So, hi guys. I'm sure youre thinking, why Chedea, dont you have a story that you havent updated in like 39,398,346,734 years? What are you doing starting a new one? well, dont worry, the next chapter is coming out for Restraint soon. this was just a new one that I got the idea for this morning. Other than that I hope you enjoy and I'll be sure to get the next chapter up soon :).
"Come now, Bella, please stop being so petulant," my father said slowly, trying to coax me from my sulking. But I would not be so easily swayed. I could not believe he had done this to me, that I was in this place and he was leaving me behind like I was a forgotten toy.
"I am not being petulant," I retorted, glaring at him as I sat on the bed, plush and charming with its promised comfort. Still I would not stay my anger. My father gave me a knowing look and sighed.
"Bella, you are a woman now and that means that―"
"I am capable of making my own choices!" I interjected forcefully.
"—It would be improper for you to be unmarried much longer. I don't see why you are complaining about this match. He is no blacksmith or peasant. He lives in a palace by God, you should be grateful!" he shouted, his impatience showing. I would not cave. I was not going to pretend to be happy about this just to satisfy his guilty conscience. If he felt guilt over giving away his only child to someone he knew did not love her and she certainly did not care for. I had never even met him! The day I moved into his home—the massive palace he called his home—I was to meet him. I shuddered at the thought.
"Why can't you understand that this is the way it has to be?" he asked.
"Why cant you understand that this isn't the life I want?" I replied. He shook his head, as though he was giving up. We had been fighting about this for weeks now. As soon as I turned eighteen my father had been weeding through suitors. There had been a little more than a handful as I had been secretly pleased and quite surprised to find. I was looking forward to meeting them, spending time with them, falling in love. But I was told less than two weeks after my birthday that my father had found the man I was going to marry.
I had thrown a fit then. I was not one to make a scene or cause trouble, especially not for my father. But when he told me I was going to marry a man I had never met, let alone that I loved or cared for in the least, I was furious. I shouted, screamed at him that he could not force me, all the while knowing that he could. I refused to speak to him for three days, after which I begged, pleaded, bargained in any way I could to get him to let me stay.
But he had already given his answer to the suitor. I was already promised to a man. There was nothing he could do even if he wanted to. If he rescinded his acceptance he and I could both be killed. He had sealed my fate.
"Will you at least give him a chance?" he inquired.
"Yes, I will give him a chance. But even if he is the kindest, most wonderful man in the world, I know that I will never fully forgive or forget that he was so willing to take my hand in marriage without knowing who I am or what I want."
My father sighed once more.
"Will you ever forgive me?" he asked. I smiled weakly at him. The truth was I had already forgiven him. He was only doing what he thought was right. I could not be angry with him for that.
"Of course I will forgive you. I just wish things were different," I said softly. He smiled back at me. So did he. But before either of us could make apologies there was a light tapping at my door. I looked at my father for a moment, forgetting it was my room and that I needed to grant entrance. Finally I called for whomever it was to come in.
A delightfully plump little woman entered the room and bowed gracefully. I felt my stomach turn as I was reminded of my current status. But I smiled at her slightly.
"Master Jacob would like to see you, my lady," she said in a quiet, high-pitched voice. I nodded and stood. I glanced at my father who came to my side and we began to walk, following in the footsteps of the little woman. Each step made me feel ill. What if he was wretched? What if he was cruel or harsh or disgusting? What would I do if the man I was supposed to marry was horrible to me? Could I live through that?
We neared large oak doors; so massive it took two men to open a single one. They began pushing at a single massive wooden panel as soon as they saw us walking toward them. With every inch of the hall behind that was revealed I felt myself weaken. But only on the inside. I would not show weakness here, not in front of my father, or this man or any of the court that would see me.
The timing was perfect, so that the door was fully open enough to fit both my father and I through at the same time. I wasn't sure I would have made it through any other way. I had taken his arm on the way down. It would appear that I was just being ladylike, but in truth I knew I was going to need the physical support from him.
