me doubt myself. Bella, you haunt my goddamn dreams with that button nose and big, brown eyes. I want you." He rubbed his nose against mine. "I want you in my bed and at fucking family dinners at Christmas. I changed, button. You changed. We are so much better together."
"I want to be with Edward," I hissed at him.
Emmet smiled slightly, "Bullshit."
His mouth attacked mine fiercely, as I tried to move away. I used to like his intensity in the past, but now I just wanted the touch of Edward.
There was only one thing I could do.
"Fuck! Damn it, Bella!" He screamed.
I bit him so hard it drew blood.
"I'm not interested in you, Emmett!" I went to the door and unlocked it.
There was one more thing I needed to do. I turned and walked back to him. Emmett looked at me with blood dripping from his mouth. He said darkly, "Going to kiss it all better?"
I took my knee and rammed it into his groin. His eyes watered and he collapsed on the ground.
"You should never lock women in bathrooms, asshole," I hissed watching him squirm in pain.
He looked up at me crying. "I see in your hate that you still love me."
I threw my hands in there air. "You are the picture of delusional!"
He called to me as I stomped out and I ran straight into Edward's chest. Edward pulled me back slightly. "What happened in there?"
"I made Emmett cry. It felt great!" I felt a rush of power.
Edward cupped my face. "Did he hurt you?"
"I hurt him! He kissed me and I bit him! There was blood!" I squealed happily. I pushed Edward against the wall. "I want to make love to you now, Edward Cullen."
I felt him stiffen. "Is it because of what happened with McCarty? If you need to prove—"
I shut him up with my mouth. I poured all my feelings into kissing him. My hands cupped his ass.
"Whoa," he whispered, as I pulled my face away slowly. My breasts were still pressed to him.
"Edward Cullen, I want only you. You were going to get ravaged no matter if Emmett was here are not. The only thing that was made perfectly clear to me tonight was how much I think you might be perfect." I caressed his butt. He sighed in content.
"I'm not perfect, but I want to be for you." He kissed me again. His body felt relaxed against mine. "I want to make love to you."
I giggled and teased, "In the hallway?"
We started kissing harder and Edward's fingers traveled under my shirt. The tips of his fingers traced shaped onto my bare skin. I felt them sneak in the cups of my bra. He stroked my breasts and panted heavily until he pulled away reluctantly.
"I think I need to get you to a bed, girl." Edward picked me up and I wrapped my legs around his waist.
"Sneak out the back?" I motioned toward the back exit with my head.
"I like the escape route idea." He nibbled my ear and I squirmed because it tickled. That's when we heard Emmett's groan from the bathroom. "What the hell did you do to him?"
I kissed up Edward's neck. "I brought the pain."
"That's so hot."
I couldn't agree more.