Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and plot devices are the sole property of the illustrious Stephenie Meyer, whom I can only imitate. This fan fiction is for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
What I'm reading: Impossible, by m. diddy, is a delightful Seth Clearwater imprint story that is well-written and excellently plotted. Every chapter is enjoyable to read--you will fall in love with Seth all over again while you read the story of his imprint, Liz. Check it and don't forget to leave some review love!
Haven of Family
I never thought I'd find another family to replace the one I'd lost so many years ago. That's why I was surprised that I joined the ranks of two families, each so different from each other, and yet both so loving and accepting of me. My families, my safe haven, my rescue.
I glanced up from unpacking a box of books as a knock sounded on my bedroom doorjamb.
"Hey, Anna, are you done in here? It's time for dinner." My kid brother poked his head into my room and grinned.
"Sure, I'll be right there."
I placed the last of my well-worn book collection onto the shelf built into the light green-painted wall beside my bedroom door. Turning around slowly, I surveyed my new room, now completely unpacked and decorated. It wasn't huge, but it was perfect for me--a single bed covered with my favorite cream comforter stood against the wall to the right. On the opposite wall, a desk held my writing materials: mounds of loose-leaf paper, several notebooks, and a chipped mug holding pens and mechanical pencils. Next to the desk was a small closet stuffed full of clothes, most sadly inappropriate for the chilly, wet weather of the Olympic Peninsula. Directly adjacent to the doorway, where I now stood, a large window overlooked a small backyard that ended abruptly at the forest. Frilly white curtains ruffled in the cool breeze.
I grabbed the empty box and headed down the hall, down the stairs, to the kitchen. Leaving the box atop the stack of other empty moving boxes just outside the kitchen door, I took stock of my mother, bent over the stove.
She wasn't my birth mom, but she was every bit as real and loving to me as I imagined the woman who had brought me into this world had been. Linda Darkwood was of average height and weight, but had a heart of gold. She possessed beautiful copper skin and high cheekbones that pointed to expressive eyes framed by dark lashes. Her black hair fell to her shoulders in a stylish cut.
My mother sensed my admiring gaze and tipped her face towards me, her brown eyes twinkling.
"All unpacked, dear?"
"Yep, I'm finished. I put my empty suitcases in the garage earlier and the empty boxes are outside." I took the proffered plate and walked through the open archway to the dining room where the rest of my family waited.
"Hey, sis, after dinner do you wanna go walk on the beach? It's really close!" My brother gave me his patented 'puppy dog eyes' look.
"Sure, Brady, that would be fun, if it's okay with Mom and Dad." Dad nodded as he reached for the peas that sat on the table. My mom set the pot of spaghetti on the pot holder in the middle of the table and said, "Yes, that would be a good idea, to get you kids exploring your new home. Lila, you should go with your brother and sister."
Lila sniffed as she set aside her magazine in favor of taking a sip from her water glass. "I think I'd rather poke out my eyeballs with my fork. Moving to this crazy place was not my idea, you know." Lila was upset that Dad had gotten a management position at the Oceanside Resort on the reservation at La Push. Dad was excited about it, since he'd grown up here. He'd told us on the drive from Southern California that he felt as if he were coming home like a prodigal son. He didn't have any more living relatives on the reservation, but he had loved his childhood here, and he did still have friends who had stayed.
Mom had gotten a job at the Quileute Tribal School, teaching kindergarten. She had grown up here, too, and only left when she went away to college, where she started dating and later married Dad. It was funny--they'd grown up together on the tiny reservation, gone to school together from preschool on up to high school, but had never really shown interest in one another romantically till they were thrown together as the minority Native Americans in a large state college in California. I found the whole thing incredibly sweet and romantic and wished something like that would happen to me: to find my one true love amidst a sea of faceless people.
I forced myself out of my reverie and tried to pay attention to the brewing argument.
"Now honey," Mom started.
"No, just leave it, Linda. She'll come around." Dad stared over at Lila. "Please try to keep your negativity to a minimum, okay, young lady?"
Lila raised a carefully plucked eyebrow. "Whatever, Dad. I only have a few more weeks and then I'm outta here."
I exchanged a look with Brady--Lila's attitude was nothing new--and focused on finishing my dinner.
I didn't get why Lila was in such a rush to graduate from high school and move out. I thought our family was amazing and perfect, aside from Lila's attitude, of course. Yet she acted like she was pained every time she had to appear in public with the any of us. Even in private, at home, she was barely tolerable. I could only hope that she'd mellow out a little before leaving. We were supposed to start classes together as seniors tomorrow at the tiny Tribal School, and I didn't want any problems. It was bad enough that I was clearly the outsider, with my light skin, long auburn hair, and almost-green eyes. Amidst all the native kids, I knew I was going to stand out as the obvious freak. I was pretty nervous about the social aspect of it, actually, though I knew I could always rely on the schoolwork to help keep a buffer of protection around me.
In addition to me being the freak pale-face at our new school, we were all coming in mid-semester. It was May, and there were only a few weeks before school let out for the summer. I couldn't believe graduation was so close. I was surprised all my credits had transferred and I would still be able to graduate this year, for that matter.
I loved school, even in SoCal, where I'd been in the unpopular "geek" crowd. Lila had been the popular one, with her exotic Native American good looks--her dark eyes and ultra-tan skin, with long glossy black hair topping off a slim body. I didn't consider myself to be ugly. My complexion was clear, my height average, my body fashionably thin. But since I was adopted, somehow, making friends was rather awkward for me. I wouldn't label myself as shy, per se, but I didn't seek out the crowds, either. Instead, I threw myself into my schoolwork, easily getting good grades, even if I was lonely.
