So i'm going through the process of getting this Beta'd and am going to start replacing the chapters.
Thanks to Twimarti and OTD673 for beta-ing this.
Disclaimer: All the characters and anything else from Twilight is the property of S Meyer.
CHAPTER ONE- A START
"Alice!" I yelled up the stairs, so loud my throat hurt.
No response. Great!
I groaned in frustration and forced myself upstairs. I didn't have time for the teenage theatrics this morning, but, just like every day this week, she hadn't gotten up.
I had adopted the dark haired pixie a little under two years ago. She is a great girl and I love her dearly, but a morning person she is not. This fact made my life just a little more difficult.
I peered around her bedroom door and was met by a sight that was frustrating but not surprising at all. All I could see of my 'daughter' was a foot and a shock of black hair sticking out from under the duvet at odd angles.
I sighed and put on my best 'Mom means business' voice. "Alice, you have thirty seconds to make a move or there will be some very serious consequences!" I warned.
I heard a distinct grunt from under the thick quilt. But I didn't even see a small twitch of movement to indicate that she would get up.
"I'm talking about serious cuts from your closet," I clarified, knowing that if nothing else worked, the threat of confiscating shoes would make her move. Whoever said it was wrong to blackmail your kids had obviously never tried it because it worked like a charm.
Right on cue, she sat bolt upright, hair askew and eyes wide in alarm. "You wouldn't!" she challenged, fixing her piercing blue eyes on me.
"Just try me," I retorted. "I need to be at the restaurant in thirty minutes, so if you want a ride to school, you'd better get a move on." Then, I left the room to let her get dressed.
I hated making her do stuff she didn't want to. It was one of the more aggravating parts of being a parent. Social Services would be on my ass if she missed so much as a single class. I couldn't handle that, and neither could Alice. She'd had a hard life, never having known her parents. I wanted to make sure she was happy. And, rather selfishly, I liked having her around. It was like living with a friend when I didn't have to play the 'Mom' card. Thankfully, that wasn't often. I'd never known someone so easy to live with (compared to my college roommates and my mother she was surprisingly low-maintenance) If only she could get up on time, she'd be the ideal teenager.
I returned to the kitchen and poured coffee into two thermoses as I heard the click of heels on the stairs. I was always amazed at Alice's idea of practical footwear, and even more amazed that she had never broken an ankle or so much as stumbled whilst wearing the pointy things.
"Here," I said handing her one of the thermoses.
"Is this a peace offering?" she asked, taking an appreciative sniff of the coffee and smiling tentatively, apparently gauging how much trouble she was in.
"That depends," I told her. "Did it work?"
"You're forgiven," she admitted, taking a long gulp. "Even if I would rather be asleep right now," she added sullenly.
"Good, I forgive you too," I told her mirroring her action by drawing a long sip from my own thermos.
"Let's get this show on the road," she said, picking up her school bag from the floor where she had abandoned it the night before. I grabbed the keys to my old, faded and sometimes unreliable but much loved truck and followed her out the door.
"You want to do a few hours at the restaurant tonight?" I asked her as we got into the antique vehicle. If she didn't do a few hours waitressing here and there, I'd probably never see her. That kitchen couldn't run without me so I had to be there practically every day.
"Sure, I can put off my Physics assignment a little longer," she said, grinning and messing with the radio station.
"You're on top of all your school stuff though, right?" I asked in a moment of parental concern.
"Sure, straight A's remember?" She grinned like the Cheshire cat, referring to the report card she'd dropped on my desk last week.
"Yeah I do," I admitted, remembering the hole in my credit card from the shoes she'd bought herself as a reward.
We drove the rest of the way to the school in silence, save for the radio which was playing a song I'd never heard by a band I didn't know, which made me feel old.
"Pull over here," she told me when we were about two blocks from the school. I sighed. She wouldn't let me get any closer to the school in my truck. It was 'bad for her image'. She truly was a teenager sometimes.
