All things Twilight belong to the talented Stephenie Meyer. The story line is a combination from my twisted brain and a very loose, and not well remember series from VC Andrews. I think I read the series ten years ago, but there are little plot points that stem from it.
Born on a Bayou
I'm born but I'm alive,
Live by the rules, not by the sky, sixteen
What lies beneath your eyes,
Is beautiful, you're delicate,
When I'm far away I still remember,
Switch by Blackbud
The heat and humidity were stifling this close to the bayou, the damp air rolled off the water oppressively, making the air thick and heady. You would think after sixteen years of living here I would be used to it, but it never got easier. The swampy air seemed to leave a haze in the atmosphere, when the sun cracked through the trees and caught, you could see the hues of the afternoon in the streams of hedonic light.
The afternoon was my favorite time of day. I liked to sit on the closed-in porch at the back of the house, looking over the dark waters and the Spanish moss covered trees that seemed to litter the area. My mamére and I lived on Bayou Teche in Iberia Parish, Louisiana, it was our home, and I loved it with everything I was.
Our family had lived here happily for generations with the other settlers that lived in the community. Not many people ventured away from the safety of home, we were a tight-knit society and we stuck together. The only person I had ever known to leave for good was my mother.
My mamére liked to use excuses for everything she'd done. Even for what she'd done to me.
Renée, my mother, had gotten pregnant at the ripe old age of sixteen. She'd been on a school trip in New Orleans; they were going to tour one of the museums. Of course Renée being Renée, thought she was too good to walk around a museum when she was in the big city, and she and Sue, her best friend, decided to take a tour of their own. That was the day I was conceived.
Mamére said she didn't know the boy's name, that Renée had met him and he'd swept her off her feet with some hoo-doo. To me, it was most likely the other way around, but I never voiced my opinion to my mamére. Sue on the other hand was more than willing to listen.
I loved my mother, I had no choice but to when she's around. She's contagious, her smile could light up a room and her joy for life was insatiable. It was that very thing that left me alone and without a mother time after time.
Even my ex step father, Charlie, hadn't been enough to anchor her. After being with him for two years and giving me his last name, she took off, leaving him with a burden of a child that wasn't his in a town where he knew nobody. Not that Charlie minded. He was an amazing father figure, and even after he had to give up custody of me three years after Renée left, I still talked to him on a regular basis. I couldn't blame him for leaving; he'd gotten a job he couldn't refuse closer to his family. Renée had just happened to be home and refused to give him the right to take me with him. So I was left with mamére again when she decided she'd had enough fun playing mom.
I hadn't seen Renée since I was ten. The only indication she was still alive was the periodic postcard with some false declaration of love stamped in her untidy scrawl. It was always ended with an "I love you, I miss you" that I neither believed, nor paid attention to.
Mamére had always said that she wasn't a bad person, just confused, a free spirit. That she was too young at heart to be tied down and tethered to one place. She called me an old spirit, wise and aged. I took after her in that respect.
Maybe she was right, or maybe Renée was simply selfish. I doubted I would ever know.
What I did know was I couldn't be upset with her anymore. She'd done this my entire life, and it was part of who she was. I had no desire to be with her; I was happy here. I had a home, I had mamére and Sue, Leah, Jacob and Seth. Here was home, here was where my family was.
The only thing I had ever desired was to know who my real father was, and only because I wanted to know where I came from. I knew one half of myself; I was simply curious about the other.
I picked up the glass of tea I had sat beside me on the porch steps. The heat of the afternoon had the sides sweating as the ice slowly thinned within it's confines. The beads of water seemed to catch the green light that filtered through trees making unusual upside down shape.
I took a sip before running the cool wet glass across my forehead and already sweat-dampened hair. Today was one of those days I would much rather have been basking in the joy of technology. As far as I was concerned air-conditioning was the greatest invention since the wheel. It was just too hot to do anything out here but sit and melt, but it wasn't my choice at the moment.
Mamére was currently entertaining a client. She and her friend Ida dabbled in magic and would read fortunes and perform curses for people who wanted to pay for it. I wasn't sure if I believed in it at all, but it paid the bills and put food on the table. So I kept my mouth shut and made myself scarce when needed.
I blew out all of the air in my lungs, making my cheeks puff up with the effort. The gentle movement of the water threw shards of light in my direction and I stared at it longingly. It was promising to be cool and refreshing, singing it's own praises as it dazzled me with the reflection of the sun.
