A/N: I'm not Stephenie Meyer. She wrote a great Saga that we all like to play with.
Sometimes you meet important people under less than ideal circumstances. This is a story about two people who happen to meet in a rather bizarre way...and it just might lead them to something they both need.
Chapter 1: Putting the Move On
It's the end of August, my junior year, moving day at the dorm. I'm a transfer student at the University of Washington. Most of the other residents will already know each other; apparently there's a big return at my particular dorm. Great. I'll be the odd man out.
I shouldn't gripe. My parents really weren't in a place where they could afford the whole four years at a state university. Staying at home in Forks, Washington, for the first two years after high school and attending a community college had worked out fine. It gave me a chance to spend more time with Charlie, my dad.
My parents were divorced and I'd lived most of my childhood and teen years with my mom, Renee, in Phoenix, Arizona. In my sophomore year of high school, my mom had met and eventually married Phil, a minor league baseball player. Renee and Phil had been planning on relocating to Jacksonville, Florida, that following year. At that point, however, I just felt like they needed their space. It had been my idea to move up to the Washington and re-establish some sort of relationship with my dad.
Charlie was the Chief of Police in Forks. I'd moved up from Phoenix during my junior year and begun attending Forks High School mid-semester. I'd been the big news for at least a month before, and three months after, my arrival in Forks. After that, people realized I wasn't really celebrity material. I was quiet, shy, smart and accident prone.
The last three and a half years passed by rather uneventfully. I'd helped Charlie around the house with the domestic trio: I'd cooked, cleaned and done the laundry. I'd maintained high grades in school so that I could go on to college and hopefully get somewhere in life, other than Forks.
Oh, and I had a boyfriend.
Oddly, having a boyfriend back home in Forks hadn't made it any more difficult to leave. I think I just was beginning to realize that we needed a little space. We'd become close during high school, mostly because we'd helped each other through some tough times. This would give us a chance to think about the path our relationship was taking and about where our lives were headed in general.
But back to moving day…
I was just pulling my ancient truck into the parking lot at the university dorm complex. Charlie hadn't been able to get time off to join me for the trip, but that wasn't really a problem; I was a big girl and I could take care of myself. I'd been doing that for years now, ever since my parents' divorce. I hadn't really brought that much stuff along anyway. I could always make the trip back home on the occasional weekend and pick up any other things I needed.
There didn't seem to be too many cars in the lot today, although probably more people would be moving in the next day. I just wanted to get a jump on this year. I pulled into a space, parked next to a shiny,silver Volvo and sighed as I looked up the hill toward the housing. The hill looked pretty steep and I knew I'd have to make several trips from my truck to the dorm with all of my belongings. I suddenly wasn't feeling very enthusiastic.
I looked around and saw a few people pushing carts filled with their belongings. Maybe I could find a cart to cut down on the number of trips. I hopped out of the truck and locked up. Hopefully my stuff, packed and covered in the truck bed, would be okay while I went to check in and pick up my key.
A big, seriously attractive, broad-shouldered guy, with muscles like a serious weight-lifter and dark, curly hair sat at the table in the foyer and greeted me with a smile and matching set of dimples.
"Name?" he asked.
For as big and physically impressive as he was, something about him was very child-like.
"Isabella Swan. Bella, actually," I replied.
"Okay, Bella Actually," he said with a little chuckle. And with his dimples.
He looked at my ID and his eyes glanced down the list he had in front of him.
"Room 208. Here's your key."
As he handed me my key, he indicated the stairway behind him to his left with his thumb. I wanted to thank him and ask him a few questions, but his focus had suddenly shifted and he was already smirking and calling out to someone that was approaching the table from behind me. I didn't bother to turn around and look or wait to ask my questions. I could do that later.
"Hey, Bro, what took you so long...?" Dimples asked The Approacher.
I proceeded on up the stairs and found my room in a suite down the hallway. The room faced a small sitting room with a couch, two chairs, an overhead light and two windows. I opened up the door to room 208. I guess I had gotten here first; my roommate hadn't moved in yet. I wondered if she'd be moving in today or tomorrow. I wondered what kind of a girl she would be and whether we would get along well.
I headed back down to my truck to begin unloading my belongings. Amazingly enough, there was an empty cart sitting right near the back end of my truck, between it and the silver Volvo. I looked in the Volvo, but no one was there, then I looked around the area at nearby cars to see if anyone seemed to be using it, or coming back for it, but there was no one nearby. Thank goodness for small miracles! I quickly loaded up the cart with two big duffel bags filled with clothes, a bag of shoes, a big plastic trash bag filled with my bedding, and my laptop in its padded case. The cart was really loaded down and I decided that was plenty for the first trip. I began trudging up the hill to my new home.
