Saving a Swan

Chapter Three

Monday morning dawned and I awoke with a nervous stomach. As I got ready for school, I thought about the odds that Edward, Alice, and Emmett would still be my friends by the end of the day. It would be a miracle if they were still speaking to me by lunch. I knew the drill.

A quick peek out my window told me it was a typical day in Forks – overcast with a constant drizzle of rain. I pulled on my new skinny jeans to replace the pants I tore on Friday. They came complete with a lecture on my lack of grace from my mother. A grey tank, blue v-neck sweater and my favorite pair of Chucks completed my outfit.

I grabbed my new backpack, adding all my books and supplies. I shook my head. I didn't study nearly as much as I usually did because of spending my Saturday with the Cullens and daydreaming about Edward most of Sunday. I knew it was dangerous to hope, but I just couldn't help myself. Feelings of giddiness kept surging through me at odd moments.

I looked at the clock and realized I needed to get going if I was going to get to school on time and stay ahead of Jacob. If I could get far enough down the road, I usually didn't have to worry about being harassed. But, if he were ahead of me, sometimes he'd wait for me to catch up so he could ridicule me.

I pulled my coat on, grabbed my backpack, and called a quick good-bye to Mom. I hurried down the road pretty much keeping my head down.

Luck was with me and I entered the front doors of the school just minutes before Jacob. But if I thought it was a good day, I was wrong. I didn't make eye contact with my fellow students lining the halls, chatting and waiting for the bell to ring. But as soon as I entered, they stopped to leer at me. As I passed, I could hear their whispers and snickers before conversations picked up again.

It seemed as if I was the object of a lot of stares. Most days everyone just ignored me. And although the occasional snide comment as I passed was the norm, today it seemed to multiply.

As I rounded the corner where my locker was, my footsteps faltered when I saw Jessica and Lauren waiting for me.

"Crap," I hissed under my breath. "I wish my mother would keep her big mouth shut." I knew exactly why they were there, as I recalled the rest of my weekend…

"Mom?" I found myself praying she wouldn't be too mad about the condition of my backpack.

"Hm?" My mom glanced over her shoulder as she folded a load of laundry.

"I need a new backpack. My zipper broke Friday."

She looked up from the laundry and pursed her lips. "How did that happen? That backpack was almost brand new."

"I fell and the weight of my books broke the zipper."

"Is that how you ripped a hole in your jeans?" She held up the very jeans in question.

"Yes," I admitted trying to control my reaction.

"Bella, that was your last pair without a hole. Your knees are going to be one big scar. I had hoped you would out grow your clumsiness, but it only seems to be getting worse." She shook her head at me and handed me a pile of my laundry to put away.

As I turned to go up to my room, I heard her mumble, "I should have named you Grace."

I sighed, hunched my shoulders at my mother's comment, and walked away. It wouldn't do any good to tell her the truth. I'd tried before and all I got was the usual, 'stand up for yourself' or 'I'm sure it's not that bad' or 'Are you sure you didn't misunderstand.' But my favorite was 'That nice boy? I just can't believe he would do something like that.' This, in effect, meant… I don't believe you. My own mother.

Deep down, I knew my mother loved me and wasn't really calling me a liar. She just didn't like confrontation. So if she buried her head in the sand and pretended there wasn't a big pink elephant in the room, then everything was copacetic and she could go back to her comfort zone. If it wasn't real, she didn't have to deal with it. Nice for her, but it sucked for me. So I didn't bother telling her the truth about how my clumsiness was a result of Jacob and his band of cretins.

After putting away the laundry, we left and soon I found myself in Newton's Outfitters looking at overpriced backpacks. Mom was off chatting with Krissy Newton about who knows what. I honestly couldn't figure out why my mother was friends with her, especially with the way her son treated me. In fact, not only was my mother friends with all the mothers of my tormentors - Kelly Mallory and Kory Stanley – they got together on a regular basis and did things together. I liked to call them my personal KKK. The only exception was Jacob. His mother was no longer around, but hold the phone! We still have a winner. His father, Billy, was best friends with my father. It made my blood boil.

