Disclaimer: I own nothing, SM owns all.
A/N: This is my first foray into writing fanfic. Constructive criticism is welcome, I'm always looking on how to improve my writing. I will try to be updating at least once a week. Many many many thanks to EdwardsBloodType for her help beta'ing for me! If you haven't read her fics I'll Be Your Lover, Too, or her current one High Anxiety, then I just don't know what you're doing with your time. So after you read this and review, hop over to my favorites and check those stories out!
This Is Not My Life
Chapter 1: Prologue
"Lily, did you have fun with Nana Esme today?" I looked in the rearview mirror at my little princess who was bouncing with an excitement she must have inherited from her Aunt Ali.
"OOOH Yes Daddy, we had so much fun we played outside in the morning with chalk and bubbles and then I decided to make yucky soup in the mud and then I found a roly poly and I gave him a hug but I think I hugged him too tight because then he didn't move anymore but then I found a ladybug and Nana Esme told me that you can get ladybug farms and keep them for pets and so I want to ask Santa for a ladybug farm for Christmas or is my birthday coming before Christmas because then I will just ask you or Nana Esme or Papaw Carlisle or Aunt Ali or Uncle Jazz or Aunt Rose or Uncle Em-"
She paused to take her first breath since she opened her mouth and I took the opportunity to jump in before that continued. I swear one of these days she was going to pass out trying to tell me about her day. But this was truthfully my favorite part of the day, hearing about hers. I hated having to leave for such long hours while I was at the hospital, but as soon as my residency was finished, I planned on starting up a private practice where I could work more reasonable hours. The hardest part of my day was driving away from her.
"Lily, your birthday will be coming up before Christmas, because it's July, and your birthday is September 25th, so I will make sure to put a ladybug farm on your wish list, okay, Princess? We need to stop at the store on the way home, okay?" The silliest question to ask, really, the child loved the grocery store. I swear she was going to be a chef when she grew up. I loved having her help put meals together and cook dinner every night. It was our thing that we always did on nights when I was off in time for dinner.
"What are we making tonight little chef?"
"P'sghettis please, Daddy. Ooh and I want to make a salad and garlic bread to go with it okay, Daddy?" She told rather than asked me, knowing she was the menu maker in the house. In so many ways she was growing up too fast, but I loved that she still couldn't say spaghetti right. I'd probably cry the day she did.
"P'sghettis it is, Princess. Remember to stay close and keep your hand on the cart, or you go in alright?" I reminded her.
"I know daddy," she sighed at me. I could almost hear the eye roll.
I pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store and grabbed the first spot I could. I'd never understood the need to circle a parking lot for fifteen minutes searching for a space that saved maybe 10 feet of walking distance. I unbuckled her booster and hoisted her up onto my hip to walk into the store. She wriggled out of my arms as soon as we were inside and helped me pull a cart into the store. We walked straight to the back of the store and worked our way to the front, going aisle through aisle collecting all the necessary ingredients for tonight's dinner, chatting more about her day as we shopped.
We finally made our way to the front of the store in the produce section, and I was selecting some tomatoes for our salad when she exclaimed, "Daddy! I almost forgot. We're out of apples my new favorite fruit is apples! Can I go pick some up, they're right there at the end of the lane?" She pulled out the puppy dog eyes and batted her lashes, while sticking her bottom lip out just a tad. My god, she had to stop hanging out with Alice so much.
"Yes sweetie, but you stay right there and don't even think about walking around the corner where I can't see you, alright?" I gave her my best stern look, complete with the arched eyebrow. I learned that one from my mom, and hey, if she was going to pull out the big guns, so was I.
She nodded her head emphatically agreeing with me and skipped over to the apple display, and I saw it happen in my mind a split second before it actually did. A huge pyramid of apples balancing precariously on top of each other was just asking for my daughter to pull from the bottom causing the ENTIRE display to come crashing and rolling around her.
At that exact moment, a woman came walking around the corner, feet first into the avalanche walking straight into Lily. Her feet went right out from underneath her and Lily fell on top of her while apples continued to fall all around them.
I probably stood there gaping for a full second before I sprang into action, jumping over to them in a leap but still unsure of exactly what to do or say to this poor woman or my daughter who appeared to be sobbing into the woman's shirt clinging on for dear life. The woman had her eyes shut tightly and seemed to be shaking slightly as well, and I worried I might soon be dealing with a very upset stranger… until all of sudden I heard a giggle burst out, followed by a snort and another giggle. Was she laughing?
Before I could blink, they both burst out laughing. Lily was still lying on top of this woman who was flat on her back in the produce section.
It was a nice grocery store in a good part of town, but I'd never in my life seen a woman fall to the ground who didn't immediately start shrieking. But there they were, with tears of laughter streaming down their faces pointing at what used to be an impressive pile of apples, laughing hysterically and gasping for air for several minutes before I finally cleared my throat to remind them of my presence.
The woman looked over at me then, flushed in the face from laughing so hard and grinning from ear to ear. She tilted her head and said, "Excuse me, but did you happen to lose a giggle monster? Because I seem to have found one that landed on my lap and I'm sure her owner is very eager to find her. I hear giggle monsters like apples, but I wouldn't recommend the granny smiths. They seem to out of stock at the moment." At this, Lily broke out into hysterics all over again as she scrambled off the woman and started trying to stand up amongst the apples surrounding them.
I was so dumbfounded at this stranger, who had my daughter laughing harder than I'd ever heard, when same said daughter had knocked the wind out of her and made her fall onto a filthy floor, and was just joking about it, like there was no other natural reaction.
I was in such a daze that I didn't even offer my hand to help her up, until I saw her start to rise and stumble over some of the apples under her feet. I reached over and grabbed onto her left elbow while my other hand instinctively went around her waist to steady her, and I finally got a good look at her up close. And my god was she pretty.
No fuck that… beautiful.
Like the natural kind of beauty, with big brown doe eyes and pale porcelain skin, with a gorgeous blush in her cheeks from all her laughter, and big full lips that smelled like cherries.
Wait how can I smell her lips?
Oh shit… I am standing way too close to this woman. And I've still got my arms wrapped around her!
I jumped back quickly and looked down at my daughter who was gaping at me, mouth open, probably wondering when her daddy's brain died and why he was groping at strangers in the supermarket. I glanced back up at the woman- I really need to find out her name- and she was looking at me with her eyebrows raised …but at least she wasn't beating me with her handbag yet. She just stood there staring at me, until she shook her head a bit, and blushed anew.
She knelt down next to Lily, and introduced herself. "Hi! I'm Bella. I think we should probably start picking up some of these apples don't you?"
Lily giggled out a little, "Yeah," and they started picking up the apples and placing them back onto the shelf.
I finally snapped out of the trance I was in, and stuttered out quickly, "Let me just grab my cart and I'll come help pick them up. Miss, you really don't have to help, you didn't cause this mess." I didn't want to call her by her first name, since she hadn't introduced herself to me, but wow, I really wanted the chance to say it.
She didn't even look up, scoffing, "Please. The great apple avalanche of 2009 has been the most exciting part of my day; I haven't laughed that hard since...ever." At that, she glanced up at me, smiling slightly, and I looked away quickly, because apparently looking into this woman's eyes took away my ability to have coherent thought process.
I walked to my cart to push it back over them. As I reached it, I heard a sound that would haunt my memory for the rest of my life. I heard my Lily scream and then a gunshot rang out followed by complete silence. I whipped around to save my little girl from I don't know fucking what, and what I saw made me freeze.
A man, with stringy blond hair, and cold gray eyes had a gun pointed at my baby girl and Bella.