When we crossed the threshold the little woman we had been following disappeared. But the path we were to take was obvious. We walked right into the middle of the floor, being watched by several guards that had gathered. I didn't like the idea that people had come to see me but that was last on my list of worries for the moment.
When we were before the dais upon which the room was focused a man dressed in all white stepped forward. Was this my husband to be? But as soon as he opened his mouth I was assured he was not.
"Greetings, Isabella," he said. Before he had even finished speaking a figure began to emerge from the shadowy depths behind him.
The man that stepped forward was a giant. He towered over me by at least a foot, if not more. He had broad shoulders, covered by the finest clothing I had ever seen. But his face was the thing that I could not look away from. His skin was all lightly tanned, his eyes were almost black, matching the hair that hung plaited down his back. He looked gentle, in spite of his large stature. He descended the single step between the general floor and the dais and without a single moment of hesitation took my hand in his and kissed the back of it.
I felt my face light up with a burning blush. No one had ever been so forward. I didn't know what to do with such blatant affection. So I smiled. He grinned back, clearly pleased with himself. I looked up to my father. He was stoic. I was sure to hear his thoughts on this later. But for now he was not reacting.
"Jacob Black, at your service, Isabella," he said couteously. I smiled wanly. "You are so lovely," Jacob continued, his voice like a rumble of distant thunder. I smiled again.
"Thank you," I replied, unable to think of anything else.
"Perhaps we should go somewhere where we are not being observed," he suggested. I nodded, not trusting my tongue with words. With such confidence he removed me from my father's side and took my arm. I had to hurry to match his swift pace as he led me away from the large hall and into something more private. I cast a look behind me to my father, who was staring after me, almost as if I was already gone. To him it was possible that I already was. After this moment I did not know when I would see him. He would return home and could surely visit when he wanted. I was just unsure of when that would be.
The room Jacob brought us to was a sitting room, in which a roaring fire was already burning. An older man was sitting in a large wing backed chair by a fire. He turned to see us as we entered the room and cast a questioning look at Jacob.
"Who is this?" he asked quickly. Jacob looked down at me—quite literally—and smiled.
"Isabella, the woman I told you about. Isabella, this is my father," he said politely. I nodded his direction, bowing my head in respect. Jacob released me then and sat on a chaise by the fire, gesturing for me to find a seat myself. I did so as gracefully as possible. Which meant that I stumbled into my seat rather than actually sitting down. Jacob's eyes shown with wolfish amusement as he watched me, but I ignored it.
"How are you enjoying your accommodations, Isabella?" Jacob's father asked.
"They are perfectly pleasant, thank you. And please, call me Bella," I responded with every social grace I could muster. His father laughed.
"Very well, Bella. You may call me Billy, if it pleases you."
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Billy."
He grinned again and looked at his son, who was yet to lose the victorious grin. He wasn't a bad looking man, but regardless of how he looked, I was more interested in him as a person. I was going to marry him. There was nothing I could do about it. I only prayed that I was lucky enough to have been betrothed to a man that would treat me well.
"So tell us about yourself, Bella. My son seems to have forgotten all his manners. I'm sure you would like to know about each other," Billy said with amusement.
"Oh certainly. Well, my father raised me. My mother died when I was very young, soon after childbirth. It has been just he and I for a long time. But now that I am eighteen he thought it appropriate that I get engaged and so, here I am," I said. I didn't want to babble on unnecessarily. Both Billy and Jacob seemed as though they were expecting more from me, but I didn't feel particularly inclined to share every detail of my life story at that moment. These things took time.
"Strange, my mother died when I was young as well. But my father has looked out for me my whole life. Now it is my turn. You see my father―"
"Jacob, there is no need to pester the girl with trivial details of my life," his father interrupted. And even though his words seemed friendly, his tone was serious. He was not to continue. There was a moment of tense silence.
"What does your father do?" Jacob asked to end the strain of the moment.
