A Killer Idea

Chapter 4

BPOV

Oh no, not this again. Bella, wake up! For Both our sakes, just open your eyes! Wake up wake up wake up wake up wake up wake up NOW!

OH here we go.

Don't blame me.

I tried to stop it.

Xxxxx

Today is the Perfect Day.

I open my eyes and sit up in bed, surprised for a moment to find myself alone.

Stupid.

Of course you are alone.

As if Jake would take any chances of inviting bad luck into our perfect lives by seeing me on the morning of our wedding!

I take a deep breath and centre my mind.

Today is the most important day of my life, so far.

So far.

Because despite this being the perfect day, there will be others!

That knowledge thrills me, warms my heart and my body and I can barely believe how lucky I am.

Jacob and I became a couple...when?

It's hard for even me to define the moment.

We have known one another since birth, and played together our entire childhood.

It's been mud pies and taking turns on the swing my Dad Charlie erected in our backyard when I was six.

It's been swimming in the icy waves at La Push Beach, and chasing one another along the cool white sand.

It's been sand castles, jumping on one anothers sand castles, hikes through the forest, water battles in the rock pools, sleepovers in one another's rooms when one father or the other needed a break, or in Charlie's case, had a late shift.

Jake and I shared fun and secrets and adventures from my earliest memories.

My parents treated him like a son, and his treated me like a daughter, and it may have remained that way had we not shared the bad times, too.

The tragedies.

The year we turned twelve was the Bad Year.

First my Mom, Renae, suddenly decided her life was too small for her. She had lived here in Forks all her life, and had been happy being a cop's wife, and a housewife and a mother, but something had stirred deep inside her, and she had decided she needed a job.

Charlie had laughed, and agreed it was fine with him, not seeing where this would lead.

I, like any child used to arriving home from school to a spotless house with fresh cinnamon rolls or a gingerbread cake waiting on the kitchen table, and the sight of my Mom there to greet me and help me with my homework, and just being there to listen to the trials and tribulations of my young life; I didn't want anything to change.

"Bella, it will be fine. I'm only going to be working at Newton's store. It's just down the road."

Down what road? Not our road, that's for sure.

Okay, it was close to home, but it wasn't within walking distance close.

I wouldn't be able to visit her at the 'Outdoor and More' which wasn't even the official name, just some cute little joke between my Mom and Matthew Newton, her Boss. The rest of us called the store Newton's Olympic Outfitters, but clearly that title was for us plebs, us who were excluded from the cosy inner circle of Boss and employee.

I would be going home to an empty house.

For two whole hours, I'd be home alone.

Looking back it was surprising I hadn't relished the idea, but that was before things changed between Jacob and me.

I was still very much a spoiled and cosseted child, and all I could see was the imagined neglect and loneliness and I just didn't embrace change.

And it was bad, for a while.

I dawdled home as slowly as possible once the bus dropped me off at the end of our road, and tried to put off having to use a key to get into my own home for as long as possible.

I hated how the house felt.

To begin with, it had that stillness and silence that only happened in an empty building.

And the smell.

It not longer greeted me with the aroma of freshly baked goods.

Instead of some new from the oven steaming hot treat, there was a cheese sandwich sitting in the fridge huddled under a covering of saran cling film.

A sandwich made not with love even, but with impatience as Mom tore around trying to get everything done each weekday morning before prettying herself up and ironing her self imposed 'uniform' prior to dashing off to her oh so important job.

And in time, there's wasn't even a sandwich.

Just a harried "Bella, there's cold cuts and salad in the fridge, you can make yourself an afternoon snack, right? I just don't have time. Matthew needs me in early today…"

Matthew Newton, it seemed, after managing somehow to run that store all alone for ten years, suddenly had a desperate need for my Mom to be there almost dawn to dusk, from Monday to Friday.

But we had weekends, right?

Sure. At first.

Weekends became my salvation.

Weekends, and the knowledge they meant outings with my Mom and Dad, family time, picnics and fishing trips and extra treats now we had that extra income.

And if Charlie pulled a Saturday shift, it was just Mom and me, off to Port Angeles to do some Mother/Daughter bargain shopping, and lunch in a restaurant, and maybe a movie as well.

My wardrobe improved rapidly and I no longer blended in with the other girls. Suddenly I was one of the better dressed students, with a different outfit every day.

Just as suddenly the likes of Rosalie Hale and Alice Cullen noticed me as potentially one of their own, and they stopped to speak to me and even invited me to sit with them in break.

