November 1st, 2014.
Hi, everyone :- ) This story has been taken down to be reworked. It may take some time, so if it spikes your interest, please put it on alert : -)
To all the previous readers, thank you so, so much for your kind words and support. I`ll be back!
You`re welcome to e-mail me if you have any questions.
Chapter 1 BPOV
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF BELLA SWAN
I stirred gently in bed. The birds outside were already gossiping announcing another morning and I knew that my alarm would buzz soon. The red numbers on the digital clock read 6:56 which meant that I had four more minutes before my day began. The girls would awake any moment now, excited about another day in their new crèche. I turned the alarm off and slipped out of the warmth of the sheets. Hoping for a quick, uninterrupted shower I hurried to the bathroom, leaving the door ajar slightly, in case my little birdies decided to leap out from their cozy nests.
It was half past seven. I had showered, dressed and put some make up on and my daughters` bedroom was still quiet, so I began humming and making little sounds announcing the arrival of another day. Moments later I heard a couple of lazy yawns and pitter patter of little feet on the wooden floor.
"Mommy!" I was suddenly embraced by four arms, sloppy kisses on my cheeks, my shirt tugged on, my hair pulled, oh! the joys of motherhood. We rushed to the potty, brushed teeth and put on the clothes that Kate (the Angel Kate!) had laid out the previous night. Breakfast was a bit messy, I was going to tidy it up later. After putting fruit, yogurts and hot lunches, again prepared by Angel Kate, into the childrens` lunch bags and grabbing the coats, we were out the door.
After dropping the girls off I drove back home, cleaned up the kitchen and made a cup of coffee before having to rush again. I looked around at the stack of large carton boxes.
I really need to unpack the rest of our things; we moved in here three months ago for God`s sake! Bad Bella.
It used to be so much easier in Phoenix, but now it was time to move on. Coming back to the state of Washington was equally good and bad. Well, maybe not bad, but things had changed; I had changed and with the two birdies my whole life was different now. Although I had been to Seattle many times before, I had never lived here. For the last three months I had been becoming familiar with the streets, the stores, coffee shops and all the places where my two-year-old daughters could use the bathroom in emergencies. The challenging thing was that I didn`t have my mom with me anymore. Not that she was particularly maternal, but after Rachel and Sophie were born, she saved my sanity. Now, two years and four months later, it was time for Bella to step up and be a big girl.
Since Kate was collecting the girls from school, I didn`t need the car outside the office and decided to walk to work as it would only take ten minutes anyway. The morning breeze played with my hair. I wished a couple of my new neighbors a good day. Although I wasn`t entirely new to the town, I was starting my life all over again and I liked to walk to work when the weather was good, to clear my head and take in the new environment.
For as long as I could remember, I had enjoyed reading. Even for the teenage me, there wasn`t much weighing when it came to a night out with a bunch of buddies versus a mug of hot chocolate and a good book; I almost always stayed at home with the book. Maybe that`s why my mother told me numerous times that I was born thirty five years old and got older every year. If that`s true, then I was hitting sixty seven in less than two weeks. I laughed at the thought.
Newton Publishing was a welcoming place, I was lucky to have gotten that editor`s job. There was one girl on a maternity leave and two more going within the next couple of months, so I had been asked to take the full time position until the end of May next year. After that I could change and work part time, just like I had wanted initially. Good thing I could do a lot of work from home, in case the girls needed me or if Kate wasn't available to look after them. At the moment I was editing and reviewing some books for young readers about vampires and werewolves and it was fun.
At lunch break I decided to have a look around for that `dress to impress` that I had been thinking about for a while. Instead of going to the mall I opted for checking out the small places not far from the office; it was supposed to be a special and unique dress after all. I was determined to show everyone that I was doing well and that was going to take a lot out of me to convince my family, especially my mother. I thought that new attire for my event wouldn't hurt. I usually don't spend much time and money on clothes, I know what suits and fits me and I tend to stick with it. With two little girls running around me, comfort is what I need the most, but this was different. For the first time I was on my own with my daughters and I wished to try all I could to feel and look confident.
I walked along the streets and looked at the coffee shops and boutiques and one caught my attention. It was called simply, "Alice`s". Two dresses in the window were truly beautiful; the colors, the fabrics and the designs caught my attention and although I was looking for something black and not happy floral, I went in. A petite woman around my age was talking to a customer. She was slim, with big blue eyes and short-ish black hair kicked out in pretty much all the directions possible. She looked lovely in her floral dress and flat white shoes, clearly from the boutique, and she reminded me of a ballerina. The little store had an interesting feel to it, there were a lot of flowers around, real and those printed on fabrics. There was lace, silk, soft cotton and wool, mostly in pastel colors. The young woman herself looked like she was floating. I looked around and touched a couple of shawls, they were all original and each one was one of a kind.
