Please let me know what you all think! I'm very excited about this story and I hope you all are too!
Isabella Swan ran a hand absently through her tangle of hair, thinking over the past year and what had brought her here. She was barely twenty-four years old, just two years out of college and already she had a kid to take care of and a large house in a suburban neighborhood in New Jersey. It was so hard to believe that once upon a time she had been a young girl fresh out of college, dreaming of a career in a publishing house.
She had gotten a job as an editor at a prestigious publisher in New York and that set the stones in motion. The story was pretty simple. Her brother Emmett was a sophomore in high school, she was a senior in high school, and he got his long-term girlfriend, Rosalie Hale pregnant. Things went pretty quickly from there. Rosalie didn't want to abort the baby, but she didn't want to keep it either. So Bella, acting only on a strong motherly instinct, negotiated with both sets of parents. The deal was simple: Rosalie's parents would raise the baby for the approximate six years that it would take Bella to finish school and to get a job that paid enough to raise the baby. Bella would adopt the baby and receive the naming rites the day it was born, but Mr. and Mrs. Hale would be its guardians up until Bella was able to support a family. Bella, being a naïve and romantic young girl, couldn't think of a better situation and she immediately began to pore over the baby books searching for the perfect name. She would never remember where it came from, but the baby (who Rosalie found out was a girl) was named Melanie.
And now Melanie was Bella's responsibility. She had been for the past few months, but school only seemed to make a hectic schedule more difficult. Mellie had a daycare that took her early and kept her late from school, but Bella wanted her daughter to have an easier childhood. One without a constantly absent or busy mother. For it was obvious to see how much the little girl longed for attention. Melanie Brayden Swan was a pretty and sweet little girl who looked exactly like her aunt. Mellie had these big brown eyes that were so wide and deep and earnest that a person had to be careful to steel themselves against her. And her hair curled into darling little ringlets that hung down her back for she refused to have her hair cut. School for Mellie was fun! She was so bright that her work was simple and she came home every night giggling over jokes that Mr. Cullen told their class. Bella suspected that the little girl had a bit of a crush on her teacher.
Bella knew that her work often got in the way of the comfortable family life that she had been accustomed to as a child. But she wanted to give her child the wealthy and easy lifestyle that she herself had not been able to have. Charlie Swan, Bella's father, was a police chief in a small town in northern New Jersey and her mother Rene was a kindergarten teacher. Money had been tight all her life, but it was quite obvious that it was no longer the case. Bella had bought a large colonial house in a rather wealthy neighborhood. The house itself was lovely, a large white structure with lovely green shutters and window boxes overflowing with red tulips. The front door was large and red on an inviting porch on which Bella had strategically placed about it. All in all it had a homey look. However, inside the house was extremely different. A two-story colonial was big for two people, especially one being a small little girl. But Bella liked the space. It allowed her to give Mel multiple rooms. Melanie had her bedroom and a playroom all to herself. On top of a large, welcoming study that Bella set aside for her to use for homework time. This allowed the rest of the house to remain neat and clean, so much so that it barely looked lived in. But that was the way that neat-freak Bella liked her life. Clean, neat and structured. No surprises, just polished hardwood floors leading into a chic kitchen, a cozy den, a fancy living room and of course a large library.
And if you asked Bella what she thought of her life, she could answer quite truly that she wouldn't have changed a minute of it. She adored Melanie and was glad to give her a home. The little girl didn't know that she was adopted yet, but Bella vowed that she would tell her when she turned ten. Bella's life was good. She had a fantastic job, a beautiful house, and a lovely child. She would tell you, if she was in a truthful mood, that she was so tired. Lately, Melanie had begun to have nightly nightmares that caused her to scream bloody murder and then pile into Bella's bed with her plethora of dolls and stuffed animals that accompanied her to bed every night. Not that Bella really minded. It was calming to see her little girl curled up around a toy, her thumb in her mouth. Oftentimes, she would just run her fingers through Mel's hair, stroke her cheek or just watch her sleep. But in doing those things, Bella never seemed to be able to fall asleep. She could spend an entire night cuddling her sleeping child, relishing her sweet innocence that she had preserved. It was through Bella that Melanie was still alive or at least safe and secure. Who knows what Rose would have done if Bella hadn't volunteered to adopt her baby.