Suddenly they knew I existed.

And then it was tips on what clothes to choose and how to do my hair and long discussions as the two decided on what makeup would suit my pale complexion.

As flattering as their attention was, I missed my real friends, and that stage quickly passed, and luckily Jessica and Angela and Lauren didn't begrudge me my little detour, and they welcomed me back to the fold when Alice and Rose finally became impatient with me for turning up at school too many times sans face paint, and my hair hanging out loosely on my shoulders.

At first they would sigh and hustle me off to the bathroom, and play Barbie dolls as they painted and braided me into suitability, but it did get old, for all of us, and in the end I was given up as a lost cause. I'd let them down too often. I'd worn the same clothes too many times.

I'd ignored Alice's plea to buy better shoes, and Rose had taken to bringing a spare top to school with her so she could rip my poor offering off and something less offending was dragged over my head.

It had been an enjoyable enough novelty at first, and I guess somewhere deep down maybe I had always wanted to be 'one of them', one of the cool girls, but in reality the maintenance was more than I was willing to keep up.

What did make up matter in a place where you had to reapply it three, four times a day because the constant drizzle of rain washed it off, or worse still, made it run in rivulets down your face?

What did fancy braids matter when they dripped water all over your books as you sat at your desk?

What did pretty clothes matter when they were forever damp, because it was 'so uncool' to keep them dry under a raincoat?

Alice and Rose may have been happy devoting their entire lives to how they looked, but for me, it was just wasting time, and missing out on what I wanted.

I preferred listening to Angela's stories about her happy home life, where her Mom was home every afternoon, waiting to greet her. And her twin baby brothers were learning to walk and talk, and I needed a long and detailed daily update. Angela made sisterhood sound like the best thing on Earth and I regretted my lack of siblings acutely, and lived vicariously through her.

I needed to hear about which twin was first to reach which milestone, and which twin spoke the most new words, and images of my adult self with two little dark haired boys swam in my brain as they morphed from her brothers into my future sons.

I would never settle for an only child. If I became a cold and heartless Mom who needed to rush off to a meaningless, pointless pseudo 'career' then I at least wanted my poor neglected child to have a sibling to share the experience and keep him company in his misery.

Not that I would leave my children.

If a woman doesn't want to be there for her kids, then don't have them. Simple. Either they are your first concern or don't even bother. They live with you for eighteen years, you know that before you even get knocked up, so decide. Is having a baby who will turn into a child, who will turn into a teenager, more important than impressing some sleazy middle aged man who needs an ego boost by hiring some pretty woman to work alongside him the centre of your life, or not?

And I wanted to bathe in Lauren's simple happiness. She had her Mom back after a car crash nearly stole her away. Lauren rushed home not to be spoiled and babied by her Mom, but to help the woman get back to full strength, and I longed to hear the updates on how she was rehabilitating, and gaining every lost skill back a little at a time. She and her Mom were so close. They were a team. Her Mom was always there when Lauren needed her and now Lauren, without a thought, was there in her Mom's time of need. How wonderful to be needed.

And Jessica. Her Mom ran the local animal shelter and the homeless citizens charity.

Not that anyone would remain alive for long in Forks if they were homeless, but Jess and her Mom's efforts kept the small shelters running, with help from other volunteers of course.

The homeless shelter was more a B and B: provided free of charge thanks to the bake sales and sponsored walkathons, and knitting bees organised by Mrs Stanley. Anyone needing a room for a few days was welcome at her large and beautiful home that had been in her family for generations. It had many bedrooms. Jessica was forever telling us about her latest move, from one room to another when she felt she needed a change of scene outside her window. She liked to overlook the playground next door in Summer when it would be filled with the happy cries of little children, and in Winter she preferred the snowy silence of the forest that bordered the far side of their property. And in Spring she would tell us of her sightings of baby deer and rabbits, and even an occasional wolf cub.

She always had stories to tell about a new litter of kittens or puppies born in the animal shelter, that needed homes, or some unfortunate tourist who got themselves injured and needed a place to stay after the hospital released them, but they weren't quite ready to travel the inevitably long distance back home.

A stranger in town was always a source of interest.

Where had he come from, why was he here, I mean, Forks is hardly anyone's chosen holiday destination? I could only ever imagine visiting family who lived here, why would anyone who had no family here even come? If they had family, it stood to reason they'd have somewhere to stay while they recuperated.