What the heck? I looked around.
Where'd it go? I peered around the lot.
You've got to be shitting me! This is just fucking perfect.
I looked around the lot and up the hill, but it was nowhere in sight. I'd found a cart and left it right here, next to my car, and now it was gone, only minutes later. Figures. My day had been steadily going downhill.
Earlier I had been flying along the freeway, blasting my iPod through the car's stereo system and looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces. That was when I got pulled over for doing 85. I couldn't believe it. I'd never gotten a ticket before, despite my need for speed. I'd felt like I needed to call my dad, Carlisle, right afterward. He had been pissed, always chastising me for my driving habits. Esme, my mom, had also been disappointed. I'd had to call my parents, even though I knew I'd get a severe tongue lashing.
What a great way to start my day.
At least it had been good to see my brother, Emmett, when I finally arrived here at school. He'd been up here most of the summer, taking an intersession class, so it'd been much quieter at home than usual. I'd missed his boisterous ways and loud, easy laugh. Now he was going to be the Resident Advisor in our dorm. Emmett. Advising others. How inappropriate. I could hardly wait.
I'd called him earlier to tell him I was leaving from our house in Port Angeles, and I would have been here sooner if it hadn't been for the State Trooper. Emmett had had to rub it in, of course. He'd smirked at me when he saw me approaching in the dorm.
"Hey, Bro, what took you so long?" Then he actually guffawed because he knew damn well what had taken me so long.
He asked me this question even though I'd called him before I had dared to call Carlisle. He already knew the whole story and had given me a pep talk, having been down that road himself numerous times.
Eventually he'd gotten the hilarity out of his system, had bear-hugged me and had given me a slap on the back. He checked me in and gave me my key. I was actually surprised when I'd scoped out my room and he hadn't pulled any pranks. Maybe my little Emmett was growing up. Or else he just hadn't had the time or opportunity. Probably the latter.
But for now I had to go round up another cart because some idiot had jacked mine.
I'd made it up the hill and had made several trips up the stairs to put my things in my room. I didn't see the point in putting anything away or organizing yet. I still had at least one more load in my truck.
So I locked up and headed back downstairs to go back down the hill with the cart.
As I passed the table in the foyer, Dimples asked, "How many more loads, Bella Actually?"
I smiled, rolled my eyes, and as I headed out the door said, "Hopefully, just one. That hill up from the parking lot is a real bear!"
Dimples laughed and nodded. He kind of looked like a bear himself, I thought idly as I headed down the hill.
The second load consisted of my pillows, some towels, a grocery bag with a few snack items, a box of desk supplies, a bag of toiletries, a box of books, my pet cactus that had made it all the way from Phoenix three and a half years earlier, and my desk lamp. Again I locked up my truck, figuring I'd re-park it later. It couldn't stay in that lot indefinitely; it was just temporary parking for loading and unloading. I began trudging up the hill, pushing the heavy cart ahead of me.
Suddenly I heard my phone ringing and I realized I'd neglected to call Charlie. He'd wanted me to check in with him when I'd arrived. I struggled for a moment as the phone kept ringing and finally managed to pull it out of my pocket. I juggled, almost dropping it as it rang, and eventually flipped the phone open, holding it to my ear while still pushing the heavily-laden cart with one hand. Bad, bad idea.
I mean really bad.
The cart hit a stone, took an abrupt U-turn and began heading back down the hill, the momentum catching me by surprise, causing me to trip over my own foot and throwing me off balance. Of course I was off balance. The weight of the cart lurched out of my hand and I stumbled as I made a last ditch effort to grab it before it hurtled downhill.
Oh. My. God. As it sped away from my grasp I could see that it was going to go careening into the shiny Volvo at the bottom of the hill if someone didn't stop it. I began running, screaming for someone, anyone, to stop the runaway cart.
I was on my phone, trying to call Carlisle once again, letting him know I'd arrived at school without any further moving violations on the highway. I'd started up the hill carrying a duffel bag. I had been unable to find a single cart and was now resigned to the concept of carrying everything up from my car by hand.
Fantastic. The day keeps getting better.
Suddenly I heard someone screaming. I flipped my phone shut and looked around.
I looked up the hill at a small, brown-haired girl. There was a look of horror on her face as she screamed, "Stop that cart! Somebody stop that cart!"
And then I saw the cart hurtling at me like a rocket.
