A/N: Hello everyone, and thank you all so much for giving my new story a try. I know it's taken me a long while to get this out, but for the first time, I managed to pre-write a story before I start posting. A very special thanks goes out to the ladies from The Lemonade Stand who honored me by choosing to feature It Takes a Village in their last sneak peek. If you're interested in some background information about this story, copy the following link into your browser and delete the spaces:
tehlemonadestand . blogspot .de/2017/10 / ?zx = ac732e7a81d90f05
I don't want to continue babbling for long, but I have to tell you I wouldn't have been able to get this story to you without the help of my team: LaPumuckl, NKubie, and last but absolutely not least, the wonderful Midnight Cougar. Ladies, I want you to know I feel blessed to have you by my side. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into making my plot reasonable and my words shine.
Just to you know, this story will be solely told from Edward's point of view. Enjoy.
Now, I don't own Twilight …
It Takes a Village – Chapter 1
Today was the first day of my new life. I was on my way to start a new job in a new town, and I couldn't wait to get settled in.
Born and raised in Seattle, I studied medicine at U-Dub, then completed my residency at Seattle Children's Hospital. After four years as an attending pediatric physician, I was ready to say goodbye to night shifts and weekend duty.
My last long-term relationship ended in spring when Jane, my girlfriend of four years, decided to move to the East Coast to further her career in journalism. Even though I'd made a few tentative job inquiries at a hospital out there, I wasn't too serious about going with her, and she didn't ask me to either. We split amicably and went our separate ways.
So, about a month later, when my uncle Carlisle called me with a job offer, I jumped at the chance without a second thought. He lived near the little town of Forks on the Olympic Peninsula, and worked as an OBGYN at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles.
Dr. Gerandy, an old friend of his, was looking for a junior partner to take over his pediatric practice eventually. After only an hour of talk and some minor negotiations, we closed the deal. Tom was exactly the type of doctor I aimed to become: attentive, thorough, and well-liked by his little patients. Apparently, he saw something in me that made him call off all other interviews, and instead, urged me to start as soon as I signed the papers and got out of my contract in Seattle.
I'd never been so eager to start something different in my life. Even the idea of leaving the big city to move to a small town held more excitement than regret for me at that point. Sure, I was leaving friends and family, but they'd only be a couple hours' drive away, and I could visit them any time. I'd always been close to Carlisle, his wife, Esme, and their son, Emmett, so I wouldn't mind living closer to them. For now, I was staying at their big house about an hour from Port Angeles, but this afternoon, after my first day of work, I had an appointment with a realtor to look at available properties. However, I wasn't in a hurry to buy, and totally fine to commute each morning until I found the perfect house for me.
On one of my earlier visits to the practice, I'd spotted a quaint coffee shop just around the corner. Since I was still early, and used to bringing my own coffee into work, I made a little detour instead of going straight to the office.
At eight in the morning, the shop was busy, but not overly crowded. There were a couple tables occupied by patrons reading newspapers or playing on their phones. Unlike the long lines I was used to in Seattle, there was only one woman at the counter waiting for her order to be ready.
Since I had nothing better to do, I took a closer look. Her back was turned to me, long, dark waves reaching down to some inches below her shoulder blades. She was rather short, probably around five foot two or three, with exactly the right amount of curves, accentuated by a pair of skinny blue jeans.
Even though she wasn't speaking, it was obvious she was on the phone, her right arm bent at the elbow and her head nodding.
"Yeah, sure. We could do that."
Her voice was a bit deeper than I expected, and I was curious to catch a glimpse of her face. Nodding again, her left hand came up so she could look at her watch.
"I guess I'll be home in twenty minutes. Send me an email, and I'll let you know what I think."
With a bigger nod, she accepted her coffee to go from the woman behind the counter, handed her a bill, then turned around to leave. Finally, I was able to gaze at her face — and I couldn't look away. Her skin was almost translucent in its fairness, her cheeks tinted by a slight blush, but her most prominent feature was the biggest pair of deep brown eyes I'd ever seen. She was a vision. Not done up in any way, but the ideal girl next-door type.
