Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight. I own an active and naughty imagination. Rated M for lemony goodness.
Disclaimer: The characters of Twilight are owned by Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. The original content, ideas, and intellectual property of this story are owned by PeppahLouie. Plagiarism is theft - so please no copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without express written authorization.
©2011 PeppahLouie . All rights reserved worldwide.
CHAPTER 1 - HOW SHE GOT HERE
Sam Uley slashed at Emily Young's face with his hunting knife. "If I can't have you, no one will." Three long gashes ran from her forehead to her chin. "No one will want you now. Only me."
Emily grabbed a tea towel and staggered to the corner. As she sank to the floor, she held the towel to her marred face. The pain was searing, she'd never felt anything like it. As she silently wept and trembled, she heard a familiar voice through a loud speaker coming from the front of the house.
"Sam Uley? Sam, are you in there? This is Charlie Swan. Now I understand you're upset and angry. And we'd like to try and help. Jacob Black is out here with me, Sam. We'd like to talk to you... see if we can't work this out. We don't want anyone to get hurt, Sam. Can we talk?"
Sam's crazed eyes scanned the room, landing on Emily huddled in the corner. She held a bloody towel to her face, weeping in deep, silent sobs. What have I done?
The phone rang. Outside, Jacob stood with a cell phone to his ear, staring at the window with a pained, desperate expression. "There's nothing to talk about, Charlie," Sam shouted. "There's nothing you can say, nothing anyone can do." He started sobbing, shaking. There's only one way out. Picking up the telephone receiver, he listened.
"Sam? Is that you? Listen, it's Jake. Sam, I want to help you. Please let me help."
Sam fell to his knees, and picked up his gun. Whispering into the phone, he said "I'm going to kill Emily and then myself so we can be together at last." Dropping the receiver, he held up the gun and released the safety. It will be over soon.
Someone approached the house at a run, the door flew open and Charlie Swan stood there with his weapon raised and a wild look on his face. "Sam! For god's sake, stop th..." his words were cut off by the loud report of a handgun. With a surprised look, Charlie glanced down to the reddening spot below his badge before he collapsed on the front step.
Jacob ran toward the small house, barely comprehending the sound of the gun. The site of his father-in-law falling to the ground made his guts churn. Another gunshot. Had Jared had gotten safely out? He stopped at the Chief's body just outside the doorframe and looked in to see Sam turning back toward the door. Emily's body was slumped in the corner, her wide eyes despairing the angry gashes on her face, arms limp in her lap... her hands still clutched the bloody towel.
As Sam raised the pistol toward his Quileute brother, he felt disconnected. His expression became calm, eerily peaceful.
"Sam, where's Jared?" Jake asked, unable to hide the desperation in his voice. Sam pulled the trigger, not blinking as the shot resounded and a small puff of smoke spread through the air. Jacob fell, his body slumping forward over Charlie.
Sam turned the gun back to his right cheek, aimed above his left ear. Release. He pulled the trigger once more.
I've always loved Seattle. It is a beautiful city with wonderful culture, alternative in everything from climate to music. This is where I will rebuild my life. This is where I will heal.
My new apartment is a small loft spread among the top two floors of a renovated 3-storey warehouse – very trendy. There is another larger loft, a restaurant on the ground floor, and a gym with a sauna in the basement. I'm not too sure about living directly over a restaurant, but the area is one of those revitalized sections of the old downtown, which will hopefully bring some excitement into my sheltered-until-now existence. And the rent I can manage with my dad's pension payments, which is important until I can secure employment of some sort.
I am looking forward to living in this space; I've only been here for a week. I decided to keep the decor minimal. I like a modern, uncluttered style – such a contrast to back home. The main living area is very open with huge windows and vertical blinds. I have hung very sheer white curtains over the blinds to soften the look, and I love the way they billow when a breeze blows in. The living area walls are painted in the most delicate pale lime-white colour, and I have discovered that white calla lilies and pale pink peonies look absolutely exquisite here. I bought white leather furniture and one medium pink armchair from IKEA. To me, the room looks soft, clean and feminine but not girly, and it is 100% mine. I love it.
