Stephenie Meyer still owns these characters.
A few thank yous;
To Becksishere for my beautiful banner. I love it as much today as the first time I saw it.
To the TSA girls, for their support and sometimes telling me to get on with it.
To the wonderful HoochieMomma, my prereader, who gave me constant encouragement and support. Thank you so much.
To the super wonderful dellaterra, my beta. She has given so much of her time to The Selkie Man and given me endless patience and support. My debt is huge. Thank you multiplied by a thousand.
One more at the end.
One Year Later
Bella stood in the bookshop and tried to look calm. Stacks of her novel, the cover glossy and colourful, lay piled up on the table, ready for her to sign. To her surprise, the seats were steadily filling with interested locals and curious tourists, eager to hear a short reading from this up-and-coming writer. She glanced at her parents, glad and relieved that they seemed to love Orkney as much as she did, despite the fact it had rained continuously since their arrival.
Then she sought out the dark shiny hair of Alice and the sandy tousled hair of Jasper. They were sitting close together, fingers intertwined and beaming at Bella, delighted to be there to support her on this important day. Alice had recovered from her unexpected visit with the trows, bouncing back into her life with the energy and enthusiasm she always possessed. Bella and Edward had listened to her recount the event until Alice had exhausted herself. After Edward offered her a soothing drink, she had slept until the sun set and rose again. When she woke she remembered nothing much at all of what had happened and Bella knew that the memories were buried so deep they would perhaps only flicker and dance in her dreams.
For Rose there had been the same drink and the same outcome. What Bella didn't understand was that the islanders too seemed to be convinced that Rose had never been gone. Rose's parents and Mike accepted her back into their lives as if she had only been away for a short holiday. And when Bella returned to the library to check the newspapers there was no mention of a young woman, home for study leave, who went missing, presumed drowned.
"How did you do it?" asked Bella, mystified by this feat.
Edward had smiled. "We hae our ways," he replied. "But it would'na be doing for me tae tell ye them all." Bella pushed him to reveal more but he only answered in the riddles he loved to torment her with.
"Folk love tae haiver," he said. "Sometimes, they forget wha' they were haiverin about."
This explained nothing. Bella had narrowed her eyes and called him sleekit.
"Aye," he laughed. "We're sleekit alright. Years of practise."
The reputation of the fearsome Finfolk must have been connected to these powers they possess, Bella had mused as she had gazed at the latest photograph Rose had sent from Aberdeen. It showed the new family, Rose and Mike smiling into the camera, while their round-faced baby, Nina, reached her hand up to Rose's cheek. They would never come back to live in Orkney again, another mysterious trick planted by Edward's folk to keep them far away from the hill trows. While they had given up the girls in return for the Odin Stone, according to the agreement, Edward was not giving them another opportunity to steal Rose away. For Alice, her home was now in the States with Jasper, and despite this short return to Orkney, Edward was satisfied that four thousand miles would separate the trows from their latest former captive.
Bella could see Donald Carlisle talking to the bookshop owner, and knew he was