My eyes finally left the hypnotizing seductress that was the water and found the body the voice belonged to. Jacob Black was leaning lazily against the tall moss covered oak at the end of our house. His dark hair was getting long, and it hung in his eyes as his wide smile taunted me.
"Mamére have a guest?" he asked, tugging at the moss that hung by his head.
"How'd you guess?" I laughed, rolling my eyes and raising one eyebrow so he would realize I was making fun of him for stating the obvious.
Jacob grinned, his white teeth standing out against his golden brown skin. The boy loved to banter, I just couldn't figure out how he had enough energy to move in this heat. He pushed off the tree and walked slowly toward me, his long legs making the movements look effortless.
"No need for the sarcasm, Swan," he laughed, reaching the porch steps and falling down beside me.
"Sorry, it's just hot as hell out here. It's making me cranky."
Jacob laughed again and threw his arm around my shoulder, making me huff with exasperation. Had I not just said it was as hot as Hades?
"Ugh, Jake. Your body heat is really not helping with the being hot thing."
He laughed again, his usual guffaw as his body literally shook mine along with it. I planted my hands on his chest and pushed him away from me, getting even crankier at having to exert more energy.
"Anyone would think this is your first summer here. You do this every year, Bella."
"It just feels as if it gets worse though," I whined, wiping my forehead with the back of my hand. The beads of sweat were peppering the skin there, gently sliding towards my eyebrows. "That or the trees are thinning out."
"You have to sit under one to feel the benefits, whiny."
"You're a genius, Jake," I groaned picking up my tea and taking a long sip. The ice had completely melted now, leaving just the cool liquid. "Where's Leah anyway. Shouldn't you be off bothering her?"
Jacob and Leah had been dating since they were old enough to have a crush. They loved one another with so much passion and devotion that I often found myself a little jealous. Just not enough to accept Seth's request for a date. He was two years younger and had been flirting with me pretty much since the day he was born.
Both Jacob and Leah had been my best friends for as long as I could remember, and it was odd to see one without the other.
"I tried, Seth said she took her papaw to New Iberia, he wasn't feeling so hot," Jacob grinned, throwing a random leaf at me. "Oh and Seth asked me to give you a message."
"The answer is no."
Jacob laughed and pushed up from the porch steps. "You need to give the kid a chance."
"No I don't," I laughed, pushing myself up off the steps. Jacob normally stood at least a foot above me, but with me standing a couple of steps up, I was the same height as him. "If you like him so much, you date him."
"Not my style."
"You know, he's Leah's brother, and not even she gives me this much crap about my constant rejection."
"That's because she likes you more than she likes her brother."
My mouth fell open, and my eyes narrowed playfully. "And you don't?"
Jacob raised his eyebrows at me and he walked away slowly. He stopped about twenty feet away from me and grinned again. I rolled my eyes and walked slowly toward him, punching him in the arm when I was within reach.
"Ow, you know I didn't mean it, Bells."
"You're such an ass, Jacob."
"I know but you love me anyway."
"I wonder about that sometimes," I laughed.
Having some time to kill before Leah got home, Jacob and I took a walk down the bayou for a bit. The thick trees covered with Spanish moss hung over the water and offered much needed relief from the sun. We walked slowly, talking about our plans for the summer and what shows we were going to try and see in Baton Rogue or New Orleans.
The library in New Iberia had computers we were able to use for access to the Internet. Leah had a computer at the house, but being so far out, it was difficult to get access to the Internet most days. It was dial up anyway, and the wait time was longer than we liked. It also gave us an excuse to get out of town for a while so we normally took it.
We had only been gone for an hour, maybe two, stopping at a small clearing on the way back to watch some of the local kids play football. Being later in the afternoon, the sun hung lower in the sky; the beams of light shining through the trees was now a burnt orange, hazy with the humidity of the afternoon. The heat hadn't dissipated at all, but my blood ran cold as we closed in on the house.
Reds and blues rotated against the pale white of the siding, bouncing off the glass and reflecting in the mirror I knew was hung over the fireplace. It was making the afternoon look like a fair ground, the disillusion of fun when everything around me seemed to come crashing down into a skewed version of reality. I tried not to think the worst, but the lights bounced off the van next to them with a beat close to that of my heart. I saw the words, I saw the black on white. One word bigger than the others standing out and making my legs below me shake.