These girls lived such full and interesting lives compared to my own.

All I had was a cold empty house and the hope of a weekend outing, and even those disappeared when Mr Newton decided he needed to keep the store open weekends and of course, Renee had to be there, because obviously the entire business would collapse and die without her.

Charlie and I were home alone, and when he worked a weekend shift, I was truly, entirely alone.

Except for Jake.

He came over whenever he could.

He did his best to keep me company, but that year was the Bad Year.

Suddenly, his Mom who had always been so healthy, just died.

One day she was fine, the next morning her husband awoke to find she had passed away in her sleep.

Jacob's Dad needed him, too, and my needs were lesser than Billy Blacks, so of course I assured Jacob that I was fine and I fully understood that he needed to be there for his Dad.

At least I had my parents here and alive.

At least we had evenings and the occasional day together when Renee didn't work Sundays.

Charlie put his foot down and declared Sundays as Swan Family Days and for a time, I was almost happy again, knowing there was one day of the week when neither of my parents worked, and I could count on them being there. I didn't even care if we didn't go anywhere, just stayed together at home watching a game on tv, or Mom and I cooking in the kitchen, freezing meals to use later in the week.

I just needed my family to be together.

Of course my Mom rebelled against Charlie's ruling, because that was just how she was now.

My precious Sundays turned from family happy days into Family Fight Day.

Charlie would refuse to let Mom rush off to help 'poor Matthew', who, gasp, had to deal with all those customers alone, and Mom would loudly inform Charlie that she was neither his child nor his property, and if she wanted to work 'every damned day of her life' she would and he could not stop her.

Before we knew it, she was gone.

Like, really gone.

Moved out.

One day she packed up everything she owned, and moved into a little house that the wonderful Matthew happened to own and not need, and that was that.

I was truly motherless.

My life had gone from perfect to bearable to shit.

Xxxxxx

Everything was changing.

Dad was changing from a happy, contented man whose only issues were coping without his wife, though he was confident she would be back.

He kept his head buried deep in the sand and deluded himself that Renee would survive her mid life crisis, wake up to herself and come home where she belonged.

I couldn't see that happening.

Whenever I saw my Mom, she was in the company of the newly separated Matthew Newton. Apparently his marriage had been crumbling for years and was really just 'name only' by the time Renee came along, but whatever the facts were, I was now the discarded daughter of 'that homewrecker' Renee Higgenbotham. Yeah, she was no longer even using her married name.

Reverting to her maiden name was the biggest red flag ever, in my eyes.

She was not only divorcing herself from my Dad but from me, Bella Swan.

The writing was on the wall and I knew without benefit of any psychic how things would pan out.

First the divorces, then the 'falling in love', and next thing I would have a stepfather.

I wasn't concerned that Mom would expect me to move in with them, I knew I had been discarded completely to make way for ner new exciting life.

Now I was the other grown up in the house, and all Mom's former duties in the kitchen and laundry and general running of the household fell to me.

Charlie was in a daze. If he wasn't at work, he was perched in front of the flat screen, distracting himself. Worse, he was often standing at the sitting room window, gazing out towards the road that lead to Newton's store, waiting for his wife to come home.

My body was changing as well, because why not add a dose of hormones to the mix?

Suddenly I had curves where none had been before.

Suddenly my blouses were taut and uncomfortable and I regretted all those tight fitting tops Renee had bought me, because they were useless to the new me.

Money was tight as well, so I didn't see any way I could bring my 'problem' to Charlie, and demand new clothes and a very necessary bra or two.

It was quickly becoming obvious, and my life was saved from a direction I never expected.

Mostly , due to the weather, I had been able to hide my dilemma under my Winter sweaters, but of course Mother Nature had to throw us a string of five hot sunny days, and I had no choice but to ditch the jacket and roll up the sweater sleeves and sweat it out while all the other girls seized the chance to wear pretty Summer tops that barely ever saw the light of day.

I noticed Rose and Alice looking at me, but I mistook their glances for scorn, not concern.

That afternoon when I got home to my empty house, my two former friends were sitting on the front doorstep, a large suitcase beside them.

My first thought was, they were packed to leave town on vacation even if it was the middle of a school term, and they'd stopped off to say Goodbye, though why they'd bother when we had hardly spoken for months now.

Instead, Rose stood up and shrugged, looking more at a space beside me than at me.

