Disclaimer: All things that exist in the Twilight universe belong to Stephenie Meyer.
— shine — chapter 1 — that's the way love goes —
Like a moth to the flame, burned by the fire,
My love is blind, can't you see my desire?
That's the way love goes…
-That's The Way Love Goes, Janet Jackson
I remember the first time I saw Edward Cullen. Of course, I didn't know that was his name. I wouldn't know that was his name for another six years. I did, however, know he was the most gorgeous person I'd ever seen in my seventeen years of life, and I wanted to drink in his features, lock them away in my mind, and never, ever, ever forget.
I'm getting ahead of myself though, and should probably start a few hours, or days, or maybe even months or years, before I actually laid my eyes on the man that has trumped all men in my life. I should probably start by introducing myself.
I'm Bella Swan, or Isabella Swan, depending on who was calling. When in trouble, my mother always spouts off my full name — Isabella Marie Swan. The Isabella was a family name, just like my mother's – Renee, and my sister's – Gianna. The Marie was also a family name; every single female in our family possessed that particular middle name. My father always let my mother get away with whatever she wanted, and naming their two children after countless generations of her family was no exception. My father, Charles Swan, or Charlie, as he was known to everyone, was my most favorite person in the world. Or he was, that is, before he died.
Charles Swan was born and raised in Forks, Washington. Forks is a small logging town in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. It felt like it rained at least three hundred and sixty four days out of a three hundred and sixty five day year, and it never felt like it changed. The sun doesn't shine — much — and the clouds never break. In the winter it felt colder than most places because of the amount of moisture that would accumulate. In the summer — even with the ever-present cloud cover — the constant rainfall, or threat of, kept it humid, therefore, hot as hell.
The people of Forks were friendly and kind, and my father was no exception.
He left Forks for a short time when he was eighteen years old. Charles Swan knew what he wanted to do; he wanted to join the Army and fight for his country. He never wanted to join the ranks of the union workers of Forks, Washington, spending their lives riding on a truck to and from the forest, cutting down trees that were older than the first Swan who settled there. No, not Charlie, star pitcher for the Forks High Spartans; Charlie wanted to serve his country and see the world. He only made it so far as Seattle.
A block away from the Army Recruiting Station sat a bar. It wasn't very big, but it wasn't very small either. The large, neon, red sign above the door called it Reign, and that was where Charlie went. One beer, he promised himself, one beer before he gave himself up for the greater good of the country. So, armed with the fake ID card his friend, Harry had given him as a gag gift, he made the sign of the cross and begged not to be caught as he made his way inside.
He didn't count on the waitress who served him his beer, however.
Renee Marie Caius was only eighteen, herself. She was fresh out of high school, with the whole world before her. She promised her father that she would stay through the summer and work in the family's bar. Reign had been in the family since her great-grandfather opened it, and it passed down to his oldest male son, and then to her father. It went without saying that it would pass to Renee's brother, James, when her father retired, but at that point, James was still six years younger than Renee, and she wanted to help her father out as much as she could. So she did. She didn't count on serving a beer to my father, however.
Renee ribbed on him for his pathetic excuse for an ID, but then served him a wink – along with a cold beer.
They were married within a week, and pregnant with my sister, Gianna Marie Swan, not two months later. Charlie never joined the Service. They moved back to Forks and lived with my father's parents only long enough to rent a little, two bedroom house — on the same street as said parents. Charlie joined that union of loggers and he did so happily. Five years later, and quite unexpectedly, I was born to them. I was the catalyst for Charlie to change jobs.
He didn't make enough money logging to support a family of three, so how was he going to support a family of four off of what he made? Renee offered to work. She didn't have a college education — she gave that up when she married my father — but she wasn't too proud to work. Charlie refused to let her.
Harold Clearwater, a native to the area, and a Quileute — the tribe of Native American's settled close to Forks, in La Push — had served as Forks Chief of Police for thirty years when Charlie went and applied for a job at the Police Station. Harold knew Charlie well; he'd followed his baseball games in high school, and more importantly, he remembered Charlie from when he was small. Charlie and Harold's son, Harry Clearwater, liked to go down to the local fishing hole when they were little boys. Armed with branches from trees, whittled down as straight and long as they could get them, they tied fishing line to the ends and "borrowed" hooks from their father's tackle boxes. They never really caught anything but they still had fun. Harold knew Charlie and he trusted him. He hired him as an officer on the spot.
