A/N- This was originally written for Brandy a.k.a. littlemissb for the FGB Eclipse edition. Thank you so much BB for being a great friend! A big thank you to her for letting me use the piece for the Fandom For Preemies as well. If you're not familiar with the title, it's based on the song, The House that Built Me by Miranda Lambert. Also, my amazing beta, Katydid2363 who put up with me throwing three o/s's at her at one time. I owe her big time!
Stephenie Meyer owns the characters.
The House that Built Me
It had been fifteen years since I had traveled these streets. Everything and nothing looked the same. Coming back to these parts was not an option. I had to. Somewhere in those fifteen years I had forgotten who I was, where I came from, and where I started and I needed to be reminded that once upon a time I wasn't the biggest thing to grace the music industry. Once upon a time I was just Bella. The hometown girl from Forks, Washington.
These days I go by Isabella, a name I had insisted people not call me while growing up. It's funny how fame and money can change a person's outlook. Long gone were the days of Bella Swan. I needed to find her again before I lost everything.
I drove the expensive Lexus down the residential street until I reached the house. It looked the same as I remembered. A fresh coat of paint adorned the siding and a colorful flower bed aligned the house. My parents would have been proud to see it like this. A part of me was scared that I would find it run down. Its memories, my memories, desecrated.
I didn't pull into the driveway immediately. Instead, I sat in the car and admired the outside. The blood, sweat, and tears my daddy had poured into building this house himself. It was so long ago yet sitting here in the car, it felt like just yesterday as I remembered my mom scanning magazine after magazine for ideas for her dream house. It was supposed to be the house she and daddy grew old in. Instead, after I left home and daddy retired from the police department, they moved to Florida.
I looked up at the peak of the house where a single window sat. My old room. I smiled remembering all the nights I had stayed up doing homework and learning to play the guitar. It was in that very room that I began working towards something that would ultimately change the rest of my life.
The live oak to the right of the house brought a tear to my eye. I wasn't one for pets now. My lifestyle didn't accommodate the right kind of life for a dog or cat and I refused to be one of those girls that carried around a piss poor excuse for an animal in a hot pink carry case. No, the kind of dog that suited me wouldn't be able to be carried around, if anything, that kind of dog would carry you.
I stared at the tree knowing what was buried underneath it. I was fifteen when he died and he had been my best friend since I was three. Daddy said it was just old age that got him. I can still remember the day we buried him out there. It was an unusual sunny day and the irony of that didn't escape me then. That was when he was his happiest. The seldom days we had that were bright and sunny. On those days, you would have thought he just a pup. He'd run laps around the house and around me as I played catch out in the yard with him. I wiped a tear that had trailed down my cheek as I reflected on just how much I missed him. He had been one hell of a dog.
I hadn't noticed it while I was deep in my memories but hanging from one of the stronger limbs of the tree was a baby swing. I assumed that whoever lived in the house now must have a child. The more I took in the new surroundings, the more it made sense to me. A mini van was in the driveway and a basketball goal was on the edge of the driveway. Most likely, a young family.
I climbed out of the car, pulling my sunshades tight against my face. Tentatively, I walked up the steps to the front door. I knocked softly, waiting for someone to answer. I turned my back, facing the opposite side of the street when a set of hand prints, cemented in the steps caught my eye. I bent down and placed my hands on top of the small prints that were left behind. My hands were much bigger that those in the steps. Then again, I wasn't five anymore. I remembered when my parents had me do this. It was the "official" greeting people would see as they walked up to our front door. Mama made a big to do about it as soon as the house was complete. She wanted something to look back on years from now when she and daddy were old and rocking away in their rocking chairs. She wanted her future grandkids to be able to see the small hand prints of their own mama one day.
Just as I was admiring the tiny hands in the steps, the door opened. I turned to face the owner of the house. A petite brunette stood eyeing me. She had to be about my age from the looks of it. Her hair was cropped short against her head and she wore a frilly sun dress underneath an equally charming apron. I smiled and straightened my stance.
"Hello," I said, timidly.
"Hello," she replied back. "Can I help you with something?"
