By Ani aka Cherished Dreams
Disclaimer: I don't own Stephenie Meyer's characters. I own the plot though!
Author's Note: Sorry for the non-post of the last REAL chapter. It's been an up and down kind of week. Family emergencies, busy work time, university spring intake coming up and just an unnatural physical avoidance to my laptop lately have all contributed. I hope to make it up to you guys soon. (I know the side story wasn't very good -- I left out a lot of information of Bella's going to Seattle club night on purpose -- that and it was a lame attempt on my end of humor I know, I know -- stick to drama and angst XD)
So without further delay, here's chapter five - the start of the story at last. :)
Returning to her homey campus dorm from vacations always left Bella with mixed emotions. On one hand, she felt a sense of relief to be back on campus, back in her own personal solace, being allowed to do what she felt, when she felt and just the routine of it all. However, the sense of relief was always accompanied by the sense of loss. She missed being around people who'd felt something for her, whether it was Charlie's doting presence or Mike's friendliness or Angela's understanding female tendencies. Their presence was familiar. Although she had a few new friends at UPenn, she always felt a little alien around them. Always a bit socially awkward, a little too academically focused.
So as she dropped her bag, stepping in through her door, she immediately got to work. She brought out her laptop and waited the short few moments as it connected to the wireless Internet connection the campus provided. She stayed standing, paced around like a restless lioness. She sighed deeply, recognizing the signs of agitation, and moved to remove her coat and boots and changed into dorm clothes.
By the time Bella had changed and returned to her laptop feeling much calmer, her email had run through and she found a few new emails waiting for her. She flicked off some of the spam that filtered through to the junk box, and went straight to the one from her mother.
'I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Charlie. Call your poor old mother soon to about your plans with me this Christmas, when you have the time will you? Phil's just returned home from practice and says "Hi!" Love, Mom.'
Bella snorted at her Renee's melodramatic-ness. She was hardly 'old'. She then moved on to the ones left by her publisher and Catalina, her editor.
'Dearest Miss Isabella Swan,' her publisher's email starts, 'We'd like to take this opportunity to announce that Hencourt Publishing Company will be sending out your invitation shortly, to our twenty-second annual Christmas Party. As an author...' '
Blah blah blah', she thought, not bothering to read the rest of the email. It would basically be like last year's; they'd ask all the authors to attend to meet all of their most precious stockholders and contributors. The more famous an author, the more their presence would be demanded.
She clicked on Catalina's email. Catalina her editor, was a kind Filipino lady in her late twenties who she had been permanently assigned to since the signing of her contract to Hencourt Publishing. She'd often send over her checked over fan mail. Once in a while when she was assigned to see another one of the author's she looked after in Philadelphia, she'd visit, bringing Bella's favorite New York sour worm candies. They had become more like friends than editor and author, and had Bella greatly appreciated her kindness when she had first started out.
Hope your Thanksgiving went well in Washington!
I'm still waiting on your newest short story for the compilation book; I hope to receive it shortly after Thanksgiving. The director of our unit has extended the deadline to Tuesday, after the Thanksgiving weekend. Please, please Isabella, don't make this hard on me and send it as soon as possible so that I can check and get its suitability confirmed.'
She smiled at this, she liked her editor, but it was much more fun getting her to sweat it out sometimes. In any case, she knew that the publishing company would give her a bit of an allowance, still being their new famed author. She decided to be nice for once and send it in after reading the rest of her email.
'I've also looked through the synopsis that you've sent me for your new book, and it seems great so far! Please find it attached with a few of my nitpicks. Feel free to rebut them, thought I know you will, because you always do.
I'm also coming down from New York, to come see you, later this week. I've got some news to share with you and well, someone I'd like you to meet. I'll be bringing a colleague down with me. You usually don't have evening classes right? I'll make a reservation for dinner at one of your favorite restaurants in the city, my treat. I'll let you know the details once I've reserved.'
Bella scrunched her face up in confusion. Whenever her editor needed to tell her something, she'd always just get on the phone and call her. She usually didn't like jumping on a plane to visit. She once picked up a green looking lady at the airport. Her news and/or this person must've been very important to force her to see her.
'I also wanted to let you know that you are REQUIRED to be at this year's company Christmas Party. Let me know if you'll be bringing someone with you and I'll bring down the required amount of plane tickets (courtesy of the company) with me. There are a few important stockholders the company would like to 'woo' and a few other authors I'd like you to meet whose works will also be published in the complication book. Fear not, you are not the only author forced to attend. Celia is also being forced.'
