Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight.
A/N: We have come to the end of the story. Each of you readers and reviews have made it a great experience to write this!! I hope you all continue reading when I post the sequel which I hope to not keep you waiting too long for. Thanks to 'awoalison' and 'augustblack' for reading this over as usual.
On another note, my new story 'I Still Think So' is in need of some love…. I'm not sure if it's the idea of Edward and Bella that's turning you all away or the idea of Bella and Jacob or what, but it would be great if you'd give it a chance. I've got a lot planned for it. If you don't like it, review and tell me how I can improve please because I would like that story to be just as great as this one.
Chapter 24: Graduation
I could hear the crowd of people shuffling themselves into the school's gymnasium as I stood my place in the line of students. In a mere hour we would all be high school graduates, free to face the world head on—to be independent individuals.
Each of us would be heading off to our respective colleges, venturing out on our own without the help of our parents. We would be growing from adolescents into adults.
To say I was slightly terrified would be putting it mildly.
In three short months I would be off to Seattle, starting my education for a career in Literature with a minor in business. My goal was to one day open a book shop in either Forks or Port Angelas seeing as how there wasn't one currently.
Jessica Stanley was standing in front of me, talking excitedly and acting as if we were still the best of friends. I nodded my head along with her incessant chatter as I plastered a fake smile on my face. Finally, much to my relief, someone else caught her attention further ahead in the line and she turned away to torture whoever that person may be.
The last two months since the wolf pack had destroyed Victoria were much more relaxed than those prior. Quil recovered after about a week of staying in bed and enjoying the fact he was waited on hand and foot. Even better, Jake and Quil had made improvements with their former friendship. While there is still a long way to go, they now are at an understanding.
It was nearly time for the ceremony to start; I could hear the processional music start and I straightened out my gown while making sure my cap was still centered on my head. I took a sweeping look at each of the faces belonging to my classmates, content with having moved here to Forks for my last two years of high school and the memories it gave me.
Mike smiled when he caught my eye and I gave a small smile in return. Angela waved to me from her spot at the end of the line and I made a mental note to find her after the ceremony was over. I wasn't sure when or if I'd get the chance to see her over the summer before leaving for Seattle.
The line began to move, feet shuffling across the tiled floors leading into the gym. I stood up straight, put on my best smile, and followed behind Jessica. When we entered the gymnasium, I easily spotted my family sitting in the stands, minus Renee and Phil.
Phil had injured himself during a baseball practice, breaking his leg and leaving him unable to travel. My mom had been upset about missing such an important milestone in my life, but I reassured her that I would be fine and we would take lots of pictures for me to show her when I visited this summer.
Charlie was seated three rows back with Billy Black seated to his left while Quil and Jake sat on his right. My smile turned to a genuine one and widened at the sight of them, but I quickly refocused my attention in front me, just praying that for one day my clumsiness wouldn't interfere and land me flat on my face in front of all these people.
Thankfully I made it all the way to my seat with ease, facing the podium where our principal was beginning to speak. I half listened to the speeches being made and before I knew it, it was my turn to walk across the stage.
By some miracle, I remained upright the entire time, blushing an awful shade of red when I heard the hoots and whistles of my two favorite boys. I shot them another smile, grinning like an idiot as I held out my diploma for them to see. Both of them stood, beaming at me in pride and love, the same emotions I could see also in Charlie and Billy.
On my way off the stage, I tripped over the last step, but fortunately caught myself before I could fall. I hoped no one had seen it happen, but the snickers I could hear coming from Quil and Jacob as I walked back to my seat told me I wasn't so lucky. My blush deepened dramatically as I retook my seat.
The remaining part of the ceremony passed quickly and before I knew it, people were tossing their caps into the air and cheering for the end of that chapter in our lives being over.
I found Charlie, Billy, and the guys by their seats after I finished maneuvering through the crowd of people that had formed on the gym floor. Parents hugging their children and groups of friends chatting excitedly about college plans.
But I didn't care about any of that. My thoughts were solely on my loving boyfriend and how I couldn't wait for our surprise date that night. It had been too long since we'd had any real time together; he was always out with the pack or catching up on school work.
"There you are!" my dad boasted as I approached. He pulled me into a quick, uncharacteristic hug, whispering in my ear, "I'm proud of you kiddo."
Emotion choked in my throat, leaving me unable to respond. Charlie was never one for emotional displays and it made me realize just how happy my move to Forks had made him. I leaned down to Billy next to hug him as well.
"Congrats, Bells," he told me with his proud smile still in place.
Quil and Jake hugged me, each in turn, telling me words of encouragement and congratulations before I followed the group outside to the parking lot. I would be getting picked up for my date at six, which left me with three hours to go home, get ready, and spend time with Charlie.
Charlie had insisted on driving me to the school in the cruiser, so I climbed back into the passenger seat while he seated himself on the driver's side and we headed home. As soon as we were inside the house I ran upstairs to my room to remove my cap and gown, grateful to be rid of them.
"Bella, can you come down here for a minute?" I heard my dad call up the stairs.
"Yeah, I'll be right down," I called back.
I found him in the kitchen holding a small, wrapped box and a nervous look on his face. "Got ya something," he muttered uneasily, shifting his weight from foot to foot as I walked in.