I was actually excited about school here on the reservation, since Brady was going to be with me. He was only in eighth grade, but this school held all the grades in the same building and he had the same lunch hour as me. Finally, someone to eat lunch with! He'd been in a regular middle school before we moved.
Brady was thirteen, four years younger than my seventeen, but we were fast friends. Ever since I'd joined the Darkwood family five years ago after eons of bouncing around the foster care system, Brady had been like an actual little brother to me: adoring, teasing, annoying occasionally, but always ready to talk. Our age difference didn't seem that wide when he tried to be serious, which, admittedly, wasn't often.
If Brady was the jokester kid brother, then Lila was the snobby older sister. She was only older than me by a few months, but she held that fact over me like a prize to be envied and coveted. She hadn't been happy when her parents had decided to adopt me, and still hadn't warmed to me in the intervening years.
I brushed aside my unpleasant thoughts and finished my dinner, listening to my parents chat quietly about school schedules, agendas for the upcoming days, and grocery shopping lists.
I dumped my dishes in the kitchen sink and called out, "Come on, Brady, let's go before it gets too dark."
"All right!" Brady excitedly grabbed both our jackets and bounded out the back door.
I followed him as he led the way to First Beach. Our house was very close to the beach and we only had to find the trail. A light drizzle was falling, more mist than rain. Behind us, in the forest, a wolf howled.
"Did you hear that?" I shivered. "I hope we don't see any scary animals out here!"
Brady laughed his husky laugh, his voice already deepening. He was growing up, I thought ruefully. My kid brother wasn't such a kid anymore. He was already taller than Dad, and his shoulders had broadened out this summer. Cords of muscles lined his lanky arms. He didn't look like a teenager at all anymore--he was starting to look more like a twenty year old. I supposed it was genetics or something, maybe some sort of Quileute thing. Though, when I thought about it that way, Dad wasn't that tall, and he definitely wasn't that muscular. Maybe the bodybuilder look skips generations?
"Don't worry, Anna, I'll protect you from the scary animals!" He tugged on my long braid and dashed ahead on the trail. "Race ya!"
I huffed but obligingly set out at a faster pace. The sun had set but I was still able to see where my feet landed. I picked my way over the hill and gasped as I drank in the sight of the beach in the twilight.
There were no words to describe the beauty. The ocean was dark, the grey waves undulating before breaking against the sandy shore. Smooth stones dotted the wet sand and I saw tide pools among the rocks that jutted out. There were several large pieces of driftwood lying scattered about, so sun-bleached and weathered that they seemed to be gleaming in the dusk. This looked like a great place to relax and read a book--when it wasn't raining, that is.
Brady was already halfway down the beach, tossing rocks at the waves. I sat down on the nearest log, settling in the groove that seemed made for me. An island stood in relief against the darkening sky in front of me, its cliffs beckoning mysteriously.
I'd been around the block a few times, had travelled a bit in my journey through the foster care system, but never had I ever been overtaken by such magnificence of beauty in a place before. It was awesome, in every sense of the word.
I wished my birth parents were alive to share it with me. They'd died when I was just a toddler. Car accident. I had no other relatives, no one to tell me what they'd been like, what their passions were, what they lived for. So I made up stories and imagined that they'd been like me: inquisitive, confident, and excited about life. I pretended I got my love of reading from my mother and my analytical mind from my father. I had pictures, of course, and I knew I looked like my birth mother, and had my father's eyes. But I wish I could remember those eyes smiling at me, or my mother embracing me.
I could recall nothing but my childhood memories of foster care. I didn't have horror stories of awful homes, cruel guardians. No, I'd lucked out and landed good homes with caring foster parents. After I'd lived with Joshua and Linda Darkwood for two months, they'd made the decision to adopt me and make me officially a part of their family. The way they treated me, it was almost as if they sometimes forgot that I wasn't actually a blood child of theirs. They included me so completely in the family. It made me feel warm and loved and safe.
In the midst of my musings, Brady had come back and plopped his huge body down next to my small one. He leaned his head back and looked up at the stars that were starting to twinkle.
"I like it here so far; what about you, Anna?"
I smiled. So far La Push was pretty nice. But there was still the ordeal of school tomorrow.
"First Beach is lovely," I said casually. "Let's see how lovely I still think it is after school tomorrow, huh?"
"Not looking forward to school? I thought you loved school!" Brady made a face at me.
I replied, "No, I do love school. Well, the learning part of school, anyway. It's the social part of it, the people, I'm worried about."
"Hey, I should be the one worried if anyone will like me! I'm the kid here! You've been in high school for four years now, so you should be the pro telling me it will be okay. I've never hobnobbed in the halls with you superior high schoolers before." Grinning at me, he nudged my shoulder with his playfully.
"Hey, don't knock me off the log!" I pretended to be outraged.
Brady grabbed his heart and cried out, "So sorry, sis! I forget my own strength sometimes!"
I snorted. If anything, I'd have my crazy brother there with me tomorrow as we both embarked our new school adventure.
"Come on, let's go home, Brady. Little kids like you shouldn't be out so late."
"Hah! Who you calling 'little,' shorty?"
We stood and went back home as the moon battled the stars for domination over the growling silver waves.