With his new job came new possibilities. He was making close to double what he had as a logger, so it was then he told Renee to apply to the local community college. She always wanted to teach, and she was good at it. Gianna's kindergarten teacher remarked on how advanced Gianna was many a time. Renee beamed with pride, each and every time, at how smart her oldest daughter was, but never accepted the praise for what it was — a compliment to how well she'd taught Gianna. It was only when Charlie made the suggestion that she really put any merit to it, and after two years at the community college, she started at UW, taking courses during the day, and leaving us with Charlie's parents, or her own in Seattle, while she was in class. It took her three years to get her degree, and only three days later, she was hired to Forks Elementary — the new fifth grade teacher. Charlie and Renee were able to save money for the first time in their lives, and their marriage had never been stronger. They'd never been happier.
When I was ten, Harold Clearwater passed away of a heart-attack. Charlie was named the Chief in his place, and when I was fifteen, Charlie was killed by a bullet, responding to a call of a break-in. My mother was heart-broken.
Gianna was gone; she'd been enrolled at UW since she graduated high school. My plans had been to join her there when I graduated. We had visions of sharing an apartment together. The night she graduated from high school, unlike the rest of the teenagers who were out partying all night, Gianna slept in my bed with me. In my little, twin-sized bed, still dressed in Dexter's Laboratory sheets, we talked of all the things we would do when we were just two sisters, two best friends, out in the world on our own. Away from Renee and Charlie, and all that Forks didn't hold for us. We talked of going to see bands at bars and music festivals. We talked of afternoons spent at flea markets, finding deals to decorate our shared living space with. We talked of sailing, and climbing. Mostly, we just talked about being together. Gianna was my best friend.
Then she went to college. College is the gateway to the rest of your life, that's what I'd been told since I was a little girl. I believed it and so did Gianna. We'd seen what it had done for Renee, and for Charlie, well, for their marriage, when she graduated. We'd seen how happy they'd been after she'd earned her degree, and we both couldn't wait for our chance. College was something we'd both looked forward to for so long, and when Gianna hugged me goodbye the day we dropped her and her things off at the dormitory, she'd cried as she told me, "Five more years, Bella. Five more years and I'll be graduated and you'll be starting and our whole world will change."
For Gianna, the world changed at her first college party.
She'd called me that night, or morning, it was right on the brink between the two. My alarm clock read one-thirty, and Gianna's voice was indecipherable. I had thought she was drunk. We'd seen enough shows on television to know what went on at those parties, and that's what I had thought. Two weeks later, Charlie received a call from Virginia Mason Medical Center, saying Gianna had been admitted. We rushed to Seattle, to the hospital, and my world changed at the word 'overdose.'
So did Gianna's world change at college. That was the first of five admissions to a hospital for an overdose on her behalf, and the first and last time she allowed herself to be admitted to a rehabilitation center. Charlie and Renee didn't know what to do.
When Charlie died, Renee decided to move the two of us closer to Gianna. She thought, somewhat naïvely, that being closer to Gianna, being there for her should she need us, might help her get back on the right path. She was wrong.
That is how I found myself attending Franklin High School, in Seattle, Washington, destined to graduate a Quaker instead of a Spartan. I did, however, meet someone that made the school worth it. Mary Alice Brandon. She was the daughter of Randall and Mary Brandon, and the sister of Randall Garrett Brandon, or Gar, as we called him. She didn't go by her first name either, instead choosing to go simply by Alice. She changed my world again.
