Disclaimer: SM owns all.

AN: I will try to have an update out by this week, my (yearly) birthday shenanigan's will try not to hinder this! My beta's back and as mentioned in my prior (asinine) post, she's absolutely fan-tastic (pun intended) If you haven't read her work yet be sure to check it out. You'll be missing out on a great read/author's talent otherwise. Once again, just another re-post having been edited by the famous, Dawning Juliet.


Chapter One

In My City

2014

Placing your hands under your ass or in your crotch is frowned upon by the general public.

Well, damn, I mentally sighed.

If I had to bet on it, the person who decided this must have lived in a very sunny and warm climate, having never experienced the frigid cold weather of New York in the winter. The other half of my mind quickly disputed this logic and conjured up a few mental images of my old prep school teachers, especially headmistress Vonkempt.

It was possible that it had originated in New York, after all.

I sat in the uncomfortable leather seat and held my hands together in a tight grasp. I didn't need anyone to bear whiteness to my extreme fidgeting, resulting in another round of assumptions blown out of proportion by the media. After all, you know what they say when you assume, and these days assumptions were all they ever had to go by.

My cell phone still sat abandoned in my bag where it remained on silent mode. I couldn't be bothered with it this early in the morning, and if I were being honest, I was avoiding a select few at the moment.

Silence truly was golden.

Two tabloid magazines that had caught my eye walking through the airport terminal—a rash decision to purchase them—lay on the unoccupied seat next to me as I waited to board my flight, the covers still unopened, the pages still unturned.

I wasn't one to flip through the (easily discredited) gossip rags. I kept my eyes and my mind away from them as much as possible. Unfortunately, that proved to be a hard feat in itself as they were everywhere and utterly unavoidable.

Everyone had a camera phone and social media was like heroine—the toxic king in the drug realm. Even senior citizens got high off it these days. It was disgusting to think that sweet, kind, and caring old women most likely sipped their tea and chatted endlessly about the latest sex or drug scandal while knitting a blanket for their great-grandchildren.

Anything and anyone could be used against you and, more often than not, was. There was seldom truth in the belittling or fabricated statements by "verified sources." Let's face it—love stories just didn't sell as much. Readers wanted the drama. Privacy, truth, and credibility were something rare and hard to come by.

Magazines aside, I still obeyed my father's cardinal rule; it had been drilled into my head for as long as I can remember. The older I got—no longer owning a pair of rose-colored glasses—the more his words rang out and held the unfortunate truth. To this day, not even at my weakest, I still never Googled myself.

"No one will ever know and understand you better then yourself. Just be you. Always."

I had been plagued with the bright flash of a camera since birth. Upon my entry into this life, the world suddenly thought they knew me better than I knew myself—only hours old. Some went as far as to predict and say they had already known my future love interest, triumphs and tribulations and occupation as the only heir to the Swan dynasty and fortune.

Maybe that was the reason I laughed at those fortune teller commercials and booths I'd walk past on the boardwalk every summer, or perhaps someone had been on to something and it had been the underlying reason I chose to eventually follow in my father's footsteps. I'm not much of a skeptic these days.

Life is easier when you're young and illiterate, when you still believe you can fly like Peter Pan, and that your favorite fairytale was secretly written about your own parents. Life was indeed easier when you were naive enough to believe in happily-ever-after.

A few years ago, Wikipedia and IMBD decided I was important enough to deserve a separate, individual page of my own. I was building upon my own merit and had established my own identity. A Swan, though no longer linked to my father—Isabella Marie and to the world who hadn't seen my live birth certificate I in fact, existed. A few friends of mine had taken me out and we celebrated into the early morning hours. If I remembered correctly, a hangover that lasted a full three days followed, but it was worth it. Jose and I, however, haven't been on speaking terms since, that evil, sneaky bastard.

A friend of mine had checked out my IMBD just to make sure of its accuracy. Hey, you never know.

Isabella Marie Swan: Musician/Actress/Screenwriter.

Date of Birth: September 13, 1988. Daughter to Renee Bridget Ford Swan and Academy Award Winning Actor and Director, Charles Liam Swan.

My parents divorced when I was 4, and my mother, having been granted sole custody, kept me with her on the East Coast. Charlie moved across the country to Arizona, relocating only a year later to California where he's lived ever since. They were polar opposites in every way, so it seemed fitting that they'd live in opposite sides of the country as well.

The media dragged my parents' divorce through the mud. Some said my mother was unfaithful and had a drinking problem, turning the press to favor the esteemed director, Charles Swan. A womanizing alcoholic wouldn't have been good for business, although that didn't stop others from coming up with their own hurtful stories and speculations. Apparently, something had to have driven Renee to the extreme, leaving her to seek the bottle and, according to the press, my father had been the one responsible.

Truth? Neither of my parents cheated on one another, and neither of them admitted or seemed to have hit the hard stuff. I never actually asked Charlie if his year in Arizona was spent within a glamorous Hollywood rehab, but odds were it wasn't for any substance problem if it were true. I know he still wouldn't have admitted to it, but it was plain to see, Charles Swan will still head over heels in love with my mother.

You've got to love Hollywood.

It sounded like such a dirty word. Hollywood—a stage littered with thousands of actors auditioning for a permanent role in the story called life.

It is sad but true that I couldn't tell who was acting and who wasn't anymore as the lines of reality blurred to the point of being severely obscured. It was disheartening, to say the least. I never knew who I was blindly auditioning for these days, my own family included. And for what role?

I sighed and rummaged through my bag in search of a piece of gum, suffering from a bad case of coffee breath. I popped a piece in my mouth and sat back as far as the chair would allow. I was exhausted and had mentally checked out hours ago—physically drained, having spent the previous day packing up the remaining items I swore I would eventually get to before the last minute. That didn't happen. I fully admit, I have always been and always will be the queen of procrastination, but this week I really took it to a whole new level. I internally groaned.