"Bella. I was doing a clothes cull and clearing a space for the new seasons fashions and it occurred to us that maybe...well, Alice suggested it."

She looked very un-Rose like. Embarrassed?

"I told her she had to think of the environment. Recycle, save the planet. Instead of throwing out her perfectly good, usable clothing, she could see if you maybe had a use for them. I know you never have time to shop now, what with everything you do at home for your Dad…"

"Thanks," I muttered. Beggars can't be choosers and anyway, this was a nice thing they were doing.

I went along with the pretence that it was only a lack of time that had prevented a much needed shopping trip, and invited them inside.

At first the whole thing was rather awkward and uncomfortable as I darted about, making tea and coffee and serving up homemade cookies that neither would touch, but Alice had never been able to sit in silence for long, and in no time we were chatting and laughing at her stories about her brother and his friends and their attempts to build a proper mancave from an old ruin on their vast property in the forest.

She made it sound like a bunch of ten year olds trying to make a clubhouse, rather than a group of tall, strong well built almost men constructing a proper dwelling, which we knew was the truth.

Edward sat beside me in Biology, and I couldn't help but notice his height had increased by a foot in the last year. His legs were so long they barely fit under the desk now. He was all arms and legs and somewhat gangly but lately that too, was changing. His body was filling out, his muscles catching up with his newly lengthened bones, and even his face had changed and matured. He used to be outright pretty, but now his jawline was sharper, and his cheeks were leaner, and his eyes…..

Those emerald eyes framed by the longest, darkest eyelashes denied to us mere females, were captivating.

I often found myself looking at him without thought. Just drinking in his handsome face, and his masculine scent that wafted across as I sat beside him.

And his fingers were suddenly so long.

Sometimes he unconsciously tapped out a tune on the edge of the desk, as if he was at home, playing his piano.

I even thought I saw a glimpse of stubble this week, when the sunlight hit his profile as he sat and stared at the board as Mr Banner droned on about asexual reproduction.

Emmett the class idiot had loudly announced he had no interest whatsoever in anything asexual and was waiting for the 'be sexual reproduction' lesson, but that was Emmett. He offered to volunteer if there was to be a physical demonstration and called on the class for more volunteers to join him, urging the girls in particular.

Edward had risen above it and kept a completely straight face while the other boys laughed and joked inappropriately until Mr Banner was forced to send Emmett out of the room and threaten the other boys with detention.

Xxxxx

Charlie woke me up on my thirteenth birthday, with a badly made cake and a card, and he asked me what I'd like as a present.

Without Renee to consult, or, let's face it, handle the whole thing, he had no clue.

What I wanted most of all was a lock on the bathroom door.

I was suddenly very aware of my need for privacy. It was new and unexpected and I had never worried before that my father or anyone else might accidentally come into the bathroom while I was in there, but now it seemed like the worst possible scenario.

Dad simply raised his eyebrows as he considered my request and it dawned on him that I was becoming a woman, and leaving childhood behind, and of course I'd change. My brain would change along with my body.

Privacy, which had never been an issue, was the new big thing.

"So, do you want a privacy lock on your bedroom as well?" he asked.

"That would be great, actually," I answered. I hadn't thought of that.

"And would you like anything else? Something more personal? A new frock, or…"

"Nope. The locks will be fine," I replied, jumping out of bed and taking the plate with the cake on it out of his hands.

"I'll have them installed by the time you get home from school, then," he promised.

"Don't forget, Jacob's coming over for dinner tonight. I've already ordered the pizzas, to be delivered at seven sharp."

Xxxxx

At first I was disappointed when I got home and saw the flashing light on the answering machine.

Of course Dad had to work an extra shift and it would be just Jake and I for dinner.

Mom had left a message as well, wishing me a happy birthday and promising to let me choose something special for myself next time we went on a shopping spree, which probably meant never.

I was so grateful for Rose and Alice's kindness, once I got over the shame of needing someone else's cast off clothing, but let's be real. The clothes Rose threw away were better than anything I could ever have afforded, and she only wore anything once, at most. Plenty of the dresses and blouses and even denim jeans still had their hangtags attached.

The bras had been the icing on the cake though.

I knew the moment I took them from the suitcase that they were newly bought, and not hand me downs at all. To start, Rose was much larger than I in the bust, and these were the from the latest Dita von Teese collection. I suspected Alice had estimated my size and bought them herself then added them to Rose's discards.