I was always someone who blended in with the crowd. At a whopping five-foot-three, it wasn't hard. My brown hair, though waist-length and shiny, was still, just brown. It didn't pop out as unusual or something to turn a head. I was far too skinny — a trait I would carry for the rest of my life — and my mouth was too big for the rest of my face. My features altogether were unremarkable, unlike Gianna, who seemed to light up a room with her presence, making her features seem unique and beautiful, even though they were so close in resemblance to my own. At least, she used to look like me — only better — before the speed and the drinking took the luster from her hair and the shine from her eyes. We'd both inherited our mother's eyes, and they were, by far, our best assets. Hazel is their color, and most of the time they just look brown, however, when the light shines just right, the gold and the green break through.
Alice wasn't that different from me. She was the same height, with the same hair, and the same build, but her eyes were the color of paper burning in the fireplace. Gray and wise. Too-wise an eye for a girl of sixteen and that's probably what labeled her as an outcast in the beginning. She wasn't popular. She wasn't liked. She was the weird girl who drew too many doodles to be considered normal, and had too many stains on her clothes to be considered accidental. She was absent-minded and thoughtful. She was insightful and outspoken. But above all, she was kind to those who deserved it and she was the best friend any person could ask for. She was what teenage girls weren't supposed to be. So when she sat beside me at lunch one day, I bristled.
The light was shining just right that day and that caused my eyes to look differently. It was, coincidentally, my sixteenth birthday. My eyes were the first thing Alice noticed.
"Did you know that your eyes look green in this light?" she asked.
"Um… yeah?" I answered.
"Oh, good. Your eyes always look goldy-brown. Like, uh, hazelnut or something, ya know? So... I thought I might be crazy," she responded. I was uncomfortable. She was staring at me. Then, she smiled and said, "Today is my birthday."
My eyes opened wide at her statement, and my jaw dropped. "Mine too."
Alice laughed. Then, she smiled wider at me. Alice could light up a room with her smile alone. At least, I had always thought so. "I guess that means we're meant to be."
I didn't ask her what she meant, and I didn't really care. Only now, so many years later, do I understand. It meant exactly what she'd said: we're meant to be. Not be anything in particular, just be, and be together throughout. I brought her home and introduced her to Momma, who loved her, and to Gianna, who glared at her, and for the last two years of high school, we spent almost every weekend at one or the others' house. I told her stories of Forks and rain and she told me stories of Seattle and rain.
One day, when I was seventeen, my sister came running at top speed through the door, yelling for my mother. Gianna hadn't gone back to school after she'd overdosed the first time, and she made it a habit of only staying at a job long enough to be able to collect unemployment when she got herself fired. Her unemployment checks had run out the week before, I remembered, otherwise she would have never asked our mother for what she did.
"You have to come with me! You have to, Mom! They're playing! You have to see him!"
"Whoa, whoa. Slow down there," Renee told her. "Start at the beginning."
Gianna told her of some band, I couldn't really understand everything because Alice was over and jabbering in my ear. I did understand that there was some music festival that weekend, and Gianna wanted to go, but she wanted Renee to go with her. Renee refused, stating that Alice's family would be gone this weekend, and she didn't feel comfortable leaving me alone in the house by myself. I was seventeen, but the neighborhood was questionable in Renee's eyes. Having lived in Forks for so long with Charlie, she'd become weary of the big city of Seattle, even though she'd grown up there.
"Then bring her with us!" Gianna begged. Renee refused, once again, stating that it was the wrong environment for such an impressionable age. I wouldn't tell Renee I'd attended a similar music festive, via my fake ID — which was procured by Alice's brother, Gar — with Alice only two weeks before. Renee so didn't need to know that.
As the week went on Gianna became relentless, and by Friday afternoon, Renee had had enough. She agreed to go with Gianna, even knowing that Gianna was only asking because she didn't have the money to attend alone, and she agreed to let me come along. Saturday afternoon found me in a pair of jean shorts and a wife beater, which was hardly appropriate attire, I noticed upon arrival of the festival.
Gianna was decked all in black and a lot of fishnet. The way in which she dressed was similar to others in attendance, and Renee and I stuck out like sore thumbs in the crowd. She tried to stray from our mother and me upon arrival, but was only successful after a couple of hours, when Renee found someone her own age to converse with. I grew bored quickly of their conversation and strayed as well. That is when my eyes first laid upon him.