I couldn't pull my eyes away as she came toward me, her phone still held to her ear. For the very short moment her gaze met mine, I felt as though time had stopped. She flashed me a quick, little smile as she walked past me. I'd been waiting at a respectable distance, but when she passed, a scent of strawberries and freesia hit my nostrils, making my mouth water and my eyes close to relish it and stash away the memory.
"Good morning, sir, how can I help you?" The barista caught my attention, breaking my trance.
Shaking off the spell I was under, I stepped forward. "Hi, I'd like a tall, black coffee to go, please."
I spent my day organizing my new office, calling insurances and authorities, and going over office details with the nurses and the secretary, as well as Tom. Even though I'd only ever worked in a hospital, I had a clear idea of how I wanted my practice to run, and I had Tom's complete support.
Every so often, my mind went back to the beauty from the coffee shop, wondering who she was, or if I'd ever see her again. I wasn't looking for a quick hook-up, and the timing to start a relationship wasn't the best, but seeing her that morning, elicited something in me I hadn't known before. Yet, she was a stranger, maybe not even from around town, and I'd do best to forget her.
Since I wasn't going to start seeing patients until the next week, I left the office at four to meet with my real estate agent. We'd talked on the phone a few times, and as it turned out, Heidi Simmons was a busty blonde, oozing confidence and sex appeal, but her selections to show me left a lot to be desired. After a small condo, a loft, and a little bungalow, I stopped the viewings, to specify what I was looking for in a home.
"Heidi, thanks for your effort, but I don't think we're getting anywhere here. What you're showing me are variations of bachelor pads. What I want, though, is a home in a nice neighborhood. A house, maybe two or three bedrooms with a backyard and a place to put a barbecue grill."
Heidi put one hand on her hip and jutted out the opposite one by smirking at me salaciously.
"A family home then. Well, Dr. Cullen, I'm sure the ladies are flocking to you, but don't you want to play the field a bit first? I think you're too young and way too attractive to settle down already."
I'd been called attractive in the past, but at thirty-two, I was far from too young to settle down. I wasn't necessarily looking for a wife, but my future was here in Port Angeles, so why not buy a house that would work for me in the long run? Thanks to my grandparents, who had left their rather substantial estate to all their grandchildren in equal parts, I wasn't on a tight budget.
The realtor's flirtation grated on my nerves, and I wanted nothing more than to leave and start the drive back toward Forks. Heidi was a beautiful woman, but in her obviousness, she wasn't my type. However, she was friendly and had come highly recommended, so I reiterated what I was looking for, then shook her hand and left.
After a restless night, I arrived in town a bit earlier than the previous day, making good use of the time by walking to the coffee shop. I knew I was being silly, but I had the faint hope of running into my brunette beauty for a second time.
There was a line of two people waiting at the counter, but to my disappointment, she wasn't one of them. Scratching the back of my neck and snorting at my absurdity, I looked around, noticing most of the patrons were the same as yesterday.
We stepped forward as the line moved, and when the doorbell rang, someone took position behind me. The middle-aged man in front of me turned, smiling at whoever came in.
"Hi, Bella. I haven't seen you or your dad in a while. How's he doing?"
Bored, I was about to take out my phone and read my email, when the melodic voice, that had resounded in my dreams last night, made me pause and look up.
"Hi, Mr. Marks. Charlie's fine. He's doing his best to lower the crime rate of Forks from zero point one to non-existent."
Bella, as it appeared my beauty's name was, giggled. I peeked over my shoulder to gaze at her heart-shaped face, framed by her dark curls that hung loose around her shoulders. She was dressed in Capri jeans, white sneakers, and a blue polo shirt that complemented her pale skin perfectly.
She must have noticed me looking because her big, brown eyes shifted to mine for a second, her mouth curving up into a quick smile, then she refocused on Mr. Marks.