But it mostly made me feel saddened that my parents cared so little for my feelings. Just once, I wanted my mom and dad to stand up for me, Isabella Marie Swan, and tell the world that I was worth it. But I knew if my parents weren't willing to do it, it was unlikely I would find anyone else willing to take the job. Sure Emmett and Edward had done it the day before, but the chances that they'd remain loyal to me once they got to school were slim.

Ugh! Stop the pity parade. There will be enough time for that next weekend. Right now, I just wanted to get a backpack, grab a couple of pairs of jeans, and get the hell out of here before Mike saw me. The last thing I needed was for him to witness my humiliation in purchasing a backpack; that for all intents and purposes, he should be buying for me. Instead, I have to pay his family to replace the backpack he and his friends ruined.

After finding some acceptable jeans, I walked to the front of the store where I overheard my mother and Krissy Newton in a conversation about me.

"Yes, Well. Bella spent yesterday with the Cullens." My mother's voice was smug.

"Is that the new doctor's family? I hear he's gorgeous, married, but gorgeous," said Krissy. She spotted me and gave me a saccharine smile. I put the backpack and jeans on the counter and turned to my mom.

"I'll take these, Mom. Can I have the keys? I'd like to wait in the car." I was not in the mood to play nice with Mrs. Newton. Renee scowled at me but gave me the keys before I walked out to the parking lot. I slid into my mother's Toyota Camry, put the keys in the ignition, and cranked the radio. A few minutes later, my mother came out still wearing the scowl she had given me earlier.

"Isabella. Why didn't you stay? That nice Newton boy came out of the stockroom and it would have been a good time for you two to get better acquainted."

"Mom, I already know Mike and I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to 'get to know' me any better than I do him." My tone was a bit sassy and I used air quotes, but what did I care.

"Bella!" she chastised.

I released all the air in my lungs and decided to tell her. "He's mean to me at school along with his friends."

"Who's mean to you?" I felt my eyes widen involuntarily at my mother's feigned innocence and it angered me.

"You know who's mean to me. The same people who are always mean to me – Jacob, Lauren, Jessica, and Mike. At least the rest of the kids at school ignore me, but these four go out of their way to be rude," I bit out trying to control my hostility at both my tormentors and my mother.

"Bella, just… turn the other cheek and don't stoop to their level. In a few years, you will graduate from high school and have the world at your feet. Your time in high school will seem trivial and none of this will matter." I tried hard not to roll my eyes.

Whenever I actually did tell my mother about my problems at school, it was the same. She had no practical advice to give concerning how to deal with the constant bullying I endured. Just platitudes and clichés. Telling me that once I graduated the world would be my oyster. Heaven forbid she say anything that would jeopardize her own friendships. She was a coward. And everything she said was a load of crap. It was my mom's way of avoiding the problem and putting it back on me. And I still had three and a half years to endure – over 1,200 days of torment. How was I going to do that?

Having heard her speech a hundred times before, I tuned her out and looked out the window as we drove home. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, I grabbed my new backpack and jeans before racing into the house as the hopelessness of my situation closed in around me…

Lauren's nasal voice brought me out of my memory.

"So I heard you're telling lies again, Swannie," she sneered without looking up from her fingernails.

"What are you talking about, Lauren," I retorted trying to remain calm. The last thing I needed was another rumor about me.

"I hear you've been bragging about hanging around with the new doctor's kids." Lauren's eyes were cold and hard, as she looked me up and down.

"As if," Jessica scoffed. "I heard Dr. Cullen is gorgeous. If his kids are even half as cute, they're way out of your league."

"But don't worry. We'll be sure to let them know all about our little ugly swan. Wouldn't want them starting out at a new school with a loser like you as a friend," Lauren added with her trademark evil smile.

Lauren's cackle rang out when she saw my mask slip, but she cut her amusement short when she spied Edward, Alice, and Emmett coming out of the school office. All three of them were dressed in casual clothes. But even with the laid-back nature, one could tell that everything they wore was from a designer and probably not purchased from your local Wal-Mart or sporting goods store. Edward's jeans hung low on his hips and his green t-shirt set off his eyes.

"Wow! You are so screwed, Bella. You'll never touch that. Watch and learn," Lauren hissed as she and Jessica sauntered off, hips swinging and hair flipping as they made their way over to the Cullens.

