Bella had the perfect life. She was married to her longtime best friend, had a great job and a beautiful son…until a careless driver stole her happiness.
Edward was fulfilling his dreams. His residency was almost over, he had a gorgeous fiancé, and he was ready to move forward, starting a family…until a devastating break-up and a health scare in his family shake his foundation.
See, sometimes, life doesn't go the way you want. Sometimes, things can happen that change the course you choose. And most of the time, it takes courage to walk down the new path.
What if that new path started with a tee ball team?
CHAPTER 1 – TEE BALL
Jake was laughing so hard, tears were starting to form in his eyes.
"He really said that?"
Bella nodded, laughing, too.
"What did Lydia say?"
"She was laughing too hard, she couldn't talk!" She snorted and Jake laughed harder.
"When she could finally form a sentence again, she told me that all she did was ask him how we came up with our costumes."
"And he told her it was your idea."
"Yep. And that you, Papa Who, had said 'What the hell?', when you saw the costumes! She couldn't get over him saying, 'What the hell?' in his little voice. And then, telling her that he loved his Horton costume so much that he would never ever take it off, she just couldn't stop laughing."
He turned back to the road ahead, trying to regain his composure. The more they talked about it, the funnier it became. Of course, anything Seth did was totally endearing to them.
"I don't know where he picked that language up," he said, smiling widely.
"Yes you do! His dad is where he picked it up!" She punched his arm lightly.
Bella turned to look at the sweet face of her two-year old. He was asleep, still wearing his Horton the Elephant costume, tucked carefully into his carseat.
"You know, you do look pretty funny, Papa Who."
"You're one to talk, Mama Who."
They both dissolved into giggles again.
The party had been so much fun. Bella was not sorry at all for the Who costume she had pressed Jake into wearing. Lydia and Daniel were their best friends in Seattle; and their annual Halloween party was an event that nobody wanted to miss.
"It's too bad Charlie and Sue couldn't get here to see him tonight," Jake said, squeezing her hand.
"It's hard, with his job. But, thanks to you, they can see everything on Facebook as soon as we get home and upload the video footage."
Jake had forced Charlie to create a page a few weeks before, stating that they were missing all of the fun. He'd been so patient, showing them both how to watch the video clips of their grandson.
Billy was another story. He'd picked up on the computer like he'd been using one for years. The laptop Jake had set up for him was perfect. He was waiting at home, handing out the candy to their neighbors.
"I wish your dad would have come with us," Bella said.
"Oh, he's not a big partier. But, he got to see Seth in costume. And, he didn't make too much fun of me." He winked at her.
Bella looked at Jake for a moment, taking in his strong features, warming to the smile on his face. Their son looked so much like him. She sighed, happy just to be spending time together.
She was studying his strong arms when she saw his hands tense on the steering wheel.
"Shit!" he yelled. "Bella, brace yourself!"
Everything was in flashes after that. Jake turning the wheel to the right. The sound of skidding tires. Metal crunching into metal. Seth's cries in the back seat. The windshield shattered, the metal crushed in on Jake, the airbag in his lap. Jake covered with blood. The sick realization that the front of the truck had pressed in on his side of the car.
He looked at her, his eyes dim. "Bella, I love you." After that, he was silent.
Then, a scream. Bella's scream.
"Mommy, wake up! Mommy, you're having a nightmare."
Bella's eyes opened and her breathing started to slow down. She could feel a small hand patting her cheek.
"It's okay mommy. It was only a dream."
Seth was standing by the bed, his big brown eyes filled with tears as he looked at her.
She reached for him. "It's okay, honey. I'm fine now. Do you want to stay in here for the rest of the night?"
He nodded and climbed under the covers.
She turned on her side and wrapped herself around his tiny form, stroking his forehead now.
"I'm sorry I scared you, Seth."
"It's okay mom. You didn't really scare me."
He snuggled into her side, placing his hand in one of hers.
"Was it another nightmare about daddy?" he asked.
She hesitated for a moment, not wanting to upset him, but not wanting to lie, either.
"Yes," she whispered.
"I wish you would only dream happy things about daddy," he said, yawning.
"Me, too, baby. Me, too."
She kissed his hair and played with the long black strands.
"You need a haircut."
"Oh, mom," he sighed. His voice was weary, drifting with the sounds of sleep again.
Bella stroked his hair for a few more minutes, until his breathing evened out and he slept.
She thought about the accident again. Charlie had checked out the scene and told her how Jake had swerved to protect her and Seth, sacrificing himself in the process. Typical Jake.