I could feel Jacob next to me, his arms around my waist as my legs gave out, but the sounds coming from his mouth were nowhere to be found. I could see Sue, Leah's mom and the closest thing I had to a mother,standing in the beams of red and blue, crying as Ida leaned on her for support. This couldn't be happening, not now.
I fought the prison of the arms holding me, writhing and twisting as I tried to confirm my worst fears. I was pulled back against Jacob's chest, my legs kicking uselessly in the air, as I screamed and demanded to be released. One of my feet connected with his shin painfully, making him drop me abruptly.
I felt nothing as I hit the ground with my knees, I heard nothing. I scrambled to my feet and pushed forward toward the house, needing to see with my own two eyes what I already knew in my broken heart. I tripped over something but scrambled to my feet again, aiming for the porch steps I had occupied not two hours ago.
Strong arms closed around me just as my feet hit the bottom step; bodies seemed to surround me, holding me in place as my throat burned from my screams to let me go. Warm hands cupped my face, moving my head so I could face their owner.
"bébé, she's gone. You can't see her like that. You have to remember her how she was," Sue said gently. Her voice was full of her emotion as the arms behind me relaxed their grip. I fell forward my body too heavy for the legs I could no longer feel. I was so numb; there was so much pain coursing through my veins. Sue caught me, her arms surrounding my body as we both moved to the ground.
She held me as I cried, my hands gripping at the shirt she was wearing as every ounce of pain seeped from me. I could hear people standing around us talking quietly, but I couldn't hear their words, just the droning sounds as they melted together around me.
"Mrs. Clearwater?" A voice too close said with perfect clarity. "I'm sorry about this, but we need to speak with you."
"Jacob, take Bella to my house and sit with her please."
I felt arms at my back and behind my knees, hoisting me into the air and holding me to his body. My arms closed around his neck as my face buried itself into his shoulder, the tears still sliding down my cheeks. He moved slowly, whispering to me as he walked towards the house only two down from my own.
I didn't want to leave, but I couldn't stay. I couldn't watch them taking mamére's body from the house she'd lived in her entire life. The mental image was causing enough anguish to run through my body without physically seeing it. It was too much, it was all too much to take in.
Jacob climbed Sue's porch steps, kicking at the door to get Seth's attention. I could hear the stomping feet inside the house as they made their way to the door. I heard the gasp as he took in the scene in front of him.
"Mamére," Jacob whispered over the top of me, his voice filled with pain. I wasn't the only one who loved her. I wasn't the only one suffering the loss, yet I was selfish enough to think of no one but myself. I was selfish enough to need the comfort of those around me.
"She's . . ."
"Yeah, your mom's with the Parish Sheriff and asked me to sit with Bella." Jacob moved deeper into the house and sat on the couch with me in his lap, his arms were like a prison around my body, holding me together as I came apart from the inside out.
Seth sat next to him, his hand taking mine and spreading warmth throughout my body. So familiar, so comforting. They were my family, each and every one of these people were my family and I had never needed them more in my life.
The painful sobs slowly subsided into nothingness. The ache of loss seemed to fill in the void of my heart, making it fester painfully in my chest. I could hear the growing crowd outside, the voices, all so sad as they passed by the Clearwater home. It was all so quiet and muted but clear at the same time. Even the crickets chirping seemed to echo louder and more insistent than they had ever been before.
I heard the car pulling up outside and the stomping of feet on the porch as Leah sprinted up and in through the front door. She fell to her knees in front of Jacob, her delicate hand cupping my cheek as she whispered apologies for my loss.
I turned to face her, my body aching from the frozen position I'd held too long. My hands became my own again and wrapped around her neck, holding her to me as I let myself cry again. She had been the comfort I was seeking, she was my best friend.
"I'm so sorry, Bells."
"What happened, Lee? Jacob and I only went for a walk. she was with a client; she was fine."
Leah sat back on her heels and took my hands in hers as she tried to word her answer. I was sure she'd stopped to talk to Sue. Seeing her mom outside of my house with the scene unfolding was enough to make anyone stop.
"It was a heart attack. The lady who was with her tried to revive her but there was nothing she could do. Mamére was gone before the ambulance got there. They say she didn't suffer, just a little discomfort. Mom told me to come to you. How are you holding up?"
"Not well," I said, looking back at Jacob and Seth who were watching me with relieved eyes. I hadn't said a word since we'd been here.
"Well, come on. Let's go get you cleaned up."