"Hello!" The woman called to me when we were alone. She had a melodic, bell-like voice. I turned around and saw her whole face smiling.
"Hello. I have never been here before, but this is lovely," I said waving my hand around the place.
"Thank you very much."
"You have very original designs."
"I try my best," she said with appreciation.
"Oh, so you are actually –"
"Alice, yes. This is my little world. I studied design in London and I`m hoping to bring that English feel to Seattle."
"I can certainly feel it! I am actually looking for a little black dress, but the flowers caught my attention."
The place really brought to mind a picnic in an English countryside. Not that I`ve been to England but I was familiar with Jane Austen and that`s what England looked like in my mind.
"I have a couple of black dresses," Alice exclaimed joyfully, "Please follow me upstairs."
We went up and I saw two other women there. Upon seeing us, one of them excused herself and floated down the stairs to take care of the clients who had just entered. The other woman smiled politely and then disappeared through the adjacent door. Alice showed me three black cocktail dresses, each different, classy and beautiful. Beside them, on a small table was a catalogue with photos of some more black numbers.
"They are all gorgeous," I said honestly.
"Thank you. The girls here and I make them ourselves form the design to the last stitch. You can also choose one from the catalogue if you wish and it will be ready in about a week`s time."
"Oh, that would be wonderful," I didn't know what to look at, the dresses or the pictures in the catalogue. "I was thinking about a classic `pencil` one, but I don't want to feel like I`m at a business meeting."
Alice laughed briefly, her eyes crinkled, "I understand. It`s all about accessorizing if you ask me, but if I may, I think you have a beautiful figure and it would be a shame to hide it in a straight, angular shape. Are you planning on wearing anything over it?" She seemed to be examining me.
"I`m not sure yet. I have black peep toe heels with gem stones on them, they are very elegant and classy and I think that would be enough of sparkles. I haven't thought of what I would wear over the dress. It`s an outfit for a special occasion and I wouldn't like to have anything in my way at the restaurant while eating."
"Alright," Alice smiled, "I`m sorry for looking at you like that, but I think…" she tapped her foot on the floor and turned around, "I might have something… right here…"
She pulled a mannequin over to me. On it was a figure hugging dress, with a low but still modest dècolletè, and flowing gently from the waist to the knees. It was perfect.
"As I said, you have a lovely feminine figure and this would show off your neck and hips while hugging your waist closely. If you want something simple, you can put a thin chain around your neck and you`ll be ready to go."
"That sounds great," I admitted, thinking of my grandma Swan`s necklace hiding in my jewelry box at home.
I tried the dress on and Alice took a look at me. I stood up straight. The dress was elegant and I felt… like a million dollars. The only thing was it was a bit too wide around my hips.
Clearly Alice saw no problem with that, "The top part is perfect. I could fix the lower bit for… say… it`s just a small alteration…" she was thinking and speaking to herself. "…the day after tomorrow! Could you pop in for a fitting then?"
"I could, thank you. I really love it. I`ll bring my shoes to see how they go together," I was excited about clothes, weird.
"Great! Oh, excuse me, I better take this," she picked up the ringing phone and I disappeared in the fitting room to change back into my clothes. There was nobody else upstairs now and although I didn't mean to eavesdrop, I heard Alice`s phone conversation clearly.
"Oh, hello my favorite brother! Don't tell Emmett, though!" her laughter sounded like a song.
"Friday night?... Oh, are you working?... Well, how about brunch then?... Say, eleven?... Yes, so I`m back before the girls here have their lunch break… OK… Jasper is leaving tomorrow night, yes… Hugo`s fine, thank you, I think he misses his uncle, though… We should, absolutely, we`ll do something together at the weekend, how about that?... OK, Edward, Friday at eleven… Uhm, call me if anything changes, right?... Bye!
I left the room and saw Alice floating around an antique-looking desk and checking a notebook, "So, your alteration will be done for Friday," she said with a smile and after I nodded, she scribbled something on the paper.
