OK, I know this has SO been DONE…but this story haunts me – it keeps me up until 4 in the morning, lingering at the corners of my mind. So, I have to get it out.
Bella Swan, 17-years-old, and her father Charlie move to Forks from Phoenix two years after the death of Renee Swan, beloved wife and mother. Charlie works as a mechanic in the auto shop of Billy Black – a childhood friend.
Bella, a former dancer, meets twins Alice and Edward Cullen, the children of Esme and Carlisle – also childhood acquaintances of Bella's parents – and something more ensues.
The middle of nowhere – I don't think I've ever really been able to use that phrase so literally. There is nothing here. The closest city with anything to do is Port Angeles, an hour-and-a-half away. This is a far cry from Phoenix – and I can already tell that I'm going to really miss the sun. It's August, and the sun is nowhere to be seen here – it feels about 65 degrees. At least that was a refreshing change from the 100 it had been when we left Phoenix.
Dad and I stopped at a gas station, just on the outskirts of town, getting directions to Black Automotive, where my dad will be working as a mechanic for his friend, Billy. My parents grew up in this town. They were high school sweethearts who got married just two years out of school, and had me a year later.
Then, Mom demanded we get out of Washington – leave it all behind. I guess Dad forgot about that 'leave it all behind' part after Mom died.
A brain aneurysm two years ago, so suddenly that Dad and I are still reeling from it. I'm guessing that's what prompted the move; Phoenix has become too harsh a reminder of the happy life we used to have.
At least I didn't have a groundswell of friends to say goodbye to – just Angela and Lisa were there when Dad and I packed the U-Haul trailer to start the trek out here. We took dance lessons together from the age of four, and were hoping to put together a dance team at school by our senior year. I guess they'd have to do it by themselves now.
I sat in the truck while Dad was inside the station talking to the lady behind the counter. He laughed as he conversed with her; I guess she's another friend from the old days. He got back in and turned the car back on, "That was Sue Clearwater, she graduated with me and your mom. She said we just need to keep heading down the 101 until we get to Russell Road and it should be just off on the left."
"Sounds good," I said as I returned to my book.
It took another 10 minutes until we stopped again in front of an auto repair shop. I put the bookmark back in and set it aside as a man in a wheelchair slowly rolled towards us. He had long, dark hair and a nice, copper complexion – I assumed he was Native American. I remembered Mom had once said there was a reservation nearby, but I couldn't recall the name of the nation at the moment.
"Billy!" Dad said as he got out of the truck.
"Charlie Swan, as I live and breathe," Billy replied as he stopped a few feet in front of Dad.
They shook hands and Dad leaned down for a one-armed hug before he turned to me as I shut the truck door behind me.
"This is Bella," Dad said. "Bella, this is my friend, Billy Black."
"Hi," I said quietly.
"Hello Bella! So, your dad says you're seventeen?"
"Yeah, I'll be eighteen in September, though."
"My son Jacob just turned 18," Billy said, "You two will be seniors together at Forks High this fall."
As if on cue, a tall, muscular boy with Billy's same dark hair and copper skin walked out of the office, "Dad! Phone!"
He gave me a quick once-over before shutting the door behind him.
"That's my son, king of the monosyllable."
I chuckled as Dad and I followed Billy inside. Dad pushed Billy's chair up a ramp and through the backdoor, which he held open for me. Billy took the phone and started talking to someone about a '98 Mustang that would be done on Wednesday. I wandered around and looked at the various nick nacks around the shop; the typical auto repair shop minutiae – Garfield calendars, pine tree air fresheners and seat covers emblazoned with things like butterflies and flames. I picked up one of those hula-dancing dashboard decorations when I felt a presence behind me.
"Hi, I'm Jake," he said as I turned with the object still in my hand.
"Hi, I'm Bella," I replied as he leaned himself against a rack of sunglasses.
"So, I guess we're going to be going to school together," he said.
"How do you like the town so far?"
"I just got here," I said quietly. "Guess I need to see more of it before I make any judgments."
"Perfect," he said, "You've got the best tour guide in town right here."
