I don't own Twilight. I do own this plot.
I'd like to say my divorce was a shock. That it was in no way my fault and I was the victim of some hideous mistreatment by my husband. The truth, though, is that sometimes love just fades away. Sometimes, the love you thought would carry you through your life together really just isn't enough.
I had, at one point, loved Edward Cullen with everything inside me. He was my high school sweetheart. He miraculously talked me into marrying him at the crazy young age of eighteen. We went off to college together and when things got tough, financially, I took a job as a waitress to help support us. After he completed med school, I decided to finish college, but truly didn't know what I wanted to do. I decided to major in my best subject, English. After graduation, I was offered a teaching position. It wasn't really something I loved, but it payed the bills.
Over the years, we spent less and less time connecting. When we were home together, we were still separate. He'd play the piano or watch movies while I read or cooked. Our conversations became more generic until we were barely polite. We had sex so seldom it was impossible to recall how long ago it had actually been. Our relationship was dying.
Neither of us made a move to correct or end our marriage, however. We both just existed. Until the day Tanya Denali breezed into our world. She was a new surgeon to the area and, really, she and Edward just clicked. I chose to believe him when he swore that they hadn't been physical, but he couldn't deny his growing attraction to her. He was falling in love and I was, shockingly, almost happy for him. He deserved to be loved in a way I simply couldn't anymore.
So, after fourteen years of marriage, I was moving on. I asked for a divorce, packed my bags, and temporarily moved in with my dad back in Forks. My dad was amazing about the entire situation. He and his girlfriend, Sue, made sure I was comfortable and they kept me busy. Even so, I felt like an intruder. I was thirty-two years old, living in my purple childhood bedroom.
I decided to get off my ass and do something. I filled out applications, securing a job at Forks High School for the following school year. I called a real estate agency and began the search for my new house. Edward and I sold our home when we divorced and, thankfully, I had a hefty sum of money to help me get back on my feet as soon as possible.
I looked at so many houses. I really had a hard time finding just what I was looking for and I just wasn't willing to settle. Finally my very patient, very sweet real estate agent and newest friend, Angela, called me with some news.
"Bella, it's Angela. Call me as soon as you get this message. I think I have something you'll want to see."
I called her back as soon as I got the message and she instructed me to a house that was off the beaten path a bit. She gave me directions, and after explaining to me that you really couldn't see the house from the street, she decided to come pick me up, instead.
She was beaming as I climbed into her sleek car. "I'm really excited about this, Bella. It needs a little work, but it's so charming. The little architectural details throughout the house are going to blow your mind." I smiled at her enthusiasm, but I wasn't really interested in a fixer-upper and I told her so.
"Just keep an open mind. That's all I ask," she said with a small grin. We pulled into the very hidden, very long driveway. It seemed to wind forever before opening to a lovely cleared yard. "This house has three acres. It has a stocked fishing pond, fruit trees, a lovely fenced garden, and the most amazing porches," Angela gushed as we drove up to the house.
It was beautiful. My eyes were glued to the house. It was gray and graceful, with a wraparound porch and lots of windows with the sweetest window boxes. I fell in love before I left the car.
As I walked through the house, I was able to look past all the little things that were in need of repair.
All I could see were the things I loved: the window seat in the bedroom, the claw-foot tub in the master bathroom, the beautiful hardwood floors. The kitchen was in need of a renovation, but I saw so much potential in the butcher block island and the farmhouse sink. I wanted this house. I wanted it so much, my belly ached for it.
We walked out the back door from the kitchen and if there had been any doubt in my mind before, it was completely erased. The back porch was large and screened in and it overlooked the loveliest pond with a small fishing pier.
By the time we had walked the property and I walked though the house one more time, I was ready to make an offer. Angela had the paperwork with her and we sat right at the island and filled it all out. "I should know something before the weekend," she promised.
As she drove me home, I asked her if she knew any handymen. I figured I would need to hire someone to help me with the repairs around the house. Luckily, they all seemed to be cosmetic, so hopefully they wouldn't be too much trouble.
