Spirit to Flesh A Twific by LittleWing
A/N: Well, here I go. This story is based on and inspired by a number of sources, the 2 main ones being Twilight (of course) and The Love Letter. If you've seen either of these movies then you will have a good idea of the general plot, though hopefully, I've added a different take in some way. You tell me. Many thanks to my super duper beta, Jessica1971. Thank you for all the great questions and insights. You kept me honest AND made me look good. I couldn't ask for more
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the source material; I'm just playin' around and havin' a ball. No copyright infringement intended. No money made. Viva le Fan Fiction!
Chapter 1: The Proposal
Bella had been staring at the same blank page for forty-five minutes.
"Ugh," she growled, slamming her notebook shut in defeat before she played the scene that held her captive over again in her mind.
* An hour earlier *
"Good Afternoon, Mr. Newton, how kind of you to visit me today."
"The pleasure is mine, Bella. You are as lovely as ever this afternoon."
"Thank you," she said softly. "You are too generous."
"Would you care to take a turn with me in the garden?"
Bella could feel what was coming. She'd been here before. The chance meeting followed by the repeated visits to the house. The necessary courting of her father followed by the perfunctory courting of her. Strolls in the garden, invitations for tea – perhaps a movie. Inane discussions of poetry and music.
This would be her third proposal in two years. The thought of the impending inquiry made her feel slightly nauseous and she slowed her steps to ensure she did not offend Mr. Newton with the contents of her stomach.
After all, it wasn't his fault that she had no interest in him. By all accounts, she was a fool, overindulged by her father with aspirations of true love, independence, and happiness. What kind of a woman turns down two suitable matches, she wondered. Bella was 19, hardly a spring chicken, even by the modern standards of 1918.
The kind of woman who turns down three, she thought with a smile. Her smile was wiped clean by Mr. Newton's prepared speech.
"As you know, Bella, I have been visiting with you and your father for over a month now, and as you might imagine, I have become quite fond of him and, of course, you."
She sighed softly from behind him, pinching the top of her nose. "Yes, Mr. Newton. Thank you," she chimed in. Bella had learned that it was necessary to exhibit appropriate responses like "Uhmmm" and "Yes, Mr. _. Thank you," in order to mask her disinterest.
"Bella, let me be plain. I believe you and I are well suited, and I have spoken with your father to ask permission to seek your hand in marriage. Does this agree with you?"
Bella had stopped walking and was now a good ten feet behind him, preparing for him to turn around. She used the time to attempt to arrange her face in what she hoped was a look of surprise and appreciation. When he finally finished his speech and turned to her, the expression on his boyish face was triumphant.
"Mr. Newton, I must admit that I am taken a bit off guard by this unexpected proposition, flattering though it is." She knew, if she needed to, surprise could be used as a good excuse to stall.
"Michael. Won't you call me Michael after all this time?" As he spoke, his face turned gentle and patient with a soft smile playing on his lips. Bella couldn't hold his gaze. The truth was that Michael Newton was a good man – a kind man with a light spirit and disposition. What he lacked in depth he more than made up for in agreeability. She should want to be with him – she knew this. Any woman in her position would seize the opportunity he offered her at once. But, as always, she had the opposite response. She recoiled from the expected, always longing for the unfamiliar, the strange, and the unknown.
"Do you feel nothing for me, Bella?" he asked when she did not respond. He was only trying to draw her out. Bella could tell by the levity in his tone that he had not considered the possibility that she would refuse him.
"May I ask you a question Mr…Michael?"
"Of course." He smiled down at her with obvious affection. Her tentativeness around him was always so endearing. To Michael, Bella was a child – sweet and innocent – needing only to be led by a gentle hand.
"What do you expect of a wife, sir?" As Bella finished her question, her eyes met his squarely. He was slightly taken aback, first by the directness of her question, and second by the unfamiliar look in her eyes. She seemed suddenly older, more erect in her posture. He took a moment before answering.
"My expectations are simple, my dear. I require only a gentle and quiet spirit to comfort me and share my life. Perhaps a few common interests which we already share and children, if the good Lord blesses." His voice carried with it a growing understanding that she meant to assess his offer.
Bella was silent as her attention drifted past his words to the woods behind him. The light breeze suddenly picked up, swirling her hair about her face, hiding her expression from him. She did not move to tame it.
Howstrange, he thought. Imusthavetrulysurprisedher. After several moments, when Bella offered no response to his answer, Michael decided to break the eerie silence that had settled between them.
"Bella dear, is this not what you want as well, or have I completely mistaken you?"
Bella stared at her hands as the wind died down, settling her hair around her once more.
"I should think what you offer would be at the heart of any woman, Mr. Newton. I merely wonder if I am truly able to meet your requirements."
The softness of her voice betrayed the wild thing inside. Her own voice was a whisper to her. She needed to whisper for fear of shouting. She fought the urge to run into the woods, fought to hold onto the trace of her upbringing that would help her stay in place just long enough to see him to his carriage. Of course, he had misunderstood.
"Oh, sweet child, you more than meet my requirements. You are a vision of serenity."
Michael gathered her hands in his and brought them lightly to his lips, laughing apparently in relief.
"Oh, how you ensnare me, Bella!"
"I don't mean to," Bella murmured too low for Michael to hear over the sounds of his own self assurance. She needed to get away from him quickly before the last threads of decorum broke and she released her true feelings of revulsion. Bella withdrew her hands from his grasp as she spoke.
"You have flattered me greatly today, Mr. Newton, something to which I am not accustomed. If I may have your indulgence a bit longer, I would ask that you'd allow me time to consider thoroughly the offer you have made and assure myself that I am indeed up to fulfilling your expectations."
His expression was one of benign amusement as he took in her words. Bella imagined that perhaps he was tickled by the notion that she seemed unsure of herself. If so, he could not have been farther from the truth. Bella was all too sure she had no interest in the life he offered.
"Of course, dear one, but do not trouble yourself unnecessarily. I can assure you that your father and I have given this a great deal of consideration."
Bella nodded her acknowledgement and moved quickly towards the front of the house. The air returned the moment his carriage retreated down the long driveway. She turned then and ran as fast as she could into the woods.
Bella opened her notebook again, trying to let her feelings out. But the poem she wanted to write of rage and the burden of men's expectations was nowhere to be found. Instead, all she felt was heartbreak, sadness, and a sense of deep loss for something she could not name. Picking up her pen, she began to write a letter to a man who did not exist.
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