Author's Note: Thanks for coming and checking out my fic. To all of you who read Pulse, thanks for checking back! To those who haven't read my other story, I'm glad to have some new readers. Hopefully everyone will enjoy this story. I'm trying to keep the chapters from being too long, so please stick in their. The beginning may seem a little slow, but I promise it does pick up. I just have to build up to it. Chapters should be out fairly quick, so check back often or put me on your author alert. I hope you enjoy!
My name echoed around the auditorium and I inhaled nervously, attempting to steel myself. I saw Mike Newton flash a smile at me from the other side of the stage, diploma clutched eagerly in his hands. I gave a brief smile back, then caught Lauren glaring daggers at me. I was so glad I would not have to deal with her anymore. I took in another deep, fortifying breath and started walking, focusing all of my attention on not tripping. Even though I had insisted- despite Alice's best efforts- that I wear flats on this occasion, I still worried that I would make a fool of myself in front of everyone.
I reached my principle and took my diploma, briefly shaking his hand, and then the next name was called and the crisis was over. I had made it. Not only across the stage, but through high school. It all seemed sort of surreal. I couldn't believe that twelve years of education were behind me, and that next fall I would be going to the University of Washington. I'd gotten my acceptance letter ages ago, and it was all I could think about. I'd already picked out my classes, toured the campus, and applied for my student loans. This summer, all I had to do was sit back and relax.
Hours had been spent getting ready. Last month I had begun the process of picking out the perfect graduation outfit, and maybe a few other things. I was so completely peeved though. They expected me to put that ugly gown over my Coco Chanel vintage black dress? I had to wear some ugly graduation cap over my hair? I'd spent so long making it look cute and spiky and flippy. Besides, the shape of that hat didn't really compliment the shape of my face. It was way too severe on my heart shaped façade.
I wondered what Edward was doing right now. He had graduated earlier today, and I had insisted both of my parents attend his graduation. After all, school was his thing, not mine. He was my twin, but he had definitely gotten the lions share of the book-smarts. I wasn't complaining though. As far as charm and style went, I was ahead of the curve. I had taken after my artistic mother, and Edward had taken after our logical father. It just goes to show that the world takes all sorts of people.
I was also much more sociable than my brother. I loved being around people, being the center of attention, so on and so forth. Edward, even though he was at a boarding school and surrounded by his peers 24/7, had few friends. He was quiet and reserved. Not that he wasn't nice or anything, but he could be a little rough around the edges sometimes. I often heard people murmur after meeting him that he was pretentious and rude. I believed they just didn't understand him. My brother was difficult, sure, but he had a kind hard.
While I didn't have Edwards problems making friends, I did choose to have a small circle of confidantes. When I needed a shoulder to cry on, I relied on my two best friends, and I was there for them every way that I could be. I had known Rosalie my whole life. I was one of the few people who wasn't offended by her often cold demeanor. I saw right past her frosty exterior to the beauty on the inside. Really, she was loving and compassionate and honest, once you got to know her. She'd just been hurt more times than she could count, and didn't easily let people in
Bella had just moved to Forks two years ago, but I had felt sure we would be best friends instantly, and I was right. She was pretty much the opposite of Rose. Bella was shy, sweet, and easily embarrassed. She was also super smart, modest, and the clumsiest person I had ever met. Oh, and she had no fashion sense whatsoever.
At graduation, I had practically been bouncing in my seat, super excited about what was going to happen later. It had been hard, keeping this a secret from Bella. But the secret wasn't just mine. Bella's friends and family had also been keeping it from her. If I blew it now, I'd be letting everyone down.
And I didn't want to let everyone down. That would be horrible. I wanted everything to be just perfect. Everyone had spent way to long to have this ruined.
The girl behind me timidly tapped my shoulder and pointed ahead of us. Oh, crap! It was my turn to walk across the stage and receive my diploma. Well, I thought. Here goes nothing!
Gross. The guy behind me was standing way too close to me. I could feel his warm breath on the back of my neck. I could smell his sweat.
"Hey! Back off!" I turned around and told him. A few teachers looked at me disapprovingly, but hey, at least I got what I wanted.
I'd been kind of spacing out during the rest of graduation ceremony, till Alice nudged me in the ribs.