I went a little crazy with my choice of television, purchasing a 63-inch plasma screen and having the store installers mount it on the brick wall opposite my sofa. My dad would have loved it, being able to watch his Mariners games on such a huge display. I guess maybe I bought it as a tribute to him. The thought makes me smile and at the same time, sad.
There is no actual bedroom – the only rooms with doors are the washrooms and closets. My new "European-style" king-sized bed is perched behind a sturdy brushed metal railing that rims the upper floor and the stairway. The bed does seem a little large for the area it occupies, but I swore I would never again be forced to sleep in a small bed. I may have gone overboard by getting the king, but I consider it a treat. A small indulgence... okay, a king-sized indulgence. I deserve it.
The kitchen really is the star of the place. It sealed the deal for me as soon as I laid eyes upon it. The cupboards are white with glass windows and the countertops are pink granite. White subway tiles cover the backsplash, and the ceiling is covered in faux stamped-tin tiles. There are are stainless steel appliances, a six-burner gas cooktop with a professional exhaust fan overhead, two ovens, and a large rectangular island with butcher block countertop and a raised breakfast bar on the opposite side. I am going to thoroughly enjoy honing my cooking skills in this little piece of chefs' heaven. Now, if only I had someone to cook for... even though my doorway faces the entrance to the other loft, I haven't even met my neighbours.
The restaurant downstairs is simply called "Wild" and it is the latest Seattle culinary hot spot. The concept is pretty cool: they only serve food that's been grown or harvested locally and organically. That appears to include everything from fish, hand caught in the sound, to free-range beef, lamb and bison, to mushrooms foraged in the Pacific northwest rainforests. The menu is minimal and changes often, depending on what's available. It's the uncertainty of what to expect that keeps Seattle's young and rich coming back. Wild's clientele are the fuckhawt of Seattle – they dress like runway models and drive fast, sexy cars. I'd like to be one of them, to know how it feels to dress well, have fun, be a socialite. I would wear Gucci dresses, Chanel jewelry, Jimmy Choo fuck-me heels. I'd drive a yellow Porsche or a white Audi R8. Men would drool over me. I'd have the greatest sex a woman could ever dream of having... yeah, right. Bella, Bella. Wake up and smell the flannel, sweetie. Your own husband didn't want to have sex with you. What makes you think anyone else would?
My inner voice, my mother's voice, taunts me. She's never said those exact words to me. She's never actually said many words to me at all over the years. We never really connected as women. Even when she came back to Forks to dutifully accompany me to the funeral, I felt alone in her presence. We had drunk a lot of merlot after the burials. With my tongue and emotions loosened by the wine, I cried and told her how my married life had been... how Jake had only touched me once, on our wedding night, and then couldn't bring himself to make love to me again.
For six months I'd played the perfect wife. I cooked, cleaned, did his laundry. I tried over and over to get his attention. I started, in my innocence, by wearing my baby doll sleep set, sometimes bending over to pick up a strategically placed item in front of the tv. He would lean to the side to look at the screen around me. I researched sex on the internet, read Cosmo, watched porn videos on redtube. I ordered sexy lingerie from Victoria's Secret, once meeting him at the door in see-through red lace. That was embarrassing; he advised me to cover up before I caught cold and he wouldn't even look at my body. I tried acting wanton, like I was quivering to feel him inside me – and truly I was. I even tried to give him a blow job one Saturday morning when he got out of the shower. What a fiasco: I got on my knees, tried to suck him to an erection. He looked at me sadly, almost with pity in his eyes, and gently said he was running late to meet Jared for a hike and some fishing.
I pretty much gave up after that and started to pursue my own interest – gourmet cooking. So while Jacob was out saving La Push from poachers and speeders during the week, I enrolled in a 3-month program of daily culinary arts classes at the Port Angeles Community College. I loved it. It got me out of the house, out of Forks, and away from my abysmal marriage situation for a few precious hours every weekday. On the weekends, when Jake was hiking, camping and fishing with Jared, I practiced recipes and cooking techniques I had learned during the week. Everyone benefited from my culinary exploits, especially Charlie, who would have been eating at the diner every night if I didn't regularly stock him up on boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, cassoulet, and other delicious delights.