I watched, waiting for confirmation that my new friends would soon bail on me. Lauren batted her eyelashes and started to speak, but as soon as she did, Emmett spied me. A huge grin broke out across his face and whatever Lauren was saying was lost when he belted out my name.

"Bella!" His voice filled the hallway. My face instantly flushed red with embarrassment as all eyes turned to me.

Edward and Alice followed Emmett's gaze and their faces lit up to match their brother's. Edward brushed passed Lauren, almost knocking her over, much to her annoyance. The death glare she shot me was testament to that. I couldn't help the smile on my face. It was a bit smug. Oh, she'd make me pay for that later, to be sure.

Emmett reached me first and proceeded to envelope me in a massive hug, my feet dangling above the floor as he picked me up.

"Emmett," I whispered. "Can't. Breathe." I was more shocked at his strength than at the display he was making.

"Sheesh, Em. Don't crush her," Edward laughed with a punch to Emmett's arm.

"At least not before I get to take her shopping," Alice added as Emmett released me. I glanced up at Edward and blushed when I saw him still watching me.

"Hey," I mumbled, still embarrassed and feeling a little awkward.

Emmett leaned into me and in a loud stage whisper said, "You don't want to go shopping with Alice. To her it's an Olympic sport."

"Take that back!" Alice protested before turning to me. "Don't listen to him. Boys just don't get it." She then proceeded to give Emmett a nipple twist causing him to jump away. It was comical to watch tiny Alice take on her big brother.

"How's it going?" Edward's voice reminded me that he was still standing there.

"Good," I said with a shy smile.

'Soooo… This is Forks High," Edward said, clearly not impressed.

I giggled, "The one and only. Hope you weren't expecting anything great."

"Nah. Outdated hellhole is pretty much what I was expecting here. It certainly didn't disappoint." He gave me a cheeky grin and I bumped his shoulder with mine.

"So Bella, can you tell me where my first class is?" Emmett pulled out his schedule and handed it to me. Before I knew it, Alice and Edward were doing the same thing. As we looked over the classes, my heart leapt into my throat when I realized I had at least one of the Cullens in my all classes except P.E. Of that I was thankful – not really sure if I wanted Edward to see me all sweaty and gross.

The rest of the morning went surprisingly easy. In every class, Emmett, Alice or Edward made a point of sitting by me or making sure I saved them a seat in the next class. By the time lunch rolled around, I was walking on cloud nine.

Standing next to Alice in the lunch line, I saw Edward walk in, flanked by Jessica and Lauren. Edward's expression was unreadable, but Jessica was clearly pleased. Lauren looked at me and gave me a smug look. I felt my shoulders slump and I let out a sigh. It would only be a matter of time now before Alice and Emmett abandoned me as well.

I paid for my lunch and started to walk over to an empty table when Alice asked, "Bella, let's sit with Emmett."

I looked over at where he was sitting and cringed. There was no way I'd be welcome at the jock table.

"Alice, why don't we sit over there?" Pointing to a table on the other side of the room. I started to walk over to it.

"Please? Besides, I know Em would be disappointed if we didn't sit with him." She grabbed my arm and started toward their table.

"But… I… Alice… Please…" I continued my protests as she practically dragged me over. I felt my skin heating with a blush for the millionth time today.

"Bella! Alice!" Emmett shouted as soon as he saw us. He motioned for us to sit next to him.

"Hey, guys. This is my little sis, Alice. And I guess you probably already know Bella," Emmett said, winking at me. I gave him a half-hearted smile. My presence at this table would be short-lived.

"Have a seat." Cameron Parker, the captain of the soccer team slid over making just enough room for one, his eyes never leaving Alice.

"Thanks!" Alice chirped, but then she frowned. "Can you slide down some more so Bella can join us? Please?" Then Alice unleashed the full force of her smile on Cameron. He blinked a few times, stunned.

"Uh, yeah… guys, move," Cameron said as he continued to stare at Alice with a goofy grin on his face.

They shifted and made enough room for me. As I sat down, I heard a few 'Hey Bellas.'

"Thanks," I mumbled, keeping my head down. I was sooo out of my element.

