Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Twilight Saga that this fanfic is based on, it's the property of the clever Stephanie Meyer.
A/N: Hello all you wonderful readers.
I know, I know, I have been gone for what seems like ages but in reality it's two years; which also is hella long time.
This time I'm back with an Edward fanfic, and no OC this time. Well, technically I had to make up two characters that aren't mentioned more than twice in the original story (Helen and Geoffrey Swan.)
I hope this will be just as well received as Crescent Sun (which I may or may not have a looksie at in the future and either re-write or continue where it left off.)
I'm honestly thrilled, nervous and excited to be back and I sincerely apologize for being absent for so long. I have a RP partner to thank for my newfound inspiration. You know who you are, my private "Bella"!
Chapter 1: A Rare Gift
Eighteen candles crammed on a regular eight inch single tier cake. They resembled every year I had survived in this world. This would be the last year my mother insisted on using the exact amount of birthday candles instead of buying those convenient number candles.
"You have plenty of time to grow up," she insisted again and again all the while it felt as if I had grown way too old already. I was done with growing, I wanted to stay this young for at least five years longer. If anything I wanted to shrink down and get covered by the pile of my clothes until tomorrow when it's just a regular Wednesday. Deep down I also knew that my mother thought that every bit of luck and magical wishes was more than necessary to keep me alive for another year. In other words; it was mandatory for me to blow out all of the eighteen candles in one single breath. With my misfortune and clumsiness getting worse with age it was a miracle I didn't have a single fracture or even a bandage on a day like today. My eighteenth birthday—the day I had both longed for and dreaded to come.
Our small kitchen was festooned with colorful balloons and garlands that spelled out 'Happy 18th Birthday' in gold letters.
"Are you sure you'll be okay, mom? I mean have you considered all the dangerous animals in Australia? And there are many other dangers that come with mountain climbing; you can have altitude sickness for example." It felt as if I was going over the list of dangers for at least the hundredth time. My attempts to stop her were futile since my mother's decision to climb that damn mountain was set in stone and nothing would seem scary enough to change her mind.
"I'll be just fine, sweetheart. We have safety gear and a guide," she affirmed with a considerate smile.
"Why Mnt. Warning? Couldn't you've picked a mountain with a less nerve wracking name?"
"It's the place in Australia where the rays of sunlight hits first. It's said to be magical! Are you sure you're not coming with me?" She pleaded again and I rolled my eyes at her pathetic excuse to risk her life.
"No, thank you! I'd love to see what those number candles will look like on my next birthday cake. Hopefully you'll be around to light it," I remarked with a little twinkle in my eye.
"I haven't made any promises, you might get individual candles until you're 20. A nice, even number."
"18 is an even number too?" I retorted but she shook her head in protest.
"Not as even as 20."
I looked at her with furrowed brows and what could only be defined as confused irritation.
"You know what I mean," she said and waved me off just as the door bell rang.
"Saved by the bell," I joked as I started towards the door to greet my father who I knew was on the other side.
It was an awkward greeting followed by some small talk.
"Charlie, how was the drive?" Renée asked while filling up his cup with some steaming hot coffee.
"Long as usual," he gruffed and took his beverage before it reached the surface of the solid oak dining table and their hands met for only a second. Much could be analyzed in that short moment, like the way Charlie diverted his eyes in a flustered manner that indicated how much he still missed mom. Renée's eyes glazed over with sadness and the corners of her mouth dropped slightly by his touch since she wished things had been different. She never said it out loud but she had hoped that Charlie would've given the responsibility of taking care of his parents to someone else and lived his life with us while he could. Of course Charlie couldn't just leave his parents in a nursing home but responsibility had never been a trait my mom fully got the hang of.
"You drove here?" I asked once their moment was over. They both snapped out of their intertwined thoughts and looked at me with suspicious grins.
"Yup, he sure did. Time for cake," Renée answered hastily. She had changed the subject a bit too fast and I noticed something was off. They were hiding something but I decided not to dig any deeper until after eating the cake to keep things pleasant for a little while longer. Indulging in an eventless birthday celebrated with my parents as a birthday gift to myself, from myself.
Successfully I blew out all the eighteen candles and this year, just like all the other years; I wished for the tradition to end.