I didn't... couldn't... tell my mom about the attempted blow job, it was way too embarrassing. But I did stupidly whine and cry about about not being able to get my husband to make love to me and how it made me feel like a failure as a wife. In true Renee style, my mom managed to get a dig in at my femininity instead of trying to edify it. "Well, sweetie, you know... you always were a bit of a tomboy. And look at you now – still in plaid flannel shirts and boys Levi's. This is simply not the way to attract a man. I know you and Jake were best friends growing up and you grew to love each other out of that friendship. But he was a man, darling, and men need their women to be... well... women. I think as lovers you two were probably doomed from the start." With that she got up from the couch, returned her wine glass to the kitchen and trudged off to the guest room. Wow. Thanks Mom. Fucking wonderful.
Not surprisingly, Renee and I didn't discuss Charlie at all. She said only one thing as she gazed at his cold, waxen face in the funeral home. "I always knew he would die like this." Of course that was ridiculous, and only served to illustrate just how unaware my mother was of everything outside her own little world. The chances of the police chief of a town with just over three thousand people dying in a hostage-taking/shooting were astronomically small. The chances that three other people would die in the same incident were even smaller. And the chances that two peace officers, one being my father and the other being my husband – a member of the small policing force on the Quileute Reservation of La Push – would die at the hands of a long time acquaintance and member in good standing of the tribal council... well let's just say that no one could ever have imagined the degree of horror that beset our little town that day.
Two days after the funeral, my mother got on a plane back to Phoenix. "If you need anything, honey, give me a call – in a couple of weeks. Phil and I are off on a cruise tomorrow!" I wasn't sorry to see her go.
So while my mother gallivanted around some cliched-name-for-sea-water Princess cruise ship and gorged herself on cheap tropical drinks and extravagant buffets, my sad little heart was breaking for the loss of my father. He had been kind, loving and supportive, all in his gruff Charlie way. He wasn't a touchy-feely sort of guy, my dad. He wasn't comfortable with emotions. And because he is... was, the most influential of my parents, I tend to keep my emotions to myself as well. But he loved me and he would have done anything for me – this I knew without a doubt. And I loved him. And he was gone. And I was shattered.
However, I was wholly mortified at the fact that I was not shattered at the loss of my husband. As the days after the shooting passed, I found that I couldn't feel anything at all about Jake. Oh, I went through the motions. I cried at the funeral. But truly, my tears were for my father, not for my husband. Six months of his apathy toward me and our marriage – our sacred union - had numbed my feelings for him. I couldn't even mourn the loss of my best friend, because in a way, I had lost him a little bit every day since our wedding. So by now I was feeling nothing, absolutely nothing, about his death or his absence. And for this, I was overcome with guilt.
The few weeks following the funerals were hell. I was besieged with kind, sympathetic people all bringing me casseroles and wanting to ensure I was getting along okay. Approximately six thousand eyebrows were raised when I moved back to my dad's place after only three days and had Jake's house on the reservation boarded up. I started sleeping in my dad's room so I could smell him and feel closer to him. As the few weeks turned into a couple of months, I realized I needed to make a change. I needed to go on living. I had to find something to do.
I started by sorting through Charlie's clothes. I decided to keep one of his extra uniform shirts and several of his plaid flannel shirts. Wearing those flannels made me feel safe and in a way, hugged by my daddy. The remaining items I bagged and delivered to the Salvation Army, deriving a small comfort that even in death, Charlie, who had devoted his life to helping and protecting people, was able to help someone in need. I asked Jared to look after Jacob's things, claiming it was too difficult for me. And I guess it was too difficult, but maybe not for the reason I permitted Jared to assume.
There were other items of Charlie's that I kept for sentimental reasons: his "cop sunglasses" with the mirror lenses; his straight razor, shaving brush and scuttle (when I was a little girl, he would let me lather up his brush and apply the soap to his face before I intently watched him shave away his stubble); his Mariners ball cap; his tackle box, fly-tying kit and fishing rods; and his fishing cap and vest.
The fishing gear I brought to his – now my – cabin on the Bogachiel River, a small south-facing log house only 20 km away that was nestled on five foot stilts at the edge of the forest overlooking the lazy river and its sandy banks. It was Charlie's perfect getaway because it felt like the middle of nowhere, away from any urban noise or lights, but close enough to home that if an emergency occurred, he could be at the station in less than half an hour. There are two bedrooms, a rustic kitchen, indoor plumbing and electricity with the aid of a generator. The great room has a large field stone hearth with an electric spit and fireplace crane for cooking in a dutch oven. A huge window provides a breathtaking view of the river, and a verandah runs along the front of the cabin where several Adirondack chairs and a low bench made from half a driftwood log allow for quiet outdoor relaxation and enjoyment of the scenery. It really is a little piece of heaven.