I began to slide my sunglasses off of my face. They were barely past the bridge of my nose before she gasped. I looked up startled by her reaction. Her tiny hands were cupping her mouth.
"You're Isabella! The Isabella!" she exclaimed.
"Bella," I corrected her. "It's just Bella." I felt silly correcting her like that when for years now I had not gone by that name. Maybe admitting to a total stranger who I was, who I really was, would be the first step in admitting it to myself.
She cocked her head to the side and frowned. "That's funny. Those handprints there in the steps," she said pointing to the exact location I had just been remembering, "have the name Bella underneath them."
I smiled and nodded. "That's because they're my handprints."
She looked at me not understanding. I decided to further explain the circumstances to her. "This is the house I grew up in."
Her tiny mouth formed a perfect O as my admission left my mouth. "I had no idea. Well, Bella, what can I do for you?"
"I was kind of wondering if maybe you wouldn't mind if I came in and walked around? I understand that it seems a little odd and you're in the right to tell me no but I was just in the area and felt the need to stop by."
She held out her hand and smiled. "I'm Alice. Please," she said, opening the door a little further, "come in."
I took her hand and politely shook it. "Alice it's very nice to meet you. I promise I won't take up too much of your time."
"Nonsense. I understand the desire to come back home and see where it all started. Can I get you something to drink?"
"No," I answered, looking around the living room and taking in all the changes that had been made. "I won't be long and I hate to inconvenience you any."
"You're no trouble. Make yourself at home, I'll be just a minute."
Alice scampered out of the room towards the living room. I took that opportunity to refamiliarize myself with the room that held so many family memories for me. Above the fireplace, a flat screen TV was mounted. I could only imagine if my parents still lived here that my dad would have had one in that exact spot. I ran my hands along the length of the solid wood mantle. I recalled my dad carving and staining this with his two bare hands. He was so proud the day he hung it up and mama was so excited to finally be able to proudly display her family photos. Now, instead of my parents wedding picture, a family picture of the three of us at Disneyland, or my senior graduation picture, there were pictures of the young family that lived here now. A wedding picture of Alice and her husband, a family picture of the two of them and their daughter, and a cute picture of just their daughter in the most adorable pink tutu. I smiled as I ran my fingers over the edge of the frame.
"She's the light of our lives." Alice said, making me jump.
"She's beautiful. What's her name?" I asked, turning to face her.
"Ryleigh. She's got my grace and charm and her daddy's smile and bright blue eyes. She should be up from her nap soon."
"How old is she?"
"Just turned four and a handful," Alice said with a laugh.
We were both silent for a moment while I took in the rest of my surroundings. I could see the kitchen from where I stood in the living room and I wanted to ask Alice if she didn't mind if I took a peek.
"Would you like to walk around?" she asked as if reading my mind.
"If it's not too much to ask, I'd love to." I admitted.
"Please, go right ahead." Out of no where a tiny cry was heard upstairs. Alice looked up the staircase and smiled. "She's up. I better go and get her."
I nodded and waited until she was up the staircase before I made my way to the kitchen. As soon as I entered I was assaulted with a million different memories. My mother sitting at the kitchen table rolling out dough for cookies. The family dinners that occurred nightly. It was dinner time when we talked about our day, daddy always called it our family down time. I walked to the sink and was happy to see that it was the same sink my mama had picked out. The rest of the kitchen seemed fairly modern but the sink was the same. A simple white, apron front farmhouse sink. I ran my hand across the lip that stuck out and smiled remembering how daddy would put all of the fish he had caught from his fishing trips in the sink. Mama would get so angry when she'd walk into the kitchen and see a sink full of fish. I laughed out loud remembering all of their futile arguments. Somehow, they always seemed to make up in no time.
I imagined at some point, my parents would have modernized the house. Instead of the old almond colored appliances, stainless steel now adorned the surroundings. I smiled as I looked over the colorful artwork that was hung from magnets.
I heard footsteps descending from the stairs. I turned around to see Alice walking into the kitchen with the prettiest little girl I had ever seen.
"Ryleigh, can you say hello to our guest. This is Bella."
