AN: Thanks for the reviews guys! I'm so sorry for leaving you guys hanging for so long.
Things had been different ever since we had gotten back from California. The absense of Alice had forced me to buck up, and I allowed myself to walk through the halls of the school with my head held high. I think it took realizing that I was better and stronger than all these small-minded people to figure out that I didn't give a damn about what they thought of me.
There was always going to be people who would whisper behind their hands about our relationship with disapproval, and there was honestly nothing I could do to change that.
If they wanted to waste times bad-mouthing other's relationships, then fuck them.
Makenna, Alice's arch enemy, had latched onto me upon my return, and once I got past the bitchy exterior she was really nice. She was someone I could talk candidly and openly with about Edward since her situation with Charles was similar. Rumors about Alice's abrupt disappearance did surface, and I almost laughed at how accurate some of them were.
I hadn't seen as much of Edward as I would have liked since he had resigned from the hospital and was flying out to do interviews down in California. The day I got my acceptance from Berkley was one of the best days of my life. While I had originally wanted to get into Northwestern, that dream had been dashed with the rejection letter, but I was kind of glad in the end.
I had felt at home in California with the warmth and openness that had greeted me, and I could imagine me and Edward lounging on the beach and surfing on our days off. The only downfall was my freckles, but I could live with that.
Jasper had handed in his resignation at the school after having been offered a better job down in Texas. Last I heard, he was trying to convince Alice to go with him so that they could start over.
"Bella, are you ready?" Makenna asked, leaning closer to the mirror as she applied a coating of lip gloss on her lips. We were in the girl's bathroom at school, preparing for graduation.
"I guess," I murmured, pulling a face at the yellow gowns and caps we were forced to wear. "Couldn't the school colors be a little more...ya know."
She sighed. "I know, right. It's bad enough that they are just shapeless pieces of cloth, but add canary yellow and we are entering into new territory" she grumbled, smacking her lips together before slipping her lip gloss back into her bag.
"Is Chuck coming?" I asked, tucking some stray hairs behind my ear.
She nodded with a grin. "Yep. Thanks to you, he's wrapped around my little finger begging for me to forgive him. I think I'll put him out of his misery tonight...if you know what I'm talking about." She wiggled her eyebrows at me, and I couldn't help but laugh.
"Maybe orgasm will make you a little less of a bitch," I teased.
She clutched her heart, pretending to look offended. "I'm hurt, Swan. My feminine sensibilities have been shaken."
I snickered and turned away from the mirror. "Alright, Scarlet, let's get this over with," I told her.
"That's what she said," she muttered back, but followed me out of the bathroom's and into the gym.
Crowds of people were milling around, picking seats and chatting as we moved into a line in alphabetical order. I craned my neck to try and see Edward, but his familiar head of hair evaded me.
Once everyone was seated, the ceremony started, and we all took our turns getting up on stage and collecting our diplomas.
I finally spotted Edward when I went to collect mine. He, Jacob, Emmett, and Chuck were all sitting together in a group with Rosalie and Jake's sisters hollering and catcalling, drawing a lot of attention. I gave a shy wave and got off the makeshift stage. Eric Yorkie got up on stage since he was valedictorian, spewing shit about new beginnings and butterflies which I swore he stole from a movie.
Once the ceremony was officially over, I made a beeline for Edward, wrapping my arms around his neck and standing on tiptoes as I molded my lips to his. I didn't care that people were most probably staring at us, and by the way he drew me in closer to him, he didn't either.
"Hey, Ed, stop hogging the graduate," Emmett boomed. It had taken a while and a huge fight between him and Edward for Emmett to thaw and accept us, but as long as we kept the PDA to a minimum around him, he was fine.
I let out a squeak as Emmett pulled me into a bear hug, spinning me around. "Look at you, Little Bell, all grown up."
I rolled my eyes at him, batting his hand away as he tried to ruffle my hair, and turned to give everyone else hugs.
I was giddy, almost high, on the feeling of being free. We had already packed up the house, the "For Sale" sign sitting on the lawn. I couldn't say that I regretted closing this chapter of my life since I knew that there was a whole world out there to discover yet.
"You did good, Bella."
I spun around to see Alice standing behind me, heavily pregnant. "You're huge," I told her.
She smiled. "Yep, he's going to pop out any day now."
We shared a hug. " I thought you couldn't make it, today," I said.
She shrugged. "I decided to get my head out of my ass. You're my best friend and I should be here to support you. Plus, I've decided that once the baby is born, I'm going with Jasper to Texas. My baby deserves to have a family that isn't dysfunctional, and while that isn't something I can guarantee, he deserves to have two parents."
I smiled, thanking God for helping Alice grow up and face her responsibilities. "That's great, Ali. I'm sure everything will work out."
Edward wrapped his arms around my waist, nuzzling the skin behind my ear. "Guess who I just got off the phone with."
I looked up at him. "I have no idea. Who did you just get off the phone?"
"The lead practitioner at the private practice I interviewed at the other month. They want me."
"Oh my God, Edward, that's great!" I told him. "You're accepting the position, right?" I asked.
He nodded. "Yeah, its close to the apartment we picked out when we were down there the other week, and really family orientated. I think I'll really fit in there."
It seemed as though everything was sliding into place and I was thankful that we finally got our break. Edward looked over my head, his corners of his eyes tightened as he clenched his jaw.
I turned to see Renee standing a bit away, looking at me. I placed a hand on his chest, stopping him from moving toward her. "Let me do this," I told him, giving him a quick kiss before walking toward her.
"Renee," I acknowledged.
She gave me a curt nod. "Isabella."
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
Her eyes darted away from mine as she folded her arms across her chest, sighing. "I came to see my daughter graduate."
I snorted. "You lost the right to call me your daughter a long time ago,'" I informed her.
Her lips formed a tight line, her eyes still avoiding mine. "I was never meant to be a mother. You were a mistake that took my husband away from me."
"Bullshit," I told her. There was no way I was taking the blame for my father's death. He had died in the line of duty. "You, Renee, are a coward. I mean, you abused a helpless child. You're not just a bad mother, but you're a bad person. Leave me alone, and don't come within a mile radius of me otherwise I'll get a restraining order on you."
"No matter what happened in the past, Isabella, it doesn't change the fact that you are my daughter. Do you honestly think you can get rid of me that easily?"
I shook my head at her. "I don't give a fuck who you think you are, but my mother, Esme, died. You are nothing to me, and I refuse to let you even think for a second that you have any sort of hold on me so go back into whatever hole you crawled from and stay there. I doubt anyone is going to miss you."
With that I turned from my past, and headed toward my future with my boyfriend, away from the stifling little town of Forks, and into the world.
AN: I originally wanted to add more chapters, but writer's block really bit me in the ass. Happy Holidays all of you, and thanks for taking this journey with me. I will probably post a few outtakes so make sure you've put "Parental Guardian Outtakes" on alert.