Once I had dealt with Charlie's personal belongings, I was forced to look to the future. Even though, as his sole beneficiary, I was virtually set for life – between monthly pension payments and the life insurance payout of approximately three million dollars that I didn't want to delve into if I could avoid it – I couldn't just live in this house and waste away. As time passed, I began to realize that I needed to look to the future. In my bones, I knew a major change was coming for me, which was somewhat ironic given the major change that had already happened to get me to this place.
How had I ended up a twenty-three year old housewife with no marketable experience in a tiny town? I guess I never considered that I would need to worry about being on my own. Charlie and Jake had always looked after me. Jake and I were best friends from third grade. He was a fixture in my life. It was understood between us that we would always be together, so when we graduated high school we went off to The University of Washington in Seattle and completed undergraduate degrees. I earned a Bachelor's degree in Geography while Jake got his B.A. in Law, Societies and Justice. Upon graduation, Jake was invited to join the Quileute Tribal Council as a peace officer (pending a 10-week practical law enforcement course in Ship Rock, New Mexico that he completed with flying colours). So we went back to Forks, where I planned our wedding while Jake, Jared and Sam built us small place on the reservation. My dad was over the moon about Jake joining the "tribal police", and he was perfectly content for us to get married right away and start producing grandchildren. After all, he got to keep his little girl close by and hopefully would soon have a few grandsons to teach how to hunt and fish.
The day I overheard Mrs. Berty and Mrs. Varner gossiping by the frozen waffles in the Thriftway saw a nexus appear in my tiny world. They had apparently decided that it was necessary to take precious time out of their lives to discuss me and my future. One of them wondered what I would do with myself now that I had no one to look after me. The other added that I had never even had a real job. (I did work part-time during high school in the Newton's outdoor outfitter store, but that was it for my job experience.) They both then agreed that my only hope would be to find another man (perhaps Jake's best friend Jared would step in) to look after me, because I clearly did not have an independent bone in my body. WHAT? Is that how I appeared to the good people of my home town? Is that what I was? Dependent? Incapable of supporting myself? Okay, I never did use my degree to find employment, but I'm a smart woman. I achieved good grades in university. And, I'm not a half-bad cook. Truly, I prefer gourmet cookery to Russia's Changing Landscape or The Geography of Greater China. My cooking classes had surely taught me enough to get myself hired in a decent restaurant. It would be a beginning. I could start as a server and graduate into the kitchen. Who knows, maybe one of these days I could work for a superstar chef, like Marco Pierre White or Mario Batalli.
I decided there and then that I would leave Forks to find a new, different life. I clearly needed to start over.
I snap back to the present. My tea is cold and I am standing in the window looking out over the entrance to the restaurant below. It is mid afternoon, and according to my observations during the last few days, the staff will be arriving soon to prepare for service. I know a little about restaurants, from what I have gleaned from many hours of watching Gordon Ramsay verbally beat the shit out of loser restauranteurs on The Food Network. Also, one of the benefits of my culinary arts courses was an introduction to the inner workings of food establishments. On one occasion, we had a guest lecturer from Seattle – Alice Cullen. She happens to be co-owner of the restaurant downstairs and she came to our little community college class to talk to us about restaurants 'in real life'. She was short, lively, beautiful in a pixie way with green eyes and spiky black hair, and she was dressed like a fashion store mannequin. She may have been tiny, but she was a business powerhouse. I was enthralled by her.
