A/N: Okay so this is my first ever try at writing a story that I actually let anyone else see. So, yeah, to say I'm a bit nervous would be an understatement. I'm scared shitless but I'm putting it out there, I hope you like where this story goes. Thank you to my amazingly wonderful, supportive superbeta Stavanger1. To Teacher1209 and CaptainJezebel thanks for your encouragement.
Disclaimer: SM owns. Though I would seriously like to work some deal out with her to confiscate Edward, alas no such luck.
Make me believe
"Dammit Bella!" I heard the asshole yell from our bedroom, or should I say my bedroom cause that's what it is now.
Whatever possessed me to marry that man I just really didn't know. Oh yeah I remember, he was incredible in bed, hot as hell and I was fucking stupid.
Yep, sister that about sums it up.
Tyler and I have been married two years but God that was the absolutely dumbest thing I have ever done. Especially, after I caught him in our bed with that whore Tanya Denali.
GOD! How stupid could I be!
Really, I mean the signs were all there before you got married. He was not exactly settling down into the married man role, but would you see that?
I thought I told you to shut up!
Don't be so pissy.
Okay so no I didn't listen to my inner voice that kept telling me he wasn't ready for this even though he begged me to marry him. I had to keep believing that everything would change when we got married; he just needed to get used to the whole idea, that once we were married he would see that I was enough for him. Boy was I wrong.
"Bella!" Tyler bellowed from the hallway.
"What Tyler? What do you want?" I bellowed back to him, becoming extremely frustrated with the amount of noise coming from MY bedroom for the amount of packing he should have been doing. Because really, the only thing he should be taking were his clothes. Everything else in that room was there before he moved in.
"Bella, why do I have to look at this shit?" he called, holding up a Western Horseman magazine with a very familiar face smiling brightly from the cover.
"Really, Tyler? You're going to give me shit about having that magazine?" I quirked an eyebrow at him, crossing my arms in front of my chest.
I knew exactly what he was talking about and I knew exactly why he was being all pissy about it, but he had absolutely no grounds for calling me out on having a magazine that had both our names in the address line. And he sure as hell had no right making out as though he were jealous of Edward Cullen. Edward and I grew up together but I hadn't even talked to him in two years. So whatever Tyler's problem was today I really didn't know.
"GAH! Whatever Bella!" he stomped off back into the bedroom to finish whatever the hell he was doing in there.
"You almost finished? Cause I really would like for you to get the hell outta here," I asked him as he poked his head out of the room and gave me the evil eye. He didn't answer but came walking out with a large black duffle bag and a box of I-have-no-idea-what, but at least it looks like he was finally finished.
"Just leave your key on the dining room table. Please." I instructed as I turned my back to him to walk into the office. I really had no desire to see him walk out the door, even if I did think our marriage had been a mistake. It still hurt and I had no intention of letting him know just how much at this point, I had allowed him to see enough of my tears over this whole shitty situation.
Tyler and I had met my freshmen year of college. I had received a full scholarship to Oklahoma State University. Well actually I had received an academic scholarship and also an invitation to join the rodeo team which would also include a partial scholarship while I was on the team. I had been running barrels since I was six and at that point was ranked number three in the nation on the high school circuit and I loved it. I was so excited to be asked by a college to join their team, I mean I knew that it was a possibility and I knew that a few college representatives were at some of my events but still I was flying high when I actually got the offer. The academic scholarship was just icing on the cake, the rodeo team was what I really wanted.
That's what led me to meet Tyler. He was on the rodeo team as well and we met at orientation for the entire team. He was tall, had broad shoulders and had the most beautiful shy smile I thought I had ever seen. He introduced himself to me that first day, we just sort of hit it off and were pretty much inseparable from that day on. We moved in together in an off campus apartment the next year and things pretty much progressed from there. The day he asked me to marry him was the best day of my life and I was really happy, or at least I thought I was. That was when everything started changing between us, or should I say Tyler started changing. I had heard the stories about how he got around before he met me but as far as I knew up to that point he had been faithful to me. He was good to me, he loved me, right? I thought so, I just kept telling myself and everyone around me that he just had to get used to the whole idea of settling down and that as soon as we were married he would see how good we were together. That's what I kept telling myself right up to the day I walked down that damn aisle. Boy was I wrong!