"Good old Chief. Maybe I should give him a call and set up a fishing trip," he said, accepting his coffee and moving to stand beside Bella.
I placed my order for a tall, black coffee and tried not to be too obvious in my frequent staring. Much too soon, the barista set down my paper cup, and after paying, I turned to leave, smiling and nodding at Bella in passing. I might have imagined it, but I felt her eyes on me until the door closed behind me.
The rest of the day went pretty much like the previous one until I left the office to meet with Heidi. The houses she had to show me were much better matches than the ones we'd viewed the day prior, yet the first two didn't have the right feel to them. Not so for the third one, though.
As I turned into the quiet residential street, I saw children walking dogs, men mowing lawns, and women standing in groups, chatting and laughing. Without even knowing what house Heidi would show me, I instantly knew this was what I'd been looking for. Her red BMW came to a stop in front of a modest but not too small, white, two-story house. The front lawn was confined by a green picket fence, the garage attached to the house had room for two cars, and on the front porch hung a swing that sat at least two people comfortably.
Heidi babbled about floor space, plot area, and years of construction and renovations as she led me inside, but everything I saw was a home. Jane had taken most of our joint furniture, and what she didn't take, I sold. However, I could picture the colors I wanted on the walls, the sofa I'd watch football on, and some day, kids running around, chasing each other.
The house had four medium-sized bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, an office, and a good-sized family room, and even before she'd told me the price, I'd already decided to make an offer. Heidi let me know the owners were looking for a quick sell, and since she knew I wanted to move sooner rather than later, she promised to work something out to speed things up.
An hour later, with a spring in my step, I walked to my car and made my way back to Forks.
The next day was Saturday, and while the practice wasn't open on the weekend, I had several things to do in preparation for seeing my first patients on Monday. Having shared a nice breakfast with Carlisle and Esme, I was a bit later heading for my coffee shop. Since it was the weekend, I felt chances of running into my brown-eyed beauty were low. Therefore, I was surprised to find none other than Bella waiting at the counter in front of me.
Her lips curled up into a smile as she spotted me walking toward her. "Either you're stalking me, or you're new to Port Angeles and your schedule miraculously lines up with mine."
Her words were mocking, but it was obvious she was curious.
"Well, I just moved here, but stalking you is a very intriguing idea, Bella." I threw in her name for good measure, and it seemed to have an effect on her.
She narrowed her eyes at me, then shrugged. "You have me at a disadvantage here. Apparently, you know my name while I have no idea what to call you."
Grinning, I reached out my hand, taking her soft palm in mine. "Hi, Bella, I'm Edward. It's very nice to meet you."
I had to force myself to let go, since touching her, if only innocently, felt perfect. Then, when she lifted her left hand to brush a lock of hair behind her ear, I was rewarded with the discovery of a bare ring finger. As I did a mental high-five, Bella was called by the barista and took two big cafe lattes from her, muttering a, "Thank you."
Before I addressed the woman behind the counter, I motioned toward the two glasses. "You're quite thirsty this morning, I take it."
A delightful giggle escaped her lips. "Even though I could easily drink both, I'm having coffee with a friend." She waved to a dark-haired woman with fashionable glasses sitting at a table in the corner, then turned back to me. "Have a great weekend, Edward. I guess I'll see you Monday."
With another bright smile, she made her way over to her friend, and I ordered my usual. On my way out a couple minutes later, I gazed over at Bella and her friend, but they appeared to be deep in conversation.
Monday couldn't come fast enough.
Once at the office, I had a difficult time getting Bella and our short exchange out of my head. For a few hours, I prepared for my actual start on Monday, but I couldn't fully concentrate. My mind kept going back to the way her eyes sparkled when she laughed, how sweet her giggles sounded, and how soft her hand felt in mine.
