All Characters belong to Stephenie Meyer

Chapter 1 - Beefing up my college application


"Are you sure about this, Bella?"

I took a deep breath and nodded. I was sure, though most people would hesitate to chop off over two feet of hair. But I was determined. "It's so beautiful, dear. It just breaks my heart to do this. I've never seen more healthy and perfect hair. It seems almost a crime to cut it all off."

"It's gotten to be too much for me to deal with," I lied. She sighed and continued to comb out the tangles of my thigh-length hair. I had been blessed with good hair genes, and I would eventually grow it back, but I needed this now. The stylist gathered my hair into a low ponytail and fastened it into a long thick bundle with several elastic bands.

"Would you like to donate it?" she asked. Doreen was a kindly woman with a wide grin that reminded me of the Cheshire cat, and hair the color of new-fallen snow. She had obviously been doing this a while.

"Yes, that sounds like a good idea."

I had chosen a style that would look like a boy's haircut, but was still a bit longer on top, swept back on the sides and spiky around the neck. I held my breath, as Doreen picked up her scissors and quickly detached the captured mass hanging down my back. My head suddenly felt several pounds lighter, and I quickly hid the tears that had escaped the corners of my eyes, as she laid the shorn bundle on the counter in front of me. She then wet my hair and began snipping away the remainder of my femininity.

My new persona would make me look like a skater dude. Too bad I could barely use my feet. There was no way I could handle a skateboard. As she worked, Doreen asked why I was really cutting off my hair, and I used the excuse that it was getting too hot. Summer was upon us, school had just ended, and the camp I planned on going to was starting in a week. I told her that having to deal with hair as long as mine in the heat and rustic setting of the camp would just be too hard. That was partly true, but had I had another option, I would have dealt with my hair. However, for what I was doing, it would be a dead giveaway that I was someone who was somewhere she shouldn't have been.

I wanted to learn the clarinet, but I didn't want to join the band. My parents were always pushing me to be more social, but I didn't feel comfortable at school or anywhere in Forks, mostly due to my stepsister, Leah. I hoped that would change when I went to college.

Luckily for me, my little stepbrother, Seth, was small-statured still and about my size. He was a couple of years younger than I was, but for a kid, he was pretty cool. He stayed out my hair and told his friend, Jake, to stop staring at me, so I thought he was alright.

I was usually the one who did all the laundry, and since we were sorting out winter and summer clothes, I took his heavy jeans and stored them in a duffle bag to take with me. I needed shirts still, though, and I knew it would be more difficult to get those. I suspected he might catch me sneaking them. I was right.

"Bella, what are you doing with my shirt?"

"Just…um, going to wash it?" I was a horrible liar.

Thankfully, Seth was a patient kid. He just smirked at me. "So, are you really going to tell me?"

I shook my head no. I thought he was going to let me go, but as I was sneaking out the door, he called to me again.

"Hey, Bella, you mind taking this shirt instead and giving me back my Rolling Stones one?"

I knew the jig was up, because I was not holding the Rolling Stones shirt in my hand. The one in my hand was Spiderman.

I walked over to take the shirt from him, but he pulled his desk chair out and had me sit. He walked over to his door and locked it, and then he turned back to me.

"Ok, now are you going to tell me what this is about?"

I knew Seth was cool and wouldn't rat me out, so I told him everything. I wanted to learn an instrument. It looked good on college applications, but I didn't want to join the band. I had found the flyer he had brought home from soccer practice about a music camp for boys that were involved in sports and could not attend band camp.

He let out a deep breath. "Bella, you realize this is insane, right?"

I just shrugged. "It's only for a month. What's the worst that could happen?"

He rubbed his face and then looked at me as if he had decided something. "Fine, but I'm going with you. Someone has to keep you out of trouble."

I was about to protest, but he shook the shirt in front of me. "My clothes, my rules. You're my sister; it's my job to look out for you."

I would have objected, but I was really shy and quiet, and it would be nice to have someone there who knew me and could help me if I got into a scrape.

Later that afternoon, Jake had come over, and I heard Seth telling Jake about going to camp. Jake, being the loser he was, didn't want him to go and tried to talk Seth out of it. I panicked, when I heard Jake finally say, "Fine, but you're not leaving me in this hell hole alone. I'm going with you."

I wanted to run in and object, but what could I say without giving myself away? Seth glanced at me standing in the doorway and shrugged. Jake turned and looked at me and gasped. "What the hell did you do to your hair? You look like a dude!"

"Thanks," I said in a small voice and ran to my room, trying to think of a way not to blow this.

A/N: This was just a short introduction. Seth is Bella's stepbrother and Jake is Seth's friend.

Dollybigmomma beta'd this, so give her some love!

On with the story. Please review and thanks for reading.