Synopsis: Moving to a new city brings opportunity but for Bella, it brings nothing but destruction for the life she left behind. The lifestyle of wealth and ease she adores suddenly vanishes before her eyes, but her saving grace, with an incredible body, comes crashing into her without warning - literally. She's forced to quickly find a solution that she quickly learns to love. Rated M, Lemons, Cannon couples, human.

Characters aren't mine - all belong to Stephanie Meyer.

Lemons will appear in later chapters.

STRIPPED BARE

ONE

"Now. You are absolutely sure that you have everything, Bells," my father's eyes study me with concern.

"Dad. You already know that I do. Passport, wallet, phone, and all the other crap you had the maid pack for me," My eyes are getting sore from all the rolling they're instinctively doing today.

"As if I would leave it all to you, Isabella Swan," he scoffs, handing me my carry on luggage, "this is a big step for you. I just want you to be prepared."

He had insisted on carrying my things from the car and around the airport. I guess it is his last-ditch effort to feel like I needed him. Maybe I underestimated the size of the part of me that still does.

My favourite thing about Charlie Swan has always been his heart. As one of Australia's top business moguls, most people probably assumed he was without one. They just don't know the way to it like I do.

Since the night we lost my mother there hasn't been a day that I've not seen his love on full display for his children. It's been 10 years since she passed away leaving my father, brother and I behind to try and figure out how to deal with the cards life dealt us.

Somedays we're still stuck trying figuring it all out.

Despite his busy schedule my father never failed to show up. Whether it was to school plays or weekend soccer games. He was there to judge the boyfriends who broke my heart and he was there to cheer louder than anyone else at my wins.

We may have had maids, a nanny, personal chefs, a driver, but it never replaced his love. He had the money so he hired a village to help him raise us.

He kept us grounded ensuring we both had jobs at 16. We were asked to do chores, grounded when we were caught doing the wrong thing and if we blew our allowance on dumb expenses he refused to open up his wallet.

One Christmas my big brother, Zane, received just underwear and socks. That was all that was under the tree for him. It was because he broke into an abandoned construction site to skateboard, but Dad didn't think the broken leg from the fall was punishment enough.

He made it his mission to make sure we weren't a pair of spoilt little shits. He succeeded most of the time. I would be lying if I said I've never batted an eyelash for an extra hour of curfew. When you're the baby of the family it all works in your favour. Zane just abused the system to the point that he couldn't get away with it anymore.

Now we're both 20-something-year-olds ready to concur life. For me that's my last year of university, for Zane that's fatherhood.

Zane 'accidentally' knocked up some intern at Dad's work, but he decided to stick around and take up the challenge of parenting. Dad had all but insisted he makes the mother happy to prevent a scandal leak to the media. So far we'd managed to prevent a sinking media ship, but it was only a matter of time.

Yep. My family is intense. If mum were here she'd be glaring at us all, but with fond love I'm sure.

I couldn't be more excited to be in a country where no one knows who the legendary Charlie Swan is. Where no one calls me the business man's daughter. Where no one asks how my father is doing, where no one asks me to about our yacht, our pool or house with the Harbour Bridge view. Where no one expects favours or introductions. Where I get to put one foot in front of the other without anyone waiting for me to trip.

But in the same breath, I wish I could stay within arms reach of him.

"I know. I just know you. You are forgetful, my sweet," He pulls me into another hug, "I'm going to miss you. You're my little girl and I'm not ready to watch you fly so far from my nest."

"Dad, you're a millionaire. You can just get on your private jet and come see me," I muffle into the rich fabric of his suit.

"I wish I could come with you," he sighs, "I could do college again."

Dad's company has recently been dealing with 'issues' that he refused to elaborate on. But based on his enthused hovering today I could tell he was itching to get back to them and away from them at the same time.

"You can. Bring the jet with you," I lean my head back to look up at him, "We could do the big apple as a team. Daughter and dad."

"Nope, nice try. I told you that economy will build character," he pokes my nose with a smirk, "you will be fine. They give you free peanuts."

"They don't do that anymore I think. Allergies. How long has it been since you've flown economy?" as my eyes narrow at him a pang of sadness hits me.

