AN: Thanks to Kim for the beta :)
It was pushing eighty-five degrees and the sky was mostly clear. Summer in Forks was a stark contrast to the gray skies and persistent rain of the rest of the year. With a sigh, Holly took a seat to roll down the crank for the driver's side window. The window creaked down slowly, and she wished she had the money to get the air conditioning fixed. The car had sizzled in the parking lot all day and just opening the door had nearly knocked her over with the oppressive heat.
With another sigh, she leaned over to pop up the manual lock for the passenger side before lumbering over to the other side of the car to repeat the process with the passenger side window. Her feet ached and her head was starting to pound. To cap off a long day at work, she was starving.
Making her way back to the driver's side, she tried to think of the food in her pantry. "What do you think?" she murmured, patting her stomach as she felt a familiar flutter. "Peanut butter again?" she said lightly. She'd never been a fan of peanut butter growing up, but she'd done nothing but crave it for the past seven months.
Holly started the car and turned her fan on full blast, letting her head fall back against the headrest for a moment. The car would cool down once it got moving, but she just needed a moment. The day at work had been long, and she wanted nothing more than to just sleep.
The baby gave another kick and Holly gave a small, hollow laugh. "Not until I eat. I know."
Putting her car in reverse, she backed out of her spot and left the parking lot of the Olympia Suites Motel. It took only ten minutes for her to get to her tiny house, and she met the sight with a smile. Finding it had been sheer luck. The house was a tiny two bedroom where the owner – an older woman – had died, and her nephew in Los Angeles wanted to move the property quickly, furnishings included. It had fallen into her lap just as Forks had. Both times, she'd overheard other people talking, and things fell into place.
It was practically providential. The thought made her smile. Anne of Green Gables was rubbing off on her again if she was using words like providence in her thoughts.
It didn't take her long to settle down at the small kitchen table, peanut butter and banana sandwich in one hand and a baby name book in the other. She'd been looking over names for the past few months, making detailed lists of pros and cons. She still hadn't found the perfect name yet.
"What should I name you, baby girl?" she murmured, one hand coming to rest on her stomach again. She cleared away her dinner dishes, rinsing them methodically in the sink. There was something about washing dishes by hand that was soothing, in a mindless sort of way.
Holly settled herself on the couch, baby name book folded around the 'G' section. She tossed it on the table and decided not to switch on the radio, instead listening to the hum of cicadas and the wind through the trees. Forks was so quiet, so peaceful.
With an oomph, she reached under the sofa to retrieve her ball of yarn and needles, then pushed herself back upright on the cushions. As it was, she was practically reclining. She was so tired, but she wanted to get just a little bit more done on the blanket she was knitting. It'd been a long time since she was taught, but she was managing somewhat-decently so far. It was only a simple knit stitch – no fancy flowers or borders – but it was something for the baby. That thought alone powered her to get a bit more done tonight, tired or not.
"Some Friday night, eh," she said quietly, the corner of her mouth quirking. As if she heard, the baby kicked in reply. Holly dropped the needle from one hand, letting her palm rest on her stomach. She closed her eyes, trying to picture the baby. Maybe she would have blonde hair like her mama, and if she were lucky, eyes of a deeper blue. Hopefully she'd have Brian's nose.
Holly dropped that thought quickly. Perhaps the baby would have curly hair, and she could tie little ribbons in her hair. She'd be such a happy baby – eager to giggle, always with a smile. Holly could almost picture it: the wide baby eyes, the downy hair of a newborn, and the effervescent baby laugh.
The baby would sleep in the wooden crib she'd found a few weeks ago, with the mobile that played Pachebel's Canon, starfish and seahorses dancing in time. She'd paint the walls a pretty blue and find some seashells down on the beach. The seashells would go on the windowsill, and she would move the rocking chair from downstairs up into the bedroom.
She would rock her by the window, and put her to bed in the crib. She'd go down without a peep, and Holly had nothing to fear. The wolf would keep watch over her. He was curled up on the floor, next to the crib, with such soft silver-gray fur. She reached out a hand to touch and the wolf's head snapped up. His amber eyes locked with hers.
Holly woke up on the couch gasping, yarn still in her lap. In the distance, she heard a wolf howl from the open window and she shivered. It was just a dream.
