Forevermore

Chapter 1

You Could Be My White Knight

BELLA

Silence at last. I looked at myself in the mirror and smiled a weak half smile. Yes, Bella, this is as good as it gets. I know it must just be last minute nerves, cold feet. Jacob Black is the man for me, it's been obvious since we were kids. Just ask my Dad Charlie or his Dad Billy. They both 'always knew it would end like this'.

I stood and turned so my back faced the mirror and looked at my reflection. Alice was right. Again.

The keyhole cut out in the back of my slim fitting white lace dress looked amazing, and yes, like she said, it gave the people watching me from behind something to look at. I wobbled a little on the dangerously high heels my best friend insisted I wear...'it's only one day, Bella, and it's the best day of your life, you need to look regal and elegant'...easy for her to say, she wears heels everyday and runs in them! I kid you not.

My dress hugs my curves and touches my body from top to bottom. The underlay is white satin, the overlay white Chantilly lace. I do look like a Princess.

My make-up, expertly applied by Rosalie Hale, looks amazing. Soft, subtle, barely there but it makes me look like I have actual color where there is none. My cheeks are softly blushed, my lips shocking in their redness, my eyes hooded in smoky blues and grays. My lashes are impossibly long and lush, and I smile despite my nerves.

I have only one worry today. That my very best friend in the entire universe won't make it. He travels, he is rarely home. He works as a war correspondent and that's why I am here marrying Jacob today. There is simply no way I can live and wait to hear if Edward is alive or dead when he enters war zones, eagerly, willingly. I can't live like that.

Edward is perfect in every single way. Looks, personality, build, style, soul.

All perfect.

He was the one I decided at age six I wanted to marry.

I was a precocious child, my Mom called me middle-aged, but I knew what I liked, and I like Edward.

Jake was something of a whiny child, always wanting all the attention, and his own way. I was forced to play with him on a daily basis as my Mom, Renee, ran the local Family Day Care, and Jake's Mom had died, so Billy was unable to work and be home at the same time for Jake, so he ended up my Mom's first paid charge.

Then Jessica's Mom started back at work, finally giving up hope there would be more babies for her after Jess, her first, and I cleverly managed to ensure she and Jake played together while I amused myself.

"Bella." whined Jake."Jess took my spade."

"Don't come any closer, I have a snake in my bucket." I warned.

Jake looked pale and burst into tears.

"Oh boohoo. Run to Renee, go cry to Mommy." I chided.

I hadn't bothered explaining it was a rubber snake, but then, he hadn't asked.

"Bella" called an irate Renee. She was watching Days of our Lives and had warned us all to play nicely in the sandbox for her 'sanity hour' break.

"Did you tell Jake you have a snake?"

"Yes ma'am." I answered proudly.

"Is it a real snake?" she asked.

"No Ma'am."

"Is it the rubber snake I told you I would put into the trashcan if you tried any more tricks with?"

"Yes Ma'am."

"Did you tell Jake it was a toy?"

"No ma'am."

"Why not, Missy?"

"I'm not a mind reader, I didn't know he wanted to know." I huffed.

"Okay, well, the snake goes in the bin, so would you like to put it there yourself, or shall I?"

I knew she hated the feel of it, which is why the trouble had started. I had snuck up behind her when she was laying on the couch, and dropped it onto her, and she had jumped up really fast and screamed.

That got me three slaps on my bottom, which never hurt anyway, after I rubbed it really hard for a while, and no dessert that night.

The next time, I was cleverer. I climbed onto an upturned bucket outside the downstairs bathroom window, and listened to my mother settle into a warm tub of water, and put a washcloth over her eyes.

I flicked the snake through the open window and ran like Hell.

Her screams echoed all over the neighborhood and I hurriedly bolted back to my Nan's house next door, and sat at the table, and grabbed the glass of milk I was meant to be drinking.

"Isabella Marie Swan. Come here right now, young lady."

Uh oh, the full name and the young lady, I was in big trouble.

Renee stood in a towelling robe that used to be white but was now aged and grubby.

Suds slid down her legs and onto the lawn.

Oh, a bubblebath. How fancy.

"I gather this is yours?' she asked.

"Yes Ma'am." I answered.

Never lie to Renee, that's one thing I knew better than to try...well, not an outright lie.

"Did you toss this in the downstairs bathroom window?"

"I was playing flips with it and it disappeared, out of my hand. I didn't know where it went."

She didn't believe me, but Nan immediately came and stood beside me.

"Now, Renee, the child didn't do it on purpose. Just calm down. Have a gin and tonic and go back to your bath."

Mom could only have her 'G&T' weekends, with the kids here weekdays and all.

She looked undecided, but Nan handed her the glass and she took it and headed inside.

"You might want to shut the window so no more snakes slither inside." called Nan, to my mother's retreating back.

That was my Second Warning.

One more and Snakey was binned.

