Disclaimer: Twilight and it's characters belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Chapter 1: Stranded
Breathe Bella, just breathe I thought to myself. I gripped the steering wheel of my rusted old truck tightly as the rain continued to pour. I had been at a near standstill on the interstate for hours. My gas tank was still half full, but if I didn't get to a bathroom soon, things were going to get messy. The last thing I wanted to do was call my mom. Always the overprotective one, she had been against me driving alone for 9 hours to meet with the editor of Social Justice Today magazine alone. This however was to be the first big break of my career as a writer, and I needed to do it my way. Who could have predicted a record setting rainfall causing flooding and damage to the interstate would block my way home.
Far in the distance, I could see a large bridge with water licking up over the top of the road. Just before the bridge, the highway patrol was slowly directing traffic off of the highway and onto the last exit. Red Cross trucks were set up just past the exit.
"Where are you headed?" the officer asked when it was finally my turn to leave the interstate.
"All the way to Seattle sir." I answered.
The officer looked down at a piece of paper and frowned. He walked over to one of the Red Cross trucks and pointed at my car. A couple of minutes later he walked back up to my car and said, "It looks like you will be staying here tonight. There is no detour that will help get you to your destination at this point. All the roads you could use are washed out. Follow this road and the national guard will direct you to the local high school where they are coordinating the relief effort."
My heart dropped, but I answered, "Thank you" and rolled up my window.
When I was finally directed to a parking spot in the nearly full lot at the high school, I grabbed my purse and messenger bag from the passenger seat and ran for the door not even bothering with my umbrella.
Normally, it would be more difficult for me to process a predicament as strange as the one I found myself in. I was 25, alone, far from home, and had no idea what would be happening over the next few days or even hours for that matter. I should be more than a little freaked out, but I had more pressing problems.
"Bathroom" I panted at the first person I saw inside. She smiled and pointed across the hall.
Once I was feeling better, I walked down the hall. A man wearing a military uniform told me that if I needed food, I could get a sandwich in the cafeteria, medical care was down the hall, and if I needed to arrange for shelter, I could get in line in the office upstairs. "Thank you." I smiled as I imagined myself in one of the refugee camps in Burma I had been writing about, and my mood lightened. This would be my own little adventure.
When I got upstairs, I took a number and sat down with what seemed to be at least a couple of hundred other people in the chairs lining the long hallway. I could hear the loud obnoxious laugh of the woman at the desk not far from where I sat.
She snorted, "Oh no dear I am afraid the hotel rooms in town were gone hours ago, its not like we are thriving metropolis here in Shamrock."
The mother she was talking to looked distraught as she held her infant closer to her. The woman at the desk handed her some papers and called the next number. A tall slender yet muscular man walked past the mother up to the desk.
"Excuse me Ms. Cope, I just wanted to come and tell that my house…" he started to say.
"I'm sorry Mr. Cullen, but you will have to take a number."
He sighed, "But Ms. Cope, I only need to let you know about the status of…"
She interrupted, "Eighty-Six," calling it loudly for the second time looking right through the clearly irritated man standing in front of her.
He angrily walked away, picked up a number, sighed, and slammed himself down two or three seats away from me closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Long line." I turned to him and said, looking longer than was necessary at the biceps under his black t-shirt.
"You have no idea." He replied without opening his eyes.
I wanted to make a comment about the rude woman who had blown him off, but I found myself tongue tied. Something about his copper hair and tired look mesmerized me. He looked so sad. Mmmm, 'tortured soul' I thought to myself. There was nothing I found more attractive than a tortured soul, especially when the soul looked like that. I started to blush as things that did not belong in my virgin mind leaked into my thoughts. "Get a grip Bella!" I told myself. There was no way a man like this would ever think of me like that. I constantly found myself the "sister" or best friend of guys I was attracted to.
This pattern started in high school with my best friend Jason, and ever since I found myself in the same type of relationships through college and beyond. There had been Mike – the cute singer and guitar player who I spent every day studying with in college and would always play the songs I requested at his gigs. I started to have feelings for him, and he started dating my roommate. Then there was Matt. We talked on the phone every night until the wee hours of the morning laughing and scheming. We spent most of our time together our junior year, and most people assumed we were a couple - everyone except for Matt. He constantly called me his best friend, and was always sure to emphasize the word friend when he described our relationship. Then there was Ryan. The South African with the accent that made me swoon. He and I spent 6 months together as interns working for a relief organization in Turkey. He had me at hello (it was the accent of course), and for him it was love at first sight. Love at first sight when my best friend came to visit me in Turkey. Two years later I was a bridesmaid at their wedding.
Finally there was Jacob. I felt for him like I had never felt for another. He understood me like no one ever had before. He shared my passion for hurting people. We could talk for hours about pressing issues in the world, books we had read, funny things that happened during our days. He even moved next door to me when an apartment opened up. Every night, I would cook him dinner, he would sit by me on the couch and watch TV or read. Then at bedtime he would go back to his apartment, until I got off work the next day, then the cycle started again. He made me feel like finally I had found my soul mate. Jacob wasn't perfect, he was constantly second guessing himself and seemed to be overwhelmed by all the pain in the world. I could usually bring him out of his dark reveries, make him laugh, and remind him of the good things in his life. His tortured soul intrigued me, and the way he treated me became addicting. He listened to what I thought, to what I felt, he acted interested. He told me he loved me constantly, but never acted physically attracted to me that I could tell. I was so confused that I didn't question him. I just enjoyed whatever it was that we had, and believed it would turn into more. Finally one day, he didn't show up at my house. I called and called, and when he didn't answer I marched over to his apartment to see if he was ok. I found him packing.
"I'm leaving." He said without looking up.
"Wha- what?" I asked confused.
"I can't stay here anymore. I'm can't pretend anymore. I've had enough of this town, of this way of living, of you."
That was the moment my heart froze over. I vowed that day to never again be the best friend, or sister, or whatever I was to Jacob. He broke me, and a part of me still hadn't been put back together.
Life went on. I threw myself into my work. I traveled the word, touring refugee camps, and networking with relief organizations. I landed an internship with Feed the Children, and now was working to fulfill my dream of freelance writing to bring attention to the poor and suffering around the world.
I was still staring at him, when I was snapped out of my daydreaming by my cell phone ringing. I sighed loudly when I looked at the caller ID and answered, "Hello, mom."