Disclaimer: Sadly I don't own any of these characters and instead, I must bow down to the creator of the best book series ever, Stephenie Meyer.
Persuasion: Chapter One
I was frightened of what might happen.
The war was raging and Papa was to be shipped over seas to fight. I loved him so much and I was scared of what might happen to him. What if he didn't come back? What would Mama and I do? We could earn no money without Papa here to support us. But he did leave, telling us he had to fight for his country. No matter how much we begged he could not stay.
"Isabella," he told me with a smile. "I'm so proud of you and I want to see what becomes of my little lady. But this is something your Papa has to do. Be strong baby." And then, he was gone.
He wrote to us as much as he could. I remembered sitting on the doorstep of our small Washington home as the mail boy would ride around the corner on his bike. I'd jump to my feet and wait at the front gate for him to stop and hand me my letter. Papa would always sound cheery in his messages, how he made new friends with his fellow comrades and the many jokes and stories they told each other. He'd told them all about Mama and I and how he loved us both so much. I wanted to write back to him but Mama told me I couldn't being that his troop moved too often to receive mail.
But everything changed a few weeks after that message. I'd wait for the mail boy to come around and he'd search deep in his bag only to pull out nothing. Papa's messages were no longer coming to us and Mama cried at night when we heard no news.
Then there was that faithful day. I was sixteen now and sitting on the doorstep like always, waiting for the letter I knew wouldn't come. Mama had told me a proper lady would come inside and practise her piano but I didn't like to play. I loved to hear her play but I was complete rubbish at a musical instrument.
That's when his bike turned the corner and I ran to the gate like always.
"Do I have a letter, sir?" I asked as he stopped in front of me.
His face was solemn as he handed me the message. It wasn't like the ones Papa used to send. It looked so … official. Like a printing press had copied the same message over and over again.
"Mama," I called as I stared at the letter.
She leaned out the window of the sitting room. "Yes, dear?" she asked.
I turned and held up the message. "I don't think it's from Papa," I said slowly.
She was confused as I handed it to her, through the window. Her expression froze as she looked at the front of the envelope. She put her hand over her mouth and the tears started to leak down her cheeks as the sobs broke free from her chest.
"Mama!" I cried. "What's wrong?"
But I already knew what had happened. My Papa, my father had died serving his country.
I'd never cried so much in my life. I didn't come out of my room for days, just lying on my bed, my body shaking as I sobbed into my pillow. I'd never get over it. The household was dead without him here and every time I looked somewhere I could see him there. The way we all sat by the fireplace at Christmas and how Papa would always read me a story when I was little. But I was a woman now. I had promised him I would be strong and be a proper young lady.
Mama had it much worse than I did. We didn't talk to each other for days until I walked into the sitting room to see her crying. We held on to each other, knowing we were all we had left.
But there were other pressing matters at hand. Mama had taught piano lessons but more and more people were unable to pay for it and soon we were left almost penniless. No matter how much I wanted to say no, you can't, she had to. Mother had to remarry if not for her sake than mine. She always wanted me to have a good education and find a fine husband to make all my dreams come true, but I had to be educated for that.
His name was Mr. Phil Dwyer. He was a nice man and I really liked him, as did mother. He bought me pretty dresses to wear and applauded whenever I did something good and talked with me when I was alone. I would have liked him as a friend, but not my father. No one could replace Papa.
But whenever I talked about him Mama would be angry. She didn't like to talk about him anymore. She told me I had to move as she did. But I couldn't give it up. I still loved him too much.
Forbidden to remember terrified to forget.
Mother was happy and whenever he came to the house she would smile widely and enjoy herself. I didn't want to ruin it so when Mr. Dwyer asked Mama to marry him I left. I ran away in the dark of the night, scared out of my wits at what trouble I could get into out in the big world at sixteen. There was one place I always wanted to go. We'd gone there was I was little and I loved it. I loved the feeling of being in the big city and in the middle of all the excitement. I could have gone to New York but I felt at home in Chicago so I got on a train and rode there, alone.
It was scary to be alone but I did meet some nice people on the way, all of them close to my age. Some nice boys like Mike, Eric and Jacob helped me along the way since they took the trains a lot. They offered to accompany me all the way to Chicago but I told them no, I had to do this on my own. They looked slightly offended but didn't argue any further as I said my good byes to them and headed into the city.
It was just as I had remembered it. Busy, loud and full of life. There were so many people around me that I had to squeeze through the crowds at times, my tiny body able to get through anything.
