The Little Angel of Forks
All belongs to Stephenie Meyer, including Midnight Sun. I'm just playing with her people, and I'll put them back afterwards where I found them:) No copyright infringement intended.
Chapter 1: Saturday, August 1, 2009
I'm hollow. Hell is not burning, Hell is a void, where you can't breathe, can't touch, can't cry out. Empty, frozen and solitary, walking amidst people who don't see you and cannot do anything to help.
Hell is candles snuffed out on your birthday cake.
It was meant to be a joyous day, my 21st birthday, my age of majority. He had rendered it null and void. He had crushed me. I couldn't even hate him for it, because I understood his reasons.
We had been together since we were 17, inseparable in high school and college, and everyone we knew said how good we were together. How it was only a matter of time until he proposed. I had trusted in them, and in him. I had trusted myself. I had trusted Providence.
It wasn't a whirlwind romance, not Romeo and Juliet. Not Bella and Edward. It was more subtle, more suited to our personalities. Kismet. I was more reserved than Bella. I didn't jump in with both feet. But it was, I thought, still a passionate relationship, and steady. We were loyal to each other. We understood each other. He was my best friend. At least that's what I thought. Before that night.
Ben had come to the party at my parents' house, along with about 70 of my mother's relatives and a few friends. He had asked to speak to me alone, and my heart had soared. This was it, I thought, he was going to propose. I would proudly wear his ring, and before too much time had passed, I would be Mrs. Ben Cheney of Vancouver, Washington.
Except now, I knew it was never going to happen.
Ben had taken me aside. He had told me how wonderful I was, and how much he loved me. But then, something went wrong with the script. I could barely follow what he was saying. And what he said, was that he wasn't ready to get married, that he would have been happy to live with me, and share my bed, and do things together, but that I had made it plain to him that I had no interest in anything but marriage. And he was too young to get married. And I shouldn't spend my life waiting for him. And that he hoped I would find what I was looking for, and that he wasn't good enough for me. Then, he had kissed me on the forehead and walked out of my life without looking back.
He snuffed out my candles, and left the familiar room cloying with acrid smoke, dark and dreary. Meaningless. It had been necessary to put on a good show, to pretend for the guests so that they could enjoy themselves. I imagine my smiles, as I played hostess, were nothing but grimaces. I wondered if my face looked the way Bella's had when Edward had left her in senior year. She had once said that it was like having a massive hole through her chest, big enough to see whoever was walking behind her. That was how I felt now. Robbed. Drained of life.
Well, Edward had returned to Bella. Apparently it had all been a terrible misunderstanding. Backward to my situation. Apparently, Edward had wanted to get married, and Bella had said no, thinking she was not old enough at 18 to marry. Only he had thought she didn't love him, and he had packed up and left. The resulting pain brought him back. And despite all the misery he'd given her, she had leaped into his arms when he returned, just as I would leap into Ben's, if he ever came back for me. Although that would be a stupid thing to do, because he just didn't love me the way Edward loved Bella.
Ben had left me on my birthday in April, and he had not come back, and I had not pursued him. I had come home to live with my parents for the summer. Two more years, and I would have my teaching degree, and be able to get away from this state, from the memories. I would go someplace warm, perhaps Arizona, as Bella had always spoken of it so glowingly, and get a job teaching PE at a high school, and move on.
Now it was August, and things were not much better. And the friend in whom I most wanted to confide was no longer around. Bella and Edward had gone to Dartmouth after high school. They had kept in touch via telephone and e-mail, but I had not seen them since their wedding.
My mother said that was normal. That often the people dearest to you moved on emotionally when they got married. They opened a new chapter in their lives and didn't see old friends anymore. There had been a gradual distancing, so subtle that I didn't even notice it at first. Mother said that it happened even if the friend was close enough to be in the wedding party, and that Bella would probably miss me in a couple of years, and call to re-establish the friendship. That didn't assuage my present loneliness.
I hadn't even seen a picture of them in two years. Bella disliked having her photo taken, and she would not use a webcam to hold conversations. She said she didn't like the thought of people seeing her in old sweats, if they called unexpectedly. I didn't understand her aversion to it. She had never worried about looking fashionable. I suppose that would change, living with the Cullens. They were all supermodel gorgeous.
I had heard from Jessica that Bella and Edward had left Forks. She also told me that Charlie had remarried and that he had recently bought a new house, one without old ghosts, with his new wife. They were living out at La Push now. I think the wife's name was Sue. Anyway, Charlie had two step-kids now, nearly grown ones, and a little son.
I wondered how Bella got along with them. Doubtless, they would love her.
I sighed. If only I could talk to Bella, perhaps it would be easier to move on. She had lived with a hole through her for months, but of course Edward had come back and patched it up, so maybe she couldn't tell me how to cope after all. Nevertheless, it was Bella that I missed, and Bella that I wanted, and I had no idea how to reach her. Since she moved away, I received my e-mails back, marked 'undeliverable' by the Postmaster. I had lost her, and it hurt. I had never imagined that she would not be my friend forever.
