Chapter 1

A/N So this is the first fanfiction that I am ever attempting to write, so I apologize if it is horrible. I've been reading fanfic for a few years, and I mostly enjoy Bella and Jasper stories, so this story will be between B/J. This should be a long story, and it will be a slow burn romance. I've had the idea for this story in my head for a long time, so even if this turns out terribly, I still had a lot of fun planning out this story and writing it so far.

This is an AU story, so I made a lot of changes to it. For one, most of the characters will be older, so Bella in this story is 22 and out of high school. Jasper was aged 20 when he was turned, but he is pretending to be younger at Forks High School, as are the other Cullens. I'm changing the ages of Carlisle and Esme so that they will be in their 30s or 40s when they were changed, so they have more realistic ages to be parents to teenagers. There will be no Quileute werewolves in this story at all. Most importantly, I'm changing some of the rules of being a vampire. I'm making the vampires in this story more traditional, so vampires can be killed by things like a wooden or silver stake and exposure to sunlight. Don't worry, the Cullens will have a way to survive in the sunlight that I will describe in a later chapter. For me personally, I just wanted to write a story where humans have some form of defense mechanism against vampires, and I made it so vampires can burn in the sun because I don't like sparkling. If you don't like any of these ideas, I'm sorry. This story may not be for you.

I hope that if anyone actually reads this they enjoy it, but if you hate it, I understand. Please only leave constructive criticism in the reviews if anyone does so. Reviews would be much appreciated. Also, if anyone reads this and would like to become a beta reader, I would really appreciate the help. I don't know what I'm doing.

Edit: I'm splitting up the first two chapters into four smaller chapters, but the content will remain the same.

Thank you.

June 2018

Bella

Today was a quiet, gloomy day while driving down the highway along the edge of the Olympic Peninsula. As I drive, I pass by all of the overgrown, green trees on the side of the road. I had always found this scenery comforting when I was younger. The sky was a dark gray, making the surrounding green trees look gray as well. I had been down this road several times before growing up with my father, but had not been here for the past four years.

Loud classic rock music was roaring out of the speakers of my car, giving me a headache, so I had to turn it off. The silence of the car was not soothing at all, and I was left alone with my anxious thoughts. I drive speedily down the highway, and find it hard to focus on the road in front of me. I had set out to go visit my father for the first time in the past four years, after not having spoken to him in all of that time. Charlie had tried to reach out and contact me several times since I left town, trying to get me to come back home, but I desperately needed to be away from him. I would always tell him not to worry about me because I was never coming home. Right now, I have not spoken to him in almost two years. Charlie is the police chief of the town of Forks where I was born. Charlie had always been a helpful, good father to me, but it was all too much for me, and I needed to be away from his constant, looming presence near the end of high school.

I was always a lot closer to my mother Renee as a child. When I was only two years old, my parents divorced, and Renee took me with her to live with grandma in California. Renee became a kindergarten teacher, and she would often take me with her to visit her classroom in the school. I loved spending time with her and envisioned myself becoming a teacher one day, just like her, to follow in her footsteps, although probably with middle school or high school students. I really hated small children. Renee had been my best friend growing up, and I always hated having to leave her to visit Charlie during the summers. Charlie was more quiet and awkward like me, which led to very stiff interactions between us. Charlie always dragged me along to go fishing with his friends in La Push, and I hated it. He tried to teach how fish as a child, and my dumb ass could not swing the fishing rod more than a few inches into the ocean, so I gave up. I bonded with the kids of Charlie's friend Billy Black, but they always wanted me to go swimming in the cold water, and do other physical activities. When Charlie and I had alone time together, there really wasn't anything that the two of us enjoyed doing together, so it was very awkward and boring staying in Forks with him for an extended period of time.

Renee always understood me, and we did everything together. She taught me how to cook and bake as a kid, and we could always sit and bond over the same television shows and music together. Once my grandma passed, Renee and I were all on our own, and we moved to Phoenix for her new job. Renee got a new boyfriend whom she started spending more time with then me, and then she started acting differently. Her boyfriend Phil was always an asshole toward me, and she never seemed to do anything about it. Renee was fired from her job, and Phil moved in to support us, but he seemed to completely take over Renee's life, and she grew ever distant from me. Phil and my mother would always get into fights, and he eventually left both of us while Renee had carried low-wage jobs and was struggling to support us on her own.