Angela hesitated for a second and let out a small breath in a quick puff. "I do, actually. He's friends with Ben from college and he's just moved to the area. I'll give you his number after we hear back from the seller."
I nodded and settled back in my seat, daydreaming about how the house would look after I renovated and decorated it. I sent up a small prayer that my offer would be accepted, but somehow I knew it would.
Angela called me the very next day with good news. My offer had indeed been accepted and they wanted to close as soon as possible, hopefully before the month was out, since I was paying cash. They also were willing to give me the keys to the house early so I could get started making it livable. I was so excited, I did a little dance right in the middle of my dad's kitchen.
I wanted to tell my dad and Sue over dinner that evening. I went to the market and picked up everything I needed for a celebration meal and hurried home to cook. I decided on broiled salmon with mango salsa over angel hair pasta and a salad of mixed greens, strawberries, blueberries walnuts, and poppy seed dressing. Since it was a celebration, I bought plenty of wine for me and Sue and beer for my dad.
When Sue got home, I was dancing around to the radio and just starting the water for the pasta. She looked at me and broke into a huge grin. "You got the house, didn't you?" I nodded and squealed like a little girl. She pulled me into a huge hug and we both danced around the kitchen, laughing and being silly. My dad's loud chuckle startled us and we both gave him our most innocent faces.
"What's going on? Did you already find out about the house?" he asked, still smiling.
"I did! And, I'm making you guys dinner to celebrate. Sue, there's wine. I got you a bottle of Chardonnay, and it's in the fridge. Dad, there's beer in there, too," I said, pouring myself another glass of Pinot Noir. I shooed them into the living room with the promise of dinner in ten minutes. I slipped the salmon into the oven to broil and tossed the salad. I drained the pasta, pulled the mango salsa out of the fridge. I grabbed the salmon and called everyone to the table.
We enjoyed our meal together, talking about my plans for the house and I teased them about being happy to have me out of the house. I noticed the look they shared and the way my dad's ears turned red on top, though I pretended not to. It would be good for all of us when I moved out.
After supper, my dad went to watch some true-crime show, while Sue helped me clean. She and I made short work of the dishes and then we sat at the small table with our wine. She grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and helped me make a list of things I wanted to talk about with the handyman. I called Angela while she was writing and got the number of the guy she and Ben knew. I decided to go ahead and call him, since it was still pretty early.
A deep voice, full of whiskey and a touch of Southern twang, answered the phone.
"Hi, may I speak to Jasper Whitlock, please?"
"This is he. Who's callin'?," came the reply and I smiled a bit at the lazy vowels and the voice that made me imagine dirty sex, Southern Comfort, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I think I actually blushed.
"This is Bella Swan. Angela Cheney gave me your number. I just bought a house that needs a lot of cosmetic work and she said you could help?"
"Um, sure. When are you wanting to get started?" he asked.
"As soon as possible. I'm going to pick up the key tomorrow, so truly any time is great with me," I answered in a rush, so excited to have someone who was able to help me.
"How about Friday morning?" he suggested. I opened my mouth to agree when I heard a great crash from his line, followed by loud crying. My eyes grew wide as he muttered an oath under his breath. "Excuse me a minute," he said in a rush and I could hear him speaking to someone. It was soothing; almost like he was singing. Things got quiet and I heard him pick up the phone.
"I'm so sorry about that. I was saying, how about Friday? Around nine?"
"Yeah, that sounds great." I gave him directions to the house and my phone number in case anything came up. I heard another loud bang in the background. "Is everything okay?" I couldn't help but ask.
"Yeah, thanks. I'll see you Friday." Before I could reply, the call disconnected.
I shrugged it off, assuming he had kids.
"Alright Bella. I have the list of rooms you want to paint, here," Sue said, handing me a piece of paper. "The list of things to be mended, here," another piece of paper slid across the table. "Here's a list of furniture you have and the rooms the existing pieces will go into," I laughed, taking another sheet. "And, here's a list of rooms you'll need to figure out furniture for: should we make a list room by room of furniture you'll need to pick out?" she asked, her eyes growing wide with excitement.