"See you later," I said, giving her a quick hug.
"Sure. I'll be at the restaurant by five," she told me, and I raised my eyebrows in a silent question.
"Well, I ought to do some homework first," she admitted. "That's the problem with being the 'perfect' student. You have to keep the standards high." And with that, she got out of the cab with unbelievable grace and started off down the road, not looking back.
I started to drive away, and I looked in my rear view mirror once and saw what I thought was Alice hugging some blond boy. By the time I looked back in the mirror to check, I could no longer see her. Assuming it was the trick of the light or that it hadn't been Alice at all, I just carried on driving. The only thing I could think about was work.
I had let Mike handle the fish delivery this morning, which certainly meant there would be pandemonium when I got there. Mike was a good guy and a hard worker, which was why he still had a job. But I wouldn't mind if his organizational skills improved. I sighed. It was going to be a long day.
"Miss Swan, I do hope that is something you're willing to share with the rest of the class," I heard from behind me. I cringed visibly as Mr. Cullen, the Physics teacher, snatched my sketchbook from under my hands.
His eyes scanned in the image I'd been drawing, and he sighed. "While you are undoubtedly very talented, this has very little to do with the equations you're supposed to be working on," he said, pointedly looking at the blank page of my open exercise book. "You can have this back at the end of class," he said, surveying the rest of the room as he walked away, no doubt, hoping to find another student whose morning he could make less pleasant. That man needed to get laid. Maybe then, he'd stop torturing poor kids like me who'd rather sit and draw than answer questions that were so easy they were practically insulting.
I sighed and picked up my pen, catching Jasper's eye as I started on the first problem. I smiled. He looked apologetic. He knew not having my sketchbook would be killing me. He mouthed the word 'Asshole', jerking his head in Cullen's direction.
'Too right,' I mouthed back. He smiled and went back to his own work.
This was going to be a long class.
"Mike, get that cleaned up," I said, hitting full boss mode as I saw the salad meant for someone's starter on the floor. I really was going to have to let him go soon if he didn't get his bloody act together.
"Eric, tell me you've got table four's chicken ready?" I asked, with a slightly panicked edge to my voice, looking over at one of the other chefs.'
"Almost," he replied hastily.
"And Jessica, the chocolate mousse for the couple at table seven?" I was going to hyperventilate at this rate.
The days I assumed would be slow were always the ones we were busiest.
"Two more minutes," she claimed, looking as breathless as I felt.
"Good, then I'm taking a break," I said, needing to get out of the heat of the kitchen. I yanked the hairnet from my hair as I left and shoving the offending piece of netting into my pocket. It was a semi-symbolic gesture for me- no hair net meant I wasn't cooking which also meant I wasn't in charge- for just a few minutes I could be free of the trials and responsibility of being 'the boss'
I stood in the alley behind the restaurant breathing in the cool, fresh air, feeling my panic ebb away slowly and wishing I could drink on the job.
"Hey Bells," I heard behind me.
I turned to see the owner of the voice I knew so well. I'd known Jake since I was a child and came to town to visit my dad during holidays and later when I'd moved in with Charlie he'd become one of my best friends and trusted confidante. Charlie and his dad had always hoped that one day he and I would be more than friends but they remained disappointed.
"Jake. It's good to see you," I told him. He pulled me into a fierce hug almost cutting of my air supply in the process.
As he let go, I grimaced, looking at his jacket. I'd managed to get marinara sauce all over him and his very expensive looking jacket. "God, I'm sorry Jake. Here," I gushed, embarrassed, as I grabbed the tea towel from my shoulder and wiped his chest in an effort to remove the offensive sauce.
"Don't sweat it, Bells," he said calmly. "Relax." He took the towel from me and finished the job himself.
"Sorry," I apologized. "It's been a long shift. Hey, why are you here anyway?" I asked, realizing how rare it was for him to be at the restaurant. I didn't think I'd ever seen him before when I was at work. Usually we met at the dinner or my place for catch-ups, gossip sessions or movie nights.