"This came in the mail for you this morning." Renée placed out a package on the table in front of me next to my blue polka dotted mug filled with tea and my plate with some scraped off peach colored sugar paste. The box only made a faint thud when it met the tabletop so it couldn't be very heavy and the brown wrapping paper crinkled as I gently stroke my fingers across it.
Both of my hands could cover up the package if I spread out my fingers, then I looked up at my mom curiously.
"Who's it from?"
She looked back at me blankly like a question mark.
"I don't know. You'll have to open it," she encourages me when I see Charlie eyeing the address written in the upper right hand corner. I noticed him squinting to see it better then an expression of shock washes over him.
"What's the matter? Do you know anything about this?" I asked him with an accusing tone and I could see him squirm uncomfortably as he looked back into my eyes.
"No, but I'd recognize that handwriting anywhere. It's from my mother," he confirmed with certainty in his voice and Renée gasped which in turn made me roll my eyes again by her exaggerated response. My grandmother who had been dead for fourteen years had sent me a birthday gift? It was a bit strange to say the least. So much for an eventless birthday.
"Nana Helen? Oh, she adored you, honey! I think of her from time to time. She was a wonderful woman," Renée stated as she graced a hand through my locks and I could see my fathers eyes watering by her comments.
"I remember," I answered her quietly and tugged on the string, feeling more and more intrigued by the peculiar present.
"But how could she have. . ." Now it had sunken in for mom just as it already had for me and Charlie; this wasn't exciting, it was odd. A hand reached out to stop mine as it advanced to pulling off a piece of sticky scotch tape from the wrapping paper.
"Perhaps you should save it for last?" Renée asked and glanced towards Charlie who nods when she placed out two other packages for me on the table. One was bigger and flatter than the other and she pushed the smaller one towards me with the kind of warm smile that only my mother was able to pull off.
I hesitated for a moment since I was so curious to know what was inside Nana's present. After a few seconds I reluctantly let go of the tape and carefully untied the silver string of my mother's present instead, then I unwrapped the purple wrapping paper to find a camera. For a second the shock Nana's gift induced had left me and I tried to show my gratitude towards Renée.
"Oh my God, mom! This is really great. Thank you." I threw myself around her neck and she opened her arms wide before wrapping me up to kiss my forehead.
"Of course, kid. I thought you could finally help me take some selfies for my profile picture on Tinder," she joked and batted her lashes as I scrunched up my nose.
To save Charlie who was getting red as a tomato by our subject, I opened up the second gift which turned out to be a photo printer and a black scrapbook.
"I thought you could make a scrapbook of your graduation," Renée explained her idea behind her gifts and I nodded with a smile since I didn't have the heart to tell her that it wouldn't really be a whole lot to document—definitely not enough to fill a scrapbook.
"Happy birthday, Bells," this time Charlie was the one who saved me from an awkward conversation and handed me a very small box that could fit in the palm of my hand.
It was a moss green gift box with cream colored silky bow on the lid. I pulled on the lid and a suction of air was created inside so I had to tug pretty hard to slowly lift it off. Inside was a car key and I just stared at Charlie, searching his face for a few moments to make sure that this wasn't a joke. Once I had determined that he was serious I reached over to hug him. It didn't come as naturally as it did with mom. Both of us only used one arm to embrace the other in a desultory caress.
"So that's why you drove here," I stated and realized that this was why they had avoided the subject when I asked about it earlier.
"Thank you, this is too much Cha. . . dad!"
Gnawing in the back of my mind was Nana Helens unopened gift. Even if the gifts from my parents had been so amazing I still couldn't shake the thoughts about the mysterious box that she had addressed to me. What did it contain? I should be curious about my first car. What model it was, what year it's from, or even the color of it would be appropriate speculations. But I couldn't focus on anything beside the box.
"Want to take a look at it? It's parked out front and it runs really good. I've had the whole drive here to determine that," Charlie informed me with a chuckle that finally retracted me from cerebrating and I got to my feet clad in navy blue Converse All Stars.
"Sure, I'd love to see it. I just have to go to the bathroom first," I said and didn't have to make an effort to seem cheerful—only to seem present and not deep in thoughts of the one gift I hadn't opened yet.
When I got back to the kitchen after a visit to the ladies room I heard Charlie and Renée talking.