I glared at Jake, who was in my mother's arms, sitting astride her hip as she pointed at the trashcan and I marched over and looked back to see if if she was still watching. Jake was blubbering loudly and she walked inside to get him a piece of candy, so I tossed my beloved snake under the house and clanged the metal bin lid down so she heard it from inside.

I marched back and crossed my arms and tapped a foot, waiting for Baby Jake to come back outside.

I would show him. Next time I would catch a real snake and put it in his bed.

I wondered how to catch snakes. Did you dig a hole and drop some bait in and wait until they crawled in? It could work.

I was digging and getting more dirt on myself than in the pile beside the hole when I heard my Mom talking in her 'special voice', the one she saved for visitors.

"As you can see, we have a spacious back yard and it's fully fenced for safety." she was saying. The lady beside her was gorgeous, like a movie star. She had two children, a boy who was taller than me and had a mop of copper hair, and a tiny dark haired girl, who looked like one of those dolls you get for a present at Christmas but your mother puts on a high shelf so you won't ruin it.

"Bella, come and meet Edward and Alice. They are going to be coming here every day while Mrs Cullen goes to work, and Edward will be in your class when school goes back."

I knew she longed for that day, when I would be safely bussed off to Forks Elementary and she only had the Good Baby Jake to mind. He was only four. Jess was in my class but she didn't like dirt or mud. Go figure.

I walked over, coming out from behind the long stems of flowers in the flower garden that hid my trap from prying adults, and stood before them, looking them over.

"Bella!" my mother hissed."How did you get so filthy? Honestly, this child of mine, she is the same challenge as a dozen toddlers." my embarrassed mother gabbed.

"I like to see children have fun. Now don't be thinking I will expect my two spotless clean at the end of the day. I will not object at all if they come home looking like Bella. You know how to have a good time, don't you dear?" she asked kindly.

I nodded.

She was okay.

Now, her kids.

Boy, hmm, tall, he can reach stuff I can't, he may be useful. Depends if he is a cry baby and runs to tattle to Renee.

Girl...I envied her size and prettiness, and her frock. It was white. I have never had a white dress. Renee says she would never even bother. I tend to be dressed in denim dungarees and tshirts. Renee says I am 'that kind of child.'

Whatever.

The mother went inside to sign the papers and the boy and girl approached and stood before me.

"Are you a tattle-tail?" I asked Edward.

"No." he replied, narrowing his eyes.

"Good." I answered and moved on to Alice.

"Do you like dirt?" I asked her.

She shook her head.

Okay, one for the Baby Team. She can play with Jess and Jake, and Edward can play with me.

Decided.

I showed the girl the Wendy House where Jess played with her frilly dressed dolls and stuffed toys and told her to stay and play with Jess.

Then I grabbed Edward's hand and dragged him down to the hole I had dug.

"I am making a snake trap."

He squatted down and smiled.

"What kind of snake are we catching?"

Oh yeah, he said 'we' and he didn't even ask why or tell me snakes were dangerous. I liked the kid.

"One that will bite Jake and make him dumb."

"I thought he was already pretty dumb, crying to your Mom about a toy snake." he answered, seriously.

"Yeah, Jake is a baby," I informed him.

"So, we need bait." Edward said and stood up, looking around the yard.

"What do snakes eat?" I wondered.

"Mice." he answered. "have you got any mice?"

I laughed.

"The old shed has mice all the time but Mom says I am not to tell anyone that. I am only telling you because you are on my team. Pinkie promise you never rat on me to Mom?"

He pinkie promised and we ran to the old wooden garden shed and opened the door. It was dark inside, but we were not babies so we went in and hunted for a mouse. One ran across my foot and Edward made a dive for it and caught it in his hands.

"One baby mouse. Just what we need." he said, with a grin.

"Edward, Alice, Mommy is going now. Come kiss me goodbye."

Edward rolled his eyes and handed me the mouse and I put it in my pocket and held it shut.

"Bella, say goodbye to Mrs Cullen." I followed him out.

"Goodbye Mrs Cullen. Have a nice day." I said with an innocent smile.

I hoped she was a quick kisser because the mouse was panicking and trying to escape from my pocket.

Edward stood in tippy-toe and kissed her dutifully, and came back and stood in front of my pocket, hiding it from adult eyes.

Alice kissed and hugged her Mom and went back into the Wendy House, and Mom showed Mrs Cullen out.

Edward and I ran back to the trap and tried to figure out how to keep the mouse from escaping.

He found an old jam jar and we dropped it in then turned it upside down on the ground and the mouse scratched at the glass.

"There, now the snake will see it and try to eat it and it won't be able to." Edward said and we

headed for the tire swings my Dad had hung from the apple tree that grew up right beside my window.

"That's my bedroom. I bet you can't climb the tree and get inside." I challenged him.

"I bet I could." he answered. swinging up onto the lowest branch and climbing up so fast I was impressed.

He leaned over and slid my window open and disappeared inside.

I climbed up behind him and showed him my cookie stash and we lay on my bed and ate three cookies each.

"Don't spoil your appetite." Edward said in a high pitched mother tone.