As I was walking along the street I turned a corner and fell into someone holding many bags.
"Oh!" I cried as I bent to pick up their things. "Excuse me!"
"No, no dear," she assured me as she helped me put things back in her bags. "Silly me."
We both stood again as I smiled at the woman. She was a very beautiful woman with bronze coloured curls and deep green eyes on her heart shaped face. She smiled warmly at me before picking up her heavy bags.
"Would you like some help?" I asked kindly and she nodded, handing me one of the bags.
"Thank you," she said as we started to walk again. "Monday's are always too busy for shopping and yet I choose this day." She laughed and I giggled with her as we turned another corner. "Oh, where are my manners? I'm Elizabeth Masen, dear." She said the last name proudly and I could have guessed she was married.
"Mrs. Masen?" I asked and she nodded with a grin. "My name is Isabella Swan."
"Well Isabella –"
"Please, call me Bella."
She smiled again. "Bella, then. I can see you are too young a lady for a husband, am I correct?"
"Yes ma'am," I said with a nod.
"Well no worries there," she said as we crossed the busy road, myself jogging to catch up to her. "You are sure to find a suitable husband here. What with the whole city crawling with nice young men."
I blushed and she giggled again as we turned up another street, which wasn't as busy as the main road. The cobbled lane was deserted other than the young children playing hopscotch and kicking a ball around. The sidewalks were covered with chalk as the kids drew pictures on them all day. The houses on either side were dark and old as well as squished together tightly. But with the iron gates in front of the tiny gardens made it somehow more dignified than my street ever was.
"How old are you, dear?" she asked suddenly.
"I'm sixteen now," I said proudly as she turned and walked up the steps to the third house in on the left. "I'll be seventeen in September."
"Well isn't that lovely?" she said as she opened the door and walked inside.
The entrance hall was very nice. The ceilings were high with a small lamp hanging above the door. The large oak staircase curled around as it led up to the second level with beautifully polished wood. The red and gold carpet led up the staircase on top of the wooden floors. The plain cream walls were nothing like my old house, which was, patterned everywhere you went.
She walked in quickly, heading through a door straight ahead, which was the kitchen I presumed, as I slowly closed the door and gaped at the room around me.
Mrs. Masen came back into the room; her arms now free as she smiled at me. "Thank you for your help," she said with sincerity in every word.
"Oh, yes," I said realising I'd have to leave now.
"Before you go dear," she said as I turned. "Would you like a cup of tea?"
My face brightened at the thought of staying. "Yes, that would be lovely."
She waved me to my right saying, "the parlour is just in there. Make yourself at home."
When she left me I slowly walked into the room. It was just as beautiful as the last. The red and gold carpets in a repeated pattern as well as the large curtains hanging around the many windows, brightening up the whole room. The walls were still the same colour as the hall as I walked to sit on the sofa by the large fireplace. The chandelier hung from the ceiling with sparkling beads making it glow. All of the design elements had been put into this room to make it beautiful enough to take your breath away. The fabric on the sofa was red and very soft as I brushed my hand on the seat.
"Do you like it?" Mrs. Masen voice said, making me jump as she walked into the room holding the tray of tea.
"Yes," I answered. "You house is beautiful."
"You are very kind," she said as she sat down across from me. "It's been in my husbands family for years."
"Oh," I said as she poured the tea. "Where is he now, if I may ask?"
"The law offices, of course," she said with a smile. "It's like he never leaves. There's always one new case after another to tend to. He's all about helping others, my husband. Sugar?"
"Yes, thank you," I answered. "Is it just you and your husband living here?"
She giggled and shook her head. "Oh no," she said, handing me my cup. "We have our son, Edward, also. He's just about your age."
"Oh?" I asked.
"Yes. He's turning eighteen in June." She sighed at this.
"Is there something wrong?" I asked.
She looked up at me with a small smile, her green eyes troubled. "He's too much like his father for his own good. You've heard the rumours, have you not? About the draft?"
"Yes," I murmured, pressing my lips together. "I've heard. It's terrible."
"It is," she agreed. "And now all he wants to do is go to war."
"Really?" I asked in surprise. "Why?"
"He believes he is doing no good sitting here at home," she sighed. "I wouldn't put it past him if he's tried to sign up before. He's always been so stubborn."
We were silent for a moment before she continued. "So, Bella," she said. "Where are you from, originally? You looked lost out there."