We exchanged business cards with our names, work addresses and phone numbers if we needed to contact each other regarding the fitting. I left the boutique and went for a sandwich and coffee round the corner. It was a nice, sunny day with a delicate breeze blowing in my hair and it felt good. I liked Seattle. I used to think that it would be tough to get used to rain after a decade in hot, sunny Phoenix, but it hadn't been so bad, maybe because we moved at the beginning of June. Today was lovely and after lunch I went back to the office in a surprisingly good mood. I hadn't been overly stressed anyway, but something in the past hour calmed me down.
I entered the building with Victoria, the artistic designer. She must have been out for lunch, too.
"Hi, Bella, how are you?" she threw her red mane around.
"I`m great, thanks. How is James?"
"Marvelous! He`s perfect!" She exclaimed and winked at me.
When I joined the team a couple of months ago, Victoria decided to make me her new best friend. By the end of my first day I had heard all about her huge crush on a guy called James. For weeks she`d be telling me how amazing he was. Then one day she begged me to go on a double date with her, James and a friend of his. She had been friendly and I couldn't refuse her puppy eyes. I didn't know many people in town and thought that a chat and a little fun would be an interesting change.
The guy looked decent, handsome even. His name was Corin, nice name I thought. AT the restaurant we sat down and ordered our food. Victoria and James were into each other straight away, I don't really know why she needed me there in the first place. They were supposed to be at this early stage of a relationship, but looked like they were already going to eat each other and I just shook my head and blinked my eyes every time I saw another flirty smirk or heard a heavy sigh. Corin stared at me intensely, his eyes raked over me often. Had we been alone, I would have commented out loud, but my going on that date was a favor to Victoria and I didn't want to make a scene; the guy was only looking, I kept telling myself. Once I asked about his job and hobbies, there was no stopping him. He barely breathed; the words were spilling out of his mouth so fast.
Victoria and James left soon after dinner and I was ready to call it a day as well. Apart from the annoying verbal diarrhoea, Corin was a nice enough guy. I`d only had a chance to tell him about my job in editing, before he started listing his favorite books, but I thought maybe he was nervous and wanted to make a good first impression. We got a cab to my place and Corin said he would walk me to the door and then go home. After all the ogling he had subjected me to earlier on I had my doubts regarding his plans or hopes for the rest of the night. There was no way I was going to invite him in. While still in the cab he placed his hand on my knee. I grabbed my bag and plunked it on my lap, forcing him to move the hand away. I rummaged the bag for my keys and yawned.
"Oh, excuse me, but it`s been a long day. I just hope the little ones let me sleep in a bit in the morning."
"The little ones?" Corin`s eyebrows raised in surprise.
"My daughters," I informed him and was faced with horror on his handsome face.
"I didn't know you had kids."
Maybe I would have told you, had you given me a chance to speak! I thought to myself.
"I have. Two."
"Right," he stated coldly and I knew the night was over. He didn't ask about them, he just stopped talking all together. I could tell he felt awkward and I laughed inside. Poor guy was counting on a roll in the hay and he was disappointed. Naughty Bella. Needless to say, Corin didn't walk me to the door, he suddenly remembered he had something to do and threw a quick goodnight at me before I heard the car speed away.
I`d had almost three years of cock-blocking practice, I was an expert. Just throw into the conversation that you are a single parent and voila, whether you like the guy or not, he`s gone. I had met guys who on the first date were either so eager to be daddies that they would give me parental advice and teach me how to raise my children, or flee the scene as soon as they found out that I was a mom and romantic getaways every weekend were out of question.
(end of flashback)
Half an hour later I stuck some pages of the book I was working on into a folder and decided to finish the editing at home. It was still pleasant outside and I walked to the house, then called Kate to say that I would pick the girls up myself.
My little ones were surprised and delighted to see me. We went for a walk in the park and had ice cream. Sophie and Rachel found a ball in the boot of our car and we threw and kicked it around until we were exhausted. For a while we stuck our faces up to the sun and watched the clouds, guessing their shapes; then the girls giggled and rolled in the grass as I read a couple of pages of the vampires and werewolves book.
"Hi there!" I heard from behind us.
I turned my head to find the source of the voice. "Oh, hi Maggie, how are you?"
Maggie was our next door neighbors` daughter. Siobhan and Liam were an Irish couple who moved to Seattle when Maggie, now seventeen, was small. They were a breath of fresh air, at hearts ten years younger, not older, than me. All three of them had a strong Irish accent, were full of jokes and always told you like it was. I liked them. They would share their last bite of bread with a stranger and Maggie was a testament to her parents. She babysat my little monkeys sometimes and they adored her, she was funny and exuberant just like the two of them.
