A/N – DESPERATELY NEEDED! I NEED someone with expertise in spelling and grammar to assist me in editing this for Twilighted! Up to chapter 12 has been posted, however at that point I lost my wonderful editing team – and now I DESPERATELY need a replacement person or persons! If you (or someone you know) has excellent skills in this area, please contact me! Thanks!
He sighed as his blood trickled slowly into the dirt and the heavy footfalls of his enemy drifted into the distance, leaving only the rich scent of the disturbed earth behind. The darkness covering his eyes crept in further, yet still he kept them open, praying for one last glimpse of his angel before death took him.
"Bella! Are you ready yet? I want to see!"
Isabella Swan glared at her image in the costume store mirror. Ridiculous. The dress was...not her, to say the least. The long skirt, the full sleeves trailing to the floor...
"Remind me again, Rose, how I let you and Alice talk me into this?"
"Because it will be fun!"
Alice Brandon popped her small dark head in around the curtain. "Oh! Bella, it's perfect! And that blue suits you so much!"
Bella huffed a sigh before exiting the dressing room so her other friend could get a good look.
"There, Rose. Do I look stupid enough for you?"
Rosalie Hale frowned, tapping her forefinger against her lip. Then she grinned.
"Absolutely. You'll look fantastic, and once we've done your hair..."
Bella shuddered. "Great, you're going to drag me even further into this fantasy world of yours?"
Alice and Rose giggled.
"I promise you'll love it if you give it a try. Medieval fairs are just great! You might even find your own knight," Alice wiggled her eyebrows, "Help you get over Mike whatever his last name is."
"Whoever. The guy was a complete loser."
Bella sighed, remembering the moment she found him in bed with one of her co-workers –Jessica Stanley. So much for her being the only woman he would ever want.
"I agree. This is just what you need."
She crept back into the dressing room as the others continued to discuss her miserable love life, pulling the dress off and slipping back into her comfortable jeans. She fingered the soft material, hoping to get some kind of excitement building from the idea of this weekends get away. Instead she caught the name 'Jacob.'
"She just hasn't had any luck since Jacob left. It's so unfair."
"Well, she never should have blown him off, should she?"
"That's not fair, Rose. We were still in high school."
"Well, she had a great thing going with him, and then he told her he loved her and wanted to marry her someday and she runs for the hills."
"She didn't want to tie herself down so early; what's wrong with that?"
"Well, we have. You and Jasper are marrying next year, and Emmett and I not long after."
"Yeah, but if she wasn't sure Rose, then she did the right thing."
"Yeah. I suppose. I just wish it were all of us."
Bella let the single tear fall unchecked onto the dress she was still holding. Jacob. Her biggest mistake was letting him go, and for what? The fear that she would miss out on something else in life? Yeah, she would have missed out on Mike, and Eric, and Tyler...what a pity that would have been. Three lousy guys, all of them self absorbed and with what seemed to be the standard wandering eye. She took a deep breath, shaking her head to remove the memories, and stalked out of the dressing room, head held high.
"So I guess this is it?" Bella frowned at the offending garment.
Alice threw her a royal blue pair of slippers, a silver metal ring and a wisp of material. "Now that's it. It is inappropriate for a medieval maiden to go around with her hair unbound." She ruined her textbook façade with a giggle.
"Maiden? Isn't that supposed to mean virgin, Alice? That's a bit rich, don't you think?" Bella snorted. "I passed that line a long time ago."
The other two women snickered.
Bella tossed the dress and accessories on the counter.
"That's $110.97." She glared at her two still smiling friends. The assistant smiled at her, his blue eyes warm and inviting, his wedding ring gleaming in the afternoon sun. Bella let out a slow breath. How is it that every seemingly nice guy was taken? Or at least the best looking ones?
"So not only are you forcing me into a dress, but one that is costing me a huge chunk of my wages? I must be insane to actually be listening to the two of you."
They just laughed as she pulled out her credit card. "Well, here's to more debt."
All three of them were still laughing as they left the store.
Once her dark hair was braided, twisted and tortured into some form of a hairstyle, Alice lovingly laid the flimsy scrap of material over it and held it in place with the silver metal ring.
"Perfect," She stated, "A real medieval princess."
Bella's response was a snort. "Is that your final joke for the day? Or am I going to be subject to more horrendous accusations?"
Rosalie leaned forward on the sofa, uncrossing her legs. "Bella, will you ever be able to accept a compliment? You really do look nice."
Bella raked her eyes over her friends. Alice was wearing a fitted ivory gown, the sleeves below showing a rich, deep gold. Rosalie looked equally as stunning in deep burgundy under dress covered by a looser fitting forest green gown. Of course, they looked stunning, exactly like they had just stepped out of the pages of some medieval romance novel. As usual. Everything they wore always looked perfect on them. Neither one of them had bothered covering their hair.
"Remind me again why neither of you are wearing this absurd accessory?" She tugged at the flimsy scrap of pearly white of material.
Both of them snickered.
"Well, you see..." Alice began.
"It's kind of...well, you needed it more than us," Rosalie finished.
Bella closed her eyes. "Let me guess. It's some sort of bizarre code that says 'I'm available, take me now'?"
Rosalie leaned back, covering her mouth to hide her smile. "Of course not, Bells. Do you really think we would do something like that to you?"
"Yes, actually. I'm absolutely certain you would." Bella opened her eyes again to face her reflection one final time.
