When you try your best but you don't succeed And the tears come streaming down your face
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse
When you lose something you cannot replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
And the tears come streaming down your face
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
"Fix You"- Coldplay
April 2009, United States
Michael Newton was a good boy.
He was little plain, a little average, and not the best looking boy in town, but still a fine young man. He kept up good grades in school, went to church every Sunday with his mother, was never late for work, and cut the elderly neighbors' grass free of charge. He was known for his helping hands and friendly spirit.
He was never the lost soul who stumbled in after curfew completely intoxicated; rather, he was the friend who offered Advil and glasses of water the next nauseating morning. He was the gentleman who courted his ladies, holding doors open and pulling out chairs. He was a volunteer firefighter, who put out literal fires as well as the proverbial, and cleaned up the children's park the first Saturday of the month. He was the best man at every wedding; the first to throw rice and last to wave goodbye to the happy couple.
Michael gave of himself, and in turn, was given to by those whose lives he had touched with simple kindness.
Good boys deserved good girls.
But love was the one thing that never found Michael.
You can't force someone to love you. You can't buy someone's affection with roses or poems or moonlight walks. No matter how much you love someone, you can't make them love you.
Michael knew this; the possible sting of rejection always haunted his thoughts and laced his actions. What if all he could give wasn't enough? What if he wasn't enough? What if he was one of those people fated to live life in solitude, without love, wedding bands or children?
He shuddered at the prospect of singlehood. He saw himself as a lonely old man, with long white socks and an old blue bathrobe, sitting at a worn kitchen table without an equally elderly little wife to make him breakfast or repair a tear in his favorite brown sweater.
Fortunately for him, Michael's fears were allayed a week before his twenty-seventh birthday.
"Mike, stop it! I'm serious!"
Bella was laughing so hard she could barely breathe. The blonde haired man didn't stop though, and continued to tickle her until his fiancée was screaming "Uncle! Uncle! Michael, I can't breathe, baby! I give up already! You win!"
"Michael Newton," a voice called through the screen door, "stop harassing pretty Isabella and come help me put this roast on the table."
"Yes Ma," he called back, releasing Bella from his arms. She tumbled onto the smooth green grass, and he couldn't help but stare at her beautiful form.
Her hair looked so red when the sunlight captured it. Every time he looked at her, he felt himself fall a little more in love with her. He had no idea how he had gotten so lucky. This charming, enchanting girl, who had at first intimidated him, agreed to spend the rest of her life with him.
"I'll be right back, baby," he said sweetly, kissing her pouting mouth.
He left his brown eyed angel gasping for breath on the grassy backyard lawn, her face flushed from giggles and torso heaving. He desperately tried to block out images of his Bella in the same state naked in his bed, as he tripped up the stairs.
For her part, Bella lay still in the grass, musing on the beauty of the day and the beauty of her situation. For the first time in a long time, she was loved, adored, cuddled, caressed, kissed, worshiped. She could make an infinite list of all the wonderful things Michael did to her that made her feel like a princess.
And now she was engaged to this beautiful man.
He had proposed in the traditional way, for Michael was a traditional sort of man. There had been roses and candles and lovemaking after she breathlessly gave her acquiescence and jumped into his arms. They were to be married in September, on Bella's birthday. She abhorred that day, loathing gifts and the reminders of her aging, so Michael suggested they replace the occasion by celebrating with a new event, their wedding day.
It was almost magical. Lying here in the soft green grass, the sunlight sparkling off the small lake behind Michael's parents' house, and the sweet breeze blowing on her face, ruffling her sundress and shiny brown hair, she knew that there was no place else she would ever want to be.
"Bella honey, dinner's on," Karen Newton's voice floated over to her.
Bella sighed; having been interrupted from the beginnings of a trifling day dream. Rosy, dimpled little babies who had Michael's hair and her eyes…
Her lazy afternoon spell broken, Bella went inside the small house, brushing grass off of her dress, and scooping up the sandals she had discarded earlier. She carefully picked her way through the gravel patio, determined not to cut her toes on the rough pebbles. She tucked her footwear by the door before going inside; the smell of roasted beef and homemade cherry pie tickling her senses, reminding her of home and her new family.
"This is wonderful, Karen," Bella mumbled though a mouthful of mashed potato, and she peeked up shyly through her lashes to meet Karen's twinkling eyes.
"Honey, please, you're family now. Call me Mom, unless that makes you uncomfortable." Karen blushed at the forwardness of her words and looked down at her plate, hoping she had not offended the young woman.
Young people were so hard to understand these days.
Bella's warm hand covered Karen's frail one. "Of course, Mom."
Karen's smiled rivaled the sun. Michael looked between his mother and fiancée, and felt warmth bubble in his stomach. He was forever grateful that his mother had approved of his girl, and had even gone out of her way to befriend Bella, making her feel like her own daughter.
"So Ma, Bella and I were talking outside, and we were thinking about having the wedding in the backyard, since there won't be very many people. What do you think?"
He took Bella's small hand in his, running his thumb over the ring she wore absentmindedly. It was a modest piece of art, well; it had to be, for now. Maybe in a few years, he would have saved enough to place a larger diamond in the setting.