"He is the sheriff—collects taxes and enforces the laws. He is an honorable man," I said.
"And he has raised a charming daughter," Jacob replied. I blushed again.
"You should stop saying such things, my ego might inflate beyond control," I warned him. He laughed as did his father, and for a moment, I forgot where I was and why. There was only laughter, only a feeling of camaraderie.
Before any more words could be spoken there was a sharp knock on the door, followed by the entrance of a pair of people, followed by two others. The first pair was a man and woman, holding hands. The man was tall and tanned just like Jacob; the woman was pale and beautiful. The pair behind them was two more men. All of them were clearly familiar with Jacob and his father.
"Ah, my friends, I see you've come to meet Bella," Jacob said. "Bella the lovely woman you see is Emily, and her husband Sam. The two buffoons behind them are Quil and Embry. They are all good friends of mine. Everyone, this is Bella."
I smiled as brightly as I could manage at the group that had entered and they all greeted me the same.
"Its delightful to meet you, Bella. Maybe I will finally have another woman to talk to," she said. Her voice was so friendly I could not help but respond with an automatic yes. She grinned and then turned to say something to Sam. On the side of her face was a set of slashes, horrific scars that marred her gorgeous face. I was taken aback but said nothing. Jacob noticed my face and nodded but said nothing. Talk broke out amongst the group of friends as they all found a place to sit and enjoyed each other's company.
Yet in the middle of this group of familiarity and affection, I was the odd one out. It was clear that Jacob would try to include me in the conversation or pay attention to me, but I had nothing to say. They spoke of things I did not understand. I appreciated his effort but it was going to be lost on me.
Billy sat quietly back and watched all of this go on. A few hours passed of friendly conversation and banter before Jacob's father confessed fatigue. Jacob rose to help him, at which point he immediately told him to sit down. He was a proud man, and I could respect that about him. I wondered what of his character he had passed to his son.
After Billy left a few more of Jacob's comrades joined us, two more men named Paul and Jared. He seemed to have so many people he loved. His family might have been limited to his father, but he had so many friends that seemed like family I was sure it hardly bothered him. It grew late with the group of people. They seemed so easy together. And for those hours I wanted nothing more than to sit with them and enjoy that company. And I did. Until the hour grew so late and they disbanded to their separate places.
"Shall I escort you to your room?" Jacob asked when everyone had gone. I nodded and yawned, as though to punctuate this point. We walked in together not talking or touching. He found his way through the winding halls faster and with more ease than I could have ever managed on my own.
"This is where I leave you," he told me as we stood before my door. I smiled and thanked him for the escort. Before any more could be spoken I disappeared within my quarters.
I sat on my bed without undressing for a long time. This seemed so relaxed and friendly, and Jacob seemed wonderful. But I could not help the resentment I still felt. I sat around thinking, I got up and paced, I wore myself ragged with my unfailingly maddening thoughts until I was tired and parched.
So I quietly left my room to find a bathroom or the kitchen where I could get a drink of water. I wandered for a few minutes before I heard talking, low voices beginning to rise. It sounded like an argument.
"I wont have him here, father. I simply won't. Sam doesn't like the idea and neither do I. We can find another doctor," Jacob said. There was no mistaking his deep voice.
"He is the best doctor we have and you know this. Do you think I like the idea of him in my home any better than you do? I certainly do not. But I can't leave to go to him any longer. You know this. I understand your discomfort, but there is nothing we can do, Jacob."
Their voices then dropped so low I could not hear them. I stood in the hall or a moment, unable to move. Who were they talking about? And why did Billy need a doctor? Even though I was still thirsty I made my way back to my room without finding refreshment. I did not want to risk being seen or heard.
As I slept I found no relief from my questions. My dreams were full of mysteries and frightening images. I was happy to wake.