Tears flowed down her cheeks as she thought about the brief goodbye in the car. His final words and actions were for her and for Seth. Every nightmare ended this way; his final words, her scream.
But, she hadn't had a nightmare in months and really didn't want to consider the sleeping pills her doctor had given her. She liked to be alert if Seth needed her.
And, this time, she knew what triggered the nightmare.
Baseball. Well, tee ball to be exact.
Tomorrow was the day to sign Seth up for his first tee ball team. He had just turned four, it was time. She and Jake had talked about it the day he was born. He was going to play football, basketball and baseball. Jake was sure of it. She had inwardly cringed at the idea of her tiny baby putting on pads and being tackled, and Jake laughed when he saw the look on her face.
"He'll be big and strong by then, Bella," he had told her. She knew that if he was anything like Jake, it would be true.
This spring would be his first experience with team sports. In the winter, it would be basketball. She knew he wanted to play, and that the pictures of Jake in his Little League uniforms were in his nightstand drawer. He was so excited to do something his dad had done.
She swallowed and wiped the tears from her face.
"I can do this," she whispered. "For you, baby boy, and for your dad. He wanted this for you."
She kissed his head again, and wrapped her hand around the ring that was suspended from her neck on a chain. Finally, she allowed herself to drift off.
The sun was shining directly into his eyes, making any more sleep this morning impossible.
He opened them and took in his surroundings with a sigh. His old bedroom, in his parent's house, the trophies still situated on the shelf, his high school letterman's jacket still in the closet. At least it was only temporary. He'd start looking for a home as soon as he was settled in at the hospital. His shifts would be regular office hours. His residency was over, thank God.
In fact, that was one of the reasons he had taken the job here. He needed a normal schedule. Port Angeles was a long drive, and the shift hadn't been any better. Seattle had been out of the question.
He thought about the phone call that had helped determine where he would work now that he was officially a doctor.
"Edward, we need to talk," Carlisle had said. "It's urgent."
"What's going on dad? I only have a few minutes. We have an ambulance coming in. I'll be running the team on this one."
"I don't really want to do this over the phone, but I can't fly out right now."
His dad had never sounded so desperate. The shaking in his voice was frightening.
Edward's voice took on a panicked tone. "Dad, what's wrong?"
After a long silence, he said again, "Dad?"
He heard a deep breath on the other end. "Edward, your mom is sick."
He snapped to attention, turning on full doctor mode. "What is it?"
Cancer. The word burned in his chest.
"Three E." His head spun wildly.
"What treatments are they looking at?"
"Well," Carlisle paused, "she needs surgery. They need to remove a tumor in her neck. And then, we're looking at chemo and possibly radiation."
"The surgery is next week."
"How is she dad?"
"You know your mom, she's a strong lady. She didn't want me to bother you."
He thought for several minutes, and his dad sat silently, waiting.
"Who is performing the surgery?"
"Is he good?"
"The best in Washington. We're going to Seattle - Northwest. They already have a team assembled for her care."
"Will she receive her chemo there?"
He slipped on his trauma gear as he talked to his dad. The EMT's would be rolling in soon.
"Dad, can you e-mail me her charts and any information about her surgery?"
"Sure. And, Edward?"
"She needs you."
"I know," he said. "I'll call you after my shift."
He had never been as scared in his life as he was that night. His mother had cancer. The hours of his shift were long and brutal.
He had made the necessary arrangements to take the next week off and fly to Seattle. He would be there when his mother was in surgery. Then, he started talking to head-hunters, looking for a job in the Seattle area. He ended up taking a month off after the end of his residency.
The month ended next week.
Thankfully, Esme had responded to the treatments and was doing extremely well. After one final chemo session and a round of radiation, she would be tested again. Things looked really good.
His life, however, was a mess.
Tanya, who had broken off their engagement nine months ago, was still in New York. He got an e-mail from his friend, Peter, last night, informing him that she was now engaged to another man. Here he sat in Forks, alone. It was really over. There was no chance of reconciliation.
He covered his eyes with his hands and moaned. Things were certainly not shaping up the way he had always imagined they would.
After taking a deep breath, he climbed out of bed, reaching into the closet for running clothes and shoes. At least he could stay fit while he was living at home with his parents. Besides, running was a great way to get rid of his pent up anger.
The water was running for his shower when his cell phone started to beep. He picked it up and looked at it.
With a sigh he hit the send button.
"Edward!" Em shouted. "How are you today, baby brother?"
He rolled his eyes. Emmett only called him baby brother when he wanted something.
"What do you want, Em?"
"Why do you think I want something?"