Even though we had enjoyed our little afternoon tea session, the gap had widened between us over my embarrassment of needing them to bail me with charity.

Alice would never see it that way, she was all about dressing me as well as possible regardless of how that came about, but I sensed Rose thought the whole thing had been a little tasteless and tacky.

They both came from money and while Alice seemed able to empathise what it was like for me now, Rose would never have considered wearing any garment anyone else had bought for themselves, unworn or not.

But it didn't matter. I had Angela and Lauren and Jess, and to them, I was just lucky to suddenly have so many designer outfits to wear.

It never occurred to them to even ask how that had come about.

I dressed with great care that afternoon, conflicted as to whether I wanted to emphasize my newly aquired figure or hide it away under something baggy.

In the end, fashion won and I slipped into a pair of skinny jeans, a push up bra that made the most of my new shape, and a button down blouse that showed off cleavage.

I'd just finished applying a little of the makeup from my days as a cool kid, and brushed out my long brown hair when I heard a knock at the door, and rushed downstairs, assuming Jake was as eager to see me as I was to see him, thus explaining why he was so early.

To my surprise, Mom stood there instead, the ever present Matthew at her side.

Her jaw dropped at the sight of me, and she turned and suggested Matthew wait in the car. He had not even registered her words when she walked inside, shutting the door and leaving him on the other side.

"Bella, I think it's time we had The Talk."

xxxxx

Jacob arrived a six, an hour after Mom had left, so I had sat and replayed the conversation we had had over in my head.

On one hand I was amused at how little she assumed I knew about the female human body, and that she thought it was even close to the time that I needed to know about men and what they desired, and how they'd apparently do and say anything to get their needs met.

I was thirteen, not eighteen.

This stuff, these complications of life, were still in my far distant future, surely.

I had never looked at Jake in anything but friendship and affection. Never in the lustful way Renee had warned me about.

Now I saw the world differently.

As Jake stood at the doorway waiting to be invited in, I looked at him with new eyes.

His scrawny body had changed too, I now saw. I guess I had noticed but it hadn't meant anything much. Just something to joke with him about.

I'd accused him of taking steroids and he'd admitted he was visiting the gym, and working out regularly with Emmett, which surprised me. I didn't think they were friends.

Now my eyes took in every inch of his emerging physique, and liked what it saw.

"It's kind of warm today, right." I mumbled as I led him inside.

Charlie would not be home for hours, and suddenly that seemed like a good thing, rather than a disappointment.

I had a goal in mind.

I wanted to get Jake to take off his t shirt, and get a real look at what was going on under there.

"I don't think so, it was pretty cold riding over on my bike."

"Your bike?" I said, confused.

Jake had always been driven over by his Dad, Billy, or he had run through the forest that separated the Native American Reservation from the outskirts of town, where I lived. I'd never run that distance myself, but it had never bothered Jake.

I was having trouble picturing him riding a pushbike.

He laughed.

"Oh, not a pushbike, Bella. Dad and I have been working together in the shed. Someone gave him two old motorcycles and we've managed to patch together one complete bike from their bits and pieces."

"But you aren't old enough to have a license," I replied. Always the cop's kid.

"You don't need to tell anyone, surely? I stayed off the roads, came through the path in the forest. If I crash, at worst all I'll take out is a small tree."

I shrugged. Fair enough. If he wasn't endangering anyone but himself, how could I spoil his fun? And he might come visit more often now he had wheels.

"Show me," I said excitedly.

Jake took my hand and led me outside to Charlie's mostly unused garage attached to the house.

It was more a storage shed than anything else, so he was hardly going to go inside it even if he did come home early.

"Oh my God, that's amazing," I gushed as I saw the bike for the first time, running over to it.

"Can you take me for a ride?"

"Sure. In a year or two. When I feel like I can be responsible for your life. I just learned to ride it, Bella, and I promised my Dad I wouldn't take any passengers until I have ridden for one full year without a single accident of any kind, no matter how minor. So, it's a date, but it will be a long time coming."

I reluctantly agreed and we went back inside.

"So, how many times have you stacked it so far?" I asked.

"Two or three," he shrugged. "Nothing bad. I took a bit of skin off my back the first time I rode alone, but it's pretty much healed."

I couldn't believe my luck!

"Take your shirt off and show me the scar, before it goes away," I demanded.

Jake looked surprised, but he went along with it and removed his shirt.

My eyes drank in every inch of his surprisingly already muscular frame. It promised great things to come in the future.

