A/N: This wouldn't be possible without Athena, BeLynda, Kristina, Krystel, and Sally. Thank you! Also, to all of you that flooded my inbox with reviews, follows, and favorites...thank you! I'm not good at responding to reviews, but I read and loved every single one! One of you asked about a posting schedule. I could promise you the best schedule in the world...but I won't disappoint you like that. So...we'll have chapters when we have them. There's enough people who are in constant contact with me that will bug me about it; so they're on your side! That being said...I hope you enjoy. :)
There is a knocking sound, and it's driving me crazy. It's so relentless; and of course there's the voice that accompanies it.
"Bella boo! Open the door!" His voice is deep and there's a playful undertone to it. However, I'm still in bed and have no desire to get up. But the pounding continues, and I know he'll keep at it until I let him in.
"Don't get your panties in a bunch!" I yell as I throw the covers off and stumble to the bathroom. I quickly make it through my morning routine and head to the front door. I open it slightly to find Emmett leaning against the wall across from my apartment.
"I thought we were gonna do like the hipsters and only contact each other through the Twitter and the Instagram?" I ask as he looks up and sends me a dazzling smile.
"We were ... but we need to talk." He pushes off the wall and walks to my doorway. "You know it's just Twitter and Instagram, right?" He laughs as I move aside to let him in and shut the door. He sets the bag he's carrying down on the kitchen counter, and I snoop inside as he turns to the Keurig to make us each a cup of coffee.
I climb onto one of the bar stools I have at the counter and pull the bagels and cream cheese out of the bag. "So, what's up, Emmett?" He stares at me, inhales deeply, and lets his breath out in a quick whoosh. It makes me uncomfortable; he's never like this. In all the years we've been together, he's always blunt and to the point.
"Why are we still here?" he asks suddenly, and I see the confusion, worry, and ... anger in his eyes. I take my own deep breath; we've never really discussed this, but I have a theory, and I've been doing my research.
"Are you accusing me or asking?" I ask as I get up to get a knife for the bagels. I hear him set my coffee on the counter and mumble under his breath. "Pardon?"
"I'm not accusing you; of course, I'm not," he says as he grabs his own cup, "But three years, Bella! We've been waiting three years!" He's frustrated, and I understand. I am, too.
"I know how long it's been. I just ... I'm not sure I can say anything about it." I sigh and take a bite of my bagel. "I mean, she can hear us all the time, right?" I shrug as Emmett laughs at me.
"She's not here at the moment. As I understand, she had some business to attend to back on the mountain." Emmett says, and it occurs to me …
"Can you contact her? I mean, can you speak to Hera directly?" I'm trying not to get angry because I can easily overpower Emmett if I want to, and I might want to.
"Are you gonna hit me?" he asks with a smile. "Yes, of course, I can contact her. We're actually meeting in about a week for—"
"For our anniversary," I finish and he nods. Six days from now is the day I was thrown overboard, over 300 years ago, and it's, coincidentally, the day I washed up here in southern California three years ago. "I want to go with you."
The surprise on his face is unexpected. "That was the last thing I expected to hear. You want to meet her and what? Accuse her?"
I sighed and looked down at my half-eaten bagel. "Yes, I'm going to accuse her." I move to stand and begin to pace. "Emmett, I've been tracing all the bloodlines from that ship, my ship. They're all wiped out. I can't find traces of any of them anymore."
He stares at me but doesn't speak.
"There are deaths I can't remember. You know I've told you how I tell them who they were related to and what they did to me? It's like as soon as I get them in the water ... nothing. Complete blackout." I sit back down and push the plate away.
The centuries haven't alleviated the pain and guilt I feel after every life I take. The times I came to and realized what I had done had always shaken me to the core. Two hundred lives for the families of the men who were on that ship and killed me, and thousands of others who perished because Hera was playing me. I was certain of it.
"Is this why you started doing genealogies? You've been working on this for how long now?" Emmett asks and wakes me from my thoughts.
