Ready? Set?

Impossible. This was impossible. But part of me strongly knew it was possible, and if it wasn't...then she wasn't, either. It was funny how everything I knew could be proved wrong in mere seconds. There was no way that this could be true. And yet there was no turning back now. This was real. She was real; she made that obvious by the way she touched me. Here I was, holding onto something that was supposedly myth, and loving every minute of it. Here we were, defying all laws that bound us. Was I ready for this? Was I set? It didn't matter; this was the point of no return. Ready? Set?


You'd have thought that I would've gotten used to this by now, but this wasn't something that someone was supposed to get used to. I was sitting on stage right, calmly watching the cast and crew pace to prepare for the big show. We were getting ready to perform A Midsummer Night's Dream for the last time, and it was five minutes until showtime.

I looked to the floor, willing the tears not to spill down my cheeks and ruin the makeup that the crew had so meticulously applied onto my face. My stepfather, Phil, had passed away just a week a go. I'd warned him time and time again about his high-blood pressure, but my warnings went unheeded by him until it was too late. My late father, Charlie, died of a gunshot wound after being transferred to a police station in Port Angeles a little while after I'd graduated high school. He'd started working on the gang cases and I guess he got a little too close. My mother, Renee went shortly after his funeral. She'd slipped into a state of depression after her first husband died, and I think she couldn't live without him. Phil quit with baseball and moved back up to Forks to take care of me, making me grateful to him. The house felt empty without Charlie ambling around, but Phil kind of filled it. We bought a tiny, run-down theatre, even smaller than Forks— that's pretty small- because Renee loved the arts and we wanted to make sure the residents of Forks wouldn't be bored out of their minds. Sure, he wasn't my dad. But he was something solid, something reliable and dependable. He kept me sane as I dealt with my losses.

I'd been accepted into NYU after deciding I should major in the performing arts instead of in English literature . I did it for my mother, because she would've wanted me to step out of my comfort zone. I was shy, blushed constantly at anything I considered remotely embarrassing (myself most of the time), clumsy as hell, and couldn't stand to be the focus of a large group of people. But I knew my mom would've been ecstatic if she was still alive. I guess I'm just sentimental like that. Still, I was a bundle of nerves during my first days there, and I was starting to think I'd suck and fail at this. But I made some new friends and met some old friends who got me through. Who knew Angela Weber from Forks high school would be there? She was a nervous mess like me, too, and we bonded into besties after a while. You know, I get by with a little help from my friends, and stuff like that. It was more than that, though. I guess I had a knack for performing, then. NYU exposed me to knew experiences and taught me that people could be assholes. People can be critical when they want to. I learned that when pain hits you, you don't cry. You suck it up and stay cool. That's why actors and actresses are respected. We're the best liars. We can be whoever the hell we want to be, and you won't know who we really are. Ever actor has their own walls surrounding them, warding people from getting too close. If you let people in, they'll hurt you. I guess that's why losing my parents, and now Phil got to me so bad. I couldn't stop them from being close to me, and my facade was useless when I couldn't compose my feelings.

I remember Phil being thrilled with my progress at NYU when I came home for Thanksgiving. He promised me he'd let me be the main role in every production at the theatre when I was home long enough. He kept his promise. He also promised he'd never leave me alone. That one he couldn't keep no matter how hard he tried. He loved my mom to death.

After his funeral, everyone who loved him and I agreed to do a last production at his theatre in tribute to him. A Midsummer Night's Dream was always his favorite.

"Bella?" A soft voice gently called me from my reminiscing.

I turned around to see Angela close behind me, looking hesitantly back at me. I smiled sadly. "Hi."

She reflected my sad smile back. "Are you...?" she trailed off, suddenly stopping and shaking her head. "No. You know what? I'm sick of people asking if you're alright when they know you aren't. I just...I'm sorry."

She put her hand on my shoulder and I locked eyes with her. "I am too," I murmured, my voice a barely louder than a whisper. "Thank you, Ang. For being here, and for being so supportive."

I smushed her into a hug, and she squeezed back with as much force. "Hey, what are besties for?"

The corner of my mouth twisted into a small grin as she reversed our roles and held me. We stayed like that for what felt like hours when she gingerly pulled away.



My best friend looked straight into my eyes and held her hand out. "Let's kick some ass tonight, okay?"

