Author Note: I'm taking some liberties with both plots (Twilight and Pride and Prejudice). I'm very excited about this story and hope you all will enjoy it. Without further ado, read and review!
Forks, Washington was a tiny, inconsequential town smack-dab in the middle of the Pacific Northwest. Under a near constant cover of clouds and showers of rain, the most this little town ever had to discuss was the weather, which was wet. End of story. As it was, rain was just beginning to trickle from the sky, pitter-pattering on the roofs of the homes of the good people of Forks. It was still considerably early for a Saturday morning; yet one Forks teenager was already up, sitting on the sofa in her living room, immersed in her copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. So involved was she in her novel that she scarcely noticed her mother coming in the front door, dripping wet with groceries in hand.
"Good morning, Bella," Renée Swan said, pecking her middle daughter on the forehead as she came into the house. "You're up early."
"Morning, mom. And, yeah. The rain woke me up so I thought I'd do some leisurely reading." She marked her place in the book and went into the kitchen to help put away the groceries.
"That darn rain," Renée murmured conspiratorially to her daughter as she stashed the canned goods in the cupboard. It was no secret that she and Bella detested the rain. However, Forks was the only home anyone in their family had ever known. Besides, what was love without a little give and take?
"That darn rain," Bella agreed quietly as her father, Charlie trudged down the stairs.
"Morning, Bells. Morning, honey," he said, kissing Bella and then his wife on the cheek. "Went to the store, I see. Did you happen to pick up some chips and dip? Billy and Jacob were coming over later for the Mariners game."
"Right here," Bella said, holding up several bags of various chips for her father to see. She stowed them on the shelf and began putting away the refrigerator items. Charlie nodded, apparently pleased that he did not have to go to the store himself, sat at the kitchen table and began to look over the newspaper.
"Hey, mom, where'd you put the cook book? I want to make waffles but I can't find the recipe anywhere." Bella shuffled all the items around where the book in question should have been.
"Oh, I put it in the cupboard under the sink," her mother answered absently as she sipped her doctored coffee.
Bella shook her head, miffed, and asked, "Why did you—?" But then she thought it better not to ask. Her mother was not known for her predictability.
Charlie snickered to himself while Bella began mixing the ingredients together. Soon, waffles were cooking on the iron and the air became fragrant with the sweet scent. It wafted upstairs, alerting the other two Swan daughters to wake up and come downstairs for breakfast.
The eldest daughter, Alice, was down the stairs first, her movements graceful and fluid compared to Bella, whose equilibrium left much to be desired. Alice was indisputably the prettiest of the Swan girls. She was very petite and possessed delicate features. Her hair was inky, pixie like, and contrasted brilliantly with her ivory skin. She had her mother's blue eyes, which were framed in thick lashes.
Bella was only a year younger than Alice was, although she behaved beyond her years—beyond her parents' years…or at least her mother's. Like her elder sister, Bella had dark hair that contrasted against her milky pallor. However, her hair was long and thick, hanging halfway down her back, and her eyes were brown like her father's eyes. She would not have considered herself tall yet she towered over Alice.
Groggily, the youngest—and only by two years—Jessica made her way into the kitchen. Like her sisters, she had the same extreme coloring. Her hair was curly like their father and her eyes were blue like their mother. In height, she was closer to Alice than Bella. However, her wild curls often made up for the lost inches.
The family took their typical seats around the small dining table while Bella put some hot waffles onto a plate to serve. They each grabbed two and stacked them on their plates, buttering them and then dousing them in maple syrup. For a while, they all ate in silence. Bella had only just joined them when Renée spoke.
"Charlie," she began, "you know that gorgeous house a couple miles out of town that looks like it's at least a century old and yet it is still in mint condition?"
Charlie's brows furrowed for a moment as he chewed. "Uh huh," he finally said.
She continued, "Well, apparently, it was sold. The new family is supposed to move in today."
"Really?" Charlie said, sipping his coffee. "And where did you hear that?" Bella scrutinized his expression. He seemed much more amused than necessary. He winked inconspicuously at her. She smirked.
