A/N: This is my first story... ever! I've literally never written anything in my life, but I got this idea and couldn't get rid of it. So, here it is! I hope you enjoy!
Summary: Bella is a baker with a rough past. Edward is a chef trying to get his life back on track. What happens when things heat up in the kitchen at The Diner?
I couldn't have done this without the help of my baby sis and pre-reader Catie22866 and my beta Jbugnr. She's holding my hand right now!
Stephanie Meyer owns all things Twilight.
As I pulled into town and drove down the streets of my childhood, I finally felt my body begin to relax. I had been driving for three days and had only stopped long enough to get a little sleep at small motels along the way and to fill up my car. I pulled into the driveway, turned off the car, and just sat there.
Charlie had no idea I was coming. Fear kept me from calling; fear that he would tell me not to come, or worse, he would start asking questions that I wasn't ready to answer. I could see the confusion on his face as he walked out onto the porch and then down the stairs.
I looked up when he called my childhood nickname and slowly got out of the car.
Charlie walked over to me, his face awash with confusion and concern, "Baby, what are you doing here? Did you just drive here?"
I looked away as the tears threatened to spill, and nodded my head. Charlie, never one to show a lot of emotion, walked over and surprisingly pulled me into a hug.
"Bella… what happened? Are you… okay?"
Again I nodded, knowing that he would hear the brokenness in my voice if I answered him out loud. I wrapped my arms around his waist, resting my head on his chest as the tears began to fall. We stayed like that for a long time, just standing in the driveway while he held me in his arms, softly stroking my hair.
I had no idea how I would explain why I was here or even begin to tell him how messed up my life was. I feared the looked of disappointment that I would see in his eyes when I told him the truth.
As if he sensed my growing anxiety, he pulled back and looked into my tear-filled eyes and simply said, "Let's go inside, okay Bells?"
I nodded, unwrapping my arms from his waist, still not having said a word.
He grabbed my suitcase and duffel bag out of the trunk while I grabbed my purse and overnight bag from the car and then followed him inside. I stood in the entryway shifting back and forth uncomfortably, not sure what to do now that I was actually back here in my childhood house – a place I didn't actually think I would ever call home again.
He set my stuff down, and turned to face me. "Bells, I'm glad you're here. I don't know what happened and you don't have to tell me. I know you'll tell me when you're ready. I just… I love you baby..."
He kissed my forehead and with that, the one-sided conversation was over, and I still hadn't said a word. That was the great thing about Charlie, he didn't hover or push. He just let things be.
I toed off my shoes and walked timidly into the kitchen. Home… the words felt prickly and uncomfortable. I noticed that everything looked the same as it did when I left ten years ago. The same green curtains framed the window in the kitchen, the finish on the table was still messed up from when I'd spilled nail polish remover on it in 10th grade, and the yellow and white canisters with apples on the lids still sat on the kitchen counter. The house even smelled the same, albeit a little mustier.
I sat my bags down and walked over to the cabinet, grabbed a glass and got some water from the tap. Taking a sip, I looked over to find Charlie watching me intently. I nervously glanced down and weakly said, "I'm home, Daddy." I paused, unsure what his answer would be to my next question. "Is it okay if I stay here a while? I… I need to get some stuff figured out."
My question caught him off guard and he stared back me, and nodded. "Of course, baby. This has always been your home and you're always welcome here. Your room is just as you left it."
Suddenly feeling overwhelmingly exhausted, I whispered my thanks, walked over to the stairs, and grabbed my bags. "I'm going to go to bed if that's okay… I'm really tired," I said.
He nodded. "Let me just carry these other two bags upstairs for you."
I followed him up the stairs.
Climbing up the stairs was like walking through a museum of my life. All of my childhood pictures were still on display, almost like a memorial to a girl I didn't know anymore. They reflected an innocence and simpler time in my life. The pictures of me with braces, the three years of short, curly hair – the result of a several badly executed perms, and finally my senior picture, all smiled back at me. The girl in those pictures had been full of hopes and dreams when she left this place.