She stopped by for a minute with her school friend. Everybody seemed to have been taking advantage of the weather, the park was full of people walking, jogging and picnicking.
My daughters and I walked to the car a while later. We were getting hungry.
I drove home slowly. Just round the corner from our street I stopped at the red lights. A young couple was crossing the road in front of my car. They were holding hands and stealing pecks from each other. Then suddenly they stopped altogether right in the middle of the crossing, the boy pulled the girl in closely and their lips locked passionately. I watched them amused as they didn't care about the world. A moment later the boy noticed me and waved at me sheepishly, but with a blissful glow on his face. I waved back and smiled. They walked on and I continued on my way home.
"What did they do, Mommy?" Rachel asked.
"They kissed," I explained simply.
"Oh," she sighed. "Why?"
"Probably because they love each other, baby. I kiss you as well, don't I?"
"It`s because I love you and Sophie very much."
A few minutes later I opened the door and two little people whooshed through from behind me. They ran to the bathroom to wash hands and then to the kitchen to see Kate. Kate was a tall brunette, a couple of years younger than me and doing her last year of business studies. She needed a part time job and I responded to her add in the paper just two days after moving to Seattle. She collected Rachel and Sophie from school and did some housekeeping before I got back from work. She was very easy going and the girls loved her, often I would find all three of them in the kitchen cooking together or over a large piece of paper on the dining room floor painting with their hands, grinning from ear to ear.
"Hi!" She called to the three of us.
"Hi, Kate, how are things?" I asked putting the kids` school lunchboxes away.
"Things are good. I have done some cooking for you, there`s chicken casserole and lots of vegetable sauce for pasta. I`ve left some out for tonight and I`ll freeze the rest. Are you hungry?"
"Starving!" I let out, then I looked at the counter tops full of deliciously looking food. "Kate, we could feed a small army here. When did you have time to do it, we`ve only been out for like, three hours."
"Three hours is plenty. By the way, I have changed all of your bed sheets as well. It`s so beautiful outside, I reckoned the laundry would dry nicely out in the fresh air."
"I was going to change the bed sheets tonight. Thank you, Kate, I don't know what I would do without you."
"Ah, you know what they say `the same, but with someone else`", she laughed.
I thought that after all the rolling around in the grass the children needed a nice wash, so I chased them into the bathroom. They were tired and we settled for a quick shower, then dried, found fresh pajamas and went back to the kitchen to have some chicken with rice and veggies. Kate stayed with us and we talked about our day.
When we were alone, the girls wanted to say goodnight to Grandma Renèe and Grandpa Phil, so I called my mom in Phoenix. After fifteen minutes of my kids giggling, singing and joking on the phone I finally had a chance to speak to Renèe.
"Bella, sweetheart, I hear the girls are in great form. And how are you?"
"I`m great Mom, thank you. I still like the job, the house is a home now and we are healthy and happy. I`m glad that the children went to the summer camp in school because they got to meet their teachers before the term started. They love it. Kate is amazing, she does so much more than I had expected, I mean the cooking, cleaning and minding Sophie and Rachel. I`ve been really lucky."
"That`s good, baby. We miss you here, you know? I can`t wait till your birthday, it`s gonna be wonderful! I bet I won`t recognize my granddaughters."
"It won`t be that bad, Mom," I laughed.
"Are you happy, Bella?" She asked me, all joking in her voice gone, "Have you met anyone?"
Here we go again.
"Yes, I`m happy, no, I haven't met anyone. Mom, please, we have talked about it so many times -"
"I know, but I want the best for you, sweetie," she sounded worried and determined at once.
"Mom, a woman can be happy without a man, you know that, you had been alone for fourteen years before you met Phil!"
"OK, I won`t push you. You are much more mature and independent than I will ever be, Bella. I`m very proud of you and I love you."
"I love you too, Mom. I know you worry and I know you want me to be happy, but I am turning thirty two years old in a week and a half and I need to be taken just as I am. Please, let`s not turn our calls into some broken records. I am getting a fresh start. You know what men say about women and relationships, `why would I buy a cow if I just want some milk`? Well, I learned a new one about women`s attitude toward men, `why would I buy a pig if I only want one sausage!` I can get a guy and sleep with him and feel `like a woman`, but it`s not about that and you know it."
"I know, baby, I know."
"If it ever comes, I will recognize it, Mom, believe me."
"I love you," Renèe stated emotionally.
