*I don't own Twilight.*

~*~

The day I turned 26, during our yearly birthday chat that always began with an off-key rendition of the Chili's Restaurant version of the birthday song, my mother told me I'd better work on getting married and pregnant harder because, as she so eloquently phrased it, "Bella, your eggs are 26 years old and before you know it, they'll start rotting." Followed by her signature cackle.

Now, I know this isn't true and that isn't what happens but after we got off the phone, I felt an irrational surge of panic. What is crazy old Renee was right? What if I can't get knocked up, ever?

I'd always pictured myself, married by 23. First baby nine months after and second baby a year after that. First a boy, then a girl then we'd have one of each and live happily ever after in a house with blue shudders, a perfect green lawn and a white picket fence.

Maybe not the most realistic dream, but that's why they're called dreams, right?

When I was 20, I was positive that I was on the right track. I was in Dartmouth, majoring in education. I wanted to mold young, teenage minds. I wanted to show them that Shakespeare wasn't boring and writing poetry could be fun. When I graduated, I decided it was time for a change and was hired at a private high school in Chicago.

I had grown up in Phoenix with my mother and spent my high school years in Forks, Washington with my father before he passed. The school was amazing. Morgan Park Academy was filled with bright students who asked questions and it was almost like a college campus. I loved my job, it was exactly that I had always pictured for myself.

Chicago, I decided, was where I would meet my soul mate.

I went on a lot of first dates. A lot. My best friends set me up, their friends set me up, even the little old lady who works at the dry cleaners I frequent set me up. For as many first dates, there weren't nearly as many second dates. They were either too tall or too short. Too boring or too immature. Their hair would be too long or too short. They'd talk too much about themselves or want to know too much about me. Or they were just straight up looking for sex.

There was a point when I thought I found my soul mate. Jacob Black was ten years older than me and was a fantastic architect. He was the perfect height – six feet, two inches – and had an amazing build. I felt safe with him, like he would protect me. We dated for over a year. It was amazing how we wanted most of the same things. Marriage, lots of children, a house in the suburbs. The only thing I thought was odd was, most of the time, he insisted that we stay at my apartment, that his place was boring because he worked so much and spent all his other time with me that he didn't even have cable.

I was paranoid and kept pushing though. It turned out, he was right. His apartment was totally lame. It had blank walls and a king sized bed and that was pretty much it. After that, things were great again and I began to even think that he might propose.

That was, of course, until he said he had to go out of town for the weekend for work. I didn't think anything of it; he had to go out of town a lot. I missed him and decided to take a walk near his building to feel close to him when I saw him. His back was toward me and I started for him, wanting to surprise him. He was wearing jeans and a white t-shirt with his last name in bold, black print. But then he turned and I saw he was holding a little boy, a little boy with cropped black hair and tan skin and Jacob's pointy ears, a little boy that clearly belonged to Jacob. He was wearing the same outfit. I remember the moment with such clear precision, as though it just happened.

I remember watching Jacob, frozen in my spot as he tossed the boy up in the air. What felt like hours but was most likely only minutes later, a woman who was dressed in the same manner as the other two walked up. Jacob's face broke out in a smile that I thought was reserved only for me and he leaned down, kissing her passionately. The girl was beautiful. Native American, like Jacob and this little boy, her long hair was pulled up in a ponytail. Her make up was fully done and some how she made a t-shirt and jeans look amazing.

They started walking toward me and I panicked, unable to move. I remember the horrified look on Jacob's face when he saw me.

"How dare you," I'd spat at him. I felt ashamed of him and myself for being involved. I turned to the girl – who I now know is Leah – and wiped the tears from my eyes that I hadn't realized were flowing, "I'm so sorry. I had no idea," I'd told her before turning and running away, as fast as I could through the crowded streets of Chicago.

That was the last time I saw Jacob. I was sad for a few days but I recovered so quickly that I wondered if we had even been meant to be. He left me tons of messages, claiming he was just unhappy with Leah, that I made life worth living. That he'd leave Leah in a second if I would just give him a second chance.

From what I've heard from some mutual friends, Leah stayed with him and they have three more children in addition to Sam; Emily, Quil and Seth. That apartment which he'd finally taken me to was rented just to throw me off. They were on their way to a family reunion that day and Leah had needed to stop and get something from her office. She was an architect for the same company as Jake.

Sometimes I think back and wonder what could have been but mostly when I think back, I'm glad I got out of a relationship with someone that apparently has no problem cheating. No problem leaving his wife and kids to spend time with another woman.

That was my last serious relationship. It's been nothing but first dates since. The only problem is: I just turned 28 and I'm still single. I may be a little... picky. But wouldn't you be? This is the rest of my life we're talking about.

My two best friends, Alice Hale and Rosalie Hale McCarty have found the loves of their lives. Alice is married to Rosalie's twin brother, Jasper and Rosalie is married to Jasper's best friend, Emmett.