"So you got no idea what's inside? Was it mentioned in Helen's will?" I heard Renée whisper and I stayed quiet behind the wall by the corner of the corridor that led to the kitchen.
"No, she was pretty delusional towards the end but I don't think she'd manage to pull this off in her state."
"She must've arranged this when Bella was a kid then?" Renée tried to make sense of it all and I heard the confusion in her voice.
"Yeah, I suppose she did." Charlie let out a deep sigh since he too were out of answers.
They both jumped a bit when I finally joined them in the kitchen then they flashed me soft smiles.
"Ready?" Charlie asked.
"Yeah," I nodded and walked towards the front door.
It was September but the air outside was warm in Phoenix and there were only a few tawny leafs scattered around the cacti on the driveway, that crunched beneath my shoes.
Instantly I saw the faded burnt orange pickup truck when I stepped outside and I immediately fell in love. It matched the vibrant autumnal foliage and I imagined what it used to look like when it had been brand new and shiny red. Just as the leaves it had aged and changed, still I found it so beautiful.
"This is perfect," I said and wanted to sit in the cabin behind the wheel. Mom stayed inside to clear the table but I knew it was a way for her to force me to spend time alone with Charlie. The energy when we were alone was always a bit uncomfortable. This time the unpleasant phase passed us by pretty quickly and the uncomfortable silence between our forced small talk thankfully became somewhat comfortable.
"It has some flaws but Jake rebuilt the engine," Charlie explained after a while of me inspecting the car and now he had my full attention.
"Jake? How is he? I haven't seen him since we were kids."
I pulled on the moderately heavy door handle to get inside and it opened up with a muffled squeak. Charlie joined me in the passenger seat and the first thing I noticed when I got in was the smell of peppermint and tobacco embedded in the brown fabric we sat on.
"Jake is doing okay but he has a lot on his plate. Because of Billy's diabetes he is now in a wheelchair and can't drive, that's why I got you this car. You might recognize it?" He asked and that was the longest sentence I had heard Charlie say in a long time.
"Yeah, I do. Me and Jake used to play in the cargo bed," I said with a faint blush and had to bite my tongue since I just remembered that we weren't allowed back there. The raven haired boy with those lively eyes had persuaded me to break those rules as we played. It was the only fun part about the horrific fishing trips that Charlie dragged me to during the summers when I was a little girl, so with hindsight I regret nothing.
"You did, huh? I might knock some money off the price as a fine for Jakes crime then," Charlie threatens and glared at me playfully and I decided to play along.
"Yeah, but that crime must be time-barred by now because of the statute of limitations. You should know that, sheriff," I defended Jake and myself. Charlie chuckled followed by a slow nod, "guess you're right. Oh, and remember that you have to pump the clutch twice for it to work," he explained further with a smile that reached his eyes, creating fine lines that feathered out towards his temples.
"So what time are you flying home to Forks?" I asked him, not because I wanted him to leave but so I would know how much time we had left together. Suddenly I realized that he wouldn't be flying home.
"I'm not flying home," he answered as if I had read his mind. Him and I would probably go on one of our annual trips to Florida together, we had missed it this summer because of Charlie's work.
"Florida?" I guessed but apparently I hadn't read anyone's mind because he shook his head. My guess was wrong again.
"I'll be staying here to hang out with you while your mom is on that Australian mountain climbing trip. Since I had no vacation this summer I got to pick out two weeks of payed vacation during the fall."
Another birthday surprise. Anyone who knew me also knew how much I loathed surprises.
"That's. . . fun. She's not leaving until Saturday so will you come back then or are you both going to stay here? You and mom, together in the same house? For three days?" I felt the panic growing inside me but Charlie quickly sorted everything out for me.
"She is leaving tonight, didn't she tell you?" I noticed how uncomfortable he was to be the bearer of these news as he fiddled with the glovebox but we both knew that this played out just as Renée had planned it.
"I guess mom wanted it to be a surprise," I sighed and cursed myself under my breath for letting her trick me that easily. Here I had planned for a whole week to myself, and to dump these news on me without a single warning was a new low for her. I had no preparation for a week alone with Charlie in our own house.
"Sorry, I should've had a party horn unfurling right about now," Charlie jokes sarcastically, clearly affected by the tension that was settling in the car.