And there was Bella's other problem. What young,, twenty-something year old man would want to date a mother?! Certainly none of the ones who Bella had met. The whole, I'm-sort-of-an-adoptive-mother speech always sent them packing. Eventually it became a game, seeing which ones would try to stick around and timing how long it took for them to leave. The longest was a lawyer who stayed an hour past her speech, but fled when he walked in her door and saw the Barbie backpack and rain slicker laying on the floor and then the small figure descending the stairs in pink footsie-pajamas did him in.
And today was the dreaded back to school night, where she would be compared to all the other parents by some snooty teacher. On the bright side, Mellie was extremely excited at the prospect of her mother seeing the carefully colored pictures that she had made with her class in preparation for the big night.
"Ugh! I give up!" Bella groaned. She had spent the last hour digging through her young looking wardrobe in hopes of finding something "motherly" to wear. The image of herself dressed in an "I Love Lucy" dress and vacuuming the carpet in heels and pearls set her to laughing. Resigning herself to a modest looking green sundress. It had two tiny spaghetti-straps and it flowed down to her knees where it had some very pretty lace pattern. Pulling her hair back into a loose barrette and throwing on her pair of comfortable gold sandals she pronounced herself good enough.
"Melanie!" she called, walking out of her bedroom and down the stairs to their large kitchen.
The sound of scampering feet and muffled giggles told her that Mel was playing the hide-and-seek game. Mel had invented many games to amuse herself when Bella was around, mainly because her mother had little time to play with her.
"Hm, where could my Mellie-bellie be?" Bella pretended to ponder as she opened various cabinets and appliances in "search" of the first grader.
More giggles came from the pantry that Bella had carefully avoided.
"Oh I give up!" Bella grumbled playfully. "Mellie come out and show Mommy where you were hiding! You are such a good hider." She carefully turned her back and braced herself for the added weight of Melanie who immediately threw herself on Bella's back.
"Here I am, Mommy!" Mel giggled, letting Bella go and running in circles around the room. "Is Mrs. Thompson coming over tonight?"
Mrs. Thompson was a wealthy, but lonely widow who lived directly across the street from the Swans. Early on, she had been immensely helpful in getting Melanie and Bella settled into a completely new lifestyle. And she still insisted on babysitting whenever possible.
The doorbell rang and Melanie sprang to her feet in her excitement.
"Oh Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" she shouted as she danced from foot to foot. "May I please, please, please pretty please with sugar on top answer the door?"
Laughing Bella relented, knowing full well that it was their kindly neighbor at the door. Still, she followed Mellie just to be careful. As soon as Mel had allowed the woman to actually enter the house, Bella went up to her and kissed the wrinkled cheek and hugged the bony body tightly.
"Well, I guess you know what to do around here," Bella teased, looking into the kindly gray eyes that still shown with a youthful spirit. "Mel had her bath, she just needs to be put into her pajamas and brush her teeth. And she's allowed one cookie and one movie tonight for special treat."
Mrs. Thompson nodded, her eyes twinkling with mischief. "Bella, stop worrying! I'm practically her nana and, hon, if you don't mind me saying this you need a night out. And if you happen to be invited out afterwards well that's just fine. These old bones will be perfectly content to take a catnap in that delightful guest bedroom of yours."
Bella resisted the urge to roll her eyes and gathering up her lightweight yellow cashmere sweater and her pocketbook she allowed herself to be pushed out into the warm night. Settling into her car she began to pull out, but not without looking back to see the small, pale face pressed against the glass in Mel's usual "goodbye" gesture. She waved her hand and drove on to her doom. Back to school night.
Ok, so what do you all think? Comments, criticism and suggestions are all welcome! I'd love to hear your theories. And yes, a certain someone will be in the next chapter. Hint hint! : )