"While I was at the store this morning. I ran into Mr. Weber; he told me all about it. I guess some doctor liked the place and bought it on the spot. Carlisle something…"
"Cullen," Charlie responded. Bella's smirk broke into a grin; Jessica and Alice glanced at their father, confused.
"Dad, you're holding out on us," Jessica accused. Renée glared significantly at her husband, clearly asking him to clarify where he attained such information.
"I already met the man," Charlie said, pleased by the expressions on the girls' faces.
"Well, you know how Harry Clearwater had that heart surgery," he began.
"Oh, yes. How is he doing?"
"He's fine. So, anyways, I was over at the hospital visiting him, and it just so happens that Dr. Snow was showing Dr. Cullen around the place. Well, he introduced the two of us and we got to talking."
"Well, what's he like?" Alice asked curiously.
"He's a very nice gentleman," Charlie said. "He's married but no kids…yet. However, he and his wife are currently the legal guardians of three kids—his wife's niece and nephew and his godson."
"How old are they?" Jessica asked. Bella snorted at how her little sister sat up straighter in her seat at the mention of the words nephew and godson.
"Well, let me think…I believe the niece and nephew are twins—eighteen years old. They'll be seniors like Alice. And the godson is seventeen, so he'll be a junior like Bells." Jessica scowled for a minute and then perked up at the idea of older men.
"Do you think we should go over and help out…?" Renée asked as she rinsed her plate in the sink.
"Honey," Charlie said, "give them some time to settle in. Let them adjust. And then you can overwhelm them with your hospitality." His smile was amused as he kissed his wife's pouting face.
"Fine," she replied, resigned. "Can I at least drop by a house warming present? Cookies, for example?"
Charlie pondered this for a moment. "I suppose that won't hurt. Just try not to bother them too much," he said, grinning mischievously.
"Mom," Alice said, putting her hand on her mother's shoulder, "you probably should let Bella make the cookies. Remember last time?" Renée scowled at being reminded of what a poor cook she was.
"Okay," she sighed. "Will you bake some cookies for the Cullens, Bella?"
"Sure," her daughter replied. "No problem."
"Okay then. Bella made breakfast so Jessica and Alice have dish duty." The family dispersed from the table, each heading to their own employments—Jessica grumbling as she completed hers.
As soon as breakfast dishes were cleared from the tiny kitchen, Bella set out the chips and dip for when Billy and Jacob would arrive later. Then, she started mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. The doorbell rang just as the last of the batch came out of the oven.
"Billy! Jacob! Come on in," Charlie said, beckoning in the family friends. Billy Black and Charlie had been friends for years. Now Billy was wheelchair bound and relied on his son for primary transportation. Jacob was Jessica's age and once upon a time, Jessica had a thing for him. However, she was mortally offended by Jacob's blatant indifference to everything that interested her. They did not get along too well; however, he was quite close to Bella and Alice.
"Charlie, my man, how are you doing?" Billy said in his gravely voice. He handed him a six-pack of beer for the game as Jacob pushed him into the house.
"Wow, it smells great in here," Jacob commented, sniffing the air, savoring the smell of fresh cookies.
"That would be Bells. She's making some cookies for the new doctor's family who bought that house just off the highway."
"Really? That house finally sold?" Billy asked offhandedly, settling himself in for the baseball game.
The men's chattering died away as the game began. Jacob entered into the kitchen where Bella was washing the cookie sheets. Silently, he reached for a cookie, but Bella was faster.
"Paws off!" she said, playfully swatting his hand. "Those aren't for you."
"Ah, c'mon, Bells. Just one? Please?" he fixed his face into a puppy-dog expression. Her answering scowl melted under such persuasion. He grinned happily and took a manful bite out of the gooey cookie, moaning appreciatively at the flavor. Bella shook her head slightly and went back to scrubbing the baking sheets.
"Jacob!" Alice called, bounding gracefully into the kitchen.
"Shorty!" Jacob reached out to Alice who wrapped her arms around his waist in a friendly embrace. He rumpled her already spiky hair and laughed at her enthusiasm. He looked almost as if he doubled her in height.