Renee died in a car accident almost ten years ago now, and I still think about her every single day. I hated having to live with Charlie for the six years before I graduated high school. He really tried his hardest to be there for me, and I appreciated that, but I was having so much trouble during those years to really try to appreciate him. I have been on my own for years now. Looking back, I wish I would have made a greater effort to bond with him more because right now, I desperately needed his help after pushing him away for so many years.

I had only been driving for about three hours from Seattle, but it felt like days. It was already past three o'clock in the afternoon, and I had not eaten yet today. I barely slept at all last night, and I felt like I was going to drive off the road at any minute.

At some point, I saw the dreaded Forks Welcome Sign. I was finally back at the town that I avoided for so long. Driving into town, everything looks exactly the same as it was four years ago, so I don't know why I would have expected anything to change. The town looks empty as usual. I only see like two people standing outside at a gas station. This town is so small, that there was only one four way stop and one traffic light on the main highway through town, and the traffic light was barely working. I couldn't even tell what color it was. No one was here, so I drove straight through it.

I have already driven halfway through town within three minutes. I turned into my old neighborhood, and awaited my impending doom. I don't even know if Charlie still lives in our old house, but I'm betting that he does. I couldn't imagine him ever leaving Forks.

My stomach is in knots and I start breathing heavily. I have been putting off this moment for almost a couple of weeks now to come visit my father again and ask for help, and my anxiety is unbearable. I've been sleeping in my car in a church parking lot in Seattle for the past few months since I lost my job and my friends kicked me out of their apartment. I thought that I could try to make it on my own without having to try to contact Charlie again about my situation. Everything was working out fine until nearly two weeks ago, and I couldn't bear it any longer. I don't know how I could possibly face Charlie after refusing to speak to him for years, and randomly showing up at his doorstep to tell him that I am flat out broke with nowhere to live. He would be shocked and disappointed in me and probably try to pressure me to move back in with him. I would probably receive some kind of hour long lecture about making poor life choices. Or he might slam the door in my face. If I know my father like I think I do, he would never do that, but there is still a part of me in the back of my mind that worries that I've completely pushed Charlie away to the point where he wants nothing to do with me anymore. I can't help but think about his possible rejection, and I don't even notice when I pass by his house.

I turn around to pass by his house again, but I don't have it in myself to park my car and get out. I drive around the neighborhood at a slow speed for the next twenty minutes. I have a blinding headache, and my stomach hurts, so I finally park the car on the side of some random street to stop and think. I roll down the windows and take several deep breaths, but I still can't think straight.

Eventually, I find the nerve to turn around and park in front of my father's house, the place where I spent several years of my life, but it all seems so foreign to me now. In my head, I imagined that it would look completely different or be demolished, but it looks exactly the same the day that I left it just as every other house in the surrounding neighborhood. I wait in my car, staring at it for another five minutes, not making a move to get out.

After one deep breath, I'm about to open the door, but then I see a yellow dog running out of the house into the backyard. Did Charlie actually get a dog for himself? We never had a dog.

The dog runs in circles and sits down while chewing on a bone. I stare at the cute little guy, and a minute later, a little boy with brown hair comes running out to play with him. I freeze and stare at the boy and his dog, and I think that maybe Charlie possibly could have gotten married to a woman with a kid, and I wouldn't know. But then, the boy's father, an older man with gray hair comes out of the house and starts talking to the boy, and I immediately get buckled again and turn to leave. Charlie no longer lives in our home, and I had no idea that he left.

I quickly drive out of the neighborhood and back onto the main road through town. I hope no one saw me sitting on the side of the road for a long period of time staring at the house. They'll probably think I'm a creep, but oh well. I can't believe that Charlie actually no longer lives in this house where he has spent his whole life. He spent his whole childhood here, staying here even after his parents died until I left after high school. This place was always his home, and I could never picture him finding a reason to pick up and move somewhere else, but he is actually gone. And now that place is no longer my home anymore either. Where the hell could Charlie have possibly gone? Maybe, he just moved to a different house in town, but there is no way that he could possibly leave Forks. Could he? He was such an integral part of this community, and he loved everybody in this town.

