Who ever knew that by attending a wedding in London, you would get a record deal from singing for fun at an open-mic night in a local bar? It's not as uncommon as you think… huh, who am I kidding? It's so freaking uncommon, I had to beg Angela to slap me. I had always had a vivid imagination, but even I knew that this was too wild to be a dream.
I think I'll backtrack to the start of my life changing day. But before I can do that, I have to tell you a little about my history.
I was born and raised in the dreary town of Forks on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Charlie and Renee Swan are my parent, and they had me when Charlie was 17, Renee only just being 16 – she thought of me as her birthday gift. Life was great for the first ten or so years of my life in Forks, until my Dad made a startling discovery – he was gay. This caused my parent's almost happy marriage to break up, and Mom soon left for Phoenix, not wanting to be anywhere near the town that now took pity on her. For the past eight years, I have been living with my Dad, now the Chief of Police in Forks, and have loved every moment of it. Through the years I have made some great friends who do not judge my father for what occurred, and do not judge me, for what happened to me after – that will be a story for another time.
However, the story of the fantastic day that has just passed happened in London. Charlie and I had flown over there for my mother's wedding to her boyfriend Phil. We were reluctant to go at first, but both Dad and I needed closure from that episode of our lives – I still hadn't forgiven Renee for leaving me with Dad, with no phone calls, letters, cards or anything until the wedding invite. It was directly after the wedding that begins my recap.
"Oh, come on Bells. You are legal over here… hell; we're all legal over here. Let's forget the crappy wedding and get shitfaced!" My best friend Jacob said to me as we stealthily made our way out of the reception. At least Renee was kind enough to let me invite some friends here with me, I thought bitterly. I really hadn't forgiven Renee for abandoning Dad and I all those years ago – she could have remained friends, but no, the gossip mill was circulating and she had to get out of the 'good for nothing, dead end town that is Forks, WA'.
"Bella, you know you want to," added in Angela. This took me back, as Angela was the most straight-edge person I knew – she never touched alcohol, never smoked, never took drugs, and hadn't even lost her virginity yet, not that I can say anything on that matter though. "If it'll make you feel better, I'll call Charlie."
"NO! No calling my father while we're on vacation. Let's go, I know the perfect place," I replied hastily. I did in fact know the perfect place to go for drinks, as I had walked by it yesterday after I got my [required] manicure. Yes, Renee demanded all the people in her bridal party, be they close to her or not, to get manicures. The sign on the outside of the door had caught my eye, and made me want to go even more. Just as well Jacob reminded me that you only need to be 18 to drink in the United Kingdom, or else I would have missed my opportunity.
The seven of us – Angela and her boyfriend Ben, my other best friend Sam and his girlfriend Emily, and Jacob and his girlfriend Leah, along with myself – walked the short distance from the hotel where the reception was being held to the bar I noticed yesterday. We waited for the elevator to get to the bar in complete silence, and stayed silent until we reached the door to the bar. As we filed through the door, Sam noticed the sign I saw yesterday and gave me a knowing smirk.
"I should have guessed really," he commented as we made our way to a free table not too far from the stage that graced the front wall of the bar. Everyone's heads turned towards me and Sam, confusion written on their faces, until someone stepped up to the microphone.
"Welcome to Kensington Roof Gardens' open-mic night. My name is David, and I'd like to remind you that if you would like to sign up to perform at some point before 10pm, when our house band takes the stage, then please come and find me." His beautiful accented voice filled the room, and Emily, Angela, Leah and I swooned at the sound of it. The boys just laughed at us, knowing we had done the same earlier in the church when the very young minister was performing my mother's ceremony.
"Sign up!" Everyone shouted at me in unison, knowing that this was exactly why I brought them to this specific watering hole. I rolled my eyes at them before standing slowly.
"Sheesh, give a girl a minute." See, my passion in life is music. It was the only thing Dad and Renee let me do when I was younger, and it was the only thing that kept me sane through the years after Dad's secret got out. I made my way to the corner of the stage where David was hanging out, and I asked to be given the final time slot for the night, needing a little liquid courage in me before I sang in front of a good couple of dozen British strangers. He laughed at my comment and told me to have a fun hour before my performance. I'll take that luck thank you very much.
The hour passed very quickly, or so it seemed. It might have something to do with the two beers and three tequila shots I had ingested in the time period. It was safe to say I was happily buzzed as I made my way back to David on the stage.