"Fifteen years. I've been searching for fifteen years, Emmett. Every death I remember and everyone that I can't. It's why I asked you to bring me the obituaries, and why I have a storage unit. It's full of documents, newspaper clippings, and, basically, anything to help me prove my point." I look up to him and see the pride on his face.
"You know she might just kill you for even bringing it up. Maybe something worse," he says as he takes my hands in his.
"I don't care, Emmett. Kill me or curse me further, it doesn't matter. Hera won't play me anymore."
Emmett and I make plans to get together by the end of the week to finalize our plan. I know he is right to be worried; challenging a god is dangerous, but I was determined. I was tired of being stuck in this immortal limbo and being used as a pawn.
What I hadn't told Emmett was I'd been feeling twinges of my trigger for months now. I couldn't pinpoint where he was, but he had to be close. I'd be out somewhere and feel it, and then I would search the area trying to feel it again, but I always turned up empty-handed. Even when I took a life that I couldn't remember, I felt the trigger, so I was hesitant to focus this time. I wasn't sure if it was one of mine or if it was Hera's doing.
Until I get that figured it out, it will be business as usual.
Which is great since I have a consultation this afternoon, and it will serve as a great distraction. This particular client had wanted to meet about six months ago, but for a multitude of reasons, we each had to keep rescheduling. Today, we finally get to meet, and I am especially excited because he had mentioned his family originated in Ireland very near where I was born.
I often met people and worked on genealogies for them, only to have found that their ancestors were from Ireland, but they came from much more populated areas, or I couldn't trace as far back due to lack of records or dead ends.
This potential client of mine is something of a mystery to me. He doesn't seem to have any social media accounts, or he has his privacy settings set up up to make him invisible. Either way, it is interesting.
I set off down the street to the coffee shop where we were to meet. It is a beautiful day, and I am reveling in the sunshine when I hear my phone chirp from inside my bag. I retrieve it to find a text from my client.
I'm here already! Can I get you something to drink?
I sent my assurances that I will be there in a few moments and I'd love a black tea. I stash my phone, and a few blocks later, I am walking into a cute shop very close to the beach. I live in the area, just a few blocks from the water, and choose to stay as close as possible.
Taking a glance around, I suddenly realize I have no idea what this guy looks like; I only have his name. There is a twosome to my left who are very wrapped up in each other. There is a woman at the counter who is being extremely rude by continuing to talk on her phone while ordering. I roll my eyes and saw a lone man sitting toward the back with a laptop open in front of him.
I walk over, and when he looks up, I smile. "Hi, I'm Isabella." I see the confusion as soon as the words leave my mouth. After a quick apology, I turn around and feel at a loss. That's when I notice a man sitting outside under an umbrella.
I walk outside and stop short in my tracks. This has to be the single most attractive man I've ever laid eyes on. He has fair skin that seems to be tinted pink, probably from spending too much time in the sun without sunscreen. He is wearing khaki shorts and a blue shirt that is taut across his chest. He seems to be a slender man, but has muscle stashed away. I can't gauge his height since he is sitting, but I estimate him to tower over me, based on his long legs. His hair has caught the sun and is unnaturally bronze or copper; it isn't brown or red or even auburn, but a strange combination of all of them.
What really gets me is his smile—broad and directed at nothing in particular. It is accentuated by his incredibly high cheekbones, strong jawline, and a straight nose. The amalgam of it all causes a reaction in me that I have never experienced before.
I'm suddenly terribly nervous, with slightly damp palms that I rub on my jeans. There is something incredibly familiar about him, but I know I'd never met him before. I'm so anxious to find out if he is the client I am supposed to meet. No man, or woman for that matter, has ever had an effect on me like this; I need to know him.
He looked up at me suddenly, and his smile widens. "Isabella?" he asks as he stands, and I walk toward the table. I can feel the heat in my face, and I can't tell if it is from the sun or my blush. I reach out to shake his hand.
"Please, call me Bella," I say as he grasps my hand ... and then I felt it.
That familiar twinge in my gut ... or is it butterflies at having made contact with him? Is it the clench in my belly and sting in my heart that signals my target? Or am I just experiencing a biological attraction for the first time?
He grips my hand a little tighter. "I'm Edward Cullen."