I remembered getting that large white envelope from The University of Arizona in the mail offering me a full ride, and smiled. By the time graduation rolled around, I wanted to get out of this small town and really experience life on my own. I knew that was my ticket out of here, and at the end of the summer, I left without looking back.
I called Charlie every Sunday during college, but after I graduated, life got busy and our weekly chats become every other week, and then once a month and then sadly, just a sporadic call here and there.
The floorboard squeaked at the top of the stairs, sparing me from thinking about all the mistakes I had made.
"Bells?" I looked up to see that same mix of concern and confusion on Charlie's face, "You okay, sweetheart?"
I nodded and made my way to the top of the stairs.
Charlie was right; nothing had changed. The walls were still the same shade of lavender I had painted them right before I started high school, the bed spread still had the same little white flowers on it, and the floor board beside my desk still creaked when I walked on it.
He put my suitcases by the closet and walked back over to the door; I put my own bags down and sat down on the bed.
"Night, baby," he said quietly as he grabbed the knob and pulled the door closed.
I heard him walk down the stairs and then the unmistakable sound of the Mariners game come on. Completely overcome with exhaustion, I lay down, curled up in a ball and fell asleep.
It was light out when I finally woke up. Sitting up and rubbing my eyes, I noticed that someone had taken off my shoes and covered me up with a blanket. I smiled to myself… Charlie. He had always taken care of me in the subtlest ways.
After mom walked out on us, we formed a somewhat uncomfortable, yet workable bond. He made sure my truck was always in good working order and that I had money when I needed it, while I kept the house clean and food on the table.
I chuckled as I thought back to the morning I walked out of the house and slipped on the icy steps just as he was pulling up in my truck. He jumped out of the truck to help me up and to make sure I was okay.
"I put new tires on your truck; they were bald, and the roads are starting to ice over," he said.
It was a simple act, but so very Charlie. Guilt washed over me as I realized again how I had treated him over the years. He really had no idea what I'd been doing or what my life had been like for the last six years... because I purposely kept him away. Shaking my head, I got out of bed, knowing I needed to say something but having no idea how to go about it.
My stomach growled as my socked feet padded down the stairs. It was really quiet and I looked around for Charlie and then noticed the note on the table.
Gone to work. Be back around 4. Sorry there's not much in the fridge. I need to go to the store.
Curious, I opened the fridge and chuckled. He was right, there wasn't much in there. A half carton of milk, some condiments, an old block of cheese, and what looked like an empty takeout container sat on the lonely shelves. I closed the fridge and opened the cabinets… nothing. Clearly a trip the grocery store was in order... right away.
I quickly ran upstairs and went into the bathroom. Charlie had cleared out some space on the shelves and in the cabinet for my stuff. Oh the joys of sharing one bathroom. I stripped down, turned on the shower, and climbed in. I allowed the hot water to wash over me as I scrubbed away the grime and aches of being in the car for hours.
Clean and dressed, I picked up my keys and purse and left for the grocery store. The streets of Forks really hadn't changed. There were a few new houses and some new businesses downtown but nothing of significance had changed. I turned the corner to go to the grocery and noticed a big fluorescent sign screaming "Diner!" As if it had read the sign, my stomach growled, giving me just another nudge in the right direction. I might as well go to the grocery store on a full stomach I mused and pulled into the diner parking lot.
The place was packed and the only open spot was at the bar. I made my way toward the bar, squeezing between tables and trying to avoid the waitress as she carried a tray loaded with food. I sat down and noticed that the two men on either side of me were staring as if I were some oddity in their world. I smiled a tight smile and one of the men winked.
What? So as not to encourage any additional unwanted advances, I quickly broke eye contact and looked around the room, noticing that everyone was looking at me. I hated having attention drawn to me and was very uncomfortable.
I grabbed a menu, slouching down in an attempt to make myself invisible. Unfortunately, right about that time, a perky little waitress bopped over and energetically greeted me.
"Morning! Welcome to The Diner. What can I get'cha?"
I peeked over the menu and was face to face with the waitress I had just seen hauling that massive tray of food over to one of the tables. She had spiky brown hair, a sweet smile, wore a little pink uniform with a white collar and cuffed sleeves, and couldn't have been much older than me. Her red name tag simply said "Alice."