I took advantage and lightly ran my fingers over the raw looking patch on his back.

He shivered, and suddenly stood up, grabbing his shirt and pulling it back on.

"So, what presents did you get?" he asked, moving away so we had some space between us.

"Charlie and Mom are both letting me choose, and Gran sent me a book token and a sweater she knitted, and Jess and Lauren and Angela pooled their money gave me a bottle of perfume, smell me," I demanded.

Jake leaned in and sniffed, and wrinkled his nose.

"Whoa. Is that what you plan to smell like from now on? I liked your own Bella aroma myself. You don't smell like you any more."

"Get used to it," I huffed, disappointed. I thought I smelt great.

What would boys know?

Jake realised he had hurt my feelings, and he immediately apologised and started tickling me to lighten my mood.

I tried not to giggle but it was impossible. Jake knew all my tickle zones and took advantage. I gave as well as I got, and tickled him back.

We struggled together, writhing in one another's arms on the sofa and suddenly Jacob stopped. Still.

I looked at him in surprise, he never gave in during a tickle fight.

He gazed into my eyes and I suddenly saw the future.

The immediate future.

Jacob leaned in, and gently put his lips against mine.

Jacob kissed me.

I had been kissed by a boy.

Xxxxxx

To say that kissed changed everything is a massive understatement.

I had instantly discarded all childhood toys and habits and my whole world had rocked off its axis and realigned in a new and so much better way.

Now when Jake visited, we both just wanted to sit around somewhere private and kiss.

Charlie was surprised at my newfound interest in nature walks and hiking through the forest, but he had no idea why this exercise routine was suddenly so attractive to his daughter who usually avoided all exertion like the plague.

Suddenly I was all about the great outdoors.

He even bought me a pair of hiking boots to encourage my new hobby.

Little did he know they didn't get a lot of use, seeing we only ever walked far enough into the woods to reach our favourite kissing tree.

A larger tree had fallen years ago ,and made a comfy enough bench to sit on while we sat wrapped in one another's arms, our focus on one another, and the real world all but forgotten.

Many would think this was a recipe for disaster, and I'd end up "That Girl", the one who never made it through High School before becoming accidentally pregnant, but we were smarter than that.

We both knew even at thirteen that adult games were for adults.

Kissing was one thing but taking things any further would have to wait until I was sixteen years old.

And despite many temptations to push the envelope long before that birthday, we controlled ourselves.

If things got too heated, we left our little nest and went off to find other people to be with, too cool things down, or walked along the beach.

In time, Jake fulfilled his promise to take me on the back of his bike and that made trips to the beach much quicker, and more enjoyable than hiking through the forest with trees whose roots tried to trip me up at every step.

My sixteenth birthday had been our agreed date but in the end it came and went with us doing no more than touching and exploring one another's bodies. And we graduated High School still virgins, which would have pleased Charlie no end had he ever been game to ask.

But eighteen seemed adult, especially to us.

Jake had been working as a part time mechanic all through Senior High, and I worked along side my Mom and the annoying Matthew whom I would never forgive for breaking up my family, even though deep down I knew Renee had never done anything she didn't want to do in her entire life.

Nobody had led her on or seduced her.

If anything, she had probably instigated the whole affair.

Once again, she could only ever see the world from her point of view and how it affected her life, we others were merely players, extras, to her starring role.

So much so that it didn't occur to her for a single second that my eighteenth birthday party was not the appropriate place to announce she was moving on. Matthew, the store and Forks had become too smaller stage for her production, and she was leaving.

Alone

Off on her new adventure.

No warning, no hints, not a word to me to prepare me, her only daughter, ahead of The Big Announcement.

To be fair, I'm sure she had not clued in Matthew either; he was as shocked as I was.

And that night, when everyone had left and the balloons had started to deflate and the streamers hung limply, sadly, fluttering in the breeze, Jacob and I made love for the first time.

I needed something, someone, a new hope.

A new beginning.

Jacob picked up on that and offered everything he could.

Himself.

The next day we moved into our own place.

We ignored the advice of everyone around us, and shared a home together.

Neither of us cared about how we were apparently way too young to know our own minds, blah blah blah.

It was right for me, and it was right for Jake.

Neither of us had families anymore, not real families, and now it was time to do something about that and make our own.

We were smart enough not to rush into having babies, much as we both waited to, and longed for that day to come, but we talked about them, our future children, all the time.