She spent two hours with our class discussing the ins and outs of running a high class restaurant. She shared stories about late food deliveries, cranky customers, crankier chefs (especially her brother and co-owner, Edward), payroll issues and food critics. I found that I related to her and to her stories. Drawn to her, I approached her after the class as she was gathering her jacket and bag. I thanked her for sharing her knowledge. She was amazingly friendly. She asked me where she could get a good cup of coffee and I happily offered to accompany her. We walked a couple of blocks down the street to a local cafe where we spent another two hours talking. By the time she had to leave, I felt like I'd known her forever – she was just the kind of person who made you feel welcome, comfortable, accepted. She gave me a tight hug and her card, and she said if I was ever in Seattle I should drop by for a visit. I joked that if I ever showed up she wouldn't know me from Adam. She looked at me seriously and said "Bella, I never forget a friend. I'll know you." And I could see, through the intensity of her bright green eyes, that she truly meant it.
Back to the present again, I am looking down at a business card in my hand.
M. Alice Cullen
a pacific northwest dining experience
As I gaze out my window once more, I spot her. Little Alice Cullen is practically dancing down the street toward the restaurant. She is carrying a box of greens – probably local fresh herbs. Walking beside her is a tall, bronze-haired man in low-hanging black pants, a black tee shirt and a beige/gold two-tone leather bomber jacket. He is carrying bags filled with produce – they must be coming from the farmers' market. They are smiling and talking. I am struck by his sheer physical presence. I have never seen a more beautiful man. My knees actually feel weak. As if he can hear my pounding heart, he suddenly glances up at my window and for a moment we exchange a look. His eyes are the same bright green as Alice's and his lashes are thick and long. His grin fades to a questioning look as he stares. Suddenly my face reddens and I am panicked. I leap from the window, feeling quite foolish about getting caught ogling the man who could only be Alice's brother and Wild's head chef, Edward Cullen. Mentally castigating myself, I head to the kitchen to make more tea.
"Looks like we finally have a neighbour, Alice."
"Really?" Alice claps her hands as she glances up the window where I just saw a young woman looking out at us, "Oh how exciting!"
"She was just in the window, but she stepped away when I looked up at her."
"She, huh? Was she cute, brother dear?" Alice cannot stand the lifestyle I have chosen. She always wants me to go ga-ga over women.
"Alice, she was female... with dark hair and glasses. That's all I saw." And that's all I care to see, thank you very much.
"Hang in there Edward. Your dream girl will come along some day!"
"How can someone so small be so annoying?" I unlock the restaurant door and hold it open for my sister.
"How can someone so handsome and virile be CELIBATE?" Alice counters.
"Do we have to go through this again, Alice? You know how I feel about this whole topic. I refuse to ever again become the victim of some whore's games. End of story." We place our purchases in the prep area of the kitchen.
"Edward, not every woman is a whore."
"Yes, but the three who aren't are my relatives." I grab my whites and start sharpening my knife.
"Edward, how can you just cut yourself off from female companionship? Don't you have needs? Or have you decided to start batting for the other team?" Damn she knows how to push my buttons.
"No, Alice, I am not gay. I am not playing for either team. Let's just say I am one of the refs. And my needs are none of your concern, sister. I get along just fine." Me and my palm. Just the two of us.
"Hon, one of these days a hot young thing is going to turn your head so hard you'll have whiplash. And I hope I'm there to see it!" She's waggling her eyebrows at me.
"Not likely, Alice. Now why don't you make yourself useful and check on today's deliveries." I set to work on the vegetable prep.
"Fine, Edward. I can take a hint." She prances off to the office at the back of the restaurant.
I hack a squash open in one blow. Fuck, Alice gets in these "You've got to get laid, Edward" moods every few months. She will be insufferable for a couple of weeks, I'll blow up at her, we'll spend two days not talking, one of us will apologize, and then it will be peaceful for a while until she starts thinking about my self-imposed solitude again. I hope Jasper will be home next week. I need her to be distracted.
Alice returns from the office. "Bad news... Jane has given her notice. She's moving to Portland with her boyfriend."
"Shit, shit, shit. We just got the wait staff working flawlessly as a team. And Jane is a draw, a lot of those young guys really like her. How much notice did she give us?"
"We're lucky, actually. She's given us a month. She knows we need the time to train another server, so she has offered to work two weeks beyond standard notice to help us out. Leaving was a hard decision for her, but she wants to be with her man." Alice gets that dreamy love look in her eyes.
"Oh for christsakes, Alice. Whatever. You will never see me allowing my career decisions to be affected by a girlfriend," I virtually spit out the word.
"Never say never, brother o' mine. Never say never." God, she can be fucking irritating.
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