Never Let You Go: The BBQ

Bella POV

"Isabella Swan,

You are cordially invited to the wedding of Edward Mason Cullen and Tonya Maria Denali -"

I crumpled up the invitation in my hands and tossed it across the room. I slid down the wall to the hardwood floor, and just sat. I cried silently, wallowing in my self pity for just a moment. I brought my knees up to my chin and circled my arms around my legs, trying to hold myself together.

Edward had been the first and only love of my life. We had started dating when we were just seniors in High school, and we had been together all the way up until about seven months ago, on my thirtieth birthday.

We had been together for thirteen years. During that time, I had wanted to get married, and I wanted to have babies with him. It never seemed to be the right time for him, he would push my worries of my ever ticking biological clock away, and assure me that he would one day be ready. He never was. The asshole broke up with me on my thirtieth birthday. One of the most difficult birthday's for a woman who wants to raise a family when she isn't even married yet.

In the past seven months I hadn't been able to move on. I was mostly over Edward himself, but I didn't really know how to be alone. I mean thirteen years with someone, and I could no longer remember how to do all the little things alone. How could I possibly sleep at night in such a large, empty bed in a large, empty home? How was I supposed to do normal things by myself? I had moved out of my dad's house and into an apartment with Edward right after high school… I only knew how to grocery shop for two people, how to do laundry for two people. Simple daily tasks now seemed like a lot to wrap my head around.

As soon as I was finally ready to live on my own, and possibly start dating again, I got this invitation in the mail. Edward, my Edward, the one who was never ready, was planning on getting married, not even a whole year after he left me. The wedding was only a week away and I still didn't have a date. My dumb self had already sent back the R.S.V.P. to say that I would be there. I don't know what possessed me to do that, but I think pride had something to do with it. I couldn't very well show up without a plus one though… I just had to figure out how to find one.

"Hello?" I answered when my phone started ringing, cutting through the silence in my kitchen.

"Hey Bells, it's your old man, I just wanted to make sure you were still coming to the BBQ tomorrow?" My dad and his girlfriend, Sue, had gotten engaged just a few weeks ago, and they were planning a fun little get-together at the park to celebrate the good news. He sounded worried on the phone now, like maybe I wouldn't bother to show up.

"Of course dad, I wouldn't miss it!" I assured him. I had been down lately, but this was my dad, who had been good to me every single day since I'd moved back to Forks when I was fifteen. Of course I would be there.

"Good, good. I know that Jake, Leah, and the kids will be there. They're all excited to see you. Seth will be there too, I think he's bringing some friends, maybe you'll… you know hit it off with someone… ya never know. Anyways, I love you, and I'll see you there kiddo."

"Ok Dad, I love you too." I hung up. Leah and Seth were Sue's kids. Leah had married my childhood friend, Jake, and the two of them had three beautiful kids. Two boys and a girl. The boys, Collin and Brady were twins, twins run in Jake's family. Their youngest was a sweet little girl they'd named Claire.

Seth was a few years younger than Leah and I, and still single, it felt pathetic that my dad and my soon to be step-brother were trying to set me up.

It was time that I picked myself up off the floor and made some dinner. When the food was done cooking, I ate it quietly. Then, I cleaned up and washed the dishes quietly. I trudged up the stairs to my bathroom and took a shower, quietly. I brushed my teeth and my hair, you guessed it, quietly. Such was the life I was now living… quiet.

It was in these quiet moments that I envied Leah and Jake, and couples like them, the most. Their homes were never too quiet, they always had someone to come home to, and they always had sweet little rugrats running around (even if they weren't sweet all the time).

I threw my hair up in a messy bun and grabbed an oversized t-shirt. I plopped onto my oversized bed and pulled out my laptop to get a little work done. I was an author of dramatic, passionate, even cheesy romances. I wrote about all the things I wanted, about what was missing in my life. As it turned out, there were certainly quite a few women out there who felt the same as me, even some men too. Some of my books had even been New York Times Best Sellers. I enjoyed my job, and it paid the bills.

Currently I was in the middle of a novel where a young woman is travelling the world and has fallen in love with four different men. Each man is very different from one another and can offer her a unique life. Of course, she can only be with one of them, and she must decide. My poor girl doesn't know what to do. Will she pick the Jazz musician of New Orleans, the restaurateur of Italy, the air-mail man of Sweden, or the vintner of France?

My phone buzzed and pulled me back into the real world. It was the alarm I had set to do just that. I had the tendency to get lost in my own little worlds when I was writing, and tonight was no different. I needed to be reminded to go to sleep and rest up for tomorrow.

I closed my laptop and shut off the light. I laid in the darkness, looking at the ceiling, and other than the light pitter patter of a gentle rain outside... it was quiet.

The next morning Forks, Washington was brought in with a rare and beautiful sun shining day. I stretched out and made my way downstairs to brew some hot coffee. I took advantage of the mild weather and sat out on my back deck, enjoying the sounds of nature that surrounded me.

There was a little family of birds moved into a nest under my deck canopy, they were tweeting happily as their mother fed them worms from the still damp and dewy ground. There was a gentle breeze that rustled through the trees, and I could hear the sounds of squirrels and other little woodland creatures skittering around.

