AN: This was my entry for the Secrets and Lies Contest. It was my first contest and I enjoyed writing for it. A big "Thank You" to the wonderful ladies who worked so hard on the contest, your efforts were certainly appreciated. I decided I would keep my own little "secret" and not reveal who the other characters were. LOL. There are three more chapters and they will post in the next few days. Thank you to Ipsita for the wonderful banner and the lovely review. Bellebiter whipped it into shape, but all mistakes are mine. Thank you for reading. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Every past used to be a future… once upon a time."
A Fairy Tale Beginning
Once upon a time, a boy loved Bella Swan.
Fair of skin, with a nose and cheeks liberally sprinkled by freckles from days spent playing outdoors, he had a lopsided, goofy grin that showcased his missing two front teeth – and a riotous mop of curly hair so abundant with cowlicks that his mother despaired of ever taming its boyish exuberance. He had two parents who loved him, and two sets of grandparents who doted upon him. Although he could easily have been self-centered, spoiled and selfish, he wasn't.
He was a good little boy.
In kindergarten, he shared his toys willingly, and always waited patiently for his turn on the swings. He sat quietly in circle time, and listened while the teacher read to them; he helped pass out the paper and pencils when it was work time. He and Bella sat at the same table; and once, when she cried over her broken green crayon, he had given his to her because it was her favorite color, and because she was his friend.
Bella Swan was the little girl who lived down the street. The one his mother sometimes took care of when her father – a real policeman, who drove a car with flashing lights on the top, and who had a badge and a gun – could not find another babysitter. She was the girl who did not have a mother, because hers had left and gone away.
His mother had explained all this to him when he couldn't understand why Bella lived only with her father. She had asked him to be nice to Bella, but she didn't have to ask that of him – because he was a good boy, and because she was his friend. And even though his mind was young and he did not understand all his feelings yet, his heart felt itself pull towards her.
It might take years for feelings to catch up with knowing; but one day, the good little boy would love Bella Swan.
He grew into a kind-hearted youngster.
In elementary school, he never picked on kids smaller than him, or pushed his way to the front of the cafeteria line. He completed all his homework, and never even thought about cheating on his tests.
His parents taught him to always be polite, so he said, "Ma'am" and "Sir" to the adults who spoke to him. One Saturday a month, he helped old Mrs. Cope with her grocery shopping, carrying her bags into her house and unpacking them into the cupboards and refrigerator for her. Another Saturday was spent at the city animal shelter, cleaning the enclosures and playing with the animals waiting for a new home.
Long summer days meant playing ball at the park, swimming at the pool, or picnicking at the beach. Evenings were spent playing hide-and-seek or tag, while parents sat on front porches – drinking beer and sodas, discussing politics and the latest town gossip.
Other times, his gang of friends would see how many fireflies they could capture in a quart jar. Then, after everyone had gone home for the night, he always let the insects go free; he could not bring himself to leave them to die in an airless prison.
He never threw rocks, like some of the other boys did, at the stray dogs that sometimes appeared on the street. But once, he did sock Tyler Crowley in the nose – as hard as he could – when he found out he'd tied a firecracker to a kitten's tail.
Bella Swan was still his friend, one of many that he had; yet somehow she was always a bit more special than all the other girls, who were also his friends. And even though she was told over and over that she was welcome to come anytime, gradually Bella began spending less and less time at his house than she had in the past.
In the fifth grade, she announced that she was too old for a sitter – and began staying by herself, after school and during the summer, when her dad was at work. "Besides," she had explained, "I have housework, chores and cooking to keep me busy."
But he noticed that sometimes she looked very sad, and his heart would actually hurt for the lonely girl who lived down the street.
He matured into a thoughtful adolescent.
Puberty was unusually kind to him. He skipped the awkward phase of big feet, knobby knees, and sharp elbows – filling out, instead, at a steady pace to match his height. Perhaps it was the hours spent mowing yards, or doing odd jobs for anyone who would hire him; or perhaps it was the part-time job at the car wash, vacuuming and drying the cars that came through… smiling at all the elderly ladies who tipped him, and told him he had a cute smile; or maybe it was simply the sports he participated in during the school year.
