NOTE: This story was originally started by Bella-of-the-Ball. After deciding not to continue she chose to turn it over (as well as two other fabulous stories) to me. The first 6 chapters are hers and I pick up with Chapter 7. Hope you enjoy them!
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Two Years Ago:
I walked past my kitchen table as I hastily picked up a piece of crumbled cake from the graduation party my parents flew into town to throw for me yesterday. Over half of the cake had been devoured by the many guests who came for the free food, so that it now read: "Congratul…College Gra...Class of 20…"
I recalled last night's events as I vaguely remembered walking down the edge of the full stadium, in a sea of blue gowns, the anti-climactic moment over almost as soon as it had begun. I could barely see my parents in the distant crowd as I waved in the general direction of where I knew they were standing so they could take a quick snapshot. I was almost sure the picture would be blurry anyway, or at the very least, I most definitely wasn't looking at the camera.
The party was a blur as well. Alice, my best friend, insisted on driving back to her house to grab something before we went to meet her boyfriend, Jasper, for a celebratory lunch with all of our parents. Of course, she knew that the only way she could convince me to have a party was to go about it without me knowing.
My face turned red, predictably, as old friends and acquaintances jumped out at me when Alice led me through the front door. I put on the best face that I could manage as people hugged me and gave me pats from all different directions. I willed myself not to look as uncomfortable as I felt.
I self-consciously tucked my long brown hair behind my ears and smiled at the familiar faces. A few awkward seconds passed before Alice raised her small arms in the air. "Who wants some music?" She raced over to her stereo and plugged in her iPod.
The presence of music relaxed me a little as I tried my best to keep up with the conversations people were starting with me.
However, it didn't take me long to figure out that I was bound to have a miserable time, when the first question to pop out of everyone's mouth was, "So what are your plans now?" It was either that, or, "A degree in English, huh? What do you plan to do with that?"
In a perfect world, I would smile at them confidently and give my answer, "Well, I'm getting my book published."
And their smiles would falter, as they would clarify my answer. "You wrote a book?" They would be astonished that I was so young and accomplished already.
And I would smile again. "Mmmhmm. I just got the letter yesterday, and I'm meeting with a literary agent tomorrow."
And they would all close their mouths after wishing me good luck and congratulations as they walked away.
But in this world…
"A degree in English, huh? What do you plan to do with that?" Lauren had an amused smile to match her condescending nature. For the life of me, I could not figure out why Alice invited her, other than the fact that she was wasting perfectly good air.
I tried to hide my internal grimace as I wondered how to answer that question. "I don't know." That was the best I could do. I swallowed the lump of embarrassment down my throat as I excused myself. I couldn't escape the smug look on her face before I walked away, and my stomach turned to knots. I decided to lock myself in Alice's bathroom.
This was just embarrassing. I honestly didn't know what I was going to do, now that I had a degree and four years of college under my belt.
Could I bring myself to tell everyone that I had written a book I had poured my heart and soul into for the past two years, between working odd jobs at church nurseries and selling lawn care services door to door to pay off my college loans?
Could I bring myself to tell everyone that I have so far been rejected by six separate literary agencies, all of which have refused to put my book out, calling it a myriad of hurtful things…. "juvenile," "predictable," and "self-indulgent" among them?
No, I couldn't. So I stayed in the bathroom for two hours, until Alice forced me to open the door. She comforted me, like always, and assured me that I would show them all, once I start making millions with my books. I snorted. I wasn't having any luck so far.
Congratulations, Bella. You're now a college graduate, I thought to myself, as I was brought back to the reality of my kitchen.
I shoved the small piece of cake I still had in my hand into my mouth and licked the white and blue frosting off of my fingers as I used my other hand to sort through the mail that was strewn about the table, next to my cake. I hadn't had time to look at these yesterday.
"Bill…bill…bill…" I muttered under my breath. The last one I came across was a large manila envelope
I froze. Rejection letter number seven. Here it was.
My hands trembled as I said a silent prayer before opening the flap on the back of the envelope. I pulled the crisp white sheet of paper from the envelope slowly, and read the contents as soon as I could make sense of the words on the page.