"You need room for all your yummy brocolli" I added, in an exact copy of my Mom's tone.

"Brocolli is not food, not for humans, maybe for rabbits." Edward said.

I gaped at him

The kid was perfect.

Liked snakes and dirt, climbed trees, hated brocolli and thought Jake was a baby and a dumb baby at that. What more could you want in a husband?

"Want to get married?' I asked him.

"No way. Dad said be a bachelor until you turn 30, son. I am six, I have 24 years to go."

"Okay, when you turn 30, want to marry me?"

"You'd have to kiss me." he said.

I sized him up, and sniffed. He smelt good, like dirt and mice. I guess if I have to kiss him to make him marry me, I just better do it.

I leaned over and kissed his cheek.

"Not like that. Like your dad kisses your Mom. Like this."

He stood in front of me and smooched his lips against mine.

I wiped my mouth with my hand and climbed out the window.

"Come on. Last one down has to wear the dress at the wedding."

"No way." he groaned and pushed past me and his foot hit that patch of moss I really should have warned him about and he fell to the ground with a thud.

I climbed down as quickly as I could and stood over him. His eyes were shut.

Great, I think I killed my husband. And he was not a bad kisser. I would miss him.

"Are you dead?" I asked as I nudged his body with my foot.

He opened his eyes and winked and jumped up, then groaned as his arm swung by his side in this weird way.

"Um Edward, I think maybe I broke you." I admitted.

He held his swinging arm to his chest with his other arm.

Renee appeared with Baby Jake still on her hip.

"What happened? Oh My God, Edward, you have only been here an hour. Whatever will your mother say?"

"She said she liked kids to have fun. He was having fun." I informed my mother.

"I might have known. Did you dare him to climb the apple tree?"

I shrugged. "I can't remember."

"Isabella, now I have to call your father and get him to take Edward to the hospital and have his arm set. You are in such trouble, Miss."

"It wasn't her fault. She told me not to climb the tree, I just did it anyway." Edward said.

Renee looked skeptical and put Jake down and knelt in front of Edward.

"You are very chivalrous, Edward. You are a typical white knight, but this young lady causes her own distress. Don't let her get you in trouble. Does your arm hurt?" she asked.

"Yeah, a bit."

I looked in his eyes, which were shiny but he didn't cry.

Good.

I hate cry babies.

"Your eyes are cool. Green like a tree frog."I told him.

"Bella, I think you need to go sit in your room and think about what happened here, Edward could have broken his neck and been killed."

I shrugged.

It was the chance you took when you were a white knight.

Dad came home and took Edward in the cruiser to the hospital and Edward came back hours later with a white cast on his arm. A man brought him back. A doctor in a white coat. So, I didn't know Doctors came to houses, we should have just told him to come here, I always wanted to see how they put a cast on. I looked at Edward's closely, no zip, no line where they shut his arm inside. It was a mystery.

"Dr Cullen, I am so sorry. I suppose your wife won't want the children to come back any more. I am so sorry. I was attending to Jacob, and this pair.."

I zoned her out.

"No, I want Edward to come back." I cried. "He is in my team."

"I'm sure Edward would have managed to break his arm even at home, Mrs Swan, it's not his first break and it won't be his last. I will be happy to bring them back tomorrow if you are happy to have them again? He will be in school again soon, maybe we will make it through the rest of the holidays with the rest of his bones intact, hey, Edward?"

Edward nodded, then turned and winked at me.

Yeah, not likely.

Dr Cullen got their bags and things, and walked back to his car.

"He's one of those kids." he confided to Mom and I grinned.

I was one of those kids, too.

Alice left with them, and I sat in the bath and washed away all the dirt, sadly. Then I realized there was plenty more out there, and I could put new dirt on my face tomorrow.

I was in my pink pajamas and fluffy slippers I detested but knew dad got a kick out of seeing me wearing, and was curled up on the couch when he got home.

"Daddy" I said, and ran and hugged his legs, before Renee got to start her litany of my wrong doings for today. He knew the worst one, I broke Edward.

"Bells, what am I going to do with you?" he said hugging me and shaking his head.

"Kiss me, cuddle me, take me home." I answered. This had been our mantra since I was a baby.

I climbed down and watched him remove the bullets from his service revolver, which was definitely out of bounds, and hung it up high.

I stood underneath and tried to estimate how tall Edward was and if he could reach it.

Maybe when his arm isn't broke any more.

I envied him so much, I always wanted a broke arm but never managed one.

I had tried lots of things but never dropping off the top of the apple tree.

I must thank Edward for showing me how it is done.

I lay in bed and kissed my Mom and Dad goodnight , having had the lecture about daring people to do dangerous things that left their arms broken, and they turned the light out and shut my door. I was almost asleep when I remembered the snake trap!

I slid my window open and climbed onto the top branch, panicked in case the mouse had run out of air. That jam jar was not very big. How much do mice breathe in one day?

My foot hit the same patch of slimey moss and I was spinning then the blackness took over.