"I think that's a lovely idea, honey. The weather'll be nice, what with the maple leaves and all. Very pretty." Karen was taken back to thoughts of her own wedding, and internally bubbling with excitement that her only son would soon get to experience the joy she had felt when she had taken those vows almost thirty years ago. Her Stanley had been gone almost eight years, the cancer was so vicious, she thought sadly, but she could still see the smile on his face just as clearly now as she had back then. She felt a twinge of sadness mix with her joy. Her baby boy, her only baby, would leave her and start his own life soon.
The little house was going to be so empty when he left.
But looking between her son and his true love, she knew that she could deny him no longer. He was so ready, so excited to build a life with his Bella.
Her eyes brimmed with tears just thinking about it. Michael deserved his happiness after all the years he had sacrificed to make other people happy. He had dropped out of college when Stanley died, and took over Newton's Outfitters running it without a hint of complaint or regard for his own future. Michael had dedicated his life to his father's business and his mother's happiness. He worked every day (excluding Sundays, those were family days) to ensure that his mother would have a financially stable future.
Michael's efforts had not been in vain. In fact, if he hadn't been so dedicated to his work, he might not have met Bella.
Ms. Swan had come into Newton's Outfitters to escape the rain one day, and Michael, having sent the rest of the employees home to avoid the storm, was the only one in the shop when she came in, soaking wet and reminiscent of a drowned rat. Michael had procured a slightly musty blanket, and managed to make some hot coffee from the coffeemaker in the break-room. They found themselves falling into an easy conversation, and from then on Bella made it a point to come in to the store, just to talk to the shy young man.
They became fast friends, journeying though what life had thrown their way and making the best of it. Somewhere along the way, they had fallen in love, having found kindred spirits in each other, and now they were engaged to be married.
It just seemed like the logical, right thing to do.
Karen couldn't have been happier and judging by Michael's sparkling eyes and Bella's flushed cheeks, neither were they.
They wouldn't have much, starting out, but Karen knew they'd be alright. They had to be.
She wanted some grandbabies before she got too old to enjoy them.
April 2009, Kingdom of Volterra
"What do you think she's doing right now?" King Edward queried, watching the droplets of rain fall down the window pane. He had been sitting in the library for hours now, staring out the windows and looking at the scenery that surrounded him below.
The library had large glass windows that reached from the polished floor all the way to the cathedral ceilings and let in volumes of sunlight, or in the case of a day like today, dingy gray light that was not even fit to read by. The King's favorite armchair had been moved from in front of the fireplace and had been strategically placed in front of the largest window, giving him ample view of his kingdom.
He had watched the comings and goings of his subjects, even though from this distance, they just looked like tiny specks in the landscape. Tiny sheep and cows dotted the hillside, and if he looked closely, he could see the chicken farms that had been set up in the villages. He saw the various peddlers traversing the dusty roads, going from township to township, selling their cheap wares, which were far overpriced. He watched the schoolchildren scurry from the school houses to their respective homes, wincing when he saw that most of them were barefoot and jacketless, without an umbrella to shield themselves from the pelting, icy rain.
No wonder the government doctors were so busy. There must be widespread outbreaks and influenza and pneumonia in the little villages below. He made a note to send rain boots and parkas in the next shipment, instead of the customary literature and maps of Africa. He then planned to contact the physicians and ask if they needed any special medicines, or simply more of the antibiotics they already had. What good were his gifts if the children he sent them to were too sick to enjoy them?
Bella would have been proud of him for noticing, for taking care of the little children. He knew she would be. His Bella had a soft spot for the less fortunate. How many times had she urged him to restock the many food pantries, to donate the clothing that not even his servants wore?
Too many times.
Alec, the new bodyguard, rocked on his heels anxiously. He was supposed to have been dismissed an hour ago; instead, he was being treated to his King's mindless ramblings and a growling stomach. The King had been rambling on about "his Bella" for quite some time now, and Alec was beginning to find it annoying.
She was gone, and it was time for King Edward to move on.
Quite frankly, a good lay would do him a world of good. But the King refused to frequent the whorehouses now, and claimed he was unable to find another woman to fill his needs, picky bastard that he was. What a waste, Alec thought sadly to himself. Why, if he was in the King's position, with all these women…
"You are dismissed."
The cold tone of the King's voice made him jump, and Alec beat a hasty retreat to the kitchens. He practically knocked over Zafrina, who had been carrying a tray to his Highness with a steaming teapot and accessories. She cursed him loudly in her native tongue for the spilt tea and broken china that could have been, before allowing him to escape the gloomy corridor.
Alec, like the many before him, sought comfort in the golden warmth of the underground kitchens. There was usually an extra serving of soup or cup of coffee that had escaped a scullery maid's notice, and he would gulp the portion down gratefully before resuming his work. Having been dismissed for the rest of the evening, he decided to stay in the comfortable hustle and bustle, devoting himself to pulling apron strings and flashing winning smiles. It had been awhile for him as well.
Are you thoroughly confused now? :) Next chapter we'll see some Bella/Edward interaction, yes?
Thanks again for all your support. I'm really excited to have this story up here! It's going to be an interesting ride!
Much thanks to LTR for her amazing beta work. Everything looks so much better after she's worked her magic.
If anybody can help me advertise this story, I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm no good with it….