I looked around again and actually giggled. Maybe it was the burly man that winked at me or the entire restaurant staring at me, but the fact that I was in a diner with a waitress named "Alice" was all of a sudden very funny. Was I in some weird sitcom? Were Mel and Flo just around the corner?
"What's so funny?" Alice the waitress asked.
"Oh, nothing." I quickly said. "Um… could I get a cup of coffee and some French toast please?"
"Sure thing! You want bacon or sausage?" Alice chirped.
"No thanks. Just the coffee and French toast."
Alice nodded her head and walked away while I began to take in my surroundings. The place was packed. The room was long and a lot bigger on the inside than it seemed from the outside. The whole place had a very upscale 1950's style to it. The walls were painted white with randomly placed black lightning bolts. The booths, bar and floor were all dark wood and were accented by chrome and red cushions. Fun geometric lights with blue and orange diamonds were hanging over the bar giving it a decidedly modern retro-look and feel. The bar faced a cool shelving contraption that housed pictures, bottles, and other assorted items. The center was open and looked into the kitchen. I couldn't put my finger on it but something about the feel of the diner and the kitchen didn't jive.
The kitchen was bright, sterile, and stainless from what I could see, while the dining room was warm, dark, and comfortable. I wouldn't normally have noticed something like that, but the cook caught my eye.
He seemed young and out of place, probably because I was still picturing Mel or some other greasy-haired man with pit stains on his shirt. This guy was… well, beautiful! He had a snug black t-shirt on and a pair of jeans that sat low on his hips, the front of which were covered with a white apron. But it was his hair that really caught my attention. It was the strangest color – auburn and copper – and very unruly. It looked like he… or someone… had been running their fingers through it incessantly. I just stared at him… I literally couldn't take my eyes off of him.
When I finally pulled myself out the fantasies that had quickly overtaken my mind, I realized that he was staring right back at me. My face flamed and I quickly looked away. God, what is my problem! Just as I was about to bolt, the bouncy waitress, Alice came back with my coffee and set it down.
"You're new here aren't you." Alice said it as more of a statement than a question.
"Um, yeah," I nodded uncomfortably.
"So, what brings you to Forks?" Alice asked in a very no-nonsense way.
"Well, I, uh…" I trailed off just as the cook in the back yelled, "order up!" I immediately breathed a sigh of relief, as Alice walked over to the window to get the order. She quickly brought the plate of French toast over to me and set it down.
"So… are you going to answer my question?" Alice asked.
Realizing that I wasn't going to get out of having to make small talk, but not wanting to go into any detail, I said, "My Dad lives here. I'm just here for a visit."
"Oh, cool! Who's your Dad? I know pretty much everyone around here." Alice quipped.
Man this girl was nosy… and persistent. "Um… Charlie Swan. That's my Dad." I hesitantly offered.
"Oh my gosh, you're Isabella? You're Isabella Swan? I totally didn't recognize you. You look different than you did in high school!"
Once again, it felt like the entire place fell silent immediately. It was like one of those moments in a movie when everything goes in slow motion and the silence is deafening. I felt like I was going to die of embarrassment.
"It's Bella," I quickly mumbled, not even sure if she heard me because she starting talking immediately without acknowledging what I had just said.
"I can't believe you're finally back! Don't you remember me? I'm Alice Cullen. We went to school together our senior year."
I racked my brain for any memory of Alice but literally could find nothing.
"Oh, um…," I paused trying to figure out whether I should pretend to know her or just fess up.
Just as I was about to open my mouth to say something, the cook yelled, "order up!" My eyes darted over to him, and his lips quirked up into a very subtle smile. I nodded, and did my own half smile acknowledging his impeccable timing... again.
Alice walked away, and I quickly shoveled the French toast in my mouth and threw a $10 bill on the counter and got up to leave. I looked back toward the kitchen sort of hoping to see that cook again, but… he was gone.
If you'd like this, please drop me a note and let me know! I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to mah WC girls who have been absolute dolls in this whole process! I 3 them big time!
The Diner: http:/www(dot)goodlifediner(dot)com/#/gallery/soho