"Oh, well I don't want to take you away from…whatever it was you were doing."
"I'm not doing anything," he said. "I just help out around the shop from time to time. I'm sure Dad won't mind me taking you out to see the town."
"Yeah, I'll take you by the school, take you to get something to eat, you know…get you acclimated."
"Well…" I began as Dad cut in.
"Yeah, Bells, you should go out and see some stuff. Go ahead."
"But, we need to unpack."
"I'll take the stuff over to the house and get the necessary things out tonight – mattresses and what-not," he said. "But, we don't have to really get to the major unpacking until tomorrow. Besides, I need a rest, too."
"Don't you want to see the town?" I asked – Jacob looked pained, like he didn't want Dad to come along.
"Nah, this is a young person's thing," Dad said. "Besides, you forget that I was born here. I know my way around."
"OK, if you say so," I said.
I followed Jacob outside to a Volkswagen Rabbit; he opened the passenger side and I stepped in. Once he started it up – the engine seemed like it was younger than the car, it must have been something he was working on – we drove to the school where there were already a few kids around, getting ready for fall sports which would probably start in a couple of weeks.
He took me to a restaurant that looked like a pizza place, "Oh, I forgot to ask if you like pizza."
"I like it," I said as we got out and walked in.
It was almost 2 p.m., and I haven't eaten since we took off this morning from Eugene, Oregon. We drove 18 hours yesterday so we wouldn't have to do as much driving today. I was glad Dad decided on that method.
As soon as I walked in, my knees almost buckled at the delicious smell of pizza wafting through the air. I must have looked dazed with hunger, because Jacob chuckled beside me.
"Well, then it's a good thing I brought you here."
We sat in a booth and I grabbed a menu from the side of the table. I was perusing it before Jacob took it gently and closed it.
"Hey!" I cried.
"Don't worry, they make the best pizza in Forks, it has pepperoni and cream cheese."
I felt my face contort into a grimace at the description – he laughed.
"Everybody makes that face, but I swear to god it's the best pizza you'll ever have," he said. "You'll never want another kind of pizza again."
I must have been delirious with hunger because I didn't question him on this. I ordered a Dr. Pepper and he got a Coke and ordered the pizza. Once my drink came to the table I took a long pull from the straw until I gave myself a headache. I shook the feeling away and finally glanced around the restaurant – it was filled with kids who looked our age, most of which were seated at a big table. Many of them were wearing blue and yellow letter jackets with the word Spartan on them.
I was idly watching them laugh and talk with each other when I noticed someone looking at me. He had sort of strange, coppery-bronze colored hair and was one of the only guys not wearing the school colors. Instead, he wore a nice fitting, black shirt. His emerald eyes bore into my brown eyes, which seemed so plain in comparison, and the right corner of his mouth tilted up slightly as our eyes met.
I quickly turned back to Jacob, embarrassed that I had been caught staring at such a gorgeous guy. He probably thought I was weird now. Nice first impression, Swan!
"What's up?" Jacob asked.
"Who's the guy in the black shirt, with the red hair?"
"You mean Cullen? Actually, most of the girls around here say he has 'bronze hair,' like he's some Greek God, or something."
"Cullen? Is that his last name?"
"Yeah, his first name is Edward. He's pretty much the man around here – or so he thinks. He's the quarterback of the football team, captain of the basketball team and runs track; a regular all-American boy – kinda pukey if you ask me."
"Well, I'm sure he's going to be avoiding me once school starts," I said as I took another sip, "He just caught me staring at him."
Jacob didn't seem to like that notion, "Well, another poor, defenseless girl caught under his spell. Damn! And I had so much hope for you."
I took one of the stale breadsticks out of the basket on the table and threw it at him. He knocked it aside with a laugh as our pizza arrived. I practically jumped in, face first, as I grabbed a slice and devoured it.
"Wow, we need to remember to keep you to a strict feeding schedule," Jacob said.
"Shut up!" I countered with a mouthful of pizza.
I was just getting to the crust of the pizza – some people skip that part, but I love it – when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned and came face to face with none other than Edward Cullen. Uh-oh, was he going to give me grief about staring, in front of all these people?