"Em, my shower is running, and if you want to talk to me, you'd better hurry."
"Fine," he said, his good mood fading.
"I need you to help me coach Bryce's tee ball team."
"My neighbor was going to help me, but he got a promotion and they are moving in two weeks."
"Oh, Emmett, come on. I can't help you coach a tee ball team."
"Why not? You know how to play baseball. Maybe you can teach the little twerps a thing or two."
Edward knew it was only a matter of time before Emmett talked him into helping. Either that, or he'd call Esme, and she'd make sure he did it.
"C'mon. Don't you want to help your nephew be a good baller?"
Emmett knew he had him there. Edward loved his nephew and his two nieces. He spoiled them horribly, especially now that he was back in Washington. Where his life was empty, they filled it.
He growled at Emmett, "Fine. What do I have to do?"
"Practices start in a week. Monday and Wednesday at 6. Just meet me at the field."
"Great," Edward said, resigned. He closed the phone.
At least he had time to help, now. His regular office hours would make it easier to be a part of the family.
"Hurry up, mom!"
"I'm coming. Give me just a second."
Seth watched her pick up her purse and car keys and then ran back to her, grabbing her hand. He was pulling her toward the door with his free hand. His other hand was full of a baseball mitt and bat; his birthday gifts. Charlie and Billy were both excited about the upcoming season.
"Where's the fire?"
"We don't want to be late."
"You don't need your equipment today, Seth. You won't be playing. We are just going to sign you up for a team."
He turned his head and looked at her, his eyebrows pulled into a sharp v. "What if there are other boys there who want to play?"
She laughed. "Fine. Take your equipment, just in case."
"Cool!" He ran to the car, waiting for her to unlock it.
Of course, Seth had instantly found a friend at the sign-ups. He was so much like Jake, his smile lit up whatever room he entered. His friendly demeanor invited people to talk to him.
One of the coaches had his son there. The coach looked really familiar. Bella thought he was someone from high school, only a little older than she was. In fact, she was sure she knew him.
"Well, if it isn't Bella Swan!" the coach yelled out.
"Yes, well Bella Black, now."
He held out his hand to shake hers. "Emmett Cullen."
"Of course! How are you Emmett?"
"Great. How 'bout you?"
"I'm okay. Thanks."
"Is that your little guy playing with Bryce?"
"Yes. That's Seth. He just turned four and he is dying to play tee ball." She laughed as she watched the two boys tossing the ball to each other and chasing it when they missed.
"Then he's in good company with Bryce." He laughed, too. "Looks like we have a couple of future all-stars there."
They talked for a little while as Bella filled out the paperwork for the league.
"Are you a tee ball coach, then?"
"Yeah. This is Bryce's first year playing. I couldn't resist."
"He's lucky to have a dad like you," Bella said, her eyes filling with tears.
Emmett grabbed her hand. "Jake would have been right here, too. You know that."
A tear spilled over.
"Don't be. You're right. He would have been first in line to sign up for coaching. He had big plans for Seth." She shook her head. "I just didn't realize that you knew."
"Forks is a small town, Bella."
"How are you holding up?"
"It's gets a little easier each day."
"Well, for what it's worth, I'm glad you moved back. I don't think your dad would have functioned at all if you'd stayed in Seattle alone. Besides, I couldn't coach Seth if you weren't here." He smiled at her.
"How do you know you'll be coaching Seth?" She sniffled.
"I have ways."
She smiled at him. "Thanks, Emmett."
"Anytime. And, he can practice with Bryce whenever he'd like."
"You mean you don't have enough going on around your house? You want another four year old running around?"
Emmett laughed. "Rose wouldn't mind. She loves kids."
Bella wiped the tears away with her fingers. "How many do you have?"
"Two. Bryce and Amelia. Bryce is a mini-me, poor Rose. And, Amelia is only two years old, and she thinks she is a princess."
Bella laughed, but her heart hurt. Seth would have had a brother or sister by now if Jake were still here, if the accident had never happened.
"Why don't you come over with Seth this week some time? Bryce would love to play with him. And, I'm sure Rose would love to visit with you."
"Did you marry Rosalie Hale?"
"She really didn't know me, Emmett."
"No excuses, Bella. I'll get your number from the forms and have Rose give you a call."
"Okay. I guess. Are you sure she wouldn't mind the company?"
"Positive." Emmett smiled and walked back to the table to hand a sign-up form to another parent.
A/N I really hope you liked the beginning of my story.
Show some love by reviewing. Let me know if I should continue to post it here.
Thanks for reading!!