Whatever the reason, he began to lose the round softness of his childhood and add the muscles of a teenage youth. He was spared the indignity of acne, but not that of braces; and it was those braces on his teeth that suddenly, ultimately led to a whole new focus in his life.
He was fourteen, and hanging out with his friends in Tyler's basement.
As the evening wore on, more and more of his classmates had shown up, until the gathering had turned into a real party. Tyler's parents sent down popcorn and sodas, chips and snacks. The music was loud, the lights were low, and everyone was dancing, laughing, jumping around, having a good time. He had just been twirling Lauren in a wild, exuberant spin when he happened to look up… and see Bella standing on the stairs, watching him.
Her long, dark hair was pulled up into a high ponytail, and little wisps of curls framed her face. Her cheeks were flushed from the heat of the room, and her lips were pink and shiny with gloss. The sundress she wore was new, and left most of her shoulders and arms bare. As his eyes traveled down, he could see shiny pink polish on her toenails in the sandals that she wore.
In that moment, he thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He forgot all about dancing with Lauren, as he slowly let go of her hands and made his way towards the girl who was smiling shyly at him.
By the time he reached her, she was standing on the bottom step of the basement stairs, which made her almost his same height.
Later, he would wonder what had come over him; but in that single, instantaneous, momentous, hold-your-breath standstill of time, all he could see were her soft, pink lips, and all he could think about was how much he wanted to touch them. His arm slid around her waist – and when he pulled her towards him, he tipped his head, and placed his lips on hers.
Surprised, she stiffened for a moment – then leaned in against him, and returned the kiss. It was over in seconds; but it was their first kiss, the first kiss for both of them. Bella drew back and smiled at him, and he knew he wanted to try that again.
She nervously stepped down off the stairs, and let him lead her down the hallway towards a dark corner, where there was a little more privacy. The second kiss was longer, although a bit awkward… as they both tilted their heads in the same direction, before bumping noses.
They drew apart, laughing, before trying it a third time.
This time, he pushed her gently against the wall behind her. She wrapped her arms around his waist, before pulling him closer. The feel of her body pressed against him was almost more than he could endure, and he gasped just as she pressed her lips against his open mouth.
Somehow, though, her lip caught against the metal on his teeth… and then tender flesh tore, exactly at the moment when they both drew back in surprise.
Her cry of pain – and the sudden appearance of blood on her lips, caused them both to stumble. Soon, they were a tangle of flailing adolescent limbs and pride-crushing awkwardness that quickly ended in a bone-jarring crash onto the concrete basement floor.
His cry for help brought their friends running to their aid. He was fine; but Bella Swan was not.
In quick order, an ambulance was called; Chief Swan was notified; and his parents arrived to take him home. But when they came to take her, he demanded to be allowed to ride in the ambulance – screaming and begging when anyone tried to make him release the delicate hand he was gripping.
Finally, her father put him in the front seat of his cruiser, and they led the way to the hospital – lights flashing, siren screaming.
He paced the waiting room, while Chief Swan sat silently in his plastic chair. Both of them waiting for the doctors and nurses to finally let them know that she had a severe concussion and a broken leg, but that she would be fine.
She spent over a week in the hospital recovering, and he spent every moment that he could beside her bed: holding her hand and talking about the future; telling her silly knock-knock jokes, just to make her smile; helping complete her homework.
He watched while she slept, and wondered what sad memories made her frown and whimper in her dreams. He studied her pale face and clear skin, the thick brown lashes framing the dark circles beneath her eyes, and – when he allowed himself – he glanced at the hint of feminine curves hidden beneath the hospital sheets. He remembered the feel of her soft lips on his, and he knew he wanted to be the only boy she ever kissed, just as she would be his only girl.
He watched, and he thought, and he finally let his mind accept what his heart had known for years: he loved Bella Swan.