I was wandering, aimlessly, through the crowd, paying no attention to where I was going or where I'd been. The music was good; I couldn't remember the name of the band playing because Renee had been talking while the person was introducing them, but they were good. I remember that. Everyone around me was sporting red, plastic cups, of what I assumed were filled with alcoholic beverages, but I didn't dare. Not with Renee there. Alice and I had gotten drunk together on more than one occasion with alcohol provided by, once again, her brother, Gar, and so I knew how I acted when I drank. I also knew that Renee would find me out if I did. I wasn't the most inconspicuous drunk.
People were bumping into me left and right, and while I tend to rest on the clumsy side of life — Forks Hospital had three separate folders for me alone — I was making doubly sure to walk carefully through the throngs of people. I watched my feet as I waded through the masses, and only when the band played one of my favorite songs — a guitar and drum-heavy cover of Janet Jackson's That's The Way Love Goes — did I stop walking, and look up from my feet. My eyes found him without any provocation, almost as if they were meant to look at him and him alone.
He was beautiful. An angel sent from heaven or hell, I wasn't sure, but that he was an angel, I was positive. He couldn't be from this plane of existence because men — and women — just didn't look like him.
I'd dated. Before we left Forks I'd been in a relationship with Jacob Black. Jacob's father, Billy, was a good friend of Charlie's, and he was the Chief of the Quileute tribe at La Push. When Charlie passed away, Billy took it upon himself to look after Renee and me when he could make it to town. It was hard for him though, he'd lost the use of his legs in an automobile accident many years earlier. He'd also lost his wife in the accident, so Billy knew a thing or two about grieving. When the pain in his legs kept him immobile, he would send Jacob in his place. It wasn't long before Jacob and I were dating. We weren't so serious in our relationship that we would stay dating when I was living four hours away, so when Momma and I moved away Jacob and I broke up.
I'd looked at my fair share of men. It was impossible not to when you were dating Jacob Black. Hell, it was impossible not to when your father took you over to the reservation every weekend. There was something in the water in La Push, I was convinced, all of the boys there were far too tall and muscular.
I'd kissed three men. Jacob wasn't my first kiss. Seth Clearwater, Harry's son, Harold's grandson, was. We were twelve years old and his sister Leah was teasing us about hanging around each other. She said we were boyfriend and girlfriend but we didn't know what she meant. He was a boy and he was my friend. I was a girl and I was his friend. So why did Leah have to spit that at us like that? She dared us to kiss and we did. I wasn't expecting Seth Clearwater to stick his tongue in my mouth though. It was a good thing he did though, or when Jacob pushed his tongue passed my lips I might have freaked out. Jacob was my second kiss. Gar, Alice's brother, was my third and last. We were dared. By Alice. I think she harbored some thoughts of me being her sister by way of marrying her brother.
I'd seen two men without their shirts on, and I'd drooled over them for weeks after. Jacob being the first, and being his girlfriend entitled me to look upon his naked chest whenever I wished to. He obliged me every time I asked. The other was a man at the reservation, Sam Uley. I dreamed about him that night.
I'd called a man gorgeous before. Jacob always had an ethereal kind of beauty to him, and he'd laughed when I told him he was 'sort-of-beautiful.' I think I'd hurt his feelings. I hadn't meant to. I'd meant it as a compliment.
I'd lusted after movie stars.
I'd been sure that no man would ever take the place of Brad Pitt in my fantasies.
I'd been wrong.
He was shirtless and sweating. His hair was wet and sticking up all over. He was smiling. I thought I was dreaming.
I couldn't tell what color his eyes were; he wasn't looking my way, but I imagined they must be some shade of blue that was out of this world. Or maybe green, something velvety, something a queen would drape around herself.
I couldn't tell what color his hair really was. It was so hot outside, and everyone was sweating. His was clumped and dark, and that's all I could see. Even still, I wanted my hands in it. I wanted to make more clumps in the mess atop his head and stare into his — what I'd imagined in my head to be — beautifully colored eyes.
I could see him from the side, and even only being able to see just that much of him, I knew, without a doubt, that I would never lay eyes upon another man such as himself so long as I should live.