That day Jacob needed to go talk to someone in town. He asked if I would like to go along and even though what I had overheard the night before made me nervous, I went with him. We spent the ride there talking of our lives. It seemed as though we were going to become fast friends. He was easy to talk to and seemed very relaxed. I had been expecting some pompous, tightly wound man and was given instead the down to earth Jacob.
We walked about town for a while, in search of the person Jacob needed. We eventually ended at a small shop I had never been inside before. I didn't know whom it was that we were trying to find, but Jacob stiffened as the door opened so it was apparent he was not happy about it.
Inside the shop were jars upon jars of things that I did not recognize. Before I was able to ask Jacob what we were doing in this strange shop, a man appeared from the back. He looked young, late twenties perhaps. He had blonde hair and ocher colored eyes and he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He looked surprised to see Jacob there but looked to me with a kind smile.
"Jacob, this is quite a surprise, what can I help you with?" he asked. His voice was like velvet, smooth and rich. I was drowning in the sound as each syllable sounded.
"Dr. Cullen, my father is not well enough to come to you any longer. He dose not think it would be wise for him to leave the house. But perhaps you would be so gracious you could…come to our home to treat him," Jacob said, his voice sounding more displeased with every word.
"You are sure that is the most sensible course of action?" he asked, even more surprised than he had been before. Jacob sighed.
"That is what my father wishes, that is what I came to ask. If you do not think you would be able to, for any reason at all, please say so and we will find another doctor."
"No, not at all. It will not be a problem. I will do whatever is necessary to care for your father. I only ask if you would mind if I bring my new son with me. He is training to be a doctor and I think he is ready to come for a hands on case."
Jacob said he didn't mind at all. Without another word Dr. Cullen disappeared into the back again to retrieve his son and his medical supplies as far as I could guess.
"Don't get too fixated. He's married," Jacob told me with a laugh. I hadn't realized how much I had been staring. I smiled weakly back at him and felt myself blush horribly. But the sound of approaching footsteps brought my attention back to where I was sure the doctor would be emerging any minute.
And he surely did, a black leather bag in hand. He smiled at me again and I managed a smile in return. Jacob only laughed at me again.
However he did not laugh when another man followed after Dr. Cullen. He was not beautiful in the same way Dr. Cullen was beautiful—in an unearthly, angelic way—but in a way that my mind could not put words on. He was tall and lithe, but my eyes could not move away from his face. Two emerald colored eyes looked back at me, the occasional lock of bronze hair interrupting his steady gaze. I was aware of my staring even as I did it. And yet I could not stop myself.
"Jacob, you know my son, Edward. However neither of us know this young woman," he trailed off and waited for either Jacob or I to finish.
"Bella, I'm Bella," I said quickly. Edward was walking toward us as all this was happening. And by the time I spoke my name he was close enough to touch. His hand took mine and planted a gossamer kiss upon my palm, his eyes never leaving mine. It gave me a shiver.
"A pleasure to meet you," I said quietly, hardly able to breathe. He smiled a beautifully crooked grin.
"The pleasure is all mine, Bella, I assure you," he replied, his voice like a song. Jacob gently put his hand on my arm and led me out the door, with the doctor and Edward trailing behind us. But even as I walked into the bright sunlight and through the whole ride home, I could only repeat his name in my mind. Edward. It was so lovely, old fashioned but fitting. I couldn't look at him again without making it exceedingly obvious what I was doing so I sat and thought about his pointed staring, his gentle kiss to my palm.
When we returned to my new home, Dr. Cullen and Edward followed Jacob to his father's room. I walked with them reluctantly, not sure what else I could do. At the door however, Jacob left me behind.
"Why don't you go find Emily? She seemed excited to speak with you yesterday, I'm sure you could find something to chat about for a while," he said kindly. I sighed and nodded.
"Edward, I think it would be best if you remained outside for a moment so I can speak with Billy and Jacob alone. I will call you in when we are ready," Dr. Cullen said. Edward nodded and cast a sidelong glance at me as I did the same to him. Jacob did not look pleased but entered his father's room regardless, followed quickly by the doctor.
