Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
This story takes place in an alternate universe and begins almost fifteen years after chapter three of New Moon. When Charlie called Renée to come to Forks, Bella went back to Jacksonville with Renée.
Thanks to Alphie and Be My Escape for their help and patience with this story. They were both so much more than beta readers.
by silly bella
I watched as the girl carried boxes into the house from the back of the truck. I wasn't sure if she really looked that much like Bella, or it was just wishful thinking. She was taller. She didn't seem in any danger of falling. But otherwise, she seemed like a mirage, a vision to toy with my mind. Would she or her parents notice me wandering around their property on occasion?
My family ignored my periodic absences. They knew full well where I went when I disappeared, but they never mentioned it. Jasper offered, from time to time, to run a computer check on her and let me know about her life. But that was wrong. I knew that she'd gone to live with her mother in Jacksonville and that she'd married someone right out of high school. There was nothing more for me to know. I'd been right. She'd moved on. But my heart was still in Forks.
I returned my focus to the child in front of me. This girl was young. A teenager, I guessed. Probably about Bella's age when she moved here. She didn't look happy about it, either. I wondered where her parents were, and why they had left her here to unpack alone. I might as well make myself useful.
"Would you like some help?" I asked cheerfully. She grinned as I walked towards her.
"As long as you don't mention it to my mother. She has this really scary thing about talking to strangers. Especially here in Forks. She's a little paranoid." The girl laughed. "She acts like I'm going to run into serial killers having an annual convention or something. Like this place could be dangerous." Her mind was working furiously as well. He's really cute. I wonder if he goes to school here? He probably already has a girlfriend. But he really is cute.
I grinned. Like I hadn't heard that before. Might as well take advantage of the situation and learn more about the family, as well. They might not be seeing so much of me, but I'd probably see a lot of them. Good to know what's in store. "What about your father?" I asked. "What does he think of strangers?" She stood back, eyeing me with an evaluative stare as I climbed into the truck to find a light box for her and a heavier one for me.
She shrugged and approached the truck. "Daddy died a little over a year ago. And he thought Mom was paranoid, at least, just a little. He never understood why Mom wouldn't let me go hiking or anything like that when we came to visit." A chuckle escaped her lips. "We knew why she didn't hike around here. The same reason she didn't hike anywhere. She was a disaster waiting to happen. But Daddy, well, when I went with him, there was no reason for her to worry about the two of us in the woods."
The box I was handing off flipped open and some books fell out. One of them sprawled open, exposing the inside cover. There was a name inside. Isabella Swan. The girl's scent hit me as I gathered the books. It wasn't anywhere nearly as strong as Bella's, but it was strong enough. And vaguely familiar. "So are you Charlie Swan's granddaughter?" It wasn't possible. There was no way Bella had a daughter this old. It was simply impossible.
But somehow, she was shaking her head. "Yeah," she grinned as she rolled her eyes. "That's Forks for you. Marietta Baldovino. I would say at your service, but it seems more like you're at mine. And you are?"
I raised my eyebrows. Bella had daughter? A teenaged daughter? A poised teenaged daughter? What had she asked me? My name. "Edward," I stammered. It hadn't been that long. How could Bella have a teenage daughter? But Bella was right about her not going into the woods. The scent of her blood would attract any vampires who might be hunting in the area. I followed her with the box. "So how old are you?"
"Thirteen," she smiled as she tossed her hair over her shoulder to look into my eyes. "What about you?"
"I'm seventeen," I said hesitantly. Thirteen. Younger than she looks. Younger than she acts. But still! Bella had a teenage daughter?
Seventeen. Four years difference. But girls mature faster than boys, so that works. She smiled again. "A senior, then?"