"Hi," he said with a chuckle, "I'm Edward."
I swallowed the last bit of food in my mouth, "Hi."
He was still chuckling when he reached towards the table and grabbed a napkin. He handed it to me and I realized my face must be covered in pizza sauce. I wiped it quickly then looked back up at him shyly – my face now reaching Sahara-like temperatures.
But, he just smiled at me, "Sorry, I didn't catch your name."
"Bella Swan," I said; I couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Are you new here?"
"Where did you come from?"
"Nice, how long have you been here?"
What the hell? Why couldn't I get out more than two words in a sentence? I just sat there, praying he'd go away without bringing up the whole staring thing. Suddenly, a girl with short, black hair pushed him aside.
"Hi, I'm Alice Cullen, and I think my stupid brother here is trying to welcome you to Forks."
She held out her hand and I shook it cautiously. These people were starting to freak me out.
"Hey, why don't you guys come and eat with us?" She said as she motion to a table that held just one other person – a girl with long, blond hair.
"Um," I said as I looked at Jacob who didn't seem thrilled with the prospects of sitting with them. "Do you want to?"
He sighed and picked up the pizza in front of us, he carried it over to the other table and I was introduced to Rosalie Hale, Alice's best friend. I gave them the now well-rehearsed speech about moving from Phoenix to Forks for my dad's job. And then I found out that they were both cheerleaders and seniors at Forks High this year. Alice struck me as the type who only joined the team because she liked to be active and was incredibly out-going – but still despised her fellow cheerleaders.
I liked her already.
"You know," Rosalie began, "We need another person on the team this year, but the pickings are pretty slim around here. I don't suppose you'd be interested?"
Jacob let out a guffaw that drew a scornful glance from Rosalie.
"I don't know," I said. "I've never been a cheerleader. I was a dancer back in Phoenix, though."
"That's great," Alice said, "Most of the girls around here couldn't dance to a beat if their lives depended on it! Will you at least come try out? Please?"
"Great!" Rosalie said. "Now we'll have another person on the team we actually like."
I smiled and took another slice, I noticed Jacob scowling out the corner of my eye, but I ignored him. This would be a good way for me to make new friends, despite how he might feel about it.
I bit into the slice as some other girls approached – two blonds wearing Forks High paraphernalia and very tight jeans. One of them openly sneered at me.
"Hi guys, who's this?" One of the blonds asked.
"This is Bella Swan, Jessica," Alice replied, "And she's going to try out for the cheerleading team."
"Really, that's nice," Jessica replied with forced enthusiasm. "Nice to meet you, Betty."
"Bella! B-E-L-L-A!" Jacob spat at her.
"Oh, is this your girlfriend, Jakey?" The other girl asked. "Feeling territorial?"
The girl made a barking sound at Jake, and some of the other kids at the table joined in. I couldn't believe they were being so mean. I've met some bullies in my life, but these kids are plain evil. I was starting to rethink this whole cheerleading thing.
"Yeah, I'm surprised the dog knows how to spell," said a boy in the corner.
I couldn't believe this! Not only are they mean, they're a bunch of bigots, too! Why did Dad have to bring me here? At least Phoenix is big enough that you can avoid most of the stupid people. Here, I'm stuck in tiny classrooms with them.
"Do you want to leave?" I asked Jacob.
"No," he said, surprisingly unfazed. "It's fine, they're just idiots."
"We just tend to ignore people like Lauren, Jessica and Mike," Alice said, "It makes life easier."
"But, shouldn't somebody do something? That's just so wrong that they can say those things and get away with it."
"It's been my experience that the more you try to verbally spat with the morons, the more it simply drains your energy," Jacob said. "And it really does nothing to deter them, so it's best to just rise above it, Bella. Their words can't hurt me if I refuse to let it happen."
I had so much admiration for Jacob, even as I sat here feeling sorry for him. He had to become so wise at such a young age because of people and their ignorant, racist attitudes. The barking had ceased and the other kids went back to eating and laughing about something inane again.