I jumped to the side, reaching out for the handle as it shot past. It wrenched my wrist, but I managed to hang on to the beast with my left hand and reach over to add my right as it flipped around, tipped up on its two left wheels, turned sideways abruptly and flipped over, spilling its contents all over the road and pulling me down to my knees with it.
Ow! Fucking motherfucker!
Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod!. Please let that guy not be hurt!
I ran down to him, as quickly as I could, where he was still lying on the ground, his hands just now releasing the handle of the devil cart. He groaned as he twisted himself around, sitting up gingerly. I looked at him as I knelt down.
He was without a doubt, hands-down, unequivocally, the most attractive guy I'd ever seen. He had kind of wild, untidy reddish-brownish-bronzey hair that stuck out in random directions. It made him look like he'd just rolled out of bed. Nakedly. Where did that thought come from? His face was beautiful with perfect features, except that it was twisted up into an expression of pain at the moment. Damn you, cart from hell! And he had amazing green-blue eyes, framed by long, dark brown, lush lashes. His tropical sea eyes were looking at me with a mixture of confusion and anger. Oops!
"Oh my God! I am so, so sorry! Are you okay? Are you hurt? Don't move! Is your wrist okay? That happened so fast! I can't believe you were able to stop it!"
"What the hell were you doing?" He snapped at me.
"Wh- what? Excuse me?" I could feel myself blushing in embarrassment.
"I said, 'What the hell were you doing?'" He repeated himself angrily.
"I…, uh, I was pushing the cart up the hill when my phone rang and I tried to answer it and it was hard to do with one hand and then the cart was in my other hand and it turned and the momentum…"
"I get it!" he snapped at me once again.
I pulled back away from him. Anger was rolling off him in waves now.
"Why didn't you just stay focused on one thing at a time? Shit!"
He was rubbing his wrist and I could see that he'd landed on his knee. The hole in the knee of his jeans seemed to already have been there, but I could see that his knee had been scraped up as the cart slid to a stop. I could see scrapes and blood.
No, not blood, please.
I backed away from him a little. I didn't want to take the chance that I would smell that metallic scent blood had and faint in front of this boy who already hated me.
"I'm so sorry you got hurt," I said, gesturing at his knee and wrist. "It wasn't intentional."
"Obviously it wasn't intentional! You should just be more careful!" He peered inside the split knee of his jeans and looked at his knee.
"Do you want me to get you something for that?" I asked cautiously, afraid that he would snap at me again.
"No, I'll live; forget it," he said in a clipped voice, still obviously very annoyed and upset.
He pulled himself together and stuck his hands out to his sides to push himself upwards.
"Ow! Shit!" he suddenly yelled.
"What?" I asked him, frantic as he reacted to some new pain.
"Is this your damn cactus?" He practically shouted at me as his hand came around holding my cactus. He dropped it on the ground in front of him and looked closely at the stickers that were now sticking out of his palm.
"Yes," I whispered, mortified.
He plucked out the stickers, stood up and brushed himself off, surveying the area around us, now littered with my belongings.
He turned back and looked at the cart, turning it upright.
"Stop," I told him meekly, "I'll do it. You don't have to help."
He looked back at me with a scowl on his face, but he knelt down and began gathering up my books and tossing them back into the box they had been in. I picked up my pillows and towels and shoved them back into the cart.
"Really, I can do this. Don't bother yourself."
He just shook his head, his lips set in a tight line, ignoring me, and continued picking things up and loading them into the cart. He set the box of books in the cart without saying a word. Then I began scrambling for my desk supplies, stuffing them back into the box from which they had tumbled, while he shoved a six-pack of bottled waters, granola bars and trail mix packs back into the grocery bag. He placed the bag in the cart then picked up the full box of desk supplies and set it on top of the box of books. I gently picked up my now broken desk lamp and placed it in the cart uncertainly. I grabbed the bag that had held my toiletries and began collecting toothpaste, dental floss and deodorant. He handed me my shampoo and conditioner as I grabbed my brush and comb. His hand extended toward me once more, now passing me body wash.
"I draw the line at feminine hygiene products." His low voice was curt near my ear and I blushed furiously as I picked up the box of tampons and thrust it into the bag. "And I'm sure as hell not touching that Bad Boy," he said, pointing at my cactus. His voice was at least a little calmer now.
I grabbed up the cactus and set it on top of the pile, turning back to him to thank him.
"Where did you get this cart?" He suddenly asked, with an odd expression on his face, like he was really seeing it for the first time.
"It was down near my truck," I said, pointing toward the lot.
"That's your truck? The red one?" Irritation had sneaked back into his voice.