When shortly after noon, my phone rang and Heidi congratulated me on my accepted offer on the house, I packed my things and made my way to my temporary home. During the drive, I called up my cousin Emmett to ask if he wanted to go for a beer to celebrate with me.
When I was younger, I used to spend most of my school breaks with Carlisle and Esme, and Emmett was my best friend. We were the same age, climbed trees, went fishing in the creek close to their house, and later, played video games through many a night. As we grew older, we remained close, but my visits became less frequent once I started high school.
Emmett joined me for college in Seattle, but after graduating, moved back home to start his own business as a contractor. He reconnected with his former girlfriend from high school, and five years ago, they got married. Now, they were parents of a four-year-old little girl and a baby boy not yet one.
They were the typical, all-American family, and lately I'd started to envy Emmett his predictable life. He was happy with everything he had and enjoyed spending time with his wife and kids. However, he never turned me down for a glass of beer or a golf match when I happened to ask.
"So, how's small town life treating you, Ed? You ready to run back to the big city?" Emmett chuckled, later that night, after clinking his beer to mine.
"As of now, I'm not even living in a small town, but out in the woods with your folks." I took my first sip and let the bitter liquid trickle down my throat.
Emmett laughed out loud. "Did Mom put you in your old room with the Star Wars posters and Yoda bedspread? Damn, I guess you're eager to get out of there."
I threw him a narrowed gaze. "She remodeled it a while ago. But I won't be staying there for much longer. I made an offer on a house, and it was accepted today. I'll be a home owner soon." I couldn't stop smiling, imagining myself living in my new house.
"Shit, Ed, congratulations. Now, you just need to find the right girl to start breeding little Cullens, like I am."
Something on my face made him stop chuckling. "Spill!"
"Spill what?" I replied, playing dumb.
"You met someone, haven't you? You never looked like that when we talked about Plain Jane."
Emmett and Jane tolerated each other at best, but never got along well. That was half the reason why Em and I grew apart the past several years. I was set on changing that, though. He was the only one, besides my friend, Jasper, in Seattle, who I'd consider telling about Bella.
"I did. She's perfect."
"Oh, Eddie, seems you're a goner for this girl. Tell me, who is she? Where did you meet? Maybe I know her?" Emmett sounded excited like a little girl.
I decided to give him something, but considering it was early on and maybe wouldn't go anywhere, I didn't tell him the whole story.
Taking a big gulp of my beer, I let him in. "I met her at the coffee shop close to the practice. She's beautiful, witty, and sweet. I've only talked to her once, but I'll see her again Monday morning. If things continue okay, I'll ask her out soon."
Emmett listened quietly, his smile getting wider with each one of my words. "What's her name?"
I sighed. I wasn't willing to divulge that information, yet. Port Angeles was a small town, and Emmett did a lot of jobs around there, so it was likely he'd know Bella. For the time being, I wanted to let things progress naturally without any outside interference.
"That's my secret — for now. You'll find out soon enough, I hope."
Em wasn't happy, but let it go, and for the rest of the evening, we drank, shared stories from our youth, and talked about Rose, the kids, and my new house. It was like old times, and living so close now, I planned to have a lot more nights like that.
At midnight, we said goodbye. Emmett went home to give the baby his nightly bottle, and I went to my temporary bed, dreaming about chocolate eyes and mahogany hair.
A/N: So, what do you think? He likes her, looks as though she likes him, too. Seems like the story will be over soon then. Or not? What do you think could get in the way?
If anyone is wondering where the teaser from TLS fits into this, that one was taken from chapter 2.
For now, I'll be updating Tuesdays (I know today is Wednesday, but I didn't want to start posting on Halloween). To tide you over 'til next week, here's a little sneak peek for chapter 2:
… Then I looked past the little girl, and my eyes widened in shock when I recognized the woman entering behind her. …
Now what's going on here? What little girl and who could that woman be? Let me know what you think here or on Facebook in my group Payton79's Fanfiction. As always, I'll be posting teasers there as well as photos that are relevant to the story.
CU next week.