I will really miss him. More than I care to admit.

"It's not about me," he says, "when you can pay for your own jet, you get a jet, Bells. You better go or you'll miss the flight. Make sure you don't recline your chair back too soon into the flight and be polite to the hostess or she'll spit in your coffee."

"It must have been when planes were first invented," I laugh through the tears I'm fighting back.

It's hard to miss his own. My father rarely showed emotion toward us nowadays. He was always one for bedtime stories and kissing our knee grazes better. Now he told us he loved us in his own way. Through smiles of pride and encouragement. But right now those brilliant brown eyes that he gave me are screaming with adoration for me. Mine scream it right back.

"Thanks for the ride to the airport. I'm glad someone came to see me off," I fight back my own tears.

"Zane will hear about it later, trust me," he ruffles my long chestnut, curly hair as if I'm still at the height when I would crash cuddle his knees.

"You have a safe journey and call when you land. I love you, my sweet," he says kissing my forehead.

After braving security and finding my gate I look up at the screen presenting the details of my flight.

In just five minutes the jetway would open and I would board.

Then I would be America bound.


I think I've met ironing boards less stiff than my neck.

Flying economy might build character, but it also built back problems.

All flight I had a kid play soccer with the back of my seat, while the man beside me won the armrest war.

Things didn't get much better at the sight of the high rise apartment my dad helped me apply for. I made a beeline for the shower to find the hot water didn't run, when I went to the kettle I found it wouldn't boil. Giving up on it all I collapsed into the bed.

The hopes built by American TV had been crushed when it came to this apartment. Yet, I was still hoping Carrie Bradshaw was right about the sex part of this city. It'd been dry lately.

When I wake up my brain tricks me into thinking I've slept for just minutes, but the clock denies that theory. I've slept the whole day. It's dark outside, with my body reminding me it's still on Sydney time.

"Christ," I groan, trying to stretch out the creaks in the bones throughout my neck, shoulders and back.

The small one-bedroom apartment my father had agreed to pitch in for was just a short underground ride to college. The rent for the first four weeks had been covered, after that, I'd need a job. When I told Dad my exchange application had been granted for the semester abroad he was over the moon looking to help in whatever way he could. He would have purchased me my own house if I hadn't stopped him.

It's my second last semester, with one more to go after this in Sydney next year. Then training would begin to take over dad's business, considering my brother had very clearly voiced disinterest.

In fact, his actual wording was 'Nah. I'll pass, mate. Maybe B-dog would be keen to dig up the rocks.' I think that was minutes before he put his dick in the intern. Don't quote me.

I wouldn't say I was well and truly sold, but Dad had taken the business from his father and so on. It seemed right it continued into my hands despite their yearn to drop it.

So studying abroad was not only for the 'experience' my dad was happy to see me get, but also a bit of a chance for me to explore before mining becomes all I breathe in. After this semester I planned to travel before returning home for my last semester of study. Seeing some more of the states would be nice.

I'm hopeful I might find a waitressing job here. Surely someone would hire me to clear some tables just so I could start finding my own feet. I already had plenty of savings which my father had been working on since Mum found out she was pregnant. I am financially safe and sound.

Perhaps this little apartment would bring me some fresh opportunity to meet people, make friends. Ones that don't see my Dad's name on the news and gasp.

The apartment was nicely furnished with a modern, relaxed feel. It came with a dishwasher, fridge and another kitchen appliance I couldn't figure out. I guess it cooks rice? It had flaws which I would eventually come to accept, I'm sure. The noise is constant and there is an odd smell coming from the elevator.

After ordering some take out and answering the Uber eats delivery driver's questions about Kangaroos, I decided to make a list.

Lists are like crack and I only make that comparison as an assumption. But they give me direction because I know Jesus isn't around to take my wheel. He's busy steering the titanic men in my family away from icebergs.

I start by tapping my pen against the blank page before I begin to scribble. I try to make it achievable.

To accomplish this week:
Fix shower

Buy new kettle

Buy candles (I swear the elevator is wafting into here.)

Get a job...

?

My eyes fixate on the question mark on the list.


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