I couldn't have been more wrong. He wasn't the person I thought he was. Tyler wasn't in love with me like I thought he was and my blindness to that fact did not help at all.
Which leads us to today, the day Tyler finally moved the last of his things out of our house.
Well my house, my parents had left this house to me when they retired.
Actually the whole ranch was left to me and my brother, Emmett, but this house was the smaller of the two houses on the ranch and it was the one I really loved so it was the one I settled into when I graduated and moved back home.
Tyler still had another year of school and he decided to finish it in Oklahoma, I had graduated early because my parents had decided to retire earlier than planned and were leaving the ranch to Em and I. Tyler and I had discussed it deciding that I would return home to help Em run the ranch, he would come home on weekends and everything would be fine. Humpf! That's what I thought anyway.
The knock on the office door pulled me back to the present as I looked up to see Tyler standing in the doorway. His head hung low, hands stuck in his pockets.
"Bella….I…" he started.
"Don't Tyler. We've been through it all and I just really don't want to do it again, okay?" I stopped him before he could tell me again how sorry he was for what happened, or how he really didn't mean to hurt me.
I had heard it all and just didn't think that my heart could take it again.
I think if I let him tell me all this again it would just bring the visions of walking in our room and seeing that woman in my bed with my husband.
I looked up at him as it happened anyway and the tears filled my eyes against all my efforts to keep them out. He stiffly nodded his head.
"I left the key on the table. The papers are there too. I signed 'em and I guess everything is done….and uh..I think I got all my stuff. Um…Bella….if there's anything you need me to ..." he stuttered as he ran the brim of his cowboy hat through his hands.
"Tyler, just…just go okay," I choked out, trying not to let my voice break.
I watched him as he turned, looked over his shoulder at me one more time and walked out of my life for good.
I woke early the next morning after a long fitful night of trying to sleep. I had finally given up any hopes of sleeping around four o'clock and decided if I wasn't sleeping I might as well head out to the barn and check on things.
I was expecting a shipment from a farm in Colorado and it wouldn't hurt to double check on the feeding schedule for the mares on foal watch. Maybe I'd even get a chance to return some phones calls before meeting with Emmet.
Emmet and I met every Monday morning but this time of year was especially important. It was mid February and the foaling season would be beginning very soon. We would need to be making decisions on the foals we would keep and those to be sold. We also had to go over the schedule of mares to be inseminated for next year's crop of foals. We had been having a run of still born foals and miscarriages with some of our more faithful brood mares and we weren't really sure what was going on. All the mares were in perfect health and up to this year they all had been perfect producers. Then for an unknown reason our best mares started losing their foals.
I threw the covers off my legs with a grunt, swung my legs off the side of the bed and tried to lift myself out of more than just my bed.
I loved this bed, it was so comfortable, the mattress was just so soft and the new comforter I had purchased was perfect. I had ran out as soon as Tyler and that woman were out of my house, the day I caught them going at it like rabbits in our bed, and bought a complete new ensemble. I would not be sleeping in the bed that Tyler and I had shared for two years, the one that he had desecrated by bringing another woman into.
Okay, so those thoughts were not helping my mood at all and I had no time to deal with that today, I had way too much to do.
I took a cleansing breath of the morning air as I stepped out of my front door. I loved the smell of the ranch this early in the morning, even this time of year when it was twenty degrees outside. I couldn't get enough of that sweet smell of the animals and Earth.
I noticed that the lights were already on as I came down the long tree lined drive leading to the barn.
Huh, that was unexpected because usually when I made my early morning visits to the barn I was the only one crazy enough to be up at this ungodly hour. I parked in my usual place just outside the office, sliding on my worn leather work gloves, grabbed my coffee and headed in to see who was joining me this morning.
I was shocked when I saw who it was.