My lips moved as I read on. My heart was beating fast as I tried to make my eyes scan over the most important part. Did they like it or not?
Finally, I saw it. I nodded as I set the envelope and paper down, back on the kitchen table. A single tear escaped down my cheek as I exhaled a long breath. Yup. Rejection letter number seven.
I pulled out the chair in front of me, and plopped down, burying my face in my hands. I jumped when I heard a loud knock at the door. I figured it was Alice, so I didn't bother to check my appearance, other than running my fingers to straighten the knots in my hair. I had yet to take a shower that day, so I was still in my pajamas, comprised of grey sweatpants and a yellow tank top.
Sure enough, I was greeted by a cheerful Alice. "Hey Bella!" She skipped past me into my living room and settled on the couch. "I was at the Forks Deli, and thought it would be fun to bring something over for lunch. We can have a picnic! You haven't eaten yet, have you?"
I shook my head as I lazily walked to the couch to sit next to Alice. "It smells good…" I noted as I observed the hot sandwiches Alice started pulling out of the large unmarked white paper bag.
"I know—I thought we cut could both sandwiches in half and share. Oh! I forgot the lemonade in the car!" She ran outside with her keys, leaving the door wide open. She almost bowled over the postman who was coming up the steps of my porch. "Sorry!" She called over, as she was already unlocking the front door of her car to get the drinks.
The postman chuckled to himself as he shook his head. He smiled at me, but I could barely match his expression when I saw that he placed another manila envelope into the mailbox. His smile faded and he suddenly looked weary. "Well, have a nice day…" He looked a little put off as he walked away from the small bungalow I rented, and gave a little wave to Alice as she made her way back with a drink carrier filled with two ice cold lemonades.
"Bella, do you want me to grab the mail since I'm already out here?" Alice called to me from outside.
I looked at her but couldn't bring myself to respond. She seemed to understand my expression and paused to pull out the contents from my mailbox before stepping inside. Closing the door behind her, she carefully set down the drinks on the coffee table and extended the hand that held the envelope. I gazed up from the envelope to Alice's expectant face with a frightened expression. She seemed to understand this too.
"Do you want me to open it?" She asked.
It took me a minute, but I finally nodded my head. She sat down next to me and rubbed circles on my back to comfort me. I couldn't watch after I saw her slide one finger under the flap to open this new manila envelope. I held my breath and turned away, the tears already threatening to rain down on my face.
It was silent.
"Bella…" Alice's voice came out in a whisper. I knew it. Rejection letter number eight. "They liked it."
I slowly turned my head to look into her smiling face. "What?"
"They liked it." She repeated, a little louder this time.
"How do you know?"
Alice laughed. "Well, I think it says it pretty clearly here. Bella! They liked your story! They want you to submit a full copy of your book and meet with an agent ASAP. They liked your story!" She jumped up and grabbed my hands.
Tears were indeed raining down my cheeks, but these were tears of joy this time. I couldn't believe it. I was going to be a published author!
Two Years Later, Present Day:
"Here's to Bella!" Alice raised her champagne glass in the air as I rolled my eyes.
I met Jasper's gaze as he smiled at me and raised his glass to mimic Alice's gesture.
"Shouldn't we be raising a toast to you two? This is your engagement party, after all." So typical. Here we were all gathered to celebrate Alice and Jasper's pre-nuptials and Alice wanted to turn the attention to me. I looked around the room, and noticed that it seemed as though Alice had invited every person she had ever encountered in her life. We had met in college, so I assumed that the other people our age I didn't recognize must have been from her childhood or something, because I thought I knew who all of Alice's friends and family were.
Alice shook her head defiantly. "Absolutely not! There's no law that says we can't support two wonderful occasions at once." She stood up and my face grew hot in fear as to what she was going to say next. "Attention everyone!" She smiled at the guests who were all gathered around small tables in the private section we reserved for this dinner. "First of all, I wanted to thank you all for coming to celebrate my engagement to the love of my life, Jasper." Soft applause filled the dimly lit room as people smiled with congratulations up at Alice and her fiancée. "We are so glad you could make it, and are so excited you could share this moment with us." She smiled and looked back at me. "Stand up," she mouthed.