I walked to the little girl and stuck out my hand. "Miss Ryleigh, it's nice to meet you."
She buried her head into her momma's chest but peeked at me through her long dark eyelashes from time to time.
"Give her a minute," Alice said. "Before long she'll be talking your head off."
I smiled at Alice. If I had remained home instead of pursing my dreams, I felt like she would have been the type of girl I would have befriended.
"Bella, why don't you have a seat? I was going to make Ry a snack."
"Thanks Alice. You're being awfully kind to me."
"I don't know what your situation is," Alice said shuffling through the cupboards, "but everyone needs a little closure. I'm assuming that's why you came back here?"
"You could say that."
"You want to talk about it?" she asked, setting a few cookies in front of Ryleigh with a glass of milk.
I took a deep breath and exhaled just as loudly. "You ever feel like you do things on a day to day basis for everyone around you but never yourself?"
"Sweetie," she said sitting across the table from me. "I'm the mother of a toddler and the wife of a man who expects me to throw dinner parties for his clients. I know all too well what that feels like."
"I just feel so lost, Alice. I mean, when I started singing it was all I ever wanted. I wanted to leave this town and make something of myself. I wanted to show Forks and every town around it that I was better than them."
"Do you think you did that?" she asked, sipping her tea.
"I don't know. In the beginning maybe," I shrugged. "Over time it all just got complicated. It never became what I wanted. It became what the studio wanted. What the fans wanted. What about what I want?" I asked her.
"What do you want, Bella?"
I quietly laughed to myself. "That's just it. I want to go back to being Bella. I'm not Isabella. I never was. You know it's funny. You never realize how good you have things until you think you get everything you've ever wanted. Then you realize that all you ever wanted was right in front of you the whole time."
We were quiet for a moment, mulling over my musings. "Alice, I've taken up too much of your time. I should probably go. I just wanted to stop by and take a few memories with me."
"Bella," she reached across the table to pat my hand. "You don't have to run off. Why don't you look around. Ryleigh and I have to start dinner. You could stay if you'd like."
"That's sweet of you but I don't think I could."
"You don't think you could or you don't think you should?" I didn't say anything, instead I just stared at the woman in front of me. It was like she could read me and we had only just met. "That's what I thought. Go, walk around and take your memories. Jasper, my husband, and a client of his will be here in an hour or so."
"Thank you, Alice," I said softly.
I rose from the table smiling at both of the girls. With a little hesitation, I walked up the stairs, testing the second one from the top to see if it still had a creak to it. Sure enough it did. I smiled and put a little too much weight on it. I wanted to embed that sound in my mind. All the times I avoided that step so I wouldn't get caught sneaking in or sneaking out.
My body carried me straight to my old room. It was Ryleigh's room now. The walls were soft pink, very shabby chic for a four year old. The window I admired earlier from the street was the first thing to catch my eye. More times than often I didn't have to sneak out. The one person who I wanted to sneak in always managed to hoist himself up the tree in the front through my window.
I walked over, looking out along the street. I could see Daddy's cruiser in the driveway if I tried really hard. My old rusty truck sitting next to it. I smiled thinking of that truck. It didn't run for shit but it ran all the same. I had to do a double take at the Lexus on the side of the street. With all my reminiscing I thought for one second it was his car. I shook the thoughts out of my head. It wasn't his. He wasn't here. He made that very clear ten years ago when he told me he couldn't make the LA lifestyle work for him. He never gave me a choice. He just left. He thought he was holding me back when really he was the only one holding me together. He had called not long after he took off. He told me that one day we'd meet again and when we did we'd make it work. I wondered if he was still in town. I wondered if maybe I should drive by his parents' house just for old time's sake and see how everyone was.
I stepped out of the room and back down the stairs, skipping the squeaky stair on my way down. I smiled remembering all the times I had done that. Alice was busy in the kitchen and Ryleigh was right next to her on a step stool. Complete with a matching apron.