"Something like that," I murmured. I was still staggered by the fact that Bella had a thirteen-year-old daughter. That explained why she looked so much like Bella. At least I wasn't going crazy. And her smile. That was Bella's, too. But the differences seemed far more vast. She had powerful self-confidence. And she must have inherited some coordination from her father. She'd clearly have the boys of Forks wrapped around her little finger. Maybe even more-so than her mother. And where Bella had never seemed comfortable with attention, her daughter appeared perfectly at ease with it. It almost made me think of Rosalie. Bella's daughter made me think of Rosalie? Maybe I was losing my mind.
We carried the boxes into the house. I asked her to just sit the ones that went upstairs at the foot of the stairs so I could carry them up. I didn't want to take any chances on being wrong about her coordination. "So what's your mother like?" I asked, suddenly eager to learn more about Bella.
"She's not like somebody's mother," Marietta laughed. "At least, not except for the 'don't talk to strangers' thing. She's kind of fun. She was really young when I was born, so maybe that's it. She has brothers and sisters younger than I am. Well, half-brothers and a sister. People think that Mom and I are sisters all the time. When they find out she's my mother, they always act like she must have been some unwed fourteen-year-old when I was born. She was nineteen. But she still looks young."
I nodded, grinning at the image of Bella I saw in Marietta's thoughts. If it was accurate, Bella hadn't changed much. "How long were your parents married?" I forced the air in and out of my lungs, trying to calm myself as I listened. I probably looked like I was hyperventilating, which was bizarre, since I didn't even need to breathe.
"It would have been fourteen years, more or less," she raised her eyebrows. "I was a honeymoon baby. Daddy always used to make a big deal of it. He never wanted anyone to get the wrong idea, which, if you'd ever seen my parents together, would be easy to get." She made a face as an image of Bella greeting a dark-haired man at the door flashed through her memory. Bella raced to the door and leapt into his arms. He caught her and kissed her as she wrapped her arms and legs around him and he carried her through the house.
Think about something else, please. Enough of that image. I really didn't want to see it. "What does your mom do?" I asked. Make her think of something else. That might help.
"My mom? She teaches English. If you're a senior, you might have her for class. She really likes teaching Brit Lit," she paused. "She's got a position here in Forks so we can stay with Gramps. He has Alzheimer's. Mom wanted to have someone take care of him here at home, but it just wasn't working. She had to move him to a home in Port Angeles. She's there right now checking things out."
"And she left you to move in?"
She shrugged. "We didn't have that much. Most of it was already here. Some people she knew when she lived here helped with the furniture last week. She'll help when she gets back. It shouldn't be that long. I'll have to stop and start cooking dinner soon. Would you like to stay? You ought to get something for helping me so much." I wonder what he likes to eat? Not that there's much here to choose from. We need to go to the grocery.
"I really shouldn't." What would Bella say? What would she think? I couldn't stay. No matter how much I wanted to see her. I did want to see her.
"Don't be silly. If you really don't mind carrying all those boxes upstairs, then I'll start dinner while you do that. Mom will be here soon. The phone's over there if you need to call anyone." She gestured to the kitchen. And I'll be able to check the number so I can call him later.
I could still take things upstairs. I'd just do it quickly and then leave before Bella came home. It wouldn't take long; the boxes were marked according to room. I was about done when I heard the front door shut.
"Smells good, Mari Alice." It was Bella. And who was she talking to?
"How's Gramps?" Marietta asked, without waiting for an answer. "I had some help with the boxes. A local boy. I invited him to stay for dinner. He didn't want to, but I convinced him." I hope she doesn't get mad. She'll probably assume he's an axe-murderer. Her tone of voice changed, "He's not a dangerous stranger, Mom. He's just some kid who lives here who offered to help me. A nice guy. Be nice to him." She paused. "Please, Mom." And in a voice that I wouldn't have been able to hear if I were human, she whispered to Bella, "Besides, Mom, he's cute." He's really cute.
Bella laughed and sighed. "Fine sweetie. I'll be nice. I promise. Where's your friend?"
"He's upstairs with the boxes." I heard Marietta walk to the stairway and call my name. Too late to hide. Too late to run away. Even if I ran, she'd figure it out. I took a deep breath and walked down the hall to the head of the staircase.