"So are you guys going to watch the game with us?" Jacob asked, nodding in the direction of the living room.
"No," Alice answered. "I promised to take Jessica to Port Angeles to go shopping. We may be gone all day."
"Ah, that's right. Jessica can't stand to be in the same building as me." Jacob laughed. "How about you, Bells? You up for some baseball?"
Bella smiled wryly at her gargantuan friend and said, "No. I have a ton of homework this weekend. Besides…you know how I am when it comes to sports." Because of her inability to participate in sports, Bella never truly had the patience to sit on a sofa and watch them either. Jacob nodded knowingly, dipping his hand in a bag of corn chips and dipping one in the nacho sauce next to him.
"Well, I probably should get in there. Talk to you guys later." He loped out of the kitchen and into the living room where a ruckus could be heard. Apparently, the opposing team had just scored a homerun.
Alice called up the stairs to Jessica, saying that she was ready to go. Jessica came down a moment later, her face painted with makeup despite the pouring rain. Alice and Bella raised their brows at their sister, who glared back and said, "What? There might be cute guys; I want to look my best." She smiled innocently and they all had to laugh.
"Okay, let's get going before all the cute guys disappear." Alice chuckled again as she shrugged into her jacket. Jessica followed, flushing. As she passed the living room, she heard Jacob snicker pointedly. Her answering glare almost sent chills down his spine.
Bella stood—now alone—in the kitchen. With the boys occupied watching the game, her mother running errands, and her sisters away to Port Angeles for the day, she felt a little bored. Not wanting to start the pile of homework waiting for her in her room, she decided to deliver the cookies herself. She piled a little more than a dozen onto a plate, wrapped them in cling-wrap and scrawled a quick note on a Post-It, welcoming the Cullens to Forks, from the Swans. She called to her father, explaining where she was going—although, he only half heard her—and headed out the door herself.
The highway was deserted, for the most part, as she slowly rounded the curves in her ancient Chevy. The rain interfered with her radio's reception, which was just as well; she needed to concentrate on finding the turn off.
Everyone in Forks knew relatively where the road branched off into a smaller, gravel drive, leading towards the Cullens' new abode. However, because it was seldom used, the drive had become overgrown with vegetation, ivy and ferns creeping along the wash, obscuring it from drivers on the road, drivers like Bella. She squinted through the rain, trying to see the tiny road. She would have missed it entirely if it had not been for the moving truck, exiting the drive fifty yards ahead of her.
She rounded the turn and crept up the gravel drive. There was no doubt in her mind that the Cullens would hear her thunderous truck, even over the roar of the wind and rain, her truck's engine could be heard half a mile away. She shrugged. Well, she thought, at least they know I'm here. Killing the engine, she donned her hood and trudged out into the rain. She did not have a chance to gaze at the splendor of the house; rain would have pelted her face.
The inside of the house seemed still. Shielded from the rain on the wrap-around porch, Bella could make out the living room through the window. The interior was various shades of white and off white. The back wall seemed to be made entirely of glass overlooking the river. Off to the side on an elevated platform was a graceful grand piano. Aside from a few pieces of furniture, the room was filled with brown cardboard boxes.
Bella stood for a minute, contemplating what course of action she should take. On the one hand, it would seem strange just to leave the cookies without notifying the family that they were there but then again, she was not the type to take the first step in meeting strangers. In the end, she chose to mix the two actions, ringing the doorbell, which chimed melodically at her, leaving the plate, and heading back to her truck.
Little did Bella know, a pair of bright green eyes, spied her as she ducked her head into the safety of her Chevy and drove away.
The following day would prove to be quite dull for the Swan household. That is, until mid-afternoon when an unexpected knock on their door interrupted their various employments.
Charlie and Billy Black were flipping halfheartedly through the television channels, trying to find a game that would strike their interest. Renée was absorbed in her new paperback romance novel while Alice and Jessica were gleaning fashion magazines, looking for the next big trend. Bella was in the kitchen, chopping peppers for the enchiladas she was making for dinner.