"Rose, what in the hell are you doing up at the, what is it you call it, 'the butt crack of dawn'?" I joked as I made my way down the bricked midway of our barn. My sister in law was not one to make it out of the house for any reason before the at least decent, as she termed it, hour of eight am.
"Shut the hell up, baby girl," Rose snapped, shooting me her most wicked grin. Uh oh, she's up to something.
"Uh oh. I know that look. What have you got cooking in that evil mind of yours?" I asked, laughing and shaking my head, walking up next to her and opening the stall door next to where she stood. "Hey girl," I cooed as the mare came up to nuzzle my hand.
"Oh nothing really, why do you think I have something cooking? Can't I just come down to spend some time with my dear little sister?" Rose claimed, looking at me with the most innocent face she could muster.
"Yeah, right, whatever. There's no way you would be up and down here waiting on me to come through the door at what, 4:30 in the morning if there wasn't something on your mind." I laughed, as I walked to the backside of the stall and began mucking it out. We had a great assistant who did this every morning but it helped to clear my head, keep my thoughts straight to do some manual labor.
"Okay so you caught me. I mostly just wanted to make sure you were alright." She hesitated before continuing. "Tyler moved the last of his stuff out yesterday, right?" I could hear the concern in her voice.
"Yeah, he did," I answered without turning toward her. I needed to get the tears under control before I looked at her. I didn't want to worry her anymore and I was just done crying, it was over and that was it, the papers were signed, with all the i's dotted and the t's crossed. No going back now.
"And are you okay?" Rosalie questioned.
I took a deep breath before I turned and answered. "Yeah Rose, I'm okay. Well, I'm as okay as can be expected I think." I smiled a half-hearted smile and emptied my pick into the wheelbarrow.
"Well good, 'cause that asshole isn't worth the trouble." Rose stated and I grunted my agreement.
"Okay, so here's the deal." Oh God here it comes, I knew there was more to her early morning visit than just wanting to make sure I was okay after yesterday."I was talking with Alice last night. We decided that we were taking you out tonight, just us girls. We haven't done that in forever. And I know as soon as the foaling starts around here there's no way we'll get you away from the ranch. So you have no choice and there's no point in arguing. You're going; end of story." She crossed her arms over her chest and gave me a look so I knew there was no way out of this for me.
"Ugh Rose. There is no reason for you guys to take me out. I'm fine. Really," I whined. I know I'm twenty-six years old and I whined, so what.
"Bella, I know your 'fine', whatever. We're still taking you out to get your drink on tonight. I already talked it over with Em and he's fine with keeping Garrett tonight. He even said that he needed some 'guy time' with the baby. And Alice said that Jasper wanted to come hang with his nephew and Em anyway. So no argument, you hear me it's all settled already." And with that I knew there would be no point in trying to win, it was a losing battle. Looks like I'm going out tonight.
"What time are you picking me up?" I relented.
"Seven o'clock. But Alice is bringing by your outfit at five." Rose smiled that evil smile again.
"Aw Rose. You got to be kidding me. I'm twenty six years old already, I know how to dress myself. I have been doing just fine dressing for some time now, don't ya think?" I huffed. I was not happy about this. I hated it when Alice wanted to play dress up with me. Not that I didn't like the clothes that she brought or the way that I looked when she finished her magic, but come on I'm a grown woman already. I have been married and divorced. I've graduated with a master's degree in business management. I think I'm pretty well able to put my pants on the right way.
"Yes Bella, you are very well able to dress yourself but you know that Alice gets way more pleasure out of doing this than you have discomfort. So just play nice and let her have her fun. You know Tyler wouldn't allow it, so it's been a long time since she got to play dress up Bella." Rose reminded me of yet another reason that I hated Tyler.
He wasn't always a controlling dick but he sure turned into one over the last year of our marriage. I think that might have been when he had started cheating on me. Now that he was out of my life I could see so many things that I hadn't noticed before or I guess it would be better to say that I ignored before.
Yeah we saw it. Don't know where you've been all this time.
Didn't I tell you to shut it yesterday?
God your bitchy this morning.
Really my internal voice was a pain in my ass but I probably should have listened a lot sooner.
Yeah you should have.
