A/N: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight, obviously...I'm just the uninvited guest swimming around in her pool.
This is rated M for later language and sexual content. Even though I don't write graphic sex scenes, I don't always fade to black either. I guess it would be considered lemon-scented or lemon-flavored...
This will all be written in Bella's POV, but Edward makes at least an appearance in every chapter.
The Path We Chose
Chapter 1: Of Birds and Bees
It was sunny in Forks the day Edward and I were paired up to be husband and wife in our Health class. It was sunny the whole day. If you knew what a rarity it was to have the sun even peek from behind the clouds in Forks, especially in early October, you would understand the significance of a complete day of sun. Later I would read this as a sign. A sign that everything was changing. For better or worse, everything would be different. Edward and I, we knew each other of course; this was Forks, after all. But we weren't really friends or not friends. He was the guy that most girls wanted to date, but nobody did. He just didn't date-at least not the girls at our school. The girls gave up on going after him once he turned down the beautiful, glammed-out, all-too-attainable, Lauren Mallory. That's what I was told anyway, when I first moved here a month ago. Forks High, though lacking in money, teachers and extra-curriculars, was not lacking in gossip.
Jessica Stanley made sure that the gossip was well-spread. She flung it all over the place while her followers caught it and swallowed. On slow days, she just made it up-turning some poor student's life right into fiction. That was the first thing I learned at my new school. Don't tell Jessica anything.
I never witnessed the girls hanging on Edward like he was some kind of celebrity, but Jessica made sure I knew. According to her, ever since Edward turned his back on Lauren last year, people started walking the halls indifferent toward him. If she didn't have a chance nobody did. Also, according to Jessica, she had never really been interested in Edward. He wasn't her type. I didn't ask her what her type was, but she told me anyway. That was when I stopped listening. When she looked at me like she was expecting an answer to a question-a question I hadn't even heard-I just threw another one back at her. I asked her how she got her hair to hold up so perfectly in the rain. That guaranteed my escape from having to be an active participant in the conversation for the rest of the lunch hour.
Edward had his own small group of friends, the beautiful people. They all must stick together, you know. When I first saw them, it really struck me how beautiful they all were. It was a natural kind of beauty, not forced like Lauren or even Jessica who wore too much makeup, too much hair spray, and too little clothing. After a while, though, the beautiful people, just became people. They had homework like the rest of us, curfews like the rest of us, problems like the rest of us. There was Rosalie, tall and blond and glossy-lipped, who rarely talked to anyone outside of their little group. Her boyfriend, Emmett, was a big brute of a man, really. He looked like he belonged on a college football team, and he talked loudly to anyone and everyone. Alice, the tiny brunette with short, wispy hair, darker than mine, and lips redder than anyone's, had an energy that people drink cups upon cups of caffeine to acquire. Jasper, the one with dark-blond waves usually covering much of his blue eyes, always had his hands on Alice. It was like he couldn't be near her without touching her. And then Edward, of course, who had hair that I would have to call bronze even though I usually don't compare hair colors to precious metals. You would think he was from California rather than Washington the way his hair had all those lighter streaks of red mixed in with the darker browns. His eyes were the kind you could see from yards away. So green. Of course the closer you got the more intense they became and the way he looked at you, like he was really seeing your inner thoughts...It's no wonder the girls all used to think they had a chance.
So, Edward and I were paired in Health because I drew his name out of a top hat, and I moved back to the desk next to him at the end of the aisle. I moved slowly and carefully because I usually tripped in these kinds of scenarios (you know, walking), especially if I wasn't thinking about it, and sometimes even if I was. I made it to the back, trip-free, and we pushed our desks together because we were told to do so by the teacher. You are married now, partners, so you are to sit close, Mrs. Hines had said. She hadn't looked at the class when she told us. She'd been looking past us, out the window. Some students turned out of curiosity. I knew better. There was nothing there. Mrs. Hines often behaved like she wasn't really in her body-like she wasn't present. It was weird.
As our desks came together, my finger got caught between them. Of course, I couldn't have had the good sense to move it out of the way. I brought it up to my mouth because for some reason sticking a hurt finger in your mouth makes it feel better.
"Sorry," Edward said, reaching for my hand, only to stop mid-way.
"It's not you, it's me," I said, but I don't know if he fully understood me because my finger was still between my lips.
"Man, our first day of marriage and I've already hurt my wife. Not a good start at all."