I could see his sweat-covered, chiseled, glisteningly sinful chest. The muscles there were defined and firm, strong and bulging. I could see the band of his boxers peeking out from the waist of his belted jeans, and above that, one side of the 'V' that ran below his abdominal muscles and hid beneath the confines of his pants. I could see the straining biceps of one arm as he raised a hand to run through that wet, clumped hair, much like I wanted my own to do. I could see the long, slender, graceful, powerful looking fingers of the other hand, gripped around a red, plastic cup, in which I assumed, yet again, to be full of an alcoholic beverage.
I could see his cheekbones, hard and angular. I could see his sideburns, unkempt and messy. I could see one eyebrow; it looked to be raised at the person in front of him, but I couldn't be sure because I couldn't look away from him. I could see the crinkle of wrinkles at the corner of his eye, telling me he was smiling. I could see the smile, from my own eyes, from one side only, and knew that I would never want to see another man smile again. Ever.
Just then his head turned. I gasped. The entirety of his face cemented what I'd thought upon first glance: he couldn't be from this world. His face was completely symmetrical. Nothing was out of place. One eye matched the other in placement and eyelash length. One eyebrow matched the other in shape. His nose was perfectly straight. His cheekbones were the exact height of the other. His mouth, his smile, was the only thing off. It was crooked. One side of his mouth was higher than the other. I didn't even know one could smile like that. Even so, in its imperfection against perfection, his smile made him real.
I would dream about his smile for years.
He looked at me. I remembered when his eyes rested upon my body. It was just after he turned. I watched as his eyes scanned the crowd. Was he looking for someone? I knew one thing for certain: he was definitely not looking for me. His eyes touched my body though. Faster than a speeding bullet did they take in my features, roaming from my toes, to my knees, to my hips, to my breasts, to my shoulders, to my chin, to my too-big-for-my-face-mouth, to my hair and finally, to my eyes. He didn't even acknowledge me after his perusal of my body, instead he turned right back to the people surrounding him, and joined right back into their conversation. I was left panting.
The crowd closed around me for a split second, and when it parted again, he was gone. I wanted to cry. Even with his blatant confirmation of my not-enough-ness, I wanted to look upon him some more. Drink him in and bathe in him. I knew, without a doubt, I would never see him again. I was wrong.
Gianna's squeal in my ear brought me out of my stupor. She'd found me in the crowd and I hoped beyond hope she would go away. She didn't.
"This is them! This is them, Bella! Oh! Look! Look! Look at him!" she yelled in my ear. My eyes followed her outstretched, pointing finger to the stage. To the band that had just taken it. To the man at the microphone, and most importantly, the man beside him.
"Ladies and gentleman! I present to you some local goodness… give it up for Shine!" The crowd's eruption around me went unnoticed. Gianna's squealing in my ear went unchecked. My mother's hand around my arm was unfelt. My eyes were glued to the man that stepped to the microphone after the introduction. The singer. The one. The angel. His eyes were green.
"Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Bella! Do you see him? Do you? He's just... " Gianna's voice tapered off from the loud yell she'd been forced to expend because of the applause ringing through the audience. For just a moment, one tiny minute of my life, the world disappeared, and I was laying in my bed beside my sister again. This was just the sort of thing we would talk about on those long nights. A smile made its way across my face when I looked at her, with her bright eyes and breathtaking grin.
And then the angel began to sing.
I won't ever recall what they played. I won't ever remember if they were covers or originals. What I will remember is the crowd never quieting. I'll always remember Gianna jumping – carefree as the day she was born. I'll remember Momma swaying to the beat, lost in her own world. I'll never forget his lips moving or the sweat dripping from his brow and unclothed chest. I'll always remember his voice.
Silly me, I'd thought Gianna was staring at him too. I'd thought everyone in the crowd was staring at him. I might not have known his name, but I knew he was unlike any other.
I didn't realize she was staring at the drummer. I didn't realize she'd been staring at the drummer for six months prior to the night. She'd been going to every show, at every bar, every night Shine performed. She'd been pursuing the drummer all that time. She'd decided tonight was their night. That's why she'd been so insistent about coming to this specific festival.