My hand took hers as we completed our secret handshake- no way I'm about to tell you- and matched her beam. "After you, my dear."

Two minutes before the curtains were set to open, the cast and crew alike gathered in a giant circle and did a shakedown (a faster version of the "hokey-pokey" without the singing; shaking all four limbs and going 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 quickly, one a ta time and then splitting it in half —1,2,3,4...1,2..1- for you non-theatrical folks). I took Phil's old Arizona League Angel's ball cap and hung it over the prop table, where he would've wanted it. We dedicated the night to Phil, got into our places, and the ancient red velvet curtains heaved open.

Wow. I wish Phil had been here to see us. We rocked the stage, and everyone knew it. I stood in my dressing room, getting out of my costume soon after the curtains closed, and was shocked by a knock on my door.

"Just a second," I called, and quickly changed into my street clothes before rushing over (tripping over about a billion things, I might add) and opening the door with a dramatic flourish. Yeesh, getting into the arts really was starting to influence my vocabulary (and actions..). Angela took in my flustered appearance, raised an eyebrow and smirked.

"Jeez, Angie, if you wanted to check me out, all you had to do was ask instead of knocking on my dressing room door while I'm undressing," I flirted, batting my eyelashes and then sticking my tongue out at her.

"Oh, shut up, you," she joked, but I could see the faint tinge of pink on her face.

I giggled, "Well, excuse me for being so irresistible."

Angela rolled here eyes, "Yes, yes. You are excused."

"Ooh, not going to deny it, are we?" I raised an eyebrow.

She groaned. "I didn't mean it that- what I wanted to say was-"

"It's okay to be attracted to your best friend, Ang." I jested, patting her on the arm.

"You know, there's someone that wants to see you..." she told me.

"Yeah, who doesn't want to see moi? this your way of changing the subject?"

"Bella, its the man who's buying the theater," my biff- best friend forever- said somberly.

My lips made a little "o" shape. Angela nodded sympathetically.

"Um, okay. Where is he?"

"Out by the balcony seats," she pointed it out.

It wasn't hard to find. "Alright. Thanks, I'll be back in a few." With that, I kissed her cheeks and tried to walk up to the balcony view quickly without tripping over my own feet and making a fool out of myself to the soon-to-be new owner of the theatre.

"You always have to have the last word, don't you?" Angela called from a few feet behind me.

I laughed and kept walking. "Don't pretend you don't love the view from over there! And yes, I do. This is the last word."

I could practically feel her blushing behind me.

As I stepped up onto the balcony, I was greeted by the almost owner of the theatre...and almost fainted. He looked so...young. Words cannot begin to describe him, and when he called his family over to meet me, I nearly died. I felt like my eyes were going to be blinded with all the beauty they possessed. They were pulchritudinous (yes, I just used a five syllable word to describe "beauty"; I only know it because Angela's a huge word nerd) and there was something strangely mysterious about them. It was like I was a camerawoman for some Hollywood movie. I couldn't do anything else but stare and gape. Luckily, I was saved before I could make things awkward.

The almost owner stuck out his hand for me to shake and introduced myself. "Ah, you must be her. I've heard so much about you. I'm Carlisle Cullen, and this is my family."

I closed my mouth long enough to shake his hand firmly and business-like. "Er, hi. I'm Bella Swan."

The woman next to him, the one with the kind, heart-shaped face smiled. "This is my wife, Esme."

"Pleased to meet you," she said sweetly.

I grinned. "And you as well."

The one called Carlisle gestured to each of his family members. They were all so pale and statuesque, strange dark circles under each of their eyes. "Emmett" was the gigantic, muscular boy (he looked mature enough to be a man...) with short curly hair that looked menacing and intimidating until he beamed a dimpled smile at me. "Jasper" was the lean honey blonde with a nervous expression- I imagine it must have mirrored mine- and lips twitching into a tight smile. "Edward" was the boyish, youngest looking boy (man?) with the messy bronze-colored hair. "Rosalie" was...drop dead gorgeous. She looked like she belonged on a runway in a Prada fashion show somewhere in Paris with her wavy golden hair and perfect features. She was a beauty, but the killer "I'm a bitch and I don't give a shit what you think" look she gave me definitely lost her some points. Then there was "Alice". She had a bit of a carefree look about her with her fashionably arranged, chaotic, pixie-cut hair. It was chaotic in a beautiful way, like she'd just woken up with her hair like that and managed to pull it off looking stunning without even trying. She was the shortest of them all, but made up for it by wearing wicked heels. Heels that looked like they could kill. Her butterscotch eyes twinkled happily and mischievously as they gazed back into mine with an "I know something you don't know" look. Forgive me if I'm hallucinating, but I think she just looked at me...with appraisal. Nah, I'm definitely going crazy.