My mom and dad met when they were teenagers. They got married right after high school and soon I was on the way. Charlie was a typical small town boy, but Renee wanted to see at least a bit of America, if not the world. She was hare-brained, eccentric, creative and bubbly. When they were dating it was great, but when marriage and a baby came to play, my mom was suffocating and eventually left Charlie when I was nine months old. My Dad stayed in Forks and became chief of police there, while Mom, a preschool teacher, raised me on her own in Phoenix. I would visit my dad in Forks every summer and every time I saw him I thought that he never really got over my mom; pictures of her were still around the house. He was alone all those years, just like Renee was alone in Phoenix. At last, when I was fifteen, Mom met Phil, a baseball player in a minor league. They married a year later. Phil traveled a lot and Renèe was torn between wanting to stay home with me and going on the road with her husband. We discussed it numerous times and I decided that I would move back to Forks and stay with my dad, in theory just until Mom and Phil decided on a new, steady address. I was going to go to college anyway though, so it didn't make a difference to me anymore whether Mom was near me or not. The beginnings in Forks were challenging, from the weather to my dad`s quietness, but I realized that I was very much like Charlie. Mom was always on the go, coming home from work and then running to yoga, cooking classes, Italian lessons…
Charlie plunked himself in front of the television every night, put on a sports channel and was as happy as Larry. I, for a change, could stay in my room all day long with books. I read classics and contemporary literature, poetry, kids` books, whatever I could get. And I wrote my own stories, too. There was no question as to what I wanted to study; English literature was the obvious choice for me. I left for university and some time later I found that Charlie was seeing Sue, a single mother of two teenagers. Sue used to be married to one of my dad`s friends, Harry. After Harry`s fatal heart attack my dad visited Sue to see how she was coping after her husband`s death. One thing led to another and some time later when I came to see Charlie at Christmas, Sue was well settled in my father`s life, house, bed… I remembered Sue from my childhood and I was delighted for my dad. He seemed content and smiley. Meanwhile Mom and Phil traveled around a bit, but in the end Phil got a coaching job in Phoenix, so they went back and stayed there very happily.
I followed the twins upstairs to their bedroom. They squeezed themselves in Rachel`s bed and we read one of their favorite stories.
"Mommy, is Grandma coming soon?" Sophie`s sleepy voice was hopeful.
"Yes, she is. Remember, Mommy`s birthday is coming soon and we are going to have a party?" I brushed an unruly strand of hair away from her face.
Rachel popped her thumb out of her mouth, "And Grandpa Phil?"
"Grandpa Phil is coming too, of course. And Grandpa Charlie and Sue… "
"That`s a lot of people, Mommy!" Sophie called out and chuckled.
I chuckled back, "I know! I think we are very lucky girls, so many people love us, don't you think?"
"Yeah," Sophie agreed.
"You know what, Mommy went to buy a new dress for the party today –"
"Can I see it?!" Rachel was excited.
"Well, it was a little too big, so the lady is going to fix it and I will show it to you in a couple of days, OK?" I was still playing with Sophie`s hair.
I suddenly remembered. After I told Victoria about Alice`s boutique, she told me that Alice had a small section of children`s clothes and I should ask her about it. I hadn't seen any outfits for kids, but then again, I was busy with the fitting. I`ll go to `Alice`s` again tomorrow and check.
"You know what, angel, it`s a very special occasion, Mommy`s birthday and the new job and our new home and your new school… I think we should get you two new dresses as well!"
"Beautiful Mommy, Sophie and Chichi!" Sophie exclaimed.
I lowered my voice and squinted my eyes, "I think we look beautiful every day, but you`re right, we`ll be extra gorgeous on Mommy`s birthday!"
And my family and friends will see that we are doing great, that I can manage perfectly well on my own. They will see that I`m happy and content and not crying somewhere in the corner. I will wear the fucking Prada heels that I spent ridiculous money on and I will hold my head high!
Sophie climbed into her bed and I kissed her forehead, then her cheeks, her chin and the nose; that was our routine. She giggled as usually and I pressed my lips to her forehead again.
"I love you, my sweetie pie. Sleep well."
"Good night, Mommy."
I came back to Rachel`s bed, "Good night, my angel." I repeated the kissing game, the forehead, left cheek, right cheek, chin, nose and the forehead again.
"Nightie night!" She laughed. I smiled and looked into her beautiful eyes, like her father`s, the father she will never know…
AN: Let me know what you think…
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