Typically I wasn't one for gifts, but from Charlie, it meant a great deal, so I accepted it with a smile and sat down at the table. Charlie took the seat across from me and watched with eagerness in his eyes as I took my time pulling off the wrapping paper that had been haphazardly taped around it.
Excitement and a bit of confusion worked its way into my mind when my gift was finally revealed. It was a cell phone… a nice cell phone by the looks of it.
"Figured you might need this if you're gonna insist on driving that old truck of yours to school and back all the time," he said gruffly. I smiled broadly, despite the insult to my beloved truck as I figured this was Charlie's way of telling me he was glad I would be visiting and that he would like me to do so often.
"Plus you know, you can call your old man from time to time," he added quietly and my eyes welled with emotion.
"Thank you," I told him earnestly, moving from my seat to his quickly and pulling him into a hug. Surprisingly, he wrapped his arms around me lovingly, and hugged me back in an unusual display of affection.
At 5:30 I headed up stairs to get ready for my dinner date. I had been told to dress casually and comfortably, so I wore my nicest jeans and a light weight, long sleeved t-shirt. I left my hair as it was, down and wavy, and even applied some light make up to make myself look nicer.
The doorbell rang before I even hit the last step and I grinned liked a school girl with her first crush as I answered it. The stupid smile only continued as I dazedly took in the boy—no man—in front of me. He always looked good, especially considering his usual attire, or rather lack thereof.
But tonight he was breathtakingly beautiful wearing a simple pair of jeans a dark gray button down shirt. He had the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and you could see the strong muscles in his forearms as they flexed and I just stood there—staring.
"Might wanna close your mouth before you let the flies in," I heard Charlie say as he stepped up beside me to see who was at the door. I flushed deep crimson and snapped my jaw shut with an audible click while both men just laughed at my embarrassment.
"You ready to go?" the deep voice asked me from my doorstep.
I nodded my head, still slightly chagrined from being caught visibly ogling my boyfriend.
"Have her home by midnight," my father called after us as we walked hand in hand to the car.
I climbed into the car as the door was held open for me and waited for the gorgeous man I could now call my own to get in his side. He was still keeping the location of our date a surprise and therefore I was overly curious and slightly confused when he started driving toward La Push.
We parked in the parking lot in front of First Beach and I laughed as I watched him scramble from his seat and come around to open my door before I could do it myself.
"What are we doing here?" I questioned.
"It's still a surprise, you'll see…" he trailed off.
I huffed a bit, but remained quiet as he led me from the car and down to the beach. It was a perfect evening out; the weather cool, but not too cold, the sky just beginning to show hints of pink for the sunset, and the sound of the waves crashing up against the sand made it seem peaceful.
We walked hand in hand for several feet before he started to lead me towards the left side of the beach and that's when I saw it—little lights flickering against the sand, surrounding a blanket and what looked to be a wicker basket.
As we got closer the glowing lights became more distinguishable and I realized they were tea candles; little tea candles surrounding a set up picnic. My eyes welled for the countless time that day at the romantic gesture.
"How did you—" I started to ask, but he interrupted.
"Emily," he answered simply and I nodded my head in understanding.
"It's beautiful," I whispered, but I knew he had heard me when I turned and saw that his face was lit up and smiling.
"You like it?" he asked, unsure.
"I love it," I told him honestly.
We continued over the blanket and he helped me sit before taking his seat beside me. I could smell the food through the basket and my mouth watered in anticipation—I was starving.
He opened the basket and began taking out containers, setting them on the blanket between us. "Ok… so we got chicken, fresh fruit, salad, bread, and green beans."
Instead of filling up individual plates we ate straight out of the containers, passing them back and forth between us. Conversation flowed easily; however, we avoided the topic of college as it would be a reminder of our impending separation this fall.
"I have something for you," he told me as he was putting our empty dinner items away.
"You didn't need to get me anything. This is enough," I said sincerely.
"I wanted to give you this," his voice was so sweet and caring I couldn't bring myself to argue further. I watched as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a long chain. "Give me your hand."
I did as instructed and placed my hand, palm up, into the over-heated one of the man I loved. He placed the chain into my hand and that's when I noticed the charm dangling from the end—a wolf.
"I know we don't talk about imprinting and all that—"
I cut him off before he could finish. "I told you that doesn't matter to me. I love you and you're worth the risk." I stared straight into his eyes as I said those words so he would know how much I truly meant them.
He smiled brightly and continued, "This is my way of marking you, you might say. As you may have noticed, the wolf is the same color as my fur and I this away I can be close to your heart at all times when you're wearing it."
"I'll never take it off," I stated firmly and then held out the necklace, gesturing for him to put it on for me. I turned around and lifted my hair so he could hook the clasp and my breath hitched as his fingers ever so lightly brushed my skin.
When he was finished I turned around so he could see his beautiful gift around my neck and know for certain that he would always be in my heart. My fingers found their way to the little wolf hanging from the chain and I allowed myself to feel the grooves of intricate detail it must have taken to carve such a small and beautiful thing.
"I love you Bella," he breathed.
"I love you too…Quil," I said, glancing down at the wooden, chocolate colored wolf around my neck once more.
A/N: I've decided to start my own forum. You can ask me questions about any one of my stories including the upcoming sequel. I will also be posting sneak peeks and spoilers. Here's the link:
And special thanks to 'MissCheeKY' who gave me the idea for the candlelit dinner at the beach and to my cousin, 'wolfbane08' for the idea of Quil giving Bella a gift.