I decided to set another alarm on my phone and went in to grab my computer and notes again to work on my novel. I took those, along with another steaming cup of coffee back out onto the deck once more.

` Before I knew it I was totally absorbed in my story once again and time got away from me. The buzzing alarm sounded on my phone again, disturbing my peace, and I knew it was time to get ready for the BBQ at the park. I needed to be ready in less than an hour because it would take me about twenty minutes to get to LaPush, the reservation where Dad and Sue lived.

I pulled on a pretty black sundress with a yellow and orange sunflower print. It fit snuggly at the bust, where I had really filled out in the last few years. I looked in the mirror and could see that I had just the right amount of cleavage showing. It was enough to pull some male interest, but not enough to be distasteful.

I quickly put on some sparse makeup, just enough to make my cheeks rosier and my eyelashes fuller. I applied a swipe of lip gloss and braided my long hair into a messy braid that came down to about my waist. I took another close look in the mirror and frowned. I wasn't as young as I once was. I knew that thirty wasn't really old by any means, but I was starting to see the beginnings of crow's feet around my eyes and faint smile lines.

It was just a physical reminder that if I wanted to have kids, and kids that would have a dad, that I really needed to get on finding that father, because there was no way I was going to find a man that wanted kids right this second without knowing or loving me. I didn't want that either. I lived for my romance novels and I wanted exactly what the characters in them found in my life, true love and all that.

Noticing the time, and that I was running a little behind, I dashed down the stairs, careful not to trip, as I was forever clumsy. I reached for one of my large tote-bags and threw in some wine bottles that I had purchased the night before into it. I continued my little run all the way to my car and sped off, trying to catch my breath.

When I finally pulled up to the parking lot of the park, I could see that the celebration was already in full swing. Charlie, my dad, was flipping burgers on the grill and his cop buddies and Billy Black were all laughing around him, sipping their beers. Sue was sitting at a picnic bench chatting with her friends from her weaving club and her fellow nurses.

Leah and Jake were sitting on a towel laid out on the ground, basking in the sun, and looking lost in their own little world as their children played on the playground, one of them taking advantage of the swingset. Seth was playing basketball with some other guys I didn't recognize from this distance.

Charlie spotted my car from where he was and waved. I waved back and shuffled out of the car, making my way over to him. I gave him a hug and exchanged pleasantries with all of his buddies. I did the same with Sue and her friends. I didn't really fit in with either group, so I was just starting to feel a little bit awkward.

That was when Seth and his friends made their entrance under the pavilion where the picnic benches were. This also happened to be where the coolers were since it was a little bit shadier, so the men all flocked around to grab waters and beers. I just happened to be bent over the cooler, putting the wine bottles I'd brought with me in, and pulling out a water, at exactly that moment.

I heard a few of the men chuckle and I blushed deep red at having been caught bent over the cooler, I hadn't thought about how short my dress was. Hopefully they hadn't actually seen anything. I turned and patted my hands down my dress to make sure it was covering everything and smiled in the direction of the men.

"What can I get for ya while I'm here?" I offered, they all told me what they wanted and I, more careful of where my dress was this time, bent over to pull them out of the coolers. I handed each their drink of choice and looked to the last man in the group.

This particular friend of Seth's caught my attention immediately. He was tall with short, cropped black hair and very broad shoulders. His athletic shorts were hung low on his hips and he had his black tee pulled up to wipe the sweat from his face. That revealed delicious inches of exposed russet skin and the clear outline of a v-cut. When he dropped the shirt back down I nearly pouted at the hindrance to my view but I wasn't at all disappointed once I trailed my eyes up his body to see his now uncovered face.

"Bud Select, please." His voice rang in a sexy baritone. His jaw was square and hard, he had high cheekbones and a full bottom lip that I wanted to bite. Finally, I met his eyes and they were a beautiful dark brown, and were dancing with amusement and attraction. He must have caught me staring. I could feel the blush spreading on my cheeks and down my body once again. I felt like I literally could not look away from him. I could tell he felt the same because he was shaken when Seth, who'd been trying to get his attention, finally succeeded.

I took that moment to get his beer from the cooler.

"Yo, Quil? Come on man, ready to go back out?" Seth asked, holding up the basketball and sort of waving it in his face. Was this the Quil that was friends with Jake when we were teenagers? I'd had a little crush on him back then before Edward had come and scooped me up. He had been a cute teenage boy. Standing before me now, he was the most attractive man that I had ever seen.

"Uh… yeah, you guys go, I'll catch up." He waved them off. A couple of the men snickered as they left and Seth shot me a suggestive look, encouraging me to make a move.

"Quil Ateara?" I asked, though I already knew the answer.

"Bella Swan?" He asked me without actually answering my question. His smile was hard not to reciprocate, it was warm, and kind, and I could already tell that he was still a riot, all these years later.

Author's Note:

Hello, I had a little idea pop into my head and as cheesy as it is, I felt like it really fit Quil and Bella together! I plan for this to be just a short story, only a few chapters. I hope that you enjoyed this first one!

If you haven't read it already (or even if you have) you should hop over to my other story, Exposed. This is a much longer story that is centered around Bella and Sam!

Happy Reading!

~Dahlia~