I quietly watched the two from the doorway. It was when a blonde haired man came up behind Alice and wrapped his arms around her waist that I felt like I was intruding. He kissed the side of her neck and she giggled. He then reached down and kissed Ryleigh on the cheek. They were the picture of the perfect family. Mother and daughter making dinner while the dotting father and husband loved on his girls. It made me think of all the times this occurred when I was growing up. I had to wonder if it was all the love that poured out of this house that affected the people in it.
Alice spun around to walk to the sink when she noticed me staring.
"Bella, I didn't hear you come down. Jasper," she said pulling her husband to her side. "This is Bella. She used to live here."
He smiled from his position next to his wife. "Bella, it's nice to meet you."
I smiled and walked closer, extending my hand. "You too. I'm sorry to just barge in."
"Hey, mi casa es su casa, literally," he said laughing.
"If it's alright baby, I invited Bella to stay for dinner."
"It's fine by me. The more the merrier."
After a few seconds I excused myself to walk around the outside of the house. Alice and Jasper busied themselves inside while I made my way over to the large tree at the side of the house. The same tree that held Ryleigh's swing.
I bent down and touched the large rock that symbolized a makeshift grave marker. Tears flooded my eyes and instead of holding them back, like I was accustomed to, I let them flow freely. I sobbed hard and loud. I didn't care who heard me. The whole world could have been present to witness my meltdown and I wouldn't have noticed. The one thing I did notice was the overwhelming scent of him. I felt like I was going into some sort of manic state. It had to be my imagination. There was no way that he was here. It was too much of a coincidence.
I could feel him move closer. It never failed, we always seemed to have had that effect on one another.
"He was a good dog," his silky voice said. Without turning to face him, I nodded.
"He hated you," I said between sniffles.
"He loved you, still loves you," he added.
I knew it wasn't just Jake he was talking about. His words, although cryptic to most, were perfectly clear to me. I wiped my eyes and stood, keeping my back to him.
"You're home Isabella?" he questioned softly.
I turned around and was taken a back by his presence. He was older now, fuller in some areas, but still the most beautiful man I had ever seen.
"I left Isabella in LA," I simply said.
He smiled his crooked smile and I couldn't hold it back any longer. I ran into his arms, throwing my legs around his waist. I buried my face in the crook of his neck, inhaling his strong scent. If I could have bottled it up before he left I would have. I needed the constant reminder of his strength.
I cried and cried for what seemed like hours as he held me close. Every so often he would place a kiss in my hair while he stroked it softly. I'm sure it was only a few minutes that had passed but when he spoke my whole body came alive.
"I've missed you so much," he choked out. "Tell me you missed me too."
"More than anything." I lifted my head and looked at him in the deep green eyes I had dreamed about since the day he left. "Please tell me that we can make it work now."
He smiled and kissed me ever so lightly on the lips. Even though he didn't linger, my lips burned from his contact. I had missed this so much. I had missed him more than anything. "I think we can do that. At least, I'd like to try."
"I'm not going back to LA," I admitted.
"I'd go back with you if you asked."
I shook my head. "No, this is where I need to be. I want this, all of this. I want the house, the yard, the baby swing. I want you, Edward. I've only ever wanted you."
"You've always had me, Bella," he said as a single tear ran out of his eye.
I stood, releasing my legs from his waist. He took my hand in his and kissed the top of it. I smiled and remembered a moment so much like this one when he had done the same thing. Under this very same tree we had shared our first kiss. It was our starting over point. We started here, we always would.
"I think we better get inside. Alice and Jasper will have dinner ready soon," he said leading me toward the house.
"Are you the client Jasper was having over for dinner?"
Edward nodded. "I am. Jasper is a builder and he has my house plans ready. He wants me to take a look at them before the final blue prints are made." He stopped us and looked down at me. His eyes conveying everything. He loved me. He wanted me. He had truly never let me go. "I think it would be a good idea for you to look over them as well."
"Why is that Edward?" I asked coyly.
"Well," he said, pausing and taking my face in his hands. "You're visiting the house that built you. I think you have a right to put in your two cents on the house that will build us."
A/N- Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. When I first heard the song on the radio I instantly got the idea for the o/s in my head. I have no plans to continue this story. I kine of like the way I left it.