I don't know how to feel knowing that my father has possibly left Forks. Not knowing where he is, my only possible safety net is gone. I have nowhere to go now, so I basically just drove out here for no reason, and I have to sleep in my car for another night with all of these scary people who have started to lurk around the church recently. At least my anxiety is partially relieved knowing that I don't have to see him today.

As I drive down the main highway through town again, I don't know where to go. I dread the thought of having to head all the way back to Seattle without knowing that I have to sleep again in that same wretched place, and I did not receive any help.

I pull up to a gas station with one of my last ten dollar bills, so I can buy some snacks to keep myself satiated. As I walk in while putting my sunglasses on, I see that there is only one person inside at the cash register looking bored. Before I look for food, I realize that I should take this opportunity to cleanse myself in the bathroom.

Luckily, there is barely anyone here to watch me go inside, and this is a single private bathroom with a lock, so I can take as long as I want. I used to take long, hot showers as a teenager and sit in the bathtub for almost an hour every day. These were good times, but I have not had the luxury to take a proper shower in a long while. The showers at one of the local homeless shelters in Seattle are usually very cold, and I have to rush to take one in two minutes as there is always a long line of people behind me.

My hair is a tangled mess and I have not brushed it out in a couple weeks, so I usually just have to keep it tied back as neatly as possible. I take off my thick coat and look at myself in the mirror. I undo my thick, curly brown hair from my hair tie. I pour water in my hands and splash it all over in my round face and through my hair. The soap from the dispenser is disgusting, but it is the only thing available to wash my face. I quickly use soap and water to rub down my arms, torso, and legs within a couple of minutes. I have to dry off with rough paper hand towels, but this is better than nothing.

I still only see the cashier when I walk out of the bathroom, and he hasn't even noticed me, so I walk around looking for snacks. I am about to pick up a bag of chips and a cheap salad when I hear someone else walk into the store.

Looking up, I instantly recognize who it is. She is a very tall girl, about six feet tall. She has long, straight, light-brown hair and big blue eyes with a bunch of freckles on her face.

Well shit. Angela Weber is here. Of course someone from town has to spot me on the one random day in the middle of the year that I decide to come back to town for an hour. She'll probably see me and tell all her friends, and soon the whole gossipy town will know that Bella Swan has come back after I disappeared for four years. Angela probably hates me after I completely cut her out and all my other friends from high school and left for Seattle.

Keeping my head down and averting eye contact, I pretend that I did not see her, and hopefully she won't notice me. I hide near the drinks in the back of the store, but unluckily for me, I am spotted.

"Oh my god! Is that really you Bella?" Angela asks once she sees me.

I look at her and she is half smiling at me as she approaches me while clearly shocked at my presence. "Yep, it's me, the one and only," I awkwardly reply as I force a smile on my face while slowly backing away from her.

"Wow, it's so good to see you! Everyone thought you were dead," she says while laughing. I roll my eyes.

"Nope, I just went somewhere far away for a while. It's good to see you too, Angela," I say. She's looking like she wants to start a long conversation with me, but I wish that I could vanish into thin air, and teleport somewhere else.

"Well, how are you?" she asks me.

"I'm doing pretty good, how about you?"

"I'm doing well," she says. "It's so weird to see you again. I never thought that you would come back. What brings you here suddenly?" she just has to ask.

I stare awkwardly at the floor for a few moments. Angela was probably my best friend in high school, but that's kind of a stretch. We were never really that close as I pretty much had a superficial relationship with everyone. She was one of the nicest people to me back then, and she and I could always sit together and enjoy a comfortable silence. She was always able to give me quiet space when I needed it, and she never tried to pry into my personal life when I didn't want to talk about it, unlike some other people.

"Umm," I hesitate to answer. I can't tell her the real reason I came here because that is honestly humiliating. "I was just driving through town, and I was just coming to visit Cha … my dad for a while. I've been living in Seattle for the past couple years with some friends, and you know …" I literally could not come up with a single good lie for why I was here, but my response doesn't really give away too much, so it's fine.

