A/N: Hello all who found this story. I was inspired to write something of this genre/setting because of a little television show called Wildfire. If you haven't see it, I highly recommend it.
"Miss Swan, you very lucky to have two choices here." The judge started. "You can either serve your time in the juvenile detention facility for teens, that you are ever so familiar with. Or...Dr. Cullen was nice enough to offer for you a job, plus room and board on their ranch. If you chose that, part of the money you make will help pay for what it cost the state while hunting you down. Now...it's up to you."
I hung my head, thinking about my options. I fucking hated the detention center, I had few friends there but some of the guards were nice to me. And on the other hand, I could be working on a ranch with people I knew nothing about. But I would be able to be outside a lot, and not have to wear a stupid uniform. Weighing my options, I looked behind me. Dr. Cullen was sitting a few rows back, waiting for my answer. He nodded and gave me a small reassuring smile before I turned back to the judge.
"Ranch." I said softly, releasing a breath.
"Good choice, Miss Swan. You will be sentenced to work there for ninety days, then I'll see you back here for your evaluation." She said, then pounded her gavel.
"I don't want to see you back at the detention center again, unless it's on visiting day." Rhonda said as she gave me a quick hug.
"Yeah, well...you know me. I'm always getting into trouble..."
"Maybe this time will be different."
She opened the gate with a loud buzz, giving me a warm smile.
"Permission to pass, ma'am?" I asked.
"Permission granted. See you, Bella."
"Bye, Rhonda." I said, squeezing my bag to me as I passed the gate.
Dr. Cullen was standing outside of his truck, leaning against it waiting for me. He smiled again as I approached cautiously.
"Hello, Bella. I'm Dr. Cullen, as you know by now. I've helped other young teens like yourself by offering them jobs on my family's ranch. There is nothing to be afraid of."
Isn't that what all the murderers in movies say right before they kill you?
We sat there for a while in silence as he drove, but my curiosity won over, like usual.
"Why are you doing this?"
"You need help to straighten out. Get your life back on track." He said plainly.
"Or you just made a deal with the judge or something so you get cheap labor."
This time he said nothing, just sighed and kept looking ahead at the road.
"Do you and your family know about me? All the things I've done?"
"I know, and my wife does."
"Is she afraid of me?"
"Does she have a reason to be?"
"Look I'm only here for ninety days, after my time is up, I'm out of here."
"Bella, do you want this job or not? Because I can turn right back around and drop you back off. I could even just drop you off at any street corner if you wish."
I took a minute to think about this, him patiently waiting for my answer.
"I don't want to go back." I reluctantly said.
I sighed. "I want the job..."
He didn't look all the way convinced, but he said nothing else as he kept driving. I knew he was just trying to help me, but it's just in my nature to push people away.
The rest of the ride, I stared out the window, watching the grassy hills go by, letting my eyes unfocus as I thought about all the events that brought me here. Eventually the car slowed down, which brought me back to the present. We turned into a skinny dirt driveway with a big rectangular sign planted in the ground to the side.
CULLEN RANCH: ANIMAL REHABILITATION AND ADOPTION CENTER
Maybe this wasn't going to be as bad as I thought. I love animals, and as long as no one had a problem with me, I should be good. Soon, a white fence appeared and it wasn't long before I saw horses. Some were separated in a whole different area, and some were galloping around freely looking happy. As the road winded the horses disappeared, and dogs were everywhere. Each one having their own pen, there must have been hundreds of them. We pulled up to a nice small wooden house, another one sat beside it.
"Come along." He said, instructing me to follow.
He led me to the house in the right, opening it and letting me through.
"This is where the women ranch hands stay that take care of the dogs. You have two other roommates in this house, and there are three other guys in the house next to this one."
He led me through the living room, down the hall, and into a bedroom.
"This is your room. You are welcome to decorate however you want."
"Um...how much do I make a week?"
"Two-fifty. And I know what your going to say, that it's nothing. But keep in mind what the judge said, they are deducting from your salary to help pay for your little...stunt."