There was a moment where neither Edward nor I knew what to do or say while we were alone.
"So you want to be a doctor?" I asked nonchalantly. Edward nodded.
"My father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse. But it didn't stop them from being killed when I was young. Carlisle has raised me. He is as much of a father to me as any other man could have been. I would like to follow in his footsteps."
His words sank into my skin as his eyes trained on mine. I nodded in response to his answer but remained silent myself.
"And what of you?" he asked. I laughed without humor. I did not know how to tell him what I was doing in this place with Jacob. I was too afraid to think it to myself let alone tell this man I had scarcely just met that I was to marry someone I did not know any better than I knew him.
"Bella?" he asked again.
"I'm eighteen now. My father wanted me to be accepted into society. In order for me to do that, I need to be married. And Jacob is…interested and capable of taking care of me. My father thought it would be a good match," I answered, hardly knowing where my words were coming from. A line formed between Edward's eyes, a wrinkle of worry on his angel face for me.
"So you must marry him."
"How long have you known him?" he asked.
"I met him yesterday," I replied. His face became completely incredulous.
"You don't know him, and yet you're going to marry him. What about love? Or choice? Or your life?" he asked. Again I laughed somberly.
"Those things are not as important as they should be."
"It is just that…my father—Carlisle—taught me about women, how to treat them with respect and about love and how important it is. I can't imagine a person making you marry a man you don't love."
I looked up at him and smiled.
"Yes, well that would put you in the minority in this place."
"Oh I already am. We have been here a year already. My upbringing has put me at odds with many of your customs."
"Well where are you from?" I asked, curious what kind of place he was raised that clashed so severely with our practices.
"All over," he said with a grin. I sighed and rolled my eyes, but I was also smiling.
Before he spoke again he cocked his head to the side. When he looked back at me the smile in his eyes had faded.
"I think perhaps you should go now. Jacob will be out here in a moment with my father and I do not think it would be wise for us to be seen together alone," he said with a certainty I couldn't bring myself to question.
"Definately not," I agreed.
"Until the next time," Edward said, sounding so sure that there would be a next time. I nodded and looked at him for another moment, memorizing his face in case he was wrong. And then I walked away from the room in which my soon to be husband was with his dying father and the godlike doctor.
But mostly I left behind a man I wished I had met earlier. Maybe then I wouldn't be trapped in this marriage agreement that I had no say in, trapped in a life I never asked for, trapped in a fate I never wanted.
I didn't return to my room. I didn't know where to go or how to get there, so I wandered for a while. Eventually I was able to get to the same sitting room I had spent time in the day before. And even though there was no one with whom to spend my time, I was happy just to sit alone and read some of the many books upon the shelves. I spent hours there alone, trying to block out my thoughts with the words from the pages before me.
When Jacob finally found me it was far past dinner. I wasn't hungry anyway, even though he seemed to think I should eat anyway. He couldn't understand how a person could just not want to eat. When he asked I told him what I had done for the rest of the day, and that I had enjoyed the solitude.
As with the night before, he walked me to my door. But instead of just letting me go this time, he grabbed my arm the moment before I disappeared into my chambers.
"Bella, I know this isn't what you wanted for yourself. It isn't what you would have chosen. But please, give me a chance to make you happy," he entreated. I looked at him for a long time then, his large black eyes on his gentle, pleading face. I nodded without words and then he let me go.
I leaned against my closed door for a long moment before continuing on into my room, wondering what I had just agreed to and why. Was it because I really thought he could make me happy, or because he seemed so desperate to try? In the end it didn't matter, I had given him permission to do whatever he had in mind to satisfy me.
But before I could think much more on the subject, my eye was caught to something that was utterly out of place. There was something on my bed, something that did not belong there.
Upon my quilt lay a single red rose, in full bloom and gorgeous. I thought for a moment perhaps Jacob had been trying to charm me. And yet for some reason that struck me as all wrong.
It wasn't Jacob.
It was Edward.