All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer; I just like to play with her characters.

No copyright infringement is intended.

HUGE thanks to my betas and pre-readers – Darcysmom, Twimom817, EdwardsMyObsession1971 and GillianAubrey – without you ladies, this would be a hot mess!

Learning to Live

Chapter One

"Excuse me, Miss. Is there something I can help you with?"

I jumped at the unexpected voice and turned to find a petite woman with a bright smile beaming at me. Her smile calmed my racing heart, but it didn't diminish the anxiety I felt at the task I wanted to undertake.

"Umm, no, thank you. I'm just looking around."

It was the truth. I felt intimidated by Home Depot, but there was something to be said about accomplishing something you did with your own two hands.

"Are you working on a project?"

"Umm, yes. No. I don't know. I mean …." I sighed. "I hope to be working on a project. There's this house that I'm thinking about buying and it needs a lot of work."

I need a lot of work – who was I kidding?

"Ahh. Well, projects like that can be fun, but they can also be a lot of work and sometimes you can't do everything by yourself. Have you consulted a contractor?"

I squinted my eyes, trying to read the name on her apron. She must have had it a while because it was covered in paint splatters which didn't help the fact that her name had been written in Sharpie and the ink had clearly bled onto the fabric.

"Oh! Sorry! I'm Alice," she said, holding out her hand.

"Hi, Alice. I'm Bella. It's nice to meet you."

"It's nice to meet you too, Bella. You must be new here."

"Well, sort of. I haven't moved here yet … officially anyway."

"But you're thinking of moving here, yeah?"

"Maybe … like I said, there's a house …."

"Mmmhmm. You mentioned that. Well, listen Bella, I'm here four days a week if you have any questions. I know a couple realtors in town, and I have two brothers who run a construction company. So if you need any help, you let me know."

Alice handed me her card and walked away with a wink.

"Alice!" I hollered.


"Umm … you said to call you if I need any help."

"That's right."

"What if I need a friend?" I whispered.

"I do believe that might fall under the help category, Bella. You give me a call and we can get together for coffee, and we'll chat about this house. Okay?"

"The house … yeah, sure." I smiled.

"Good. I'll see you later, Bella."

I climbed into my truck and shook my head. Was I going crazy? Asking a virtual stranger to be my friend? After all, I was considering moving to a new town to start a new life. Leaving my past behind and making a fresh start is exactly what I need. Or is it?

Before I could answer myself, I started my truck and pulled out onto the highway headed toward the house that I had fallen in love with. It was for sale, the older lady who owned it couldn't keep it up any longer. It was a beautiful white farmhouse and all the land that surrounded it was inhabited by corn fields. There were two huge trees in the front yard, one a beautiful weeping willow and the other an old oak that had fallen onto the house, completely collapsing the front porch. The owner paid to have the tree removed, but she didn't have the money to repair the porch.

I loved that the old floors creaked when you walked across them, and I was sure that once they had been sanded and buffed, they'd be beautiful again. Stepping into the house from the back door, led you directly into the kitchen. There were no cabinets, which I found a bit odd, but it was something that could be fixed.

When I first looked at the house, the lack of cabinets in the kitchen made it seem empty - a harsh reminder and a mirror of my own life, but it also reminded me that it could be fixed, knowing fully well that somethings … couldn't.

The kitchen opened into a large dining and living room. A brick fireplace separated the two spaces. The living room had a big bay window that looked out onto the rubble that was once the front porch. I was surprised that there wasn't damage to the window from the tree falling. Turning to my left, I walked into the entryway. The ceiling went all the way up to the second story. There were three stairs and a landing that either led three steps down into the kitchen or up to the two bedrooms upstairs. Directly across from the living room was a bedroom and ensuite bathroom that was added on after the house was originally built.

"My husband John and I used our savings to have the two bathrooms added on to the house in the early Seventies70's. It was right after the city re-appropriated the sewer lines and brought the sewer out here. When this house was built in the early 1900's there was no such thing as running water and electricity. The kitchen had an old wood burning stove and the water pump was just outside the back door. The outhouse is still out there, but it's been filled in."

I loved that the house had so much history. It had been owned by only one family and it was handed down generation to generation. It was old and needed work, but it had a lot of character – good bones, if you will.

"Ms. Cope, if you don't mind me asking … why are you selling? Why aren't you gifting this house to your kids and grandkids?"

"Oh, honey. John and I only had one daughter. She's married and has kids of her own. My grandkids have kids and homes of their own and they don't want this old house. It's too much work and upkeep for them. Besides, it's too far from the city for them. The corn fields scare the bejeezus out of the kids, so they don't even like coming all the way out here to visit."

"That's too bad. It's a beautiful house, it just needs a little TLC."

The truth was that I'd fallen in love with the house the moment I laid eyes on it. I loved that it had a history – one that wasn't mine.

"That's why I think you're the perfect buyer, Isabella. You're young, and beautiful. You take this house and fix it up and fill it with lots of beautiful little babies. Find yourself a handsome man to help you, to stand beside you and take care of you. Find some happiness in this house, Isabella."

"I'll take it."

A/N: Thoughts? Thank you for reading! =D