I removed my finger. "It's not you. This kind of stuff happens to me all the time."
"I'll have to be extra careful with you then, Bella."
Alice and Jasper easily distracted us then. They were scrambling around trying to get their partners to switch so they could be paired with each other. Edward and I were already laughing together at this weird mating dance that didn't look much different than clowns in a circus. Alice, leaning over Mike's desk, kept batting her eyelashes and pouting her lips, and Mike kept smiling and shaking his blond head. Jasper was pleading his case with Jessica but she kept winking at him and touching his face or brushing his hair out of his eyes. Edward and I, we just kept laughing.
The switch was never going to happen. Mike and Jessica, of course were all too happy with their marriages just the way they were. They seemed to think they had a chance of splitting up Alice and Jasper. I could have told them they didn't have a chance in hell, not even if they were partnered for all of eternity, but where was the fun in that? We would miss out on laughing at their expense like this.
Apparently, now that we were married, we would have to dig ourselves out of a variety of troubles that would be thrown at us until the end of the semester. As if teenagers didn't have enough problems, now we had to battle fake ones. At least we got to start out on our honeymoon which would be a period of time where we could just get to know our partner.
"So, where should we go on our honeymoon?" Edward asked after class, throwing an arm over my shoulder like it was the most natural thing ever.
"Um, how about the beach?" I asked. It was sunny, after all.
"Sure, I know the perfect one. I'll pick you up at 3:30."
"Do you know where I live?"
"Isn't yours the one with the police cruiser out front?" He laughed. Of course everyone would know where Chief Swan lived.
It wasn't even 3:31 when he picked me up in his old Volkswagen Bug. It was blue and made a lot of noise. "Are you sure this can make it there?" I asked.
"Just as sure as your old truck could. Get in," he said from the driver's seat.
I wore jeans, a sweatshirt, a knitted hat and brought along a heavy jacket because the sun in Forks, by no means, promised warmth. We talked as he drove since we were still in that uncomfortable-silence stage.
"Ever been married before?"
"Oh yeah," I said, "lots of times. This one will stick. I'm sure of it."
"What happened to your other husbands?"
"It didn't work out. I killed them. They deserved it though, I promise."
"I believe you," he said. "Did you use the candlestick or the revolver?"
"Neither. I'm not strong enough or brave enough for that. I'd probably miss with the revolver and not hit hard enough with the candlestick, and have you ever tried to kill someone who's begging to live? That makes it so much harder. I just poisoned their food."
"I'll remember never to get on your bad side."
Traipsing along the beach, my feet dug into the sand with every step. I stumbled a few times and checked to see if Edward had noticed. His face was more than a bit amused. He noticed every time. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him reach his hand toward me during my next stumble. I caught myself first, but it was nice to know that amused wasn't the only emotion he was feeling.
A big thick blanket came out of his backpack, Edward yanked it out and spread it over the sand. We sat together watching the waves tackle one another in their race to the shore. Salty water scented the air, refreshing, relaxing. Over the sound of the tide and squawking birds, Edward and I listened to each other talk. I told him about my mom and step-dad Phil moving around while Phil played baseball, chasing his chance from minors to majors. I told him about my decision to move to Forks with my dad, and our rekindling relationship.
He told me about his dad finishing up his residency as a surgeon at Forks Community Hospital and his mom working to support the family. He said his mother, Esme, a fourth grade teacher, comes home tired, rubbing her feet, then she prepares dinner and grades papers while dinner cooks or stews or bakes. "Esme, the sugar mama," I said.
"Yeah, but my dad thanks her and promises her that very soon she will never have to work again if she doesn't want to."
A gust of wind came up then, effectively shutting our mouths, blowing sand in our faces and hair, and pulling a screech from me as I covered my eyes. This made Edward laugh, which made me hit him. He couldn't stop laughing, and I hoped some sand would find its way into his mouth. Unlike me, he had the good sense to cover his mouth while he laughed. I let him calm himself down as I tried my best to smooth my fly-away hair. The wind kept whipping it out from under my beanie, all over the place in knotted curls. Finally I just let it blow. Damn, long hair.
Once the wind calmed down a bit, Edward pulled a bag of purple grapes out of his backpack. I wondered what else might come out of that backpack. We fed each other grapes because apparently that's what couples do on their honeymoon. Although, in all honesty, we weren't so much feeding each other as throwing them one by one at each other while the other one tried catching it all open-mouthed. There is really no dignity in looking up with your mouth wide open while grapes land on your face.