She couldn't deny the dress was stunning –it was. Alice had done a spectacular job of alterations. With the tightly fitted silver sleeves and the matching underskirt showing with every movement, it was definitely something a beautiful woman from an old tale might wear. It was just ruined by the plain and boring face peeking out from above the high necked collar. The overly large brown eyes, the dull, pale skin. Bella stared at her mouth, in her mind her only redeemable feature; soft red, and full. Definitely a kissable mouth. A pity no one was interested in continuing to kiss it.
"What's wrong with me?" She murmured.
"Nothing, Bella," Alice answered her; "You just need to see that. Today will help. Some handsome knight will come riding up on his white horse and save you from your own misery."
"I hope you're right, Alice," Bella turned from the mirror, perusing the solemn expressions on her friend's faces. "I really do."
Alice nodded, her eyes regaining their usual mischievous sparkle. "Since when have you known me to be wrong?"
The crowd was much larger than Bella expected, and considerably noisier.
"I didn't know there were this many people with the same strange taste in entertainment as you and Rose have."
"Oh, sure," Alice grinned as she grabbed an apple from a passing cart. "It's a real lifestyle for some people," She took a huge bite of the fruit. "Mmm. For some reason the food here always seems to taste that much better."
Bella sniggered. "Even though they buy it all from the supermarket."
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear you say that."
"Hey! Hey, guys, wait up!" The two women stopped and turned to watch a breathless and flushed Rosalie pushing her way through the crowd. "Finally!" She panted when she reached them. "I thought I would never find you two! I got tickets for the jousting."
Alice squealed, and Bella covered her ears, smiling. "So, that must be a good thing, right?" She asked.
"The best," Rosalie grinned, a far away look in her eyes. "The guys, dressed in full amour..."
"The trumpeters..." Alice added.
"The smell of sweaty horses," Bella wrinkled her nose. "I hope I don't regret coming..." She didn't get to finish her sentence. At that moment, a juggler passed in front of the group, showing off his skills. Bella, in a way that was typical for her, was so engrossed in her conversation with her friends; she noticed nothing until she was falling face down in the mud, the heavy weight of the juggler on her back.
"Bella!" Alice and Rosalie's hands pulled at her.
"I'm fine. Just killing everything in sight with my terminal clumsiness," She tried to turn her head against the squishy mess under her. "I'm so sorry."
"It's fine." A familiar voice answered. "I'm used to it."
Mike. Bella froze. Alice and Rosalie renewed their attempts to free her, now with little regard for the juggler.
"Mike Newton," Venom fairly dripped from Rosalie's tongue as she shoved at his heavy weight. "Because you haven't done enough damage, now you have to break her leg as well? Get up."
Bella sucked in a huge breath once the weight was gone. Alice helped her climb unsteadily to her feet.
"Oh, come on Rosalie. It wasn't like that."
"Wasn't like that, Mike?" Bella hissed. "So it was my imagination when I saw you with Jessica?"
"Well..." He ducked his head down to collect his juggling balls. "I thought I made it clear that we were over."
"What, the night before, when you took me to a movie, told me you loved me? That's your way of telling someone you're over?" A tear trickled down Bella's cheek. Too many times she'd been hurt. Enough was enough. She shoved him in the chest. "You're a real dick, Mike."
"Look, Bella," She frowned as she realized again he wasn't listening. "I've got to get back to it. It was nice seeing you, though." And with that, Mike wandered away again, the balls spinning through the air.
Bella stared after him, the ringing in her ears drowning out the calls and laughter around her.
"Bella. Don't worry about him. He's not worth it," Alice clutched her arm, pleading.
"Yeah," Rosalie snorted, "It seems he's good at one thing only, and that's playing with his balls."
"Come on, or we'll miss the jousting. Plus we need some mulled wine. Nothing like it to rid yourself of a troubled mind." Alice tugged Bella along behind her, towards the drink stand.
Three cups of mulled wine later, and Bella was very happy. The brightly colored pennants waving in the breeze and the shiny armor made her smile. A knight in a red surcoat tipped his lance at her and she rose in her seat to curtsey in response. Rosalie and Alice giggled.
"Who's your favorite?" Alice whispered in her ear.
Bella glanced out over the field, and her eye was caught by a dark horse, wearing gold and black, with a tall man in matching colors sitting high and straight in the saddle, perusing the field, a lance leaning loosely against the horse's side.
"Him." Her hand rose, wobbling slightly, to point in the knight's direction.
Rosalie grinned. "Those are the Cullen colors. Nicely chosen; he's supposed to be the best there is."
"He looks...handsome," Bella slurred.
Alice sniggered. "I think she's actually drunk, Rose."
"I'm not drunk. I'm...yeah. I think I am. My head is a little fuzzy..." Bella rose from her seat, stumbling down the aisle. "In fact, I think I'm going to be sick..."
"Bella, no!" Alice shouted.
Instead of heeding the voice behind her, she carried on, pushing at the gate that wouldn't let her past. Eventually she gave up and hitched her skirt to climb over. Faintly she heard more cries of "Bella!", but the swirling of her stomach and head were more than a match for the calls. She stumbled over the trampled grass, a sour aroma assailing her nostrils. The smell cleared her head slightly, enough for her to understand what it was, and where it was. She was standing in the middle of the jousting field. Two enormous and glistening horses were pounding across the ground straight towards her, the knight's lances raised right at her head.