Stunt? I would hardly call it that. But I didn't bother arguing, for once in my life.
Go ahead and leave your things here, I'm going to show you the rest of the ranch so you know where things are."
I did what he said and sat my bag down on the bare bed and followed him back out to the truck. He drove another few minutes as we came upon a building to my right.
"This is where we keep the cats. We don't have as many cats as we do dogs, so they all fit into one building quite nicely."
We drove further, coming upon yet another building on my left.
"This is where we keep all the other animals, like birds and other small creatures."
As the road came to an end there was a huge house on the hill. More like a mansion. Three stories of mostly wasted space, I guessed. How big a family did he have any anyway? He showed me inside, things being so different from what I expected. Pictures all over the beautiful wooden walls, pretty handmade looking rugs on the floor. It was very...warm.
"Hello, I'm Esme...Carlisle's wife." She said taking my hand into hers and shaking it.
"Do you prefer Isabella, or-"
"Bella." I interrupted.
"Okay, Bella. It's nice to meet you."
"Everyone downstairs, hop to." Dr. Cullen said into the intercom.
Soon enough I heard what sounded like a herd of animals coming down the stairs.
"Slow down kids." Esme warned.
A big burly guy with curly, jet black hair was in front of me first. Then a skinnier, younger looking, but still muscular...honey blonde stepped beside him. Last of the boys was the most attractive, with a nice build, and bronze hair.
"Bella, these are our three boys, Emmett, Jasper, and Edward." Esme announced.
"Hi." All three said at the same time.
"Hey." I said as I gave a half wave.
I heard some shuffling behind them, out popped a pixie of a girl with short brown hair and a little flowing dress that bounced around like she did. Unexpectedly, she came toward me, flung her arms around my neck and gave me a big hug. If it were one of the boys that tried this, I would have punched them in the nuts. But there was something about her that made me have the opposite reaction. I hugged her back lightly until she let me go.
"I'm Alice. It's nice to meet you." She said taking a place by Edward.
"This is Rosalie." Dr. Cullen said, giving her a push forward.
She was taller than Alice, and had very blonde hair...she reminded me of a Barbie doll.
"Hi." She said in a monotone voice.
She didn't seem to like my presence, why, I don't know since I've known her all of two seconds.
But I gave her a quick smile, trying not to make a bad impression.
"Everyone, this is Bella. She will be working for us the next three months."
I had a feeling this was going to be a long three months...
That awkward family encounter didn't last too long, thank God. Dr. Cullen sent them out to start their chores, and he drove me back to the little house I'd be staying in.
"Since this is your first day, we'll start your training tomorrow. You can wander around as you wish, but if you want to pet the dogs, only do so with the ones that have a green laminate on the cages. Same goes for any of the other animals on the ranch. Got it?"
"There are clean sheets in the hall closet for your bed, and there should be a clean comforter on the shelf above the washer and dryer. Also, there is a payphone on the side of the house if you need it, and each house has an intercom where you can reach me if you need to. The other girls will show you how to use it, but it's fairly easy."
"Well, I have work to do. Lunch is at one, dinner is at seven up at our house. I'll see you later, Bella."
After I got my bed made, I tried to sleep...but I only tossed and turned. Giving up I finally went outside, smiling, happy to feel the wind on my face. I took the short walk over to the dog pins, making sure they had the green laminate that he talked about. I'm guessing that meant these were the nicest, least dangerous ones. I found a very handsome gray pitbull on the end, her wagging her little tail so fast I could barely see it. I knelt down as she happily came over to me, licking my fingers with her soft tongue. I laughed as it tickled, trying to pet her head instead.
"That's Blue." A voice said behind me. "She's a beauty isn't she?" The familiar voice came closer.
"Yeah. How did she end up here?" I asked.
"We got a call a few months ago that said there was a dog tied to a pole under an overpass that had been there for a few days. We brought her back here, fed her, got her weight back up to normal." The voice now next to me, I looked over to see if it in fact belonged to who I thought it did.
"Now she's just waiting to be adopted." She said as our eyes met.