"Hey, Bella. Don't we have culinary class together?" I looked up and saw that it was Andrew Polson. Taken aback by the sincere look on his face, I almost let my jaw drop in astonishment. I quickly recovered, hoping I hadn't made a complete fool of myself.

"Um… fifth period. Right?" I replied.

"Yeah… Hey did you get your soufflé to work last week?"

"Yep. First try," I crowed a bit with a small smile. I found the class to be a lot of fun.

"Dang. I never got mine to work, but then again, Mike was my partner. The dude can't cook anything." He laughed and I couldn't help but join him. I never passed up the opportunity to get in a laugh at Mike's expense.

"I haven't had to cook with him, yet. Here's to hoping my luck holds out," I said quietly.

Andrew threw back his head and laughed. "I'll throw some good luck your way… Hey, maybe next time we can be partners and you can give me some pointers." Before I had a chance to answer, Emmett interrupted with another outburst.

"Edward!" Emmett waved Edward over, Lauren and Jessica still shadowing his every move. Edward didn't look too happy, but he smiled when he saw me. I smiled back while Emmett introduced Edward. Andrew slid over and made enough room for Edward, leaving Lauren and Jessica standing there looking lost.

Lauren huffed and glared at me. "Where are we supposed to sit?" she shrieked.

A course of thinly veiled "table's full," "anywhere but here" and a few statements too crude to repeat greeted Lauren.

"Why does she get to sit here?" Jessica whined as she pointed to me. "We're so much better than her."

Everyone at the table froze for a moment. It was the moment I was dreading. I just knew the jocks were wondering the same thing. Just as I was about to give it up and move, someone spoke up.

"Because she was invited," Andrew said, looking Jessica squarely in the eye.

"What the hell?" Jacob said as he and Mike walked over. I would have smiled at the shiner Jacob was sporting, but the dirty look he shot me sent a shiver down my spine.

"Come on, guys. It's Bella. Since when does she matter?" Mike spat.

Lauren came up behind Edward and started rubbing his shoulders. "You don't want to be friends with her." Lauren pointed at me when she said it.

Edward shrugged off her hands. He turned, looking her up and down in disgust and said, "Oh, I think I do."

"No, you don't. Because if you are, we will make sure you have no other friends at this school. Right guys?" Jacob said, glaring at Edward.

"Why don't you guys just sit over there," Will Adams mumbled carelessly throwing his hand out to the table I used to occupy not even four days ago. Jessica could barely contain her shock.

By now, most of the jocks at the table had grown bored of the drama unfolding in front of them and returned to their lunch and previous conversations.

Alice grinned as she piped up to add her two cents, "I think we'll take our chances."

"Big mistake, Cullen," Lauren growled.

"Just shut up and go away, witch," Andrew mumbled under his breath. My eyes widened in shock. The guys that weren't snickering at Andrew's comment where trying to control their laughter as their shoulders shook from the effort. I felt as if I were having an out of body experience. This kind of thing never happened to Isabella Marie Swan.

Jacob looked at me and pointed a threatening finger bringing me back down. Instinctively I cringed. I knew what that look meant.

"Got a problem, Black?" Emmett said as he stood up his chair scraping loudly across the linoleum. Every eye at the table stopped and watched, expectant looks on their faces.

Jacob's involuntary flinch spoke volumes, the memory of Emmett's attack just days old. But he quickly recovered and glared at Em. Judging by the confused looks from Mike and the guys at the table, I knew Jacob had kept the pounding that Em gave him a secret.

Jacob eventually backed off, leaving us to eat in peace. I wondered how long my new 'friendships' and the peace would last.

A/N: HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope everyone had has a great holiday season.

Sorry this is so late. RL has been crazy and I keep getting sick on and off. The last couple of days have been the worse. My sweet hubby and I can't seem to shake these sinus infections. Maybe it's stress...

I want to thank my betas Pochacco906 and Blackgem88 for their tireless work and willingness to help me with this story and listening to my strange drabbles for other stories. But also for just being great friends! ILY Ladies!

New Question: Have you ever had a bully try to undermine your friendships with your friends?

I know some of you are worried about Jacob being so mean. But don't worry - I'm NOT a Jacob hater. He's just a bit immature right now. He will grow up. That being said... Reviews are better than Jacob's involuntary flinch! ;) - SavageWoman