I shook my head in horror.
"No," I refused in a harsh whisper.
"I wanted to share some other piece of exciting news tonight," she began as she walked towards me. If I could have run to the door without the fear of her tackling me, I would have. "Most of you know Bella, my best friend from college, my soon to be maid of honor, and published author…"
Oh god. Kill me now. I managed to give a slight smile through my undoubtedly flushed face.
"Her most successful book being Angel at Dusk, which was published right after Bella graduated from college," she gave me an excited smile before she continued, completely ignoring the death glare I was giving her at the moment. "It looks like the book has garnered so much success that the rights have just been sold to the Twilight Entertainment Company to produce a big budget movie for national release!"
My face turned the deepest shade of red now, as I received a standing ovation from the small audience of guests at this dinner. Some of them I knew, some of them I didn't.
All of a sudden, I actually felt a wave of pride wash over me, as I recalled familiar faces who had attended my graduation party, especially the ones I remembered with the smug faces who watched me fumble through my answer when they asked what in the world I would accomplish with a degree in English Literature.
My lips started to turn into a small smile as I recognized Lauren in the far corner of the room. Her skin was caked on with fake tanning lotion, her bleached blonde hair looked as thin as ever, and I couldn't help but revel in the fact that she had gained thirty pounds since I saw her last, which was at my graduation party two years ago. Again, I had no idea why Alice invited her, but this time, I was glad to see her.
Almost instantaneously, I realized how easy it was to give her a big smug smile as her eyes narrowed slightly upon the realization that it was meant for her. I couldn't fight the force of Alice's hands as she made me stand up and take a courtesy bow with a nod of my head.
I was exhausted by the time I had finally come home. I turned on the lights and tossed my keys on the floor, kicking off my shoes in the process. I didn't bother to change out of my black cocktail dress as I settled myself down on the couch in front of the TV. I grabbed the small remote next to me to turn on the set, and got up again when I decided I wanted a glass of water.
I could hear the warbling of the entertainment news reporters recalling the top news of the day. For the most part, it was the typical story of young celebrities getting in trouble with the law or getting caught without underwear yet again.
The tile of the kitchen floor felt cold on my feet, but it was relaxing to feel after spending the night in high heels. I turned off the faucet when my glass was full of water, and slowly drank to the faint sounds of the TV in the next room.
All of a sudden, I heard the two words that caused me to drop my now half full glass of water to the floor.
I didn't bother to pick up the broken pieces or clean up the water as I hopped over the mess I made and ran into the living room. There was his face, almost exactly as I remembered it. Only his jaw-line was more chiseled, his hair a darker shade of bronze, and his eyes a more penetrating shade of green. I almost collapsed right then at the sight of him on my medium-sized television screen.
He was the only reason I watched this channel, though I'd never admit it out loud. I watched it almost religiously to see if they had anything new to report on this up and coming actor, swiftly making his way to A-List status. My heart would pump out of my chest predictably at the mere mention of his name. Edward.
He was discovered by a talent scout when he was in college, signed by an agency after they caught his performance at one of the school play productions, something he apparently did as an extra-curricular activity as a Molecular Biology major, before he realized that his real passion was in acting.
And now, there he was. On the big screen and the small screen, and on the tip of everyone's tongue recently. My heart would sink every time he was linked to a new beautiful woman and would soar every time his reported status was "single."
Why I cared, I don't know. It's not like I was ever in his league. We were friends in high school, but I know he never thought of me as anything past that. Now especially, he was in a different universe altogether, millions of miles out of my reach.
I think I realized this early on. If I couldn't be with him in this world, at least my main character could get her own Edward in the world I made up, right? I laughed at the image that formed in my head of me writing Edward a thank you letter for being the inspiration of my best-selling book. My only hope was really that he would never find out.
I turned off the TV and headed off to bed, not before running down the stairs again and nearly falling when I realized I still had a broken glass of water on the floor of my kitchen waiting for me to clean up.