Showers blew in overnight, cooling down the air and leaving the skies gray. Holly shivered and shut her front door, going back to retrieve a long sleeved shirt. She'd thought it would be warmer, but the air had more of a chill than she would have expected in late June. Washington was so very different from Ohio. It was something she loved, but it was also incredibly off-putting at times.
That difference wasn't a thought she wanted to dwell on, and she hastily buttoned the white shirt she'd grabbed. She had today off, and she had too many things to do. The first thing she wanted to do was get down to the beach and see if she could find some shells. She wasn't sure if she'd find much, but she wanted to go now. She'd made lots of lists of things to do in the next two months. She wanted everything to be perfect when the baby arrived.
As perfect as it could be, a voice in the back of her head whispered.
She grabbed a canvas bag on her second time out the door, this time much more comfortable in long sleeves. It was only about twelve miles to the beach, and Holly smiled slightly at the salty smell in the air. She never imagined living so close to the ocean. When the baby got older, she could take her down to the sand and teach her how to build castles. She could dabble her little feet in the ocean. She would have a peaceful childhood.
Before she knew it, she was parking the car on the pavement, hearing the waves rush onto the beach. water was gray-blue, blending in with the sky. She couldn't help but smile as she walked down the path to the sand. If she was lucky, she might find a sand dollar, maybe a nautilus shell. The beach was full of driftwood, and she could see some tourists further down, looking for whales. She'd never seen a whale, except for pictures and television, but Holly didn't linger looking out to the ocean. She probably couldn't spot a whale without binoculars, anyway – and to her, the water just looked cold. There had probably been a surfer or two yesterday, with the warmer temperatures, but it seemed like the chill had chased them all off, except some idiots jumping off a cliff – without wetsuits.
Holly rolled her eyes, back to hunting for shells, trying to ignore their whoops and running up and down the beach as they emerged from the ocean and began tossing a ball around. Instead of a shell, she found a piece of green sea glass. It was rather large, and Holly held it up to look at the etchings. Perhaps she could do something with sea glass? She knew tourists liked to buy jewelry made from it. Maybe she could try and make it into a necklace for the baby - when she was older. Holly fingered the enamel heart pendant around her neck, still holding up the glass in the hazy light. Vaguely, she heard the teenagers yelling again, but she didn't pay any attention. Were teenagers really that loud back in high school?
Something slammed into her face, and Holly dropped the glass as she tumbled backwards. She threw her hands back to catch herself, wincing as one hand landed on a sharp piece of driftwood. Splinters embedded themselves in her hand, and her back ached from the jarring landing. She drew in a sharp breath and blinked rapidly, more surprised than actually hurt. She felt another flutter, and let out the breath she'd been holding. The baby was fine.
"Sorry! We're so sorry! Didn't you hear us yell? Are you all right? I'm so sorry!" Their voices tumbled over each other, and Holly sucked in a breath as four very tall men towered over her.
"I'm – I'm fine," she said softly, putting a hand down to lift herself up, wincing again as the splinters dug into her palm. Two of them put hands under her elbow, effortlessly lifting her, as if the extra weight in her belly didn't matter. Based on the size of their arms, it probably didn't, she realized.
"Are you deaf or something?" she heard one of them mutter as he picked up the ball, and Holly shrank back, fumbling for her bag, bleeding palm forgotten. She just wanted to leave.
"Shut up, Paul," another hissed – one of the men who'd helped her up. The other man picked up her bag that she'd dropped and then grabbed her hand. "You're bleeding."
Holly tried to pull away from his grasp, shoulders hunched. "Please, let me go," she whispered in panic, voice rising enough at the end that the others bickering all turned to look at her, shocked. She withdrew her shaking hand and grabbed her bag quickly.
She looked up for a moment, seeing the shocked and baffled expressions on their faces. "I'm – I'm sorry," she whispered, turning abruptly and walking away as fast as she could. "Please don't follow me, please don't follow me," she said shakily under her breath, trying to ignore the stinging in her hand.
When she got a few yards away and closer to her car, she spared a quick glance over her shoulder. The men – how could she have thought them teenagers? – were still standing in the same spot, two of them restraining a third. The fourth was watching her, and Holly quickly whipped her head back in the direction of her car, fighting the urge to get in her car and drive away, far, far away from Forks.
It didn't mean anything. It was just an accident. They were just trying to help. They weren't blaming her. They didn't mean to hurt her.
They weren't Brian.