I nodded. What was wrong with my truck?
His expression was one of anger again. "I had chased down this cart to use for my stuff! Why did you just snag it? Didn't you think maybe someone was using it? What's the matter with you?" He was pushing back on his feet and standing back up. He was taller than I'd realized; well-built, but rather lean and lanky
"Are you kidding me?" I asked, glaring up at him. Now I was getting pissed off. He was so arrogant. "This was your cart? Then where the hell were you? There wasn't anyone around when I started to use it and it was sitting right next to my truck."
"Never mind," he said, his jaw clenched and his eyes tight, as he angrily picked up his phone and his duffel bag and headed up the hill toward the residence halls.
"Well, why don't you just put your bag on top of my stuff ? I'm going uphill anyway."
He just ignored me and began trudging up the hill.
"Thanks for your help anyway!" I yelled after him. "I'm sorry about the cart!"
He didn't respond or even look back. He just kept walking uphill without even turning around.
What a jerk! Hot looking, yes, but what an asshole!
I glanced around, picked my phone up off the ground, shoved it quickly into my pocket and slowly headed up the hill, shoving the devil cart ahead of me. I'd call Charlie back when I got to my room. I was too angry to talk right now and I didn't want to have to explain my irritation.
Who wanted to relive that fiasco?
I managed to get up to the dorm without any further incident, unpacked the cart and made a pile of my things just inside the door. I would have to make several trips to my room, but at least someone, maybe even The Hot Jerk, would be able to find it outside and use it.
As I unloaded boxes and bags in my room I kept thinking about the whole embarrassing ordeal. He didn't have to yell at me. It was an accident. Why did he even bother helping if he was so angry? I could have done it myself. Who needed that kind of attitude? Hopefully I wouldn't run into him (literally or figuratively) again anytime soon.
I was just bringing in the last of my things when I realized that I still hadn't ever talked with Charlie. I'd been so sidetracked with my confrontation with The Hot Jerk. I decided to sit down and take a break and check in with Charlie. I slid my phone out of my pocket.
No. Way. In. Hell.
This day just went from "bad" to "unbelievable."
It had turned sour when I got the damn speeding ticket, followed by Carlisle's tirade over the phone. Then, after rounding up a cart and leaving it unattended for all of five minutes, it disappears, only to come flying back into my life. Literally.
Thank God I had heard that girl screaming in time. What if I'd already been talking to Carlisle? Or if I'd been turned around? I would have been plowed right over. Or even if I'd jumped out of the way, it would still have smashed into my car and done some serious damage. Those carts are heavy. Damn!
What had that girl been thinking? She had said she was on the phone. Didn't she realize that she couldn't steer that heavy cart uphill with one hand?
Now my wrist was throbbing, my knee was swelling where it had banged down to the pavement and gotten all scraped and bloody. I had scrapes where I'd slid on my knees and left forearm until the cart stilled. Unbelievable. Oh, yeah, and then I palmed a cactus as I went to stand up and still have stickers embedded in my hand.
I got into my room and dropped my bag on my bed. I tried to pick a few more stickers out of my palm, then gave up and decided I'd unpack my bag and at least put that stuff away before I hiked back down the hill to get the next load. It didn't take long, it was mostly clothing that I could put into drawers. Then I realized I'd been so sidetracked that I'd never bothered to clean up the scrapes on my knee and forearm.
As I stood at the sink in the bathroom I thought about Cart-Thief Girl. She still irritated the hell out of me, but at least I got a laugh out of how embarrassed she'd been when I wouldn't touch her tampons. Serves her right for being a Cart-Thief. I wondered what dorm she was in, although it really didn't matter, as long as she wouldn't try to run me down with a cart again anytime soon.
I had just returned to my room when I realized that I heard music playing. It was the Kings of Leon, playing "Use Somebody". That's when I realized that the music was coming from my pants. Well, from my pocket, actually. But it wasn't my Kings of Leon ringtone.
What the heck? I reached in my pocket and pulled out my phone.
Not my phone.
I shit you not.
The same kind of phone I had, but definitely not my phone.
The girl was evil, plain and simple. She was put on this campus to make my life a living hell and she was succeeding. My day had just gone from "bad" to "unbelievable" to "seriously unbelievable" to "unfuckingbelievable."
I realized that the phone had stopped ringing at some point while I was caught up in the ridiculousness of the moment.
The music was jarring as the phone began ringing once again in my hand. I looked at the screen and sure enough it was my number.
I was calling myself.
Now I get to talk to her again. I flipped the phone open.