"It's okay, dad. You know as well as I that this is mom's doing so you don't have to take the blame." I looked into his eyes and hoped he wouldn't take this the wrong way or think I wasn't happy to spend time with him.
"Toot." He made a feeble attempt to do an imitation of a party horn and that was definitely our cue to stop tormenting ourselves and go back inside.
I had to use everything in my power to stop myself from fidgeting with my sleeves or bite my nails by the discomfort of these news while stepping back inside but Nana's gifts occupied a bigger part of my focus.
There were no time for me to open the package because as we got inside Renée was ready with her bags in the hallway with a big sun hat and a pair of sunglasses.
"Australia, here I come. You and Charlie are going to have a great time. I've left some more money in the jar over the refrigerator and added some snacks to the inventory list you had made," she said with a sheepish grin and I couldn't help but to laugh.
"Thanks mom, I'll make sure to buy the snacks you wrote down on that list with the money you left." Organization wasn't her strong side either and to do the grocery shopping had been my duty for over five years and counting. Renée always did the best she could with what she had to make me happy, and for that I loved her endlessly.
"You have to call and send pictures once you've opened this," she patted the mysterious box, "but right now we have to hurry."
I wasn't aware of this flight, otherwise I would've made sure that we had left the house half an hour ago. After two turns in and out we had finally packed all of her stuff in the bed of the truck and were ready to go.
We drove Renée to the airport in my new, old car. All three of us sat in the long front seat, Charlie was driving and I was crammed in the middle.
"You should count yourself lucky that we had the pickup so we could fit all your excessive baggage," Charlie joked bitterly since he was the one carrying most of it, but he wasn't wrong. She had an unnecessarily huge amount of bags, both small and large, filled with things she probably wouldn't even use.
"Excessive? You never know what you're going to need over there," Renée defended her luggage and flung her arms out sideways as she shrugged.
"Are you going to carry all those bags up the mountain?" Charlie asked skeptically and chuckled as she replied with a scoff. This truly made me aware that I was shoved in the middle with nothing to add.
"Charlie, come on. Not even you can have that little faith in me? I'm leaving most of it in the hotel, of course. I'm not camping on the mountain, it's just a day trip," she explained and then we finally arrived at the airport.
After a lot of running and dragging all her baggage for as far as we were allowed, we left her off with a short goodbye filled with hugs, kisses and reassurance that everything would be alright.
The drive home with Charlie was pretty silent but not entirely uncomfortable. We decided on ordering pizza for dinner and I told him I'd take care of the grocery shopping tomorrow after school. Charlie also told me about his plans for the week. It got me in a slightly better mood knowing we wouldn't just sit around the house together. He would go fishing during the days when I was in school then we'd go to the movies and visit the Grand Canyon national park during the weekend.
As soon as we got back home I looked at the package still placed on the kitchen table and it felt as if it was tauntingly staring back at me, begging to be opened.
Renée hadn't cleared the table since she probably had to assemble all her things and take care of the usual 'last-minute-packing.' I handed Charlie a menu that we kept on the refrigerator and asked him to make the call while I was putting the mugs and plates in the sink. Then I cleaned them off thoroughly before placing them in the cupboards, realizing I was stalling time to open up the package since it was just me and Charlie. It felt more intimate when it was just us and I was nervous to find out how he would react to it all. There wasn't a chance in hell that I'd be able to handle the situation if he started crying and trying to comfort him in any given way was out of question.
As usual Charlie and I was on the same page and I saw him picking up the box in the corner of my eye.
"I think you should open this in your room after dinner," he said casually and it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It got me impatient, now I could barely wait for the food to arrive so I could be alone in my room with Nana's gift.
"Okay," I said casually, afraid he would change his mind if I added anything else. Then he handed me the box and I walked off to my room to place it on my white desk where it patiently had to wait for two more hours.
A/N:That's the first chapter of this fanfic and there's more to come, depending on how it'll be received. I haven't been in the fanfic game in a while so please be considerate when leaving reviews. Honesty is something I also admire so tell me what you think so I know how to treat this story. It's created for you readers after all so your opinion matters to me.
Heaps of love to y'all and I hope to hear from you very soon! Once I've established the popularity of this fanfic I'll update as often as I see fit.