Leah took my hand and pulled me to my feet, my shaky legs making her grip me around the waist. She walked me toward the bathroom and helped me wash my face before walking me into her room. She always seemed to know what I needed without me ever consciously telling her.
I lay down on the bed next to Leah and stared at the ceiling where she'd stuck thousands of glow-in-the-dark stars when she was thirteen. It lit up the room at night, but during the day like this it was just off colored spots on the white ceiling.
Hours and days seemed to pass slowly after that. The Clearwater's and Jake seemed to give me space when I craved company and company when I craved solace. I knew I had to do something though. I had to start living again. Sitting on the porch staring at my house was doing nothing to ease the pain of losing her.
As much as I tried, it was pointless; I couldn't seem to gain any sort of closure. In fact, it wasn't until the funeral that I was even able to process what had happened, and that was because the wake was held at our house. It was the first time I'd been there since she'd died.
The final push I needed, though, came from Seth.
I had sat in my spot on the porch, watching our house through the summer storm. The streams of water fell in long thick lines from the covered porch; the sound of the water seemed to make me feel at ease, even with the stifling air of the humidity.
Seth stepped outside and fell into the wicker bench next to me, his long arm along the back of the seat disappearing behind me as he trained his eyes on the spot that had held my attention for so long.
"So, Bella," he said quietly, his tone light and airy. It was almost foreign to me.
"Seth," I mumbled in greeting, pulling my knees closer to my chest.
"I've been thinking, Mom said you might be coming to live with us, and I'm worried."
My head snapped to the side so he was in my line of sight. My emotions seemed to flood my system again as the panic worked it's way through my body. Did he not want me here? Was I becoming to much of a burden? This was Seth, the boy who had tried to get me to go on a date for as long as I could remember. If he was worried about me living here, I could only imagine how Sue would feel.
"Worried?" I croaked, swallowing back the tears that were making my eyes sting.
"Yeah, would that make us brother and sister? Because honestly, it would be disturbing trying to get a date from my sister."
I felt something bubble inside of me. It started deep in my stomach and tickled up through my ribs. My whole body trembled as it traveled upwards. Then it erupted.
The front door swung open, revealing Sue and Leah looking a little confused and a lot relieved. Something that had been missing for so long was now coming as freely to me as breathing. My ribs ached and my eyes watered as I leaned into his body, resting my head on his shoulder.
"What the hell is going on out here?"
"Seth," I said simply as the laughter gave way to giggles. "He's worried that my staying here would mean he couldn't continue asking me out every chance he got."
"Seth!" Leah said exasperated, a small smile of pride on her lips. "Does your mind stay in the same place day after day? Is that all you think about?"
"I'm a teenage boy, Leah. What do you think?"
"I think I'm gonna beat your ass, comeback kid."
"Enough you two," Sue laughed gently. "Go set the table for dinner, Seth. Leah start serving, please."
"Yes ma'am," they both said in unison, me leaning away from Seth so he could do as he was asked. He gave me a wink before going inside, and it wasn't missed by Leah, who smacked him on the back of the head with a pointed look.
Sue came to sit next to me, taking Seth's spot on the wicker love seat.
"Bella, I'm glad you're feeling a little better, but I think we need to talk about something."
"I know it's been hard for you, and I don't want to add more pressure, but we have some things we need to take care of. The sheriff has given me temporary custody of you because of the extenuating circumstances, but we have some work to do to make it permanent. I called Charlie; he wanted to come straight down and be with you, but Nancy is about to have the baby, and she couldn't travel. He said that, even though you have his last name, he has no legal guardianship of you because your mom had signed that over to mamére. Mamére didn't know, bébé, she made no plans for you and now you only have two choices. You can go to a home, or we find your father."
The whole world seemed to stop as the last words came from her mouth. My father? The man they said had no name. How was I supposed to track down this person? He could be anyone, anywhere.
"Sue, no one knows anything about him."
I could see her soft features darken when I said it; I could see that something she disagreed with was finally coming to light. I had known Sue my entire life. I could read her looks well. Leah and I were far from perfect, and it was always Sue disciplining us. But this look, this was something new.
"What aren't you saying, Sue?"
"Mamére knew who he was, Bells. Renée had told him she was pregnant, and they had discussed what to do. I don't know who he is; I only know he's in New Orleans. I'm sure mamére kept papers."