"Turn your tassel over!" she whispered, and I hurriedly followed her instructions. A few more speeches were made, the choir sang, and then the air was heavy with graduation caps. Angela turned to me with a happy smile, then glanced at my hands, still clutching my cap.
"Why didn't you throw yours?" she asked, head tilted slightly to the side. Her cheeks were flushed and she looked more cheerful than I'd seen her in ages. I was sure she was looking forward to college a lot. She'd been so worried she wouldn't get accepted to any of the colleges she had applied to, but then just last week, a letter had come from Cornell. She'd been a ball of nervous energy ever since.
"I wanted to keep it." I replied, fingering the stiff, square edges of the hat. "As a memento, you know? I'm going to miss this place."
Angela smiled and pulled me into a hug. "I'm going to miss you."
I hugged her back tightly. Angela had always been one of the nicest people I knew. She had been so accepting of me when I first moved to Forks. And being in her presence was definitely more soothing than being with Alice and Rosalie.
As if they had heard my thoughts, my two best friends appeared, pulling me away. I looked over my shoulder and mouthed 'I'll call you' at Angela. I was pulled quickly through the crowd, stumbling over my feet. When we reached the parking lot, they slowed down.
"Where are you guys taking me?" I asked, slightly out of breath. Alice gave Rosalie an excited look, biting her lip, and Rosalie slightly shook her head, as if telling her no. I knew that some kind of silent communication had just taken place. Alice's face fell and I frowned.
"What is it?" I asked, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. What was going on that they weren't telling me?
"Nothing." Rosalie said, her face blank. She nodded over my shoulder, looking at something behind me. "Look, there are your parents." she said. I turned and looked over my shoulder, temporarily distracted. Charlie and Renee beamed at me, walking quickly to where I stood with my friends. I smiled back at them and hugged them both. Alice cleared her throat and I looked at her and Rosalie, who was impatiently tapping the toe of her doubtlessly expensive heels. I raised my eyebrows.
"We're going to take off for a little bit Bella, but we'll meet you at your house later." Alice chirped. She grabbed Rosalie's hand and tried to tow her away, but unlike me, Rose glided. She did not stumble along as if she had no center of gravity, the way I did. I watched enviously.
"Oh, okay." I said quietly to their retreating forms. They sure were acting weird.
After the ceremony, Charlie and Renee took me out to dinner and gave me a beautiful golden locket, obviously an antique or heirloom, with their pictures inside as a graduation gift. I held it in my hand, watching as the dim light of the restaurant glinted off of it. It really was beautiful. It was simple and understated but unique. I loved it.
"So you don't forget what we look like." Charlie joked. He stood up and fastened it around my neck. Renee smiled in approval.
"It suits you, honey."
When we got back home I changed out of my nice graduation clothes into much more comfortable jeans and a t-shirt. I pulled my long hair into a high pony tail, noting that it needed to be cut, and then joined my parents in Charlie's living room. They asked me about what I planned on doing this summer, if I was excited about starting college next semester, and Renee asked if I was hoping I'd meet someone. Charlie frowned but kept his mouth tightly clenched, arms folded over his chest. He'd never liked the idea of me dating. Luckily for him, I hadn't met anyone I had liked enough to even consider dating here in Forks. For a while, my friend Jacob kept making advances, but after a while he gave up when he realized I only wanted to be friends.
"I'm pretty excited about just hanging out around here this summer. I figure I'll catch up on my reading, pack and repack all the stuff for my dorm, and generally just obsess over the fact that I'm going to college." I shrugged. "You know me. I'll keep pretty quiet, be really boring."
Charlie and Renee shot each other furtive glances.
"Well, that sounds very nice, honey. I'm glad you didn't make any major plans." Renee's face was struggling not to smile, and I could see the excitement glittering in her pale blue eyes.
"Door!" Renee bolted out of her chair at the sound of the door bell and I sighed, slouching back into my seat. I looked at Charlie, feeling weary. He smiled sheepishly.
"Now Bella, remember that your mother means well…"
Alice danced into the room, followed by Renee and Rosalie. Alice had changed out of her formal clothes and into something more casual, and definitely more trendy. She looked like she had just stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine- that is, if you shrunk all of the models down to be only five feet tall. My pixie-like friend was clad in form-fitting navy blue pants, a blue and white horizontally striped shirt, and red scarf. The whole ensemble was very cute and nautical, especially on her. I'd never be caught dead in something like that, but she always pulled it off.