"So would you care to join us?" Carlisle's voice tore my eyes away from the angel.

"Hm..I'm sorry— what?" Ooh. Smooth, Swan. So articulate.

Rosalie snorted. Emmett mumbled something I couldn't hear and Alice jammed her elbow into his side. Before I could mentally face palm myself for my lack of eloquence, Carlisle repeated his offer. "We'd love to sit down and talk with you over dinner. Is tonight alright, or do you have other obligations?" he inquired.

"Oh. Um, I would love to. But, do you mind if I get my stuff first?"

Esme nodded. "Of course. We'll be waiting by the front."

I smiled, turned on my heel and then...tripped. Oh clumsiness. You wound me deep. I could hear a few snickers behind me and mentally cursed myself. I was stunned to see "Alice" reaching down to help me up. It felt weird thinking her name. Or even thinking about saying her name. I felt my cheeks burn scarlet and then took her hand. Her hand was cold, let me tell you that. But then also warm. Kind of like...a cup of cold hot chocolate. I pulled myself to my feet and I felt our eyes connect for half a second.

"Are you okay?" she asked cautiously, like she was afraid I might trip again.

I nodded fiercely and practically ran away, marveling in the way her voice affected me the way it did. Her voice was like bells, softly lilting in a sing-song way. I unsuccessfully attempted to rid my mind of all thoughts "Alice"... and failed.

As soon as I made it back up to my dressing room, Angela was there, waiting for me. I was surprised that she was still there.

"So..." Angela slowly drawled out. "How'd it go?"

I hesitated, and then followed with a shrug. "Okay, I guess. They want dinner with me. Him and his family, I mean."

"I see. So that's a 'no' to my offer of staying up and watching episodes of The Twilight Zone with me all night?"

I gasped. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry! I forgot all about that. Do you want me to cancel? I can always say I have other plans."

She shook her head. "Nah, that's mean. Go, we'll do it another day."

I gave her a suggestive smile. "Angie, if you want me, we can always do it now."

Yeah, pretty mean, hn? But it was worth the way her eyes widened until they were as big as oranges.

"Yeesh, babe. I was kidding... sort of." I winked at her and fished into my purse until I found my keys. "Just let yourself in. I don't have another set, so just open the door for me when I call. We can have our little 'sleepover' when I come."

Angela stuck her tongue out at me and laughed. "Oh, come you will."

"Alright, alright. They're waiting, so I'll be going now, m'kay?" I said, as I batted at her arm.

"Oh, by all means, just walk out on me. You probably have lots of pretty ladies waiting for you."

My mouth shut and a blush worked its way to my cheeks, immediately piquing her interest. Damned Angela curiosity...

"Ooh! Is it anyone I know?" She raise a brow at me.

I shook my head and willed the floor to open up and swallow me.

"Is it one of that guy's family members?"

You're getting warmer. But before I could answer, a knock sounded on the door.

"Bella?" That voice again...

Angela mouthed "is that her?" before I soundlessly opened the door. "Alice" stood in the hallway, looking shy and out of place.

"Sorry. Carlisle and Esme sent me to make sure were alright. There aren't many people in the theatre, and its late so..." she trailed off sheepishly.

So you might trip on something and die, I finished in my head. "Oh, that's okay. Thanks for checking on me. Um, I'm ready." Yeah, no shit. She can see that..

"Splendid," she looked off to my side and saw Angela. "Hello. I don't believe we've met before. I'm Alice Brandon."

My bestie shut her mouth long enough to shake "Alice"'s outstretched hand. "A-Angela. Bella's best friend."

"Alice" flashed her a dazzling smile. "Wonderful. You wouldn't mind if I borrowed her for a while, would you?"

Angela shook her head "no" and looked about to pass out. "Then it was a pleasure meeting you."

"Alice" looked back to me and led the way. I followed her, but not without Angela gripping my arm with a "tell me all about this later" look plastered onto her face. I grinned. Yep, there was going to be a lot to talk about by the time I made it home, I thought. A lot.