Rose was more anxious than me to settle down and have babies. She had been dating Emmett for three years before he finally got down on one knee and proposed. She'd been elated and accepted. She thought that they'd have a short engagement and get married right away but both families came from old Chicago money and insisted on a properly long engagement and a huge wedding.

Alice was in no rush until she met Jasper at Rose and Emmett's engagement party. She walked right up to him and said, "You've kept me waiting." He had apologized, with his Southern drawl and ten months later, Alice found out she was pregnant.

Alice's parents were livid. Their daughter had always been a free spirit and not always followed their wishes but to them, a pregnancy that sudden was mortifying. The Hales were more accepting, thrilled that they would be grandparents.

Charlotte is three and precious, with the same blonde curls as her father and his twin and the grey eyes of her mother. Charlotte also never wore the same outfit twice and had more shoes than I do. Alice's parents came around and are in love with the little girl, just like everyone else. She had me wrapped around her little finger an hour after she was born.

Emmett and Rosalie, well, they were married six months after Charlotte was born -- Alice made them promise to give her at least six months to get back into shape -- and I made a pregnancy test run with Rosalie less than a year later.

When they made the big announcement, Jasper and Rose's parents were over the moon. Rose and Emmett are the extremely proud parents of Henry, who toddles all over the place faster than you could imagine. When Henry had just turned one, Rose called me for another pregnancy test run. Now, Rosalie is six months along with their next, another boy and due in late December. She swears they'll keep popping them out until they have a girl or a dozen, whichever comes first.

Each of these announcements from my friends has caused a stabbing pain in my heart. How was I able to achieve exactly what I wanted professionally but not personally? It pains me to see the looks Alice and Jasper give each other or the way Emmett constantly has a hand on Rose's belly, not wanting to miss their son kicking and poking.

So, I devised a plan.

Two words: artificial insemination.

Maybe I'd never land a husband but why should that stop me from the thing I want most in life? It is 2009, after all. There are plenty of single, working mothers who raise children to be great people.

The paperwork was filled out. I had picked the donor. He was six foot two with brown eyes and brown hair. He had the same skin tone as me and was a member of MENSA. I figured I needed someone as smart as possible who kind of looked like me.

It took me weeks to make my decision but I was confident I'd made the right one.

The IUI procedure scheduled for Monday – just the day after tomorrow. I was nervous but excited. I hadn't told anyone, I was planning keeping it a secret from everyone and anyone -- even Rosalie and Alice and especially my crazy mother.

In nine months, I'd be a mother. I was excited and nervous and couldn't wait to get it over with.

~*~

On Saturday night, two days prior to the... insemination, Alice insisted the three of us girls get dressed up and go down town. She insisted that even though Rosalie was pregnant that we'd still be able to have a good time. I shrugged and went along, letting Alice transform me from plain English teacher Bella to smoky eyed sexy Bella. My dark blue (or sapphire, as Alice insisted it was called) dress was on the short side and my heels on the high side.

"Alice, did we maybe mix up dresses? This is even short than normal and I don't know, do I, maybe... just maybe... look like a hooker?" I tried to tug the bottom of the dress down, unsuccessfully due to the fact that it was skin tight. It clung to me and I wondered how I'd be able to walk between that and the high, high heels.

Alice stood with her hands on her tiny hips. She was wearing an empire waist dress that flowed around her hips. It was a beautiful purple color and it was something I could imagine myself in easier. Alice shook her head, her almost black hair swaying with the movement, "Honestly, Bella! If you've got it, you have to flaunt it and you definitely have it!"

"And," Rosalie chimed in from her spot on my bed, "do you really think Alice and I would let you go out looking like a hooker?"

I tugged harder at the hem if the dress but it was almost painted on and had no give to it. Alice swatted my hands away and sighed.

"Bella." Alice huffed. She looked at Rose. "We should leave before this one here rips dress."

I glared at Rose and Alice for a second. Alice got to wear a far more comfortable dress and Rosalie was wearing jeans and a tight shirt that showcased her baby bump. Rose also got to wear flats because her feet were swollen due to the pregnancy. To say I was jealous of their clothing was an understatement.

But Rose was in agreement with Alice about leaving. So was I, actually, itching to get a drink or two in my system. It was almost eleven when we finally arrived at the club, walking past the line since Emmett owned the place.

Twilight was the hottest new club, the walls made to actually look like the Chicago skyline at Twilight. As soon as we got there, Rosalie started griping that the baby was sitting on her bladder and had to use the ladies room. Alice went along and I headed to the bar to order our drinks. I ordered three. Two for me, one for Alice, knowing after tonight I probably wouldn't be drinking for a while.

And I may have downed my two and ordered two more before they found me.

Two hours later, I was drunk. Actually, drunk may have been an understatement. I was wasted.

I was on the dance floor moving to my own, made up rhythm, certainly different than what everyone else was dancing to, when I slammed into something, rather, someone solid. I looked over my shoulder and saw apple green eyes and copper hair.

~*~

should i continue? completely discontinue? let me know what you think!