Chapter One – A New Life

Bella sighed as she pulled up into the small dirt driveway of Charlie's place, turning the engine off and popping open the door. She was here, on the second half of her journey on becoming an adult. At 21 years old, this would be the first time she would be living with her father, other than when she was a baby, of course. But no matter, it was time to get to know her dad, and after being accepted into the nursing program in Port Angeles, there was no time like the present.

Popping the trunk, she did quick work of what little baggage she had, hauling them up to the door, finding the little rock at the bottom of the steps, flipping it over, and finding the spare key. Charlie had been working that evening and had told her where the key was and to let herself in. So, doing just that, she stepped into the old house with everything she owned, which sadly wasn't much.

"Honey! I'm home!" Bella called into the empty house, laughing at herself at her lame attempt at a joke. She couldn't help it! She was happy! Being accepted into the program that she had worked so hard to get into, and let's be real, microbiology was a nightmare that she never wanted to repeat. The classes that were required for her acceptance into the nursing program were absolutely brutal. After doing all that, moving across the country from sunny Arizona, essentially starting a new life, it was exciting! Nursing hadn't initially been part of the plan, but she had inadvertently decided that this was what she wanted in life during one of her numerous hospital visits growing up. The atmosphere of the hospital was chaotic but friendly, all the nurses seemed to be stressed but driven, and the entire staff always seemed to be a giant family that welcomed her. Plus, it would be good to have medical knowledge in case her clumsy side decided to rear its ugly head again.

Dragging a suitcase up the rickety steps that had honestly seen better days, probably back in the '60s, Bella side hipped the door and was brought into her old bedroom. Purple comforter, rocking chair, and various wall art from growing up. This is where her life began as a baby, and here was where she was going to jump into adulthood. She smiled.

xxxxx

"Bella!" Charlie yelled from downstairs, followed by a series of clonking sounds.

Bella smiled, "Coming, Dad!" she called as she skipped down the stairs.

"Oh, hey, Billy!" She smiled wider at the surprise; it was nice to see the older native man. Growing up during summers here, he was kind of like a second father figure.

"Hey, kiddo!" he responded, maneuvering his wheelchair to come over and give her a quick hug, allowing Bella to bend down and envelope herself into the woodsy smell happily. "Hope you don't mind me crashing your welcoming party, but I had to come and see you for myself. The old man hasn't shut up in weeks about you moving."

He smirked at Charlie as he saw the other man blush and avert his eyes at the statement. Always the shy, strong, and silent type of man, he obviously didn't feel comfortable under the scrutiny and knowledge of his softer side. But even then, the news sent a warm feeling radiating through Bella's chest.

Charlie cleared his throat awkwardly, "Yeah, well, it's not every day that your daughter decides to involve you in such a big step of her life." He tried to rebuff, coming over and giving Bella a half hug before stepping into the kitchen.

Bella shared a secret smile with Billy at her father's lack of emotional intuition before both heading into the living room.

"So, I was thinking that we could order some pizza tonight," Charlie's muffled voice echoed throughout the hall.

"Sounds good!" She didn't expect anything less from her dad meal-wise, causing the smile on her face to stretch even farther as the knowledge that he really hadn't changed much over the years.

Turning to her old friend, "So how's Jake, Billy?" She inquired as she settled back into the cushions of the couch, bringing her knees to her chest as her dad's voice carried through the walls as he put in their order.

"Oh…. Uh," Billy started a bit, quickly occupying his hands with the remote as he flicked on the TV, "he's doing fine."

Bella drew back at the short response but then shrugged, mainly she had only asked as a pleasantry. Jacob had been her friend growing up, being Billy's son and Billy being Charlie's best friend. It was inevitable that they spent quite a bit of time together as children when she spent her summers in Forks while growing up. She didn't remember much about him, just his overwhelming happy energy and bright sunny smile. But she hadn't seen him in years, probably the last time being in her pre-teen years. A lot could have changed about him since then, and going by Billy's obtuse answer, a lot had.

Still fiddling in his chair, Billy cleared his throat, "He, uh, he wanted to come over but, well, was busy tonight… doing stuff."

Bella almost laughed at the uncomfortable situation because obviously Jacob had most certainly not wanted to come over. But instead, she shrugged and decidedly changed the topic as she heard the doorbell ring and Charlie marching to answer it. Pizza was here!

"Uh, finally!" She exclaimed, her head thrown back as she put forth a dramatic tone, "I'm starving!"

xxxxxx

Bella laughed at her dad and Billy's live reenactment of their latest fishing adventure, her hand clapped over her mouth as she tried to stifle her giggling, "You guys were not attacked by a shark!"

Billy started to wheel himself towards the front door, "I'm telling you, Bella! If not a shark, then a monster fish for sure!"

She was still laughing as she heard a knock on the door, signaling the arrival of Billy's son to come to pick him up, "Oh my gosh, Billy! There was not a shark or monster fish in the lake!"

Playfully stomping into the kitchen with the used dishes in hand, she caught the sight of a dark figure in her peripheral vision but didn't stop as she already knew who it was. If Jacob hadn't wanted to come over and had even called his dad to wait by the front door for him, then obviously he didn't want to converse, and she wasn't going to make him uncomfortable. So instead, she continued to the kitchen, hearing the muffled voices as Billy got his coat on and Charlie bid a goodbye.

"Bella!" She heard Billy call her from the doorway. Popping her head through the kitchen door frame, she smiled goofily at the older man, "Billy!" She copied, unable to stop the giggle from escaping as she saw his answering smile.

She again caught a glimpse of the figure behind him, still standing on the porch. Holy moly Jake got big! His back was turned to them, but she saw his shoulders stiffen and tense at the sound of her voice. Strange. Even stranger though was how huge he was! How was it even genetically possible for that to be the offspring of Billy Black!?

"I want you and your old man to come down the res tomorrow!" Billy interrupted, drawing her eyes from the monster of a man behind him, "The tribe is having a big bonfire on the beach. You'll like it!" he called over his shoulder as he made his way out.

Bella's smile widened. She had so many good memories of the beaches on the reservation, especially when the elders would tell stories late at night. "I would love to!"