She made a face. The Christmas party was always formal, with speeches and the sort. It also meant that she would need to get a new dress and heels for this occasion. She groaned at the thought. Dresses, heels and Isabella Swan never went well altogether. She had some serious bribing with Ben to do otherwise she would have to brave it alone.
Celia was a nice prodigy child-teen; she'd met a few months back, who had released a huge preteen book. Bella would go as far as to say that it had been bigger than her own novel. They had clicked well, though there were a few age issues between them.
'Your true identity will be used amongst our guests, lest we need to introduce you as Isabella Marsen. Although I imagine, many people will talk just hearing your first name, in any case.'
Hope you're well, and will definitely see you soon.
Bella hit the reply button, to send Catalina a short reply and her marginally happier short story. She cast a critical one over through her story, and satisfied she hit the send button. She glanced at her clock. Eight-thirty. It was a bit early but she decided to head off to bed, making a mental note to check through the synopsis Catalina had sent back, in the morning.
Routine came back strong and quick, and it wasn't until Bella found Ben knocking on her door bright and early for a scheduled morning jog, that she realized that half a week had passed her by. Her editor had thanked her for her story having it approved for the book quickly. Ben waited patiently for her as she tied her shoelaces and tied her hair into a pony tail. Their college life was often busy and frazzling, and once in a while Bella would accompany Ben on his morning runs (turning it into jogs) to induce some of those good endorphins to relieve some of her stress and work on her balance issues.
Small talk was pursued as they walked down and out of the dorm building altogether and stretched.
"How's it going Bella?"
"Well enough. You?"
"Can't complain. We going through Locust Walk like before?"
When they had first started out, they had taken it slow due to Bella's crippling disability of clumsiness. It had taken Ben ages to persuade her to join him once a week, so that her balance would be improved. He had started her off with slow walks, building her up to brisk walking. Almost every small session they'd had in the first few months, had ended with a twisted ankle or a scraped knee. A year in and they'd had her up to jogging. She'd marvelled at her success and even her friends and family had commented on her not tripping over air as frequent as before, when she'd visited.
It was a chilly morning and soon snow started to drift down from the gloomy looking sky, so they decided to head into a nearby Starbucks cafe. She fingered her coffee, as they sat in a small warm corner, nervous as to how she'd bring up the topic; Catalina had been emailing her for. Seeing there was no quick and painless way to do it, she just decided to warm him up to it.
"So Ben, d'you have many assessments due before Christmas break?" She mentally slapped herself. Surely he'd find something suspicious about the question. Would he? She raised her eyes from her coffee to see his expression.
"Not much, why do you ask?" He replied, popping some of his coffee's cream into his mouth with his finger.
"Well, I was wondering..." She started, clearing her throat. He raised his eyes to her, a curious look on his face.
"Well, Hencourt is holding their annual Christmas Party... again this year, you know... with it being Christmas and all." She stumbled out. "And it's the weekend before Christmas and they need me to go. We wouldn't need to drive up there this year; they'll be giving us plane tickets." She ended lamely.
She stopped and watched him. He had a funny looking relieved expression on his face. "I can't go with you this year Bella; I'll be heading back to Forks a week and a half before Christmas this year. Christina's coming back from France." Christina was Ben's older sister who had recently gotten married overseas and would be returning from being absent a few Christmases.
"Oh I see!" She said slightly crushed, she would definitely be braving it alone. He looked at her then a sad, apologetic look on his face. "Sorry Bella." She smiled at him reassuringly. "It's ok. The least you can do however is come dress shopping with me. Out of the two of us you're the one with better style and taste." He laughed at that, submitting and walking her out the cafe and back to her dorm.
She'd just gotten ready for her first class of the day, when her cell phone's harsh ring pierced the air. "Hello?"
"Bella! It's Catalina, how are you?" Her editor's soft, warm voice said through the earpiece.
"Good, good. And yourself?"
"Excellent! I need to know right now, just how many tickets I'll be pilfering for you for the Christmas Party?"
"Just the one thanks. Ben said he can't come this year." She said dryly, feeling her misfortune. Catalina had met Ben from the year before.
"Ah, alrighty then! Hey I'm coming down at around two today. I've already reserved Cassellis Restaurant for us at six pm ok? See you soon Bella!"
"See you there Cat!"
She snapped close her phone, programmed an alarm into her phone and headed off to her Age of Reformation lecture by the Fisher Fine Arts library.
Second Author's Note: Next chapter we see what happens with Bella's writing! And so the story moves along.