I mulled it over as I wandered aimlessly down the boardwalk in Port Angeles. I had come here on my own, hoping for a distraction in a town I had always liked. Unfortunately, there were too many reminders of the people I had lost. Ben, Bella and Edward and I had spent so much time together here, and now they were all gone. I was so lonely, I could have wept. My eyes pricked in the wind. Why had it all gone wrong? I walked down to the harbor. There was a little park there, and I decided to sit and watch the boats.
I picked a bench and sat. It was a gorgeous, hot day, scion blue sky devoid of clouds for once, and the gulls were wheeling. Families were taking advantage of the sunny day. I sat and watched the people having fun. Then there was me, sitting on the sidelines, missing out on everything.
For some reason, a certain child caught my attention. She was about eight or nine, and she was throwing a football back and forth with a middle-aged man. She was so striking that I did not even notice what the man looked like. I was sure I had never met the child, and yet she seemed so familiar somehow. She was the most beautiful child I had ever seen. I couldn't help staring.
She was lithe yet small, with long naturally curly bronze hair. She skipped around with the ball like a ballet dancer, and occasionally she would laugh with a peal like a bell. Her skin was so pale it was luminescent. Her eyes were chocolate brown, very large and expressive like a deer's. She reminded me of someone. Suddenly, she flew at the man with her, and leaped up into his arms. He nearly fumbled her as he caught her, then laughed and warned her not to be quite so rough on an old grandpa. It was then that I recognized the man. It was Bella's dad, Charlie Swan.
Disbelievingly, I rose to my feet and walked unsteadily over to the child and Chief Swan. Had he just called her his granddaughter? She couldn't be. She was too old. Oh, perhaps she was a step-granddaughter. I had to ask him.
It was Providence. Hadn't I just been saying I needed Bella, that I wanted to talk to her? And here was her father. I could ask how to contact her. My heart lifted a little.
"Hello, Chief Swan?" I touched his arm and he turned his attention away from the little girl to look at me. He did a double-take.
"Well, I'll be. Angela Weber, isn't it? How are you? Long time, no see!" He grinned at me delightedly.
"I'm alright, thank you sir. And yourself?"
"Never better, young lady. Never better. This is my granddaughter, Renesmee."
"Oh, I heard you had remarried. Congratulations! Is Renesmee one of your wife's kids' kids?"
Chief Swan looked a little bit taken aback. Then he smiled at me again. "Oh, no. Nessie is Bella and Edward's."
I gawped at him. "But she's too old. And Bella never mentioned her to me." I felt a little betrayed, and a little frantic. Why would Bella keep something like this from me? Was she leading some kind of secret life?
The beautiful child looked disdainfully at me. I realized with a shock that she looked very like Edward, and she had brown eyes like Bella. A sense of unease gripped me. I felt a little shiver down the back of my neck.
"Who is this, Grandpa?" Nessie demanded.
"Nessie, this is a very dear friend of your mother's, Miss Angela Weber. She was a bridesmaid at your parents' wedding."
The Cupid's bow mouth became an O. "Angela? Mommy's Angela?"
"Yes," I smiled at her warmly. She beamed.
I tried to do the mental math. Tried and failed to fit eight or nine years into three. At the very least, the girl had to be seven.
"How can this be possible, sir? How can Bella and Edward have a child this old?"
Charlie Swan grimaced a little, and smiled at the little girl, who smiled back like a conspirator. "Nessie, why don't you run around and play while I talk to Angela. Don't go too far, I don't want to explain to Edward and Jake if anything happens to you. There's a good girl."
Jake? What did Jacob Black have to do with it. My eyes met Bella's father's, demanding answers.
"Nessie may look very like Bella and Edward, but she is not theirs by birth. She is his niece. When her parents died in a car accident, the authorities traced Edward and he became her guardian. Nessie has been with them for three years now. Everyone loves her to bits."
My eyebrows were on my forehead. Bella had never said anything. "Why, sir, why didn't Bella tell me. I thought we were best friends." I felt teary all of a sudden.
"Uh, it took a lot of effort to process the adoption. The authorities thought Bella and Edward were too young to raise her properly. Dr Cullen had to convince them that the kids would have plenty of help from the family. Perhaps Bella didn't say anything because she was afraid the adoption would fall through." It didn't make any sense, and a flush was creeping up Charlie's neck. A flush just like Bella used to have whenever she attempted to lie. Charlie Swan was making excuses. I wondered what the truth was.
"I'm really surprised Bella didn't share this with me. I thought we were closer than that," I fretted.
"Well, Bella was getting over a nasty illness she picked up in South America. Perhaps she was too ill to call." Charlie's eyes shifted around uncomfortably. He was no better at lying than Bella. It still made no sense. Another punch to my gut.
Didn't Bella and Edward feel I was a worthwhile friend either? First Ben, now Bella. Maybe I wasn't a good friend.
"I'd really like to talk to Bella. I hope I haven't offended her in some way. Could you tell me how to reach her?"
"Well, that's easy," the chief smiled at me, "Bella and Edward are visiting. That's why I've got Ness. They're staying at the Cullen house for a couple of weeks. I'm sure they'd love to hear from you. Bella still speaks of you, often. I must warn you that her appearance has changed somewhat since her illness, but she is quite well, now."
I smiled, happy for the first time in months. I would get my best friend back somehow. I would settle any problems, and I would be happy again. I thanked the chief and hurried to get my car. I planned to drive straight to the Cullens' and surprise everyone.