"Wait, you really didn't hear about Charlie?" she asks me a little with a worried expression on her face.

I froze for a moment. He couldn't be dead, could he? That's impossible. I try to tell myself that I'm just overreacting, but I can't help my stomach from tying into knots again. He just moved away clearly. I saw his house earlier today, and he wasn't there, so he had to have just moved away.

"Umm, no. What are you talking about?" I ask.

"He doesn't live here anymore. He got a new girlfriend, and things are very serious between them. His girlfriend got some job offer somewhere in California, and they moved away together," she said.

Well, now I have the confirmation that he actually left Forks, but I still can't believe that he would actually leave. He has always loved being here so much, and he rarely ever left town. He always used to tell me that if I ever needed to come back home, I would always know where to find him. I guess I just took him for granted. I've been so wrapped up in myself for a while now and completely ignored Charlie for four years just assuming that he would always be there for me when I was in trouble. But still, he wouldn't just leave Forks without trying to contact me and letting me know where he is. That's so not like him.

Tears almost well up in my eyes, but I force myself not to cry. I can't break down in front of Angela and lose face. I have to appear strong. I've been so horrible to Charlie, and he probably finally gave up on me, so I can't be surprised that he would pack up and leave home without telling me.

"Wow. I had no idea that he left. He never told me, which is strange," I mumble.

"Yeah, it is strange that Charlie wouldn't let you know where he went. Hmm. I think he moved somewhere near Los Angeles or some other city in Southern California, I'm not sure. He got another job as a police officer, and his girlfriend . . . I only met her once. I think her name is Joanne or something, and she's a big realtor or something like that, and they needed to move because she got a new job offer there. But yeah, it's so weird that you guys don't really keep in touch anymore. How come?"

At this point, I was done talking to her. This reunion was getting too personal. Right now, I want to just dig a hole and bury myself in it forever. Or bury her in it.

"Umm . . . It's complicated," I say slowly.

"It's fine, you don't have to talk about it," Angela reassures me. "Hey, I just got back from visiting some friends in Port Angeles, and I'm about to go get dinner. You could come with me if you want. It would be nice to catch a little bit, you know, if you're not busy."

I internally sigh. "Thanks for asking, but I should probably get going. I have to get back home soon," I lied. I didn't have anywhere to go. I have zero direction right now. I really don't care to eat dinner with her right now. I just want to find a safe place to park my car and take a nap. I should be heading back to Seattle and start looking for a job again. I don't have time to dawdle with Angela and play catch up over the past four years we haven't seen each other. Why does she even care about me anymore? Dear god, just let me leave.

My stomach grumbling clearly disagrees with me. I realize that I am actually hungry for real food and not some stupid gas station salad. I haven't had a real meal in so long. Honestly, going back to Seattle is no better than being here in Forks right now, and I feel like stalling my trip back home. I could endure having to sit and talk with Angela to eat a proper good meal.

"Oh okay, well sorry for pushing you. You're probably very busy. It was nice seeing you." Angela turns to leave, and I am about to lose the chance to have an actual nice meal for the first time in so long.

"Wait," I call out. "What restaurant are you going to? I'm actually really hungry, and it would be nice to catch up again. I haven't eaten in town in so long."

Angela smiles at me. "I'm going to a local pizza place south of here a little bit to meet up with my boyfriend, Ben. Ben Cheney, do you remember him?" she asks me.

"Oh yeah. He was the real smart guy in school. You guys are still together?" I ask. I completely forgot he existed until now.

"Yes, we've been going on almost five years now. He's really great. I'm sure he'd love to see you again. Anyway, the pizza place is really good. You've probably been there before. Are you sure you want to come with me?" she asks.

"Yeah, I'm sure. I'm starving," I say. I'm probably going to regret this. I hope I won't be too awkward around her trying to make conversation, but that'll probably happen anyway. I have no interest in seeing her boyfriend Ben again. That'll just make the evening more awkward. But, it's all worth it if I'll be able to eat actual pizza for the first time in what feels like years.