My day, a big one at that, had just started. I'd see the sun rise in New York and would see it set in California, my new home. The moving company had already begun the long drive early this morning, lugging my life, all twenty-six years' worth, across the country. I shuddered at the thought of having to unpack.

Up until recently, New York had been the only place I'd ever been able to call home. I still couldn't imagine fitting into California life one hundred percent. New Yorkers—for the most part—could spot an out-of-towner a mile away. I hoped I wouldn't stand out too much on the West Coast.

I checked my watch for what seemed like the hundredth time since I'd walked into the airport and sighed as the nostalgia began to creep its way towards my heart. I shook my head and tried to smother it down along with the butterflies swirling in my stomach. I'd miss being a New Yorker.

No one who lives in the big city ever goes to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building, or down to Rock Center. It's always loud; I'd be worried if it weren't. We walk fast. Cabs do not rip tourists off. Let me clarify: cabs rip anyone off, and good luck trying to get into one, especially if it is raining. You will not die if you eat a hot dog from a vending cart. You can smell the peanuts and pretzels a block away, and that foul, sour odor that has been lingering all day long, probably embedded into your nose hairs by now? Well, that's the smell of piss! I do not lie and I do not sugarcoat. After all, I was born and raised a New Yorker.

Yeah, I would definitely miss home.

My summers had been divided up ever since my parents' divorce, half of it spent out on Long Island in the Hamptons at my grandparents' estate, and the other half spent across the country in California with Charlie.

Renee, being Renee, had many attempted and failed marriages over the years, and somewhere along the way, she forgot how to be a parent. She traveled the world, never putting down any permanent roots, and became the glorified trophy wife on the arm of one of her many husbands. Often I'd come home from school during holiday breaks to find we had relocated once again, boxes of my personal belongings that I hadn't taken to school stacked and shoved into an empty, unrecognizable room.

Charlie had dated a few starlets over the years—the number was lower than the tabloids made it out to be—and chose to remain married to his work, throwing himself into it entirely. My monthly visits with him were either cut short or rescheduled, and eventually cut out completely. He made the occasional trip to New York to spend a few days with me in-between meetings he had scheduled, but that was about it.

Emails replaced phone calls, and postcards served as cancelations around the holidays when either parent couldn't make it home. As odd as it may sound, I didn't resent them. I couldn't. I adored my grandparents, and they quickly helped fill a void that my parents' absence left, unbeknownst to myself at the time.

I remember the summer months the most, my favorite time of year. Unfortunately, those months seemed to go by too fast, and it was over before it had even begun as I found myself staring at the tacky wallpaper back at the academy at summer's end. I shuddered, thinking about my years there; they were not my fondest memories. It was, however, my early introduction into the arts—my passion. My love for it quickly became my outlet. It helped a bit that the gene ran in the family as well; it was often said I was a natural.

Damn that fortune teller. I was elated as she was correct in her prediction of me taking to the stage extraordinarily, however I was extremely disgruntled on all the other less-than-favorable bullshit she'd spewed. Lying tarot card reading bitch.

When I turned nineteen—with a fake ID in hand—the bar scene opened up. I was a freshman in college at NYU and, to be honest, I was your stereotypical nineteen year old boarding school graduate. I was convinced I had it all, that I was never wrong, and that this was the time of my life.

The media, much to my family's dismay, ran a few articles that included inebriated photographs, helping to turn any form of truth to trash within seconds, guilty or not. Something as simple as going to the Beer Garden was just not that simple even when we had to use the back entrance to avoid busloads of people taking pictures. They were relentless, and it's not something you want to openly risk—having your face recognized, especially when you're drinking underage in a public establishment.

Truth was, looking back a few years, I had failed to realize at the time how little I actually knew, and how much I still had yet to learn. Everything I wanted in my late teens—even my early twenties—had finally started to fall into place. But not before I hit rock bottom.

I was finished with my "trial and error days" as some would label it, and as my carefree ways began to diminish, I grew more cautious, all for good reason.

I was generally healthier, mentally at least, as I still had my weak moments once a month when I whored myself out on my sofa with two deliciously edible men, Ben and Jerry. Monthly drama aside, my self-esteem increased with no help from the media hounds from hell. They were still the usual persistent assholes they had always been; I just learned to block them out better throughout the years.

If you cut the things and people out of your life that don't add to your happiness, you're less likely to get walked all over, and life will eventually get better. I was no longer a people pleaser. My only concern was for myself, as horrible and cruel as that sounds, but so far I was doing pretty well.

Bella's Life Lesson 1: When someone walks away from you, it's not the end of your story. It's the end of their part in your story.

Sometimes you make choices in life, and sometimes choices make you.

Lifting my coffee cup, I took one last sip before getting up from my chair to toss it into the garbage bin along with the magazines.

"Later, alligator," I mumbled to no one in particular with a grin on my face, walking towards the gate with a one way ticket.


AN: Although I love getting feedback from my readers letting me know your thoughts, I will not tolerate acidic tongues. So far I'm happy to see I have not had any, so thank you for your support and praise. It's the ultimate form of motivation. Thank you!

To all of my LiW readers, I have not (and never will) abandon that story. She's my baby, my first born, and I'm just about finished with the next chapter, so fret not. Just had to get this rabid rabbit (plot bunny lol) off my back. Little sucker has been persistently pestering me!


Playlist:

In My City - Ellie Goulding

It's Amazing - Jem (Sex in the City Soundtrack)

When We're Young - The Killers (Victoria Secret Fashion Show Remix)

New York State of Mind - Billy Joel