I shook my head and huffed a laugh, cause really isn't that a sign of mental illness to be talking to yourself this way?
"Alright fine, but I don't know if I'll be done here by five." I stated honestly because the meeting with Emmett could last for several hours and I had so many other things to deal with after that.
"Nope you'll be out of here by five. Em said he would make sure you were done, out and at home by the time Alice got to your house. So like I said, no arguments it's all been settled." With that she patted my back, turned and strode her way back toward the big house.
I shook my head cause I knew when the discussion started I didn't have a chance but I had to give it a try. This would be fun thought, right? I could go out again and have a good time with the girls. Yeah, Rose was right I needed this and it would be fun. I started preparing myself for the day ahead as I stepped out of the small side door barn that separated the main hall, into the adjoining office slipping out of my coat and gloves. I walked to the fireplace on the backside of the spacious room and began stacking small pieces of wood on the grate to start a fire.
Once seated at the large cherry wood desk I powered up the computer, logging on to my email account for the farm and began my day of trudging through what I could get done before my meeting.
"Oh My God!" Alice squealed as we pulled up in front of the bar. "This is going to be so much fun tonight." She actually was vibrating in her seat.
I love the little pixie but really, she's just too damn excited all the time. I really don't know how anybody has that much energy; I mean really, it just doesn't seem humanly possible.
"Alice really? It's not like we haven't went out at all in the last two years. Tyler didn't keep me under lock and key," I stated because I knew that part of her excitement was due to the fact that Tyler had been really overbearing with his need to have me at home with him and had kind of pushed a wedge between the three of us.
"Oh yes he did, Bella. You know very well that he didn't let you out of his sight for more than five minutes," she reprimanded as well all climbed out and Rose handed the keys of her brand new Lexus SUV to the valet.
"Boy you better make sure there's not a scratch on that puppy when it comes back to me, understand?" Rose glared at the boy who really couldn't have been more than seventeen.
"Rose really, do you have to make the boy piss his pants?" Alice trilled as she stepped onto the curb, wrapping her arm in mine.
Rose just winked at us and glared at the boy as he took the keys gingerly from her hand
"Y-Yes ma'am, I'll make sure your car is taken care of," he stammered.
"Good boy. You better." And with that she strutted to my side, taking my free arm in hers.
The lights inside the bar were dim. We made our way to an empty table that Rose spotted along the back wall near the dance floor.
"Okay, so the first round is on me," Alice stated as she made her way back toward the bar.
The music was good. There seemed to be some kind of contest being held by the bar and there were several local bands competing. Surprisingly they were all really good.
Alice finally made it back to the table with our drinks and hopped up on the stool across from me.
"Okay so there's this guy at the bar, right. And he's all 'hey sweet thang. Where've you been all my life.' I mean really , people still lame ass lines like that." She giggled.
"Yeah, apparently they do. So anyway I just ignored him and he kept trying to get me to talk to him. So finally this other guy, steps between me and him and tells him to back off cause obviously I wasn't interested." Alice looked at me pointedly. Uh oh, that really can't be good if she's already giving me that look.
"Alice, what did you do?" I asked cautiously, already getting a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach.
"Why are you immediately thinking I did anything, Bella?" she gave me her most innocent wounded look and I knew I was in trouble. I looked over to Rose hoping to get some assistance but I should have known. She just shook her head and wouldn't even look me in the eye as she laughed her ass off.
"Because Alice. I know that look and I know anytime a story starts off the way this one is that I'm most likely the benefactor of whatever cockamamie scheme you have cooking in that little pixie head of yours," I grumbled, taking a long drink from the cosmopolitan that the evil elf had brought back for me.
"Well, fine, whatever, but you'll thank me when you meet him," Alice huffed and turned around to search for something or someone in the crowd. As I saw her waving at someone I groaned internally because I really had not had enough alcohol at this point in the night to be meeting someone Alice had dragged over here from the bar.