And because he realized just how much the lonely little girl who lived down the street meant to him, he began to make plans. He might have been only fourteen, but he knew he was capable of thinking ahead; and with a resolve that made him take a deep breath and sit up a little straighter as he looked over her dozing form, he grew determined to start making plans for their future.
He became a very focused young man. The next four years passed almost exactly as he had planned.
Seeing Bella helpless on the floor in Tyler's basement – then watching the nurses and doctors care for her in the hospital, before eventually begging his mother to let Bella stay at their house when it became obvious that Charles Swan wasn't spending anytime at home while she recuperated – he determined that he could… that he should… become a doctor.
He wanted to be able to care for her and any future family himself, if something should ever happen to them. Being a doctor also meant he would have a good career that paid well, and that he could provide for his wife and the children he already hoped for them to have.
His parents were happy with his decision.
They were a solid, middle-class family with a comfortable living; yet he knew trying to send him to medical school would be a huge financial burden.
So he worked. He took every odd job he could find: mowing lawns, cleaning pools, washing cars, walking dogs; even babysitting.
When he was finally old enough, he went to work at a real job in the supermarket – stocking shelves, bagging groceries, and taking a turn at the register. His parents and grandparents gave him money for Christmas and birthdays; every cent he made went into his college fund.
Each week when he deposited the money he earned, he smiled with pleasure and quiet satisfaction, as the balance grew and grew.
Working left little time for anything else besides school. He gave up the sports he loved, so he could focus on his studies. Learning had never been overly easy for him; but he made up for his shortcomings by sheer determination and hard work. He concentrated on his science and biology classes, and let Bella help him with their English and literature courses.
Bella thought his plans sounded wonderful. The lonely little girl had become a shy adolescent, who now allowed herself to welcome his attention.
She soon learned to love his parents, too. His mother had taken her under her wing, guiding her through puberty and becoming the loving mother Bella so desperately craved. His father filled the paternal role that was missing in her life, with a strong but caring presence that made her feel secure and accepted.
Any future that meant being part of a genuine, normal family seemed like a worthy goal to Bella. Perhaps this could be the opportunity to prove to her father that she wasn't the inconsistent, deceitful woman he claimed her mother had been. Perhaps this was her chance to fit in naturally somewhere, and she would belong – in her own way, as herself – for who she could be to them.
So, Bella Swan accepted her boy's plans, and soon worked as hard as he did.
She found a job at the library, shelving books after school and on Saturdays. On Sundays, she waited tables at the local diner. Nights were spent studying or babysitting; summers were more hours at the library, and more shifts at the diner… and babysitting, and housecleaning, and every odd job that someone would pay her to do. The money went into the bank and she, too, smiled as the balance grew.
After some discussion, he decided she should be a teacher.
There were all kinds of good reasons for this choice; one of which was that she could just stay put and enroll in the local college, where she'd be able to take her basic course requirements, many of them offered on-line, at a very reasonable tuition. Another was that she would be ready to get a full-time teaching job and support them both when it was time for him to start his internship and residency.
Their plans were good plans: safe, dependable, sensible, and exactly what he wanted.
The kissing continued. They were sixteen before he touched her breasts; seventeen before he let them use mouths, fingers, and hands to share pleasure; and eighteen before they gave their virginity to each other on Prom Night. And they were careful… very, very careful. She was on the pill, even while he always used a condom. Having children was something they both wanted, of course – but it wasn't in the plans for a long, long time.
The determined young man seamlessly turned into a dedicated college student.
There were no drunken frat parties for him; he studied, worked, and came home almost every weekend to see his girl.
There was no college experience for her; she took classes on-line or at night, worked full-time at the library, and waited tables on Sundays.
She spent Saturday nights in his arms – loving him desperately, frantically, madly; searching for something, anything, to stop the deep, creeping sense of inevitability and despair that was gradually spreading within her.
Because Bella Swan had a secret.