Neither did I realize the drummer had a girlfriend. I'd wondered if Gianna had known of his girlfriend, or if she even cared. She wasn't the sister I'd grown up with anymore. She wasn't the daughter Charlie and Renee had raised her to be any longer. She had become a cold and heart-less individual, and she only cared for herself. Gianna wanted what she wanted and she took it regardless of the consequences.
The woman crying across from me that night was who would suffer Gianna's consequence this time. The woman who was apparently the girlfriend of the drummer. The woman, which I would later find out, who found Gianna bent over and naked from the waist down… with the drummer pounding into her from behind.
I'd only been looking for Gianna. I'd only wanted to ask if she was ready to go home. Momma was tired, and to be honest so was I. Gianna had disappeared when Shine had left the stage and since we were her ride, Renee wanted to make sure whether or not she wanted to stay or go. I'd never — not in a million years — imagined I would walk into what I did. I put the pieces together myself, and Gianna confirmed what I'd thought later.
A beautiful blonde woman was in my sister's face — right in my sister's face. Close enough to hear her whisper, but whisper she did not. She was yelling at my sister, calling her obscenely awful names. Telling Gianna what a 'piece of trash' she was, and that if she ever saw her again she'd 'fucking kill her ass.' I was only partially afraid for my sister; only partially because I actually wanted this goddess of a woman to give my sister a beating. Gianna deserved that much and more, and in the back of my mind, I thought it might do some good.
For his part, the drummer had looked remorseful. He'd begged and pleaded with the crying girl to let him explain, but all of his cries were cut off by the huge, dark-headed man cradling her form to his own. With a sharp edge to his voice, he told the drummer, "Back the fuck off, Felix. You need to move along. When and if Heidi ever wants to talk to your sorry ass again, she'll let you know. Don't fucking bother her, dick."
Even with the big guy's warning, the drummer, Felix, had moved toward her still. His eyes were focused solely on her as he begged some more. A hand flew at him, in the form of a fist, and a low, angry voice told him, "You heard Emmett, you fuck. Get the hell out of here." With that warning, Felix fled. I realized the punch and the angry voice had come from my angel.
What I'll never forget from the night, and I'll never, ever forget it… is the glare on my angel's face when I grabbed my sister to drag her away. The glare directed at me. The glare calling me a whore. Just like my sister.
Even with the glare he was still, and always would be — of that I was sure — the most gorgeous man I had or would ever see. He would star in all my dreams. He would sing to me whenever I wanted. He would look upon my body and smile instead of turning away. He would say my name and make me shiver.
It would be his face I would see when I lost my virginity. It would be his lips I would feel when I kissed a man. It would be his muscles my hands would roam over when I lay beneath another. It would always be him. In that moment of time, I believed that.
That's what happens when you're seventeen and you don't know any better. Your naivety makes you blind. Your inexperience makes you wistful.
And then, without your permission, life comes right up and bites you in your ass.
Okay! So, we're off... and as you probably noticed, we don't know much about much except for little miss Bella and her immediate family, oh, and Alice. Don't worry one bit about that, you'll meet everyone soon, and much about them at that.
No, I will not do to Alice what I did in TG, I want to say that right off the bat, but I make no promises for any of the rest of the characters.
I plan to post this story once per week, in hopes that with what I have written already (4 chapters complete at this moment in time) that it will give me time a plenty to get the story finished and in a manner in which there is no more than a week delay between chapters.
All of you that have come over from Through Glass, I thank you, and hope you give this one as much patience and effort as you did TG.
Let me know what you all think so far, I will tell you straight off the bat, the next chapter will be a time jump, and, if you want, send me a message or ask in a review, and I'll send out a teaser for it. I haven't ever posted teasers or offered them before, so if you all like the idea, I will start doing that each chapter... and I can post them over at A Different Forest in their weekly sneak peek section, too, if you'd like.
So, today's Friday... does a Friday post sound good for now? Let me know, this is all for you guys... :) We'll shoot for next Friday, Chapter 2, regardless, and work from there. How's that sound? And no worries about a delay on that one, trust me when I say it's written, and I can't fucking wait to give it to you all.