I doubled over laughing, while Sue furrowed her brow. "What? I'm trying to be helpful," she said indignantly, tearing another sheet of paper from the notebook to start her list. I kissed her on the cheek and told her I loved her and walked out onto the porch. I enjoyed the slight breeze as I sat on the swing, my legs tucked beneath me. After a while Charlie joined me.
We sat quietly, just enjoying the fresh air and the quiet together. This was what I loved most about my dad. It had been just the two of us since I was born and it was wonderful that we could just enjoy the other's company without filling the silence. I leaned my head against my daddy's shoulder and breathed in his scent: Old Spice, peppermint, and cigarette smoke. It was such a comfort, I found myself drifting off.
The slam of the screen door woke me up and I grinned bashfully at my dad, wiping the drool off his shirt with the palm of my hand. "Sorry, Dad," I grimaced. He just smiled and pulled me closer, kissing the top of my head.
"No problem, Kiddo," he said quietly.
"I didn't mean to wake you up, Bella!" Sue said, apologetically. "I finished the room-by-room furniture list and I was going to start one for the outside, but I don't know what all you want to do.
I smiled gently. "Don't worry about that one. I'll take care of it. Thanks so much for all your help," I said, sincerely. She smiled back at me and assured me that she enjoyed herself.
I stood and stretched and excused myself for bed. After brushing my teeth and washing my face, I crawled into my purple bed, between my low thread count sheets. I sighed, completely content as I drifted to sleep.
The week flew by. I picked up the key the following day, and took my dad and Sue to the house to show them around. They both loved it, and Sue was happy as a clam taking notes and making lists while my dad shook his head and smiled indulgently at his love.
I spent the rest of the week cleaning. The house smelled so strongly of cleaners, it stung my nose. My dad bought me a swing, and he'd already installed it on the front porch, and I sat there Thursday evening, just enjoying my surroundings. It was so quiet and so dark, but I wasn't afraid. It was peaceful instead of eerie and I loved that I could see the stars.
Friday morning, I was up with the sun. I ate breakfast quickly and headed over to the house. I decided to trim some of the wild bushes while I waited for the handyman. Two hours, several gallons of sweat, and a couple of actual tears later, I heard the sound of a truck coming down the driveway. I put the hedge clippers in the shed, thankful for the interruption. I was heading straight for a tantrum and I took a deep breath to calm my frustration. Apparently, yard work is hard. It was something I had never done, and I had to admit I hated everything about it.
I walked out of the shed and as I turned to shut the door behind me, I backed right into a body. I jumped and shrieked, cursing like a sailor. I ducked my head in my embarrassment, shaking my head and muttering as I turned to meet Mr. Whitlock. He gripped my shoulders lightly to help me balance and I clenched my eyes shut for a brief second, afraid he was going to think I was an utter moron. When I opened them, I found myself staring at an angel.
He was wearing a pair of worn jeans that hung low around his hips. His plain white t-shirt fit him just so, snug at the shoulders and hitting his hips at the perfect length. His arms were tan and strong, his neck was long and his jaw was sharp. His eyes were dark, but blue, and his hair was a disheveled, curly halo. I tore my gaze from him and stared at our feet, which were much too close together. I took one step back and cleared my throat. "Sorry about that," I mumbled. I looked back at his face and noticed the line between his eyebrows and the firm set of his mouth. "I'm Bella Swan." I stuck my hand out in greeting.
He hesitated, eying my hand for a moment before grasping it firmly in his own. "Jasper Whitlock," he nodded. I barely heard him, as I was focused on the warmth of his hand, and the scratchiness of his calloused palm against my own. I turned back around and locked the shed, bracing myself before facing him again. This wasn't going to work if I couldn't stop ogling him. I gave myself a pep talk and turned my gaze back to him, meeting his eyes.
"Let's get started," I said, keeping my voice brisk and detached. I walked towards the house quickly, not checking to see if he would follow.