"You took my phone, Jerkoff!" Her voice snapped angrily at me.
"What?" Did she just call me 'Jerkoff'?
"You took my phone, you imbecile!"
I was getting angry now. There was no need for name-calling. "It looked like my phone!" I argued with her.
"Just like the cart I used looked like it was my cart, but you told me it was yours."
What the hell was she saying? That last statement didn't make any sense at all.
"I don't get your point," I told her harshly.
"Never mind!" she said venomously. "Do you want your phone back or not?"
"What kind of a question is that? Of course I want my phone back! What were you thinking of doing with it, throwing it away? Keep in mind I have your phone!"
"So, what, are you threatening my phone? Is this like a hostage situation with you?"
"Stop yelling at me! Just meet me down by your truck in ten minutes and we'll trade phones."
"I'll see you in ten minutes!
I slammed her phone shut, realizing that she probably had done the same thing to mine when our yelling match ended. I put her phone back in my pocket, picked up my car key and strode out the door to head down to my car.
As I left the building, I almost ran smack into the cart. Yes. The very same cart. It had been left out near the front of our building and the dorm next door. That must mean that the Cart-Thief was living nearby. Outstanding. Because I enjoyed her company and I couldn't get enough of her.
I grabbed the cart and marched down the hill.
I couldn't believe that girl called me "Jerkoff." What kind of girl would do that?
The Hot Jerk was such a jerk. I couldn't believe he picked up the wrong phone. I should place a few calls to foreign countries just to show him what a jerk I could be. What on earth was I thinking? He'd gotten me all flustered and angry and now I was having irrational thoughts. This was a terrible first day for me at my new school. So far I'd only met two people, Dimples and The Hot Jerk. I wasn't even so sure anymore that he was The Hot Jerk. Now he was just Jerkoff. Or maybe Asshole!
I had to go back down to my truck anyway. I had a few more things on the front seat that I needed, and I probably had to re-park it in the regular lot. I grabbed my keys and my purse and took off for the lot, where he said he'd meet me with my phone.
At least I'd been able to load up the cart with most of my things. I shut the trunk, took a few things off the backseat of the Volvo and shut the back door. I realized that I'd left some CD's in the stereo and I wanted to bring them in. I put the key back in the ignition and pressed the eject button to unload the CD player. Then I turned the key back off, removing it and setting it on the passenger seat. The car had to be moved to a different spot later.. I glanced down and my eyes fell on the soda cup I'd gotten at a fast food drive-thru for the trip up today. I'd never thrown it out earlier, so I grabbed it and climbed out of the car, leaving the front door ajar, and looking around for a trashcan. Finally I spotted a big dumpster on the far side of the lot.
As I was heading back over to the side of the lot where my car was parked I saw The Cart-Thief approaching. She held my phone between her thumb and forefinger, out and away from her body, like it was disgusting. Her face was screwed up in anger and her eyes were glaring at me.
"Here's your phone," she spat at me.
"Hey, it was an honest mistake," I said, still irritated with her. "It could have happened to anyone. You could have even made the mistake yourself, you know."
I handed her phone to her and she gave me mine in return. It was an even exchange.
Then a thought struck me. "Kings of Leon, huh? I like 'Use Somebody'. My ringtone is a Kings of Leon song too."
"I know." She looked at me distastefully. "Someone named Jazz and someone named Carlisle called you and I had the pleasure of listening to 'Sex on Fire' twice. You must think pretty highly of yourself."
With that she abruptly turned and walked away, pocketing her phone and heading back over toward her truck.
I might as well just shoot myself now.
I stood rooted to the spot, watching her. Then my passing mortification over my ringtone turned to horror as I watched her open her passenger door, backing up accidentally into my car door, which swung shut, effectively locking me out.
Just. Fucking. Splendid.
My key was on the passenger seat. I had pushed the lock button down out of habit, and now my key and wallet were safely, snugly, inside my car. And I had no way of getting inside. And I couldn't call Carlisle again. He'd just have a shit fit.
I didn't know when I'd had a more glorious day than today.
A loud "Aarrghhh!" suddenly pierced the air.
Now what was his problem? Jerkoff was screaming, standing farther back in the parking lot, where we'd exchanged phones. His hands were balled into fists at his sides, his eyes were screwed tightly shut as his jaw clenched, and his face was raised heavenward. His whole body was shaking. I'd never seen anything so ridiculous in my life. Just because I'd called him out on his ringtone?
Seriously, what was his problem?
A/N: And so they meet, rather unconventionally. Let me know what you thought. I'd love to hear your thoughts. ;)