"Hey. Seth this is Bella and Rosalie. Bella, Rosalie this is Seth." Alice handled the introductions. Seth shook Rosalie's hand, who by the way had been uncharacteristically mum since this whole escapade began, which was highly suspicious. I didn't have time to think any further about that fact as the tall dark man standing before us turned his gaze upon me. My breath caught a little as he smiled the most beautiful smile I had ever seen, well maybe not ever but in a really long time.
"Hello Bella. It's very nice to make your acquaintance," Seth drawled in his deep smooth voice, while taking my hand in his.
Seth was very tall, at least six feet four which toward over my five foot four frame. Even sitting on these high stools I had to look up into his gorgeous eyes. I had never seen eyes that color before. They were like jewels and looked brighter somehow in his tawny skin.
"Hi. It's very nice to meet you as well," I replied as I slid my hand away from the warm embrace he held it in. The look I was getting from Alice and Rosalie didn't go unnoticed by me and I glared back at both of them.
"So Seth, what brings you out tonight?" Rosalie questioned.
"Oh I play in one of the bands that's competing tonight." Seth answered politely. "I was taking a little break from warming up when I met your friend Alice here getting hit on by the absolutely lamest man on Earth," he chuckled.
Alice giggled "That's exactly what I was just telling the girls. Can you believe that somebody used a line like that? I mean really does that actually work for him?"
We all laughed as Seth continued to talk with us for a bit longer, easily carrying on conversation with Alice and Rose while he occasionally would give me a shy sweet smile. He really was a very good looking man, but I knew exactly what that little imp had in her head when she brought this man to our table and I wanted nothing of it, not tonight. God the ink wasn't even dry on my divorce papers.
"Well ladies I hate to leave but if you'll excuse me I have to be getting back to the band. I believe we go on next and they're gonna kill me if I'm not ready when we need to be on stage," Seth stated as he stood from the stool he had confiscated from a nearby table.
Seth shook hands with Alice and Rosalie before standing in front of me. "Bella, it was very nice to meet you. I hope that I'll see you around again sometime." He said this with such enthusiasm without making me uncomfortable that I couldn't help the smile from spreading across my face.
"It was really nice meeting you too, Seth. Yeah maybe I'll see you around."
And with that he took my hand, placing a small sweet kiss on my knuckles, squeezing it gently before releasing it back to me.
I watched as he made his way back in to the crowd and disappeared.
"Wow Bella, I think you're blushing." Rose smirked at me, as I turned away from watching Seth walk away.
"Oh shut up Rose." I ducked my head and took a sip from my drink. "You know what , I think I'll get the next round. I'll be right back." And I stepped down out off my stool to make my way to the bar to order up another round.
As I made my way back to our table with the drinks I noticed the band was changing on stage. A beautiful Native American woman took center stage adjusting the mic to her height. She was one of the most stunning women I had ever seen. Her raven hair hung past her waist and she was wearing a leather vest that barely held her in and jeans that had to have been painted on. Yeah I have a feeling even if she can't carry a tune this band was winning this contest tonight, I snorted to myself.
"What took so long?" Alice questioned as I sat down on my stool.
"Aw, some stupid prick had tried to start something with the bartender and the bouncers asked him to take a walk. So the bartender got behind on the orders," I answered as I listened to the band tuning up.
I heard the woman begin talking, calling the attention of the crowd who immediately started whistling and screaming for the band.
I turned as the guitar started in on the first cords of Landslide.
I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snowed covered hills
'Til the landslide brought me down.
"Wow," Alice breathed.
"Shit," Rose confessed.
"Yeah," Was all I could utter as we listened to this woman sing.
Oh mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I'm getting older too
I sucked in a breath as the words of that song hit a place in my heart that had nothing to do with Tyler. I, knew in that moment that as much as I hurt over what had happened between my ex-husband and I that it wasn't what truly had broken my heart. I just didn't know how I would ever heal the hole was still gaping even all these years later and sitting here tonight listening to the words of that song felt like the band aid that held the pieces together was ripped away.
"You know I think I'm ready to go," Rose spoke up quickly.
"Yeah, I'm kind of tired and I'm sure Jasper's ready to head home." Alice agreed.
I just nodded my agreement and we made our way back out to await the return of Rose's SUV.