All six heads swiveled to the door when the soft knock sounded in the house. Alice, glancing out the window, said, "Dad, why is there a black Mercedes in the driveway?"
Charlie jumped to his feet and stumbled to the door. Four curious pairs of eyes bored into his back—Bella had not yet left the kitchen.
Two people stood on the front stoop of the Swans' tiny house—a man and a woman. The man smiled congenially from under their umbrella. "Chief Swan," he said, his voice warm and comforting. The woman next to him smiled politely, eyeing Charlie with casual interest.
"Dr. Cullen!" Charlie exclaimed in surprise. He hurriedly moved from the doorway, gesturing for them to come inside and out of the rain.
"Please, call me Carlisle," the doctor said in the front entry. By now, each of the Swan girls was poking her head around the corner to get a better view of their guests. Renée was the first to enter, smiling welcomingly to the newcomers.
"To what do we owe this honor?" she said, taking their hands.
"We just wanted to stop by and to personally thank you for the cookies your family left for us," Carlisle replied.
"And to return your plate," the woman behind him added, handing the dish to Renée.
"Um…yeah. This is my wife, Renée," Charlie said, gesturing to his wife. "And these little eavesdroppers are my daughters, Alice, Bella, and Jessica." He nodded to each of the girls as he said their name.
"I'm Carlisle and this is my wife, Esme," the doctor said to the ladies. Bella noted their appearances silently. Carlisle had pale blonde hair and hazel—almost gold—eyes. Even his skin seemed to glint with golden hue despite the obvious fairness in tone. His wife had caramel colored waves that gracefully framed her face. Her eyes were just a shade lighter than the color of dark chocolate but retained the same richness. The apples of her cheeks were lightly flushed and her smile benign. Everything about her screamed "sweet."
"It's nice to meet you," Alice said, joining her parents in the now crowded foyer. Jessica followed her sister while Bella remained in the kitchen doorway.
"Hey, Charlie," Billy called, "Why don't you invite them to stay for dinner? I found a basketball game that looks interesting if they want to watch."
"Yes," Renée agreed. "Why don't you stay for a while? I'm sure there's enough dinner to go around…if you don't mind all of us eating in the living room. I'm afraid our kitchen can't hold eight people at one time," she said sheepishly.
"Oh, we really couldn't possibly intrude on your family like that," said Esme.
"Oh, of course you can!" Renée replied. "It's no trouble at all."
"Actually, I have to feed the kids at home. You know how teenagers are when they're hungry," Esme laughed.
"Well, then how about you stay for a cup of coffee?" Charlie offered.
Carlisle shrugged and said, "I don't see any problem with that. The kids are out exploring right now so they won't be back for a while. They can fend for themselves until we get back."
Bella quickly started brewing the coffee while the adults convened in the living room. She could hear them exchange greetings with Billy and the game he had spoken of in the background. Overall, her first impression of the family was quite positive.
"They seem so nice!" Alice whispered as she helped fill the mugs with the steaming brew.
"Let's hope their kids are like that," Bella murmured, carrying the coffee out to her parents and their guests.
"I must get the recipe for those cookies," Bella heard Esme say as she entered the living room. "Honestly, I have never seen the boys gobble down anything so fast. They practically licked the plate clean," she chortled.
"Yes, Esme, Rosalie and I were lucky not to have had our fingers bitten off, let alone getting a single one. They were delicious," Carlisle added.
"Well your guess is as good as ours when it comes to that recipe. Bella customizes it herself; she won't share it with anyone. Not that it would help if she did. No one in our family can cook quite like she can." Charlie beamed paternally at Bella who flushed from the praise.
Carlisle appraised Bella momentarily and said, "You must be the girl who rang our doorbell then?" Bella's eyes met his in surprise; he continued, "My godson, Edward, said he saw a girl with long, brown hair leaving the house just after the bell rang." He half smiled as the blush in her cheeks deepened. "We wondered why you didn't stay around. We could have used the extra muscle." At that, they all laughed.
"I didn't want to intrude. I figured you'd all want some room to breathe before every nosy member of the Forks community engulfed your house."