Jake hoped for one of each, I was too afraid a girl would end up taking after my Mom, and so I settled on two little black haired boys who would be best friends and always have one another's backs.

We stuck to this, even when friends got pregnant and had their first babies. We basked in the complete confidence it would happen for us too, when the time was right.

I even had a scare once, when I was twenty but it proved to be some sort of imbalance of hormones and we both breathed a sigh of relief, because we had a plan and we wanted to stick to our timetable.

Jake owned a plot of land down by the beach and our goal was to save enough money to build a house on it without a mortgage. Obviously it would start out a very small house, but we could add to it as time passed.

Our current little home was above Newton's store. Matthew seemed to have a flash of conscience and decided he needed to make things up to me for being complicit in wrecking my life, so, before karma bit him in the ass, he had offered to us, rent free, for as long as we wanted.

He liked knowing he was making amends and on a practical side, he also liked knowing any burglar would think twice before breaking in, with Jacob living right above the premises.

Jake was huge by then.

He and Emmett competed against one another, and neither would become complacent, even when Emmett moved away and we only saw him on his visits back home to see his folks.

Jake had finished his apprenticeship and was a proper mechanic., and I was working with my Dad as a local cop.

It just seemed like the right thing to do.

It kept us close, and gave us time together. God knows little ever happened at Forks. We spent our days cautioning young new drivers against speeding, writing tickets when necessary and helping the odd tourist who lost his wallet or had his car broke into while he was off hiking.

Our plan was right on track. Our savings were steadily building up, and we decided to stay longer in the free apartment than we first planned because we just wanted everything to be perfect.

At this rate we could build a larger house right from the start and maybe push the baby plans up a year or two.

And, of course, we needed to have a wedding.

Jake was happy enough cohabitating but he refused to consider having a child before we were married, so that spurred me into making plans and getting my head around becoming Mrs Isabella Marie Black.

I loved the sound of that.

And before we knew it, The Big Day had arrived.

Xxxxxx

Alice Cullen arrived on time, as I knew she would. She had designed and sewn my dress, as part of her hobby in dressmaking.

Alice wasn't sure what she wanted to do yet, as a career, and was filling in time by opening a small gift shop, and doing her 'creations' as a sideline.

Her clothes were exquisite and I didn't see any reason for her to even consider any other trade, but she kept reminding me that our twenties were for trying new things and not locking oneself into anything we were not sure about being the right thing long term.

I often wondered if that was a dig at me for wanting to marry Jacob 'so young' but the heart knows what it knows and wants what it wants and anyway, I had never looked at another man, ever. This was right, for us. Maybe not for Alice, or anyone else, but Jessica had married Mike Newton and had a daughter already, I was hardly breaking the mould and doing anything outrageous.

She slipped the dress over my head and fussed about, checking my makeup again, shifting a single hair back into place and finally she announced I was ready.

"You amaze me, Bella. Not a single reservation about getting married. You look like you want to run down that aisle and get this wedding over with. It's your day. Relax. Be a little late. I've never dealt with a bride like you."

I was eager and she was right. I did want this day done.

It wasn't mystical and I had no sense of a goal achieved, even. It was the beginning.

Better things lay ahead. I knew I'd never be happy until I had the white picket fence, the baby and toddler, the husband enjoying his role as father and provider while I stayed home and nurtured my children.

Then, and only then,would the world be put to rights.

I'd have MY family.

My real family.

xxxxx

Charlie took my arm and kissed my cheek.

"I'm so happy, Bella. I have wanted this for you practically from the day you were born. I always knew Jake was the One, and you two belonged together. You have made me so proud. You will be an amazing wife, and mother in time. I couldn't have imagined a better life for you."

I kissed him back and thanked him for always being there for me.

Renee dashed in, just seconds before we were about to start the journey down the aisle.

As always she was flustered and fabulous and had some new man attached to her arm.

She waved an apology and headed inside.

Charlie just shook his head, waited a few moments longer, and then off we went, twenty steps closer to my future.

Jacob didn't turn to look as I walked down the aisle and that surprised me, as everyone else did. I smiled a little uncertainly at friends and family and held on to my Dad's arm a little tighter.

Finally he stopped and frowned as Jake still didn't turn to us.

With a shrug and a quick peck on my cheek, he let me go, and stepped back.

"Jacob," I whispered.

Finally, he did look at me.

My heart plummeted in my chest and snapped in half.

"Bella, I'm so sorry. I can't do this."