Disclaimer: I own nothing in this story except for my own little plot line. Everything else is property of the genius Stephenie Meyer.
A/N: Again, thank you to everyone who read this little story. If you're interested in knowing what I will be working on next, it will be resurrecting "Secret Prophecies." As always, thank you twi-ction for being such an amazing beta!
The barest hint of sunlight streamed in through the window, highlighting the worn pages of her book. She sat at a desk, her legs tucked beneath her, her sleeves pulled down to cover her hands. The frigid air that clung to the molecules around her would not leave her be. Within the walls of the library at Washington State University, she shivered and thought about how little things had changed over the course of ten years.
The glasses that perched upon the bridge of her nose slid down a fraction, and so she quickly exposed one hand to push them back up. She didn't need the frames to improve her sight, but they made her feel more scholarly somehow.
Every so often, she would flip a page in her book. And sometimes she would watch the dust particles dance in the air, trapped in the sliver of light that emitted from the sun outside.
A gale of frozen wind blew past the old windows, and Bella trembled fiercely. She dug quickly in the bag next to her and pulled out a scarf. Her hair had been cut short, its ends framing the angle of her jaw, and so she wrapped the scarf around her bare neck to protect it from the impending chills.
Moments passed by, where words were read and pages were turned.
"Excuse me?" a voice called from above her as a shadow passed over her opened book.
Bella glanced up to the source of the sound. Her breath momentarily ceased as she gazed up at a man with hair the color of ground cinnamon and eyes as warm as honey. His lips took the shape of a crooked grin that set her heart stuttering within her chest.
"Is this seat taken?" he asked, pointing to the empty chair opposite her.
She found herself smiling, her body warming at the sight of him. "Only if you're not going to ask me for help on an anthropology paper. Then no… it is not taken."
Amused, the man bent down to place a kiss on her forehead. "Why thank you, Mrs. Cullen," he murmured. "And how has your day been?"
"It would be a lot better if I were warm," she complained, though her smile had not faded.
"Hmmm…" he hummed. "Well, that just won't do. Perhaps, I should help warm you up."
His lips brushed against hers and a contented sigh spilled from her lungs. She took his face within her hands, the diamond ring on her left hand glistening beneath the florescent lights in the room, and she brought his mouth firmly upon hers, melting into the kiss that he willingly gave.
A sharp clearing of the throat disturbed the air next to them and they pulled apart, turning to see who had interrupted the moment.
Esme Cullen, the waves of her chestnut hair wrapped up in a bun atop of her head, gazed down at a small pile of papers, a pen in her hand. She stood next to their table, her eyes roaming over the papers in her grasp and not once looking up at them as she spoke. "Library hours are for reading and studying only, and Edward, if you even think of saying that you are studying anatomy, I will send you out this instant."
Finally, she peered up at them over the thin-framed glasses that covered her muddied brown eyes, a result from colored contact lenses. The hint of a smile ghosted her face.
Edward straightened and nodded toward his adoptive mother. "Yes ma'am. It won't happen again."
"Good," she replied, turning to walk away. "Oh, and Bella dear?"
Bella looked up at Esme just as Edward sat down across from her.
"I made you chicken parmesan for dinner and had Alice put it in the refrigerator."
Her stomach growled hungrily in response. "Thanks, Esme."
Now smiling, Esme turned to leave. Within moments, however, several more people appeared at their table.
Emmett and Jasper pulled up extra chairs as Rosalie and Alice set their bags on the floor.
"Watcha readin'?" Alice asked cheerily, sitting down next to her.
"Pride and Prejudice," Bella answered, flipping the book over to show its cover. "I'm taking the Jane Austen class again."
"Mr. Darcy," Emmett crooned in a mock British accent as he turned a chair backwards and sat down, his arms resting on the top of the crest rail.
Edward looked over at him in annoyance. "That was horrible."
"Oh get over yourself, Eddie."
"We saw you two being chided by Esme," Jasper observed, a knowing grin on his face.
Rosalie huffed beside of him. "She's become insufferable ever since she got this job at the library."
"I think she's just happy to do something that doesn't involve the Volturi anymore," Alice suggested, pulling out her own books.
"I'll tell you what's become insufferable," Emmett added. "These damn contacts. Freakin' annoying as hell."
Bella smirked at him. Along with Esme, Emmett, Rosalie, and Jasper had donned colored contact lens to mask their red eyes.
"That I'll agree with," Jasper sighed, to which Alice gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
"By the way, Bella," Rosalie said, a smile lighting her exquisite face. "Alice and I found the perfect side table to go in your apartment."
"Bloody hell," Edward murmured.
"Don't 'bloody hell' me, glitter boy!" Rosalie seethed, using the nickname that Bella often teased him with.
If Edward were still human, his face would have been the color of a cherry.
A snort erupted through Bella's nostrils as she began laughing hysterically. Soon, Alice began to giggle, and her laugh being as infectious as it was, spread around the table.
"Shhh!" came a resounding hiss from behind them.
"Esme alert," Emmett mumbled.
Still snickering quietly, the group set to work on their studies, all content with being together.
Bella remembered what it was like to sit at that very table alone ten years ago. But many things had happened in those ten years. After a tearful goodbye to her old suitemates, Jessica and Angela, Bella ended up withdrawing from her classes after their return from Salem. Though she would miss her two friends, she had also gained a family that she loved more than anything. She and Edward married soon after and the two of them spent several years just traveling around the world.
Edward still worried over Bella's safety ever since that fateful night in Salem's woods. He accepted her decision to not become an immortal, like him, though it was not without difficulty. She could sense his unease every time she caught a cold, or even just walking in crowds when his hand would slip into hers and draw her body flush against him. She was still resolute in her decision, but it never stopped him from asking her about it again.
"I know I told you that I was okay with it, but what happens if you are on the brink of death? Do you think that I would not follow you?" he had asked her one warm summer day, hidden beneath the shadows of their balcony overlooking the crystalline waters of Crete. "Would you at least consider the option of changing?"
She had sighed, exasperated over the topic, and finished off the remaining wine in her glass. "If that time comes, then maybe," she had hinted, raising a warning eyebrow in his direction. "But since Alice has not seen my untimely demise anytime soon, I won't worry about it."
True, Alice had not foreseen any unfortunate happenings in their futures, so with the possibility of Bella accepting his offer, Edward finally began to relax.
Eventually, the mysterious winters of Washington beckoned Bella back. The entire family came back together, deciding to live out another section of their lives. Bella was pleased to learn that Claire's shop was still open. She stopped by to visit her every so often, using her cover story of finally deciding to come back and finish her studies. Esme worked at the library while the rest of them attended classes, and Carlisle had become the lead surgeon at Pullman Regional Hospital. For a few years they would stay, and then eventually they would leave the state and continue on with the next adventure.
For now though, Bella was content with snuggling into her WSU sweater and her homemade scarf, to read about the lives of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett.
She thought eternity had started for her several hundred years ago, but as she caught Edward's gaze and his infamous crooked grin from across the table, she realized it was just the beginning.