Rosalie had changed too. She was now dressed in one of her sexy weekend dresses. This one was bright red, stretchy and skin tight, super short, and showed quite a bit of cleavage. At the end of her mile long legs was a pair of spiky high heels. Normally, I would have said it was tacky to show off all the goods at once, but with a figure like Rosalie's, it was quite the contrary. I think I had a little bit of a girl crush on her once. No, I'm not gay. But if I was, I'd totally be drooling all over Rosalie. She felt it was her civic duty to look as good as possible at all times, and I had to admit, she did a good job of it. That, and I was kind of afraid of her. Whatever she said, I generally agreed with- even if I didn't. Rose was born in boots, and they were made for walking, if you catch my drift.
Alice sat on the edge of my arm-chair and crossed her legs, clasping her hands around her knees daintily. Rosalie just stood there, looking bored and beautiful. She crossed her arms over her chest and sighed, blue eyes directed toward the ceiling. Alice's excited expression matched Renee's, and Charlie wouldn't meet my gaze.
"Bella, I know that you planned on staying here in boring old Forks all summer, wasting away under a pile of books, but your family and I think that you need to have a little bit of fun before you run off to college. You should celebrate this achievement, right? So, we were thinking, how about a little get-away?"
I looked at my parents in panic. The way Alice said that, it sounded like her idea of a 'little' get away would be very expensive.
"Alice, I don't really want to do anything expensive…" I hedged. I also didn't want Renee or Charlie paying for this. Neither of them was rich by any means. Alice rolled her eyes at me. She just didn't see money as an object. She probably wanted to pay for the whole thing, but I just didn't feel comfortable accepting things like that from her, even though her family was extremely wealthy. Her father, once a very successful doctor, now owned and operated an entire hospital. Her mother was a very successful, upscale interior designer. She was responsible for some of the nicest hotel interiors in the country. It was easy to tell where Alice had gotten her artistic flair. With all of their money, the Cullen's had lavished their three children with the best things that money could buy. Alice had a wardrobe full of designer clothes, her twin brother Edward was apparently attending a very ritzy private school for the gifted, and she'd told me that her older brother Emmett's taste for expensive cars was insatiable.
"Don't be silly Bella. It won't cost a thing, for anyone. My family owns a yacht and my brother Emmet offered to take me out on it for a few days as a graduation gift, and I want you and Rosalie to come with me. It'll be so much fun!" she squealed.
I studied her and my parents. It actually didn't sound too bad. At least it wasn't a summer long stay in Europe or something. I thought I could handle a few days on a boat.
"I don't know…" I answered slowly. "When would we go? I'd need to make sure I have everything ready." I was a little paranoid about not being prepared.
"Oh, don't worry. You have plenty of time. Emmet didn't want us to meet him there for-" she checked the thin silver watch on her wrist. "two more hours. That'll be plenty of time for us to get there."
What? Had she really said two hours? As in today? This afternoon? Had she lost her mind? "Have you lost your mind?!" I asked, voicing my thoughts. "I can't possibly get everything ready that soon. I haven't packed, I haven't told any of my friends I'm going anywhere, I- I just can't be ready that soon!"
"Bella, seriously, just chill." Rosalie instructed. "Do you really think Alice would leave any of that to chance? She already bought you over a weeks worth of clothes for the trip, she told all of your friends at school and told them not to tell you, she even got your parents in on it. It's handled. All you need to do is say okay."
I took in a deep breath. I couldn't believe this was happening. I mean, most of me was thrilled, but I was also still in shock. How had everyone kept this from me? They must have gone to a lot of work to keep this a secret. A nice little outing on a boat sounded kind of nice. Time to spend with my two best friends before we all went to different schools, clean fresh air, a change of pace. Who knows, maybe this would even be a little bit of an adventure for me.
I heaved in a deep breath and smiled at everyone. "Okay."
Author's Note: Hi again! Thanks for reading, and I really appreciate any kind of review. I try to respond to all of them!
Next chapter- everyone meets, and there are certainly sparks!