It rode into town one sleepy Sunday afternoon on a machine of black and chrome, of loud mufflers and noisy pipes. It strode into the diner in worn leather and heavy boots, inked arms and long, coal-black hair. She approached his table hesitantly, cautiously.
When he turned to look at her, she was caught in a web of defined muscles, scrolling tattoos, and bronzed skin. Scruff lightly outlined his sharp jaw, with long lashes framing his dark, piercing eyes. He had big hands, strong thighs, and a t-shirt stretched taut across a broad chest. He smelled of the open road, of the outdoors, of adventure… of room to breathe.
He seemed like some kind of freedom.
She stood staring, pencil poised to take his order, as gut-twisting desire suddenly bloomed within her. A longing for something – a something so visceral she could not name or comprehend it – clutched her very core.
Unable to speak or move, she felt her nipples harden and her heart race. She shifted uncomfortably, hoping he would not notice; but he did. Full lips quirked in a knowing smile… and then a soft chuckle, when she flushed bright red. His voice was deep, and seemed to almost rumble in his chest when he ordered his hamburger, coffee and pie. She fled into the kitchen, trembling and confused.
She tried to forget him; tried to forget his tall, muscular body, and the avenging angel face. But at night… in her lonely, single bed… in her childhood room, in her father's house… where at twenty years old she still lived, because it was part of the plan… Bella burned.
She tortured her needy flesh, first with her fingers, and then with a vibrator she'd kept hidden in her room that left her shuddering and screaming into her pillow… and wanting more. Always more.
She turned away when she saw him riding through town; didn't look at him when he came to the diner. But he was impossible to ignore.
When he began to show up at the library to use the internet computers, or read the magazines they subscribed to; when he started conversations about the books he loved, or whispered sordid details of all the things he wanted to do to her…
She knew it was only a matter of time before she surrendered completely.
So, one Sunday morning – when her tip came wrapped around a note, with a time and a place written on it – she nodded her head… and he left with a satisfied smile.
There were bruises on her arms, and scruff burns on her inner thighs. Her lips were red and swollen, and her legs trembled with exhaustion when she headed out a strange door, hours later. Her hands began shaking even before she left him, and she dropped her keys when she tried to start her car.
She promised herself she would not go back.
But her dreams were haunted, and her body addicted to the overwhelming pleasure. So – like a junkie needing a fix, or perhaps a prisoner looking for an escape – she went back three days later. And then, again… and again… and again.
He left town the same way he had arrived: on a machine of black and chrome, in a roar of loud pipes and echoing rumbles.
One glance and a smile, along with his name, was all she was given, nothing else; but even that was almost more than her guilty mind could handle.
Driven by her uneasy conscience – and the knowledge of what she now knew she was capable of doing – Bella went straight back to loving her college boy, straight back to her work and classes, straight back to the plans he had so carefully crafted. She chastised herself over and over for her weakness, and vowed that she would once again be worthy of the young man who had loved and cared for her all her life.
If she cried sometimes, late at night, she told herself it was because she had been wanton, unfaithful, and bad – just like her father said her mother had been – and not because she felt trapped, and isolated, and lonely.
Six weeks later, a positive pregnancy test changed everything.
For one brief moment, she considered ending it; but she couldn't do that to her young man or to his family she still loved. She refused to let herself consider that the baby might have a different father. That person was gone, forgotten; buried away in memories that were never to be remembered, for everyone's sake.
She cried in his arms when she told him, and apologized for ruining his plans; but he shushed her, wiping her tears away, and reassuring her that he wanted their baby, and that plans could always be modified and changed. He knew they had not been careful lately; he had stopped using condoms months ago, and he understood that the pill wasn't always effective.
It wasn't only her fault.
They got married immediately.
He wanted his child born with his name, and he wanted to be present for every moment of her pregnancy. They moved into a small one-bedroom apartment near the university he attended, and they tried to carry on with their lives and their plans.
Bella's pregnancy was difficult. She was sick, and lost weight; there was spotting, and swelling, and bed rest. She couldn't work or take classes. He tried to keep up with his studies, but worried about her constantly.