"Do you have an acoustic I can borrow?" I asked sweetly, batting my eyelashes at him. See, in America… well, Seattle, Port Angeles and Forks, at open mic nights you have to bring our own instruments. I had no clue how it all played out in London, but it was better to be safe than sorry. David just let out that adorable British chuckle and handed me the acoustic that was resting against the wall.
"Over here, you do not need to worry about flirting with us to get instruments," he whispered in my ear, his breath tickling my skin and causing my hairs to stand on end. Why I have to share a suite, I thought to myself, wanting to be able to take the British hottie back to my room and have my way with him. Woah Bella, you most certainly have had plenty to drink tonight.
I picked up the stool that was also by the wall and walked onto the stage as David walked ahead, introducing me. As I sat down in front of the now vacated microphone, I heard the cat calls and whistles from my friends reverberating around the bar, egging me on. I locked eyes briefly with Jacob, and I know he was silently telling me good luck. I nodded in his direction, before swinging the guitar into my lap and resting my hands in place for the first chord.
"Hi there. My name is Bella Swan, and I am from America. I will be singing my favourite song of all time tonight. It's by Leonard Cohen, and it is called 'Hallelujah'. I hope you enjoy." I took a deep breath as I played the intro.
I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
As I scanned the room after finishing the first chorus, my eyes met those of a young man, not much older than 30, with piercing blue eyes and soft looking blonde hair. He was watching with awe at me, and I wondered why he would be so interested in me. I looked down at the guitar, and decided that since this guy was so engrossed in my performance, I may as well play my heart out for him, as by dinner tomorrow, I would have little to no chance of seeing him again.
faith was strong but you needed proof Baby I have been here
before Hallelujah, Hallelujah There was a time you let me know Hallelujah,
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Baby I have been here
There was a time you let me know
I looked up to my friends, who all were watching me with their jaws happily resting on the surface of the table. Finally, I blow them away with a performance. I smirked to myself as I began the next verse.
I took the name in vain Hallelujah, Hallelujah I did my best, it wasn't much Hallelujah,
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn't much
As the last note I sang rang out through the bar, I stood and gave a little bow, as everyone in the audience rose to their feet to give me a standing ovation. I ran over to David and returned the instrument, before skipping to my table where my friends piled on top of me in one big group hug. We were laughing and chatting about my performance, intermittent with drinking another beer, when the blonde from earlier approached the table.
"Miss Swan, my name is Carlisle Cullen, and first I would like to congratulate you on such an amazing performance. That is one of the best versions I have heard of that song, and I have been around since before it was written," the man joked, a British lilt tinging his words. I blushed at the attention I was receiving from a stranger, and quietly whispered a 'thank you'. "Secondly, and this is the most important part of all. I would like for you to join my record label."
See, I was not lying when I said that it was possible to get a record deal on the same day your estranged mother gets married. That was my day. After the conversation with Mr. Cullen, and the promise to ring him in the morning, we made it back to the hotel, where my Dad promptly told me to follow my dreams, which is what I did. I didn't wait for the morning to come; I called the number on the card I was given instantly.
"Cullen Records, Carlisle speaking."
"Good evening Mr. Cullen, I hope I didn't wake you," I said, biting my bottom lip as my friends and Dad gathered around where I was sitting in the common area of the suite we had been placed in.
"Oh no Miss Swan, I was just packing my bags for my return home the day after next. To what do I owe this phone call?"
"Mr. Cullen, I would like to take you up on your offer of a recording contract with your label. However, I must make it clear now that I currently reside in Forks, Washington, which would mean that I am an awefu-"
"Miss Swan, I would like to inform you now, before you get too carried away, that I also live in the small, dreary town we call Forks, and that my label is actually based in Port Angeles, so there is no worry as to travelling and leaving your father behind." When we got talking in the bar, I parted with the information that I only had my Dad, and that was where he picked up on my babbling tendencies. I couldn't help but smile into the phone at the coincidence of us living in the same town.
"Thank you Mr. Cullen. I shall give you another call once we make it back to the US safely." We continued exchanging pleasantries, such as when each of us would be arriving back in Washington, and when the best time to meet to go over all the legal jargon would be, before we hung up, both agreeing that we should get some sleep.
Who ever knew that the day my mother got married would be the day that changed my life for the better?