"Hey, that was a bad throw. You could at least aim for my mouth," I said after the sixth grape landed in my eye. I grabbed it and popped it in my mouth.
"There's no challenge in that," he said, tossing another grape my way without looking. I plucked it off the blanket and threw it back at him. The lucky bastard caught it in his mouth. "That's four for me."
"But see, I threw it right at your mouth. I should get a point for that."
"Okay, four for me, one for you."
"Four for you, four for me."
"You cheater." He laughed at me. "We can't be even, you haven't caught any."
"I don't like to lose, though. Let's call it a tie."
"Somebody always has to lose, Bella. Nobody likes it, but them there's the rules."
"Fine, but toss another one at me. I want to at least catch one. And aim for my mouth you big jerk."
He did toss them at me then, one after the other until I finally caught one. I smiled wide while I chewed it up. "Ah, it was worth helping you cheat just to see that smile."
"Let's just eat them," I said. "This is taking too long and they're really good." He had to agree and we both started ripping grapes off and feeding ourselves. I didn't even notice how late it was getting until I shivered. The sun was setting. The clouds were pink. They looked like big tufts of cotton candy. Then we were both entranced by the ocean as it sparkled in all shades of sienna. Even inside my heavy jacket, I shivered again.
"You're cold," he said, like he needed to tell me.
"Yeah, I noticed." We packed everything back into his backpack, stuffing the blanket down in there. It wasn't easy. "How did you even get this thing in here the first time?"
"Well, I folded it the first time," he laughed. "I didn't just start shoving it like you did. Forget about it." He pulled the rest of it out again, draping it over my shoulders. I stumbled some more on our way back to the car. The blanket blowing behind me in the wind made it even harder to stay on my feet.
"I feel like I should give you a ride on my back before you hurt yourself."
The heater blasted in the car and I put my face right up to the vent to warm my nose. Edward asked me how many fake kids I wanted. Twins, I told him, a boy and a girl.
"Twins? Really? You're a brave one, aren't you?"
"Not really," I said, "I just only want to go through one pregnancy and get my two perfect kids."
"Do twins run in your family?"
"Not at all, but…if I had them then they would, wouldn't they? I doubt we'll be able to choose how many kids we have in class, though."
"No, our kids will probably come one by one out of a hat."
When Edward picked me up earlier, he had waited in the car for me, honking his arrival, which was why I was surprised when, upon our return, he got out of his car to open the door for me. Then he surprised me even further by walking me to my front porch.
"I had fun," I told him, sticking my hand out for a shake.
"I don't think that's how newlyweds say good-bye," he said.
"Um...well, what?" I think I said.
"Just joking," he took my hand and shook it firmly. Disappointment shot through me. I tried to keep it from landing in my eyes, and I hid it with a smile. That's when I noticed his hair was sort of shimmering under the porch light.
"Do you get highlights?"
"It's just, your hair has so many different shades in it. It's unnatural." I reached up to touch a few strands.
"So does yours," he said bringing the ends of my hair up to my line of vision. "See, here's some gold here, and a redder strand here, but mostly it's just dark," and he ruffled it all up like it wasn't already knotted enough by the wind.
"Hey, don't mess with the coif!" I ruffled his hair too because I wanted to touch it again. "I like how your hair goes this way and that, even when it's not windy."
"It's how I comb it," he said. "I get up, take a shower and run my fingers through it."
"Speaking of showers." I cleared my throat. "I do think it's time to wash the beach out of my hair. There's enough sand in here to make my own personal sandbox right here on my porch." I opened my front door and told him I'd see him tomorrow.
"Yeah, I'll be here at 7:15," he said, "don't be late," and headed for his car.
So, I supposed that was his way of telling me he would be driving me to school from now on. I could have told his presumptuous self that I would continue to drive my truck to school, but I didn't want to.
"Hey Bella," he turned to me as he was unlocking his car and it dawned on me that I was just standing there, hand still on the half-opened door, watching him. "As far as arranged marriages go, ours is pretty cool."
I just smiled, nodded and waved, mostly in awe of how good he looked all dirty from an evening at the beach.
So, there's the first chapter. What do you think? Is it even remotely interesting?
I do not yet have a beta, so please excuse any grammatical errors (I read and re-read obsessively, but I'm sure I missed something anyway).
Updates will be quick.