I felt someone staring at me again and turned to see Edward sitting at a table away from the loud group with two other boys. He gave me that lopsided smile again and I felt that familiar heat creep up over my face again. I'm in real trouble here, I think.
I sit with the same group of idiots every day at school – the side affects of living in what seems to be the smallest town on planet Earth. And, as we've grown, I've tried to distance myself from them as much as possible when we're not in school. Although, on days like today, it seems that it's inevitable that I run into them.
When there's nothing to do in Forks, every kid over the age of sixteen heads out to only two or three places – hanging out on the school grounds, going out to La Push to kayak or going to the local pizza joint.
Today, we're getting some pizza. When I say we, I mean myself and my two best friends, Jasper and Emmett. And, of course, we ran into the local jock squad there – not that I'm not an athlete, but I feel compelled to separate myself from those athletes who fall under the 'jock' category. Though, I'm not sure if everybody sees me that way.
When we got to the restaurant and the hostess took us right to a table next to the likes of Mike Newton and his buddies. They were bad enough, but the cheerleaders like Lauren and Jessica were there, too, and that made for a toxic combination. Luckily, I saw my twin sister Alice and her best friend Rosalie sitting off to the side – some sanity in this insane atmosphere.
We were all sitting around, talking about the upcoming football season and the stupidity currently going on around us when she walked in. A girl I'd never seen before with long brown hair and an angelic face. She wandered to a table behind Jacob Black, a kid I knew from school but had never really talked to.
She looked so sweet and vulnerable, and I couldn't keep my eyes off of her. When she finally raised her head to look around the restaurant to see who else was there, her eyes made contact with mine – they were a deep, rich brown. They were beautiful eyes, even if there were wearied bags underneath them.
When we made eye contact, she quickly looked away, like she was embarrassed. Great, now she's going to think I think she's weird, but I think she's beautiful.
After a while, I finally got the nerve to walk over and talk to here. When I got to her table, she had a mouthful of pizza and some sauce on her face.
"Hi, I'm Edward," I said.
She looked up after swallowing, "Hi."
Wow, she really is the cutest thing I've ever seen. I grabbed a napkin from the table so she could wipe the sauce from her face – and to stop myself from licking it off her face myself. When she looked back up, I realized I didn't have a name to go with the beautiful face.
"Sorry, I didn't catch your name," I said.
She seemed very shy, so I tried prodding further, "Are you new here?"
"Yeah," she said.
"Where did you come from?"
"Nice, how long have you been here?"
Good, that meant I had a clean slate with her. I bet she would be able to see past my 'jock' reputation and see the real me underneath. Just as I was thinking this, a tiny body pushed me to the side. It was my sister, intruding on my moment as usual.
"Hi, I'm Alice Cullen, and I think my stupid brother here is trying to welcome you to Forks."
Alice invited Bella and Jacob to sit at her table, and I sat back down, dejected for the moment. I kept an eye on their table as Jasper and Emmett laughed and joked across from me. I was vaguely aware that Emmett was joking about how I needed to hook him up with Rosalie this year. They've dated casually in the past, but he wanted them to be exclusive now.
I watched as the cheerleaders walked up to the table and made inane chit-chat with Bella, Alice and Rosalie. The conversation seemed to take a turn and the kids at the big table, predictably, started barking at Jacob. That's what they do when they're around any Quileute kids. It's disgusting, but the parents don't seem to mind that little bit of racism so long as it keeps the La Push kids from coming around town. This place is too asinine for words.
Bella looked like she was on the verge of tears, though, and I wanted to jump up and punch all of these stupid kids for making her feel that way. She looked at Jacob and offered to leave with him, to escape the stupidity. For someone who probably just met Jacob today, I was impressed that she was conscientious enough to think of his feelings in this situation.
I just sat there and stared openly until she finally turned her gaze back to mine. It took a while, but as soon as those beautiful brown eyes met mine, I gave her a knowing smile that made a wonderful blush run across her cheeks. I have a new mission this year – make Bella Swan fall in love with me.
OK, so this is a bit like Learning Curve for high schoolers, but bear with me. It is me we're talking about here, people!
Should I continue?