Their savings began to dwindle.
The delivery was even harder. After hours of labor, the doctor decided to perform an emergency caesarean when it became obvious that both Bella and the baby were at risk. The hospital stay was longer than normal, as complications seemed to multiply. Eventually, he quit going to classes so he could take care of them full-time when they were finally released.
With their savings almost gone, they made the decision to move back to their small hometown, and into a garage apartment at one of his grandparents' homes. He found a job as an EMT with the ambulance service, and stocked shelves at the market for extra cash. He spent the rest of his time caring for Bella and his son during their slow convalescence.
The dedicated college student matured into a supportive husband and father.
They named their son Riley, and he was his father's pride and joy. He was doted upon by his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Even the quiet, reserved Charles Swan could sometimes be caught crawling around on the floor, playing with his grandson.
Riley overcame his rough start, growing into a robust, energetic little boy.
He loved playing outdoors, and his skin would turn a golden brown after only a few hours in the sun. As he grew older, his eyes lost their newborn-blue, darkening into a chocolate brown; and his hair, although lightened somewhat by the sun, was almost black.
Bella watched and worried as her son matured, hoping his loving family would turn a blind eye to his physical differences.
There were whispers, of course, and strange looks when his fair-skinned and light-haired father took Riley to his elementary soccer games. She gave excuses, deflected questions, and made up stories about an Italian ancestor; but it was not enough.
One day, while they were at Riley's soccer practice, she caught her father studying her son closely. He suddenly turned towards her – with a look of such disgust on his face that she realized he had figured out her secret.
Charles Swan gradually quit visiting after that.
Riley was ten when he had a serious bicycle accident while trying to pop a wheelie on a steep downhill dirt trail, and had to be hospitalized. His father was on duty when the ambulance arrived at the scene. There was a great deal of bleeding, emergency surgery to repair internal damages, and a broken arm that needed metal pins and a rod to rebuild it.
His parents spent hours in the waiting room, pacing the floor and worrying about their son; and then hours later in the ICU, watching him slowly recover.
The accident brought back painful memories of Bella's hospitalization.
One night, as he sat beside his sleeping son, he couldn't help remembering all the hopeful plans he'd made years ago, while sitting beside her hospital bed.
He had wanted to be a doctor; a well-respected member of the community, with an impressive house and a beautiful, loving wife who greeted him when he came home from work. He'd wanted the 2.5 fair-haired, blue-eyed children who looked like him, made good grades, and were popular in school. He'd envisioned the big back yard with the swimming pool, the family dog, and the weekend barbecues with family, friends and neighbors who were suitably impressed by his success.
So many plans, so many wants; all of them given up… or changed… because of an unplanned pregnancy.
Mortified by the sudden flare of resentment he felt towards his wife and the injured boy lying in the bed next to him, he reached for Riley's medical charts, and began flipping through the pages of x-ray reports, blood tests and lab results.
As he read through the information, one detail caught his eye. He had enough medical training to understand what it meant – and for the first time ever, he let himself actually consider all the whispers and comments he had heard, but never listened to. He looked down at his sleeping son, and truly studied him. And he knew.
Before he left the hospital the next morning, he made arrangements for another test to be performed.
Three weeks later, he sat down at the kitchen table, facing his wife.
He carefully placed a piece of paper in front of her, and watched her face crumble with guilt as she read the results of the test he had asked to be done.
Tears filled her eyes, and began to trickle down her cheeks; but this time, he didn't reach out to wipe them away.
Instead, he deliberately, methodically, placed more pieces of paper on the table – legal papers, that began with the words 'Divorce Decree.'
When he was sure she understood what was in front of her, he stood, turned his back on her, and walked angrily out the front door.
Once upon a time, a boy loved Bella Swan… but he doesn't anymore.
Once upon a time, Bella Swan had a secret… but she doesn't anymore.
Once upon a time, Bella Swan let someone else plan and control her future… but not anymore.
Thank you for reading.