"Washington State," I answered.
"Really?" she asked surprised. "What are you doing out here on your own?"
"I ran away," I admitted, looking at my hands.
"And why did you do that?" she continued, only concern deep in her voice.
I looked up at her again. "My father died in battle a few months ago and my mothers getting married again."
"I'm sorry, dear," she said. "You do not like who she is marrying?"
"No, I do," I answered. "But he can never take the place of my real father. I didn't want to ruin their happiness so I came here."
"So you have no place to go?" she asked.
I blushed but nodded. "Well you are welcome to stay here."
"Oh, no," I said shaking my head. "You are very kind but I don't want to intrude-"
"Nonsense!" she fluffed. "You helped me before, I can only be good enough to return the favour -"
She was cut off as the front door opened and laughing was heard in the hall. Mrs. Masen smiled and shook her head, rolling her eyes.
"Boys," she called and the laughing stopped. "I do hope you haven't brought any of that home with you?"
Suddenly a curly, black haired, muscled boy popped his head through the door with an innocent smile.
"Good afternoon Mrs. Masen," he said politely before his eyes shot over to look at me and then away again.
"Hello Emmett," she sighed with a smile. "Staying out of trouble?"
"Of course ma'am," he said with a nod. "Why would we get into trouble? It's not like we shot anything – ow!" As he was talking someone from the hall had hit him over the head and the laughing erupted again. Emmett disappeared for a moment and there was scuffling as Mrs. Masen sighed again and stood.
"Jasper," she called and the scuffling stopped. "You and Emmett go home to your mothers before I have to ring them myself."
"Yes ma'am," another voice, probably Jasper, came. "Tomorrow Edward."
"He most certainly will not be going out tomorrow," she said before walking to the door and leaving me alone. Many groans were heard. "Edward will be doing errands for his mother. Now off you go."
The boys said their goodbyes and the door closed again.
"Now," I heard her say again. "I want you to meet someone."
There was another groan as she walked into the room again, holding a boy to her arm. Or was he really the seventeen-year-old boy Mrs. Masen had been talking about? He was so tall and lanky he looked like a man. We both blinked quickly when our eyes met, his deep green like his mothers. The colour of his eyes went perfectly with his auburn hair, which was either naturally messy or made to look that way. His prominent jaw, which had been clenched when he walked into the room, was now relaxed as he stared at me in surprise. I had to fight to keep my mouth closed. I couldn't admit it out loud but he was the most handsome boy I had ever seen.
"Well," his mother said, breaking us both out of our staring contest as he looked at her. "Greet the girl for goodness sake."
I nervously played with my hands as I stared at a smiling Mrs. Masen. She stood on her tiptoes to whisper in his ear. He pulled away, looking at her with narrowed eyes as she grinned. She pushed him slightly forward and he sighed before walking over to me.
"Miss. Swan," he said in a velvet voice as I stared up at him. I lifted my hand up to shake his but he surprised me. His eyes were gentle as he took my hand, his own course but careful as held my fingers. But instead of shaking he brought it up to his face to kiss it. My face had never been so red and I could swear I saw Mrs. Masen's smile grow as she watched us.
"Please," I said my heartbeat overreacting. "Call me Bella ... Edward." A thrill went through my body when I said his name and I was finding it hard to breathe.
"Bella," he said with a crooked smile that had me shaking.
I was sad when he let go of my hand and straightened up to look like a perfect gentleman. I put my hand back on my lap and looked over his mother who was still smiling.
"You see?" she asked. "How hard was that?"
Edward laughed but I couldn't look at him due to the fact I could start hyperventilating at any moment.
"Bella will be staying with us for a few days," she continued as I looked at my hands again although I could feel his gaze on me.
"Excuse me ladies," he said before walking past his mother, her lips pursed, and out the doorway.
Mrs. Masen giggled and walked over to sit next to me and put her hands on my shoulders. "May I tell you something?" she asked excitement in her green eyes making her look years younger.
"Of course," I answered, turning to face her.
"I've never seen him look at any girl like that," she whispered in my ear. My heart thumped hyperactively in my chest at those words. "You don't know how many have looked at him like that without him looking back. Do you like him?"
I thought for a moment but already knowing the answer. "He has … charm," I said slowly, keeping my face clear.
She frowned and shook her head. "I saw a lot more than charm in your face, dear," she said with another smile.
I pressed my lips together as my face burned.