My blood seemed to freeze in my veins as my heart stuttered in my chest. All this time, all these years, all I had been told was how they didn't know him, that they didn't even have a name. He was always unattainable. Now there was a chance I could get to meet him. He was suddenly tangible, and I had no idea how to even process this information.
"Look, I know it's a shock to you, Bella. If I know you like I think I do, you want to go there right now and tear the place apart. I promise, I won't stop you from doing that. When you mother hears she's inherited the house she . . . well who knows what she'll do, but I promise you will look soon. First things first, though, I need you to eat dinner."
I nodded. I could do this for her; I could act normal and sit down to dinner with my family before I went to find the last piece of myself.
It was strange being in the house without her. Sue, knowing me well, had let me walk over to mamére's house with Jacob and Leah after dinner. She knew there was no way to keep me away now that I knew there was something in here that would point me in the direction of my biological father.
Charlie was important to me and I loved him, but he wasn't part of me. There was nothing in our bond that would help me determine where I had come from. Now, more than ever, I needed to know this man because there was no way I would be leaving my family. Even if he wanted nothing to do with me, I imagined he would have no issues signing me over to Sue.
I was currently in mamére's bedroom, pulling boxes from the shelves and rifling through them, looking for any hint of who this man was or where she had hidden the information.
Leah and Jacob were in the living room looking through some of the older filing cabinets that held all the client information and taxes. I was running out of boxes to look through. I had pulled apart her nightstand and almost had an aneurysm when I found her handgun loaded in the top shelf. I didn't even know she had a gun.
"Bella." Leah's voice was shrill as it rang through the house, and I knew she was on the right track. "I think I found something."
I stood up from where I was digging through a box of photographs. Renée's face at various ages was staring back at me, making me even more nervous than I was before. It was as if she were pleading me to stay where I was and stop being so curious, but I couldn't. I couldn't shut this out now that I knew there really was something real.
I moved across the room with my feet feeling oddly weighted to the ground. My heart was pounding against my ribs, making my chest ache with it's effort. My feet were barely executing the moves necessary to get me any closer to my goal, but I persevered.
Leah was sitting on the floor in front of mamére's desk, Jacob sat behind her in the chair. She was hunched over a box file, but in her right hand was a large envelope, thick to the point of splitting at the sides. The visual was motivation for me to move quicker, and I forced myself to walk with the comminuting beat of my heart.
I could see the familiar looping pattern of mamére's handwriting in small neat rows on top of the yellow paper. I couldn't see what it said from where I was standing, but I knew it was important; I knew it was what was going to give me the answers I needed.
I fell to my knees slowly, my hands landing palm down on the cool hardwood floor of the house. I was nervous and excited, trembling violently within my own skin as the trepidation seemed to eat me alive.
Leah held out the papers with a weak smile. I knew that whatever lay in this envelope had the potential to change my life forever and it terrified me. My right hand moved from its place on the floor and reached out for the package, my fingers curling around the aged exterior.
My head buzzed with the emotions that seemed to circle around me in a constricting pattern. My breaths were coming in uneven spurts. I turned it around slowly and let my eyes glide over the letters written.
This was it, this was the answer to every question I'd ever had. This was the father I had never known; this is the father who had never sought me out, even to see if I was healthy and alive. My whole life was about to change drastically, and there was no way to pull out of the tail spin.
He was my father. Carlisle Cullen was my father, and to my surprise, I recognized the name.
A/N: Thank you for reading :)
I have been really nervous about this story and posting it, ask any of my pre-readers and they'll tell you I drove them mad with my neuroticism. There's really not too much to add to that. I don't wanna show my hand before I lay my cards down so I am keeping shtum.
Thank you to my beta and fact checker Annabanana. She's been absolutely wonderful in helping me out and correcting my grammar, punctuation and of course cajun. You rock Chick!!!
As always to miztrezboo, my twin and co-conspirator, her honesty makes me a better writer. Bendingmirrors, a huge thank you to you for listening to my freak outs and talking me down from the proverbial ledge. Hev99, a new pre-reader, but oh so helpful and insightful. Love you ladies.
Thanks to all of you who put me on author alert and told me how excited you were to read the new story. I am terrified about this one lol. So if you have any questions feel free to hit me. They will all be answered on the blog I made up for this story. There are tiny pieces of side information and I figured that was as good a place as any to store them lol. The address is privileged-fanfic(dot)blogspot(dot)com
Thanks again :)
Much love and huge hugz