"That was very considerate of you," said Esme. "Next time, however, feel free to stop in. You're more than welcome. All of you."
"What are the names of the kids you take care of?" Jessica asked, hardly able to conceal her interest.
"Well, I mentioned my godson's name is Edward. He'll be a junior…like Bella, if I'm not mistaken. And then, our niece and nephew's names are Rosalie and Jasper. They will be seniors like Alice."
"What grade are you in, Jessica?" Esme asked politely.
"I'm a sophomore," she answered promptly. She seemed proud of this fact, proud no longer to be among the fresh meat at Forks High.
"Ah, you're a year older than my goddaughter," Carlisle said.
"Goddaughter?" Charlie asked, perplexed. "I thought you just had the three."
"Rosalie, Jasper and Edward live with us but we are also the guardians of Edward's little sister, Renesmee. She would have moved with us, however, she received a scholarship to an all girls' boarding school; she really wanted to go and when it's free…well, we couldn't say no. The separation has been the hardest on Edward, I think." His godson's pain seemed to cause Carlisle a great deal of distress as well, though, he kept it well hidden.
"May I ask, how did you come to be the guardians of all these teenagers?" Billy asked. "What with you two being so young and all…."
"Rosalie and Jasper are my brother's children," Esme replied, "I was only eighteen when he and his wife died but I was their only close relative. I couldn't possibly say no. It's strange to think that I am only ten years older than they are." She shook her head at the bizarre twist life had thrown at her.
"How did you manage to support two kids at such a young age?" Renée inquired, befuddled by Esme's circumstances.
"Well, schooling was definitely tough. I had to complete my generals at the community college and then apply for a ton of student loans in order to get my degree in interior design. Luckily, my parents were the type to be tightwads when they were alive and had raised me to do the same. I had a relatively substantial college fund that made a remarkable difference."
"And what about Edward and Rene…smee?"
"My best friend's children," Carlisle explained. "Edward Masen Senior was actually the CEO of a small but growing company. When he and Elizabeth had Edward, they named me his godfather…and again with Nessie. When they died they specifically stated in their will that I be their legal guardian. This caused a bit of a stir among the family since they have an uncle who is the CEO of his own company and wanted to keep them around for his own bizarre reasons," Carlisle chuckled. "The man is positively medieval. He is a firm believer in keeping wealth within the family and arranged marriages and what not. I feel sorry for his daughter, Tanya."
Bella's brow puckered as she digested this information. She could see she was not the only one puzzled by all this. Her expression was mirrored in the faces of her sisters. The front door opened and a husky voice called into the living room.
"Hey what's with the Mercedes in the driveway? Whosever it is, I'm majorly jealous." Jacob Black shook his long, raven hair as he entered the room. His eyes glanced at Bella and Alice, passed over Jessica, and landed on Dr. and Mrs. Cullen. "Hi," he said confused, but brightly. "I guess you guys are the owners of that Mercedes, huh? I'm Jacob, by the way…Billy's son."
"I'm Carlisle and this is my wife Esme. It's nice to meet you, Jacob."
"You too." He turned to Bella. "So, Bells, I walked in here and I got this major whiff of enchiladas. I got to tell ya, my stomach is growling at the thought of them. Are they almost done?"
Bella smiled at the same time Esme frowned. "I'm sorry!" she said. "We're keeping you from your supper. Thank you so much for your hospitality. Perhaps, when my family is settled in, you all could join us for dinner at our house?"
It was impossible to say no to such a kind face—not that anyone wanted to; Esme was irresistibly charming. "That sounds wonderful," Renée said as she saw the Cullens to the door. They donned their raincoats—simple in design yet sophisticated—and braved the pouring rain. Charlie waved at them from the window.
They ate in the living room as Renée had said they would. While the majority chattered away happily—mostly about their new acquaintances—Bella chewed quietly, pondering her observations and the information the Cullens provided about their family. She, like her sisters, was naturally curious about their new classmates and anxious to meet them, yet she had a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. It felt like something big was going to happen. She just did not know what, yet.