"I'm here to pick up a phone order," he said by way of an explanation. "I thought I'd come in the back at get some face time with the head chef, but you were already out here," he said, smiling.
Then, my cell phone rang, the shrill ringtone raising my irritation level.
"Just go through and tell them you want the Black order. If they give you any trouble, tell them they'll have to deal with me," I told Jake, grabbing my phone from the depths of my apron pocket.
"Aye, Aye," he replied, and with a small salute he disappeared inside.
I pressed 'accept' on my phone, after untangling it from my hair net and held it to my ear. "Hello," I said automatically.
"Hello, is this Miss Swan?" a male voice asked in an exceptionally polite tone.
"Speaking, who is this?" I asked in return.
"My name is Edward Cullen. I'm your daughter's Physics teacher," he replied. I was startled; no one from the school had ever contacted me before. I instantly thought of the worst case scenario and panicked.
"Oh my God! Is Alice okay? What happened?" I gushed. The words were flying from my mouth before I had time to think them.
"She's fine, she's fine. I didn't mean to cause you any alarm. There's no pressing problem. I'm just calling because I'd like to set up a meeting. I have some concerns regarding Alice and would like to speak to you about them. Would that be okay?" he asked.
I was startled. Why would a teacher have concerns about a student who got straight A's? "Sure. That would be fine," I said, confusion lacing my voice.
"It's nothing to worry about, I assure you," the man claimed softly. "How does tomorrow afternoon, four o'clock suit you?"
"That's fine," I said automatically. If I had to leave Mike in charge for an hour or two, I would.
"Wonderful. I'll meet you at reception then," he said.
"Sure," I replied defeated.
"Wonderful. I look forward to meeting you, Miss Swan," he told me.
"Likewise, Mr. Cullen," I replied automatically.
"Bye." And with that farewell, I hung up the phone. Alice had some explaining to do.
"So, I'll see you tomorrow?" Jasper asked me as we walked slowly down the street towards my mom's restaurant.
"Sure." And that's not all you'll be doing, I added silently in my head. I was going to make my move tomorrow. I'd decided and when my mind was made up it might as well be carved in stone. (Though I wouldn't do the carving myself- chisels wore hard work.)
"Okay then, bye." And he pulled me in for a hug and with great effort I resisted breathing in his scent.
"Bye," I repeated, and then he let me go and started walking down the street towards his place. I watched him walk- he did it so well. His steps were neither hurried nor too slow and the jeans that he was wearing were ones that I had chosen for him and they displayed the perfectness of his cute behind. And his hair, unruly as it was, was shining in the setting sun of early winter, making it appear golden.
I sighed and walked down the back alleyway, meandering my way past trash cans and empty cardboard boxes, to enter the busy kitchen.
"Hey everyone," I greeted cheerfully, heading towards my locker, dumping my book bag and grabbing my apron.
"Alice. I need a word with you," Bella's voice said above the other noises filling the room.
"O-kay," I said slowly, uncertain what the tone of her voice meant. What could this be about?
"I got an unexpected phone call today from a Mr. Cullen," Bella told me. Now I understood the tone that was her 'annoyed voice'. Usually that tone was reserved for Mike and the pizza delivery guy when he messed up our order. "I have to see him tomorrow. He's concerned about you. Anything you want to tell me?" she asked crossing her arms and looking like she was moments away from steam blowing out of her ears.
"Nope," I told her stubbornly. God, that man was irritating, calling the parental unit just because he'd caught me doodling in class. The man was unreal. Seriously- what was his problem?
"Well, we'll see about that tomorrow," she told me in her best impression of Grandpa Charlie.
"I'm sure we will," I replied dryly as I grabbed my notepad and pen and headed out into the restaurant. A few hours serving picky customers wasn't my ideal way to spend an evening, but it would take something exceptional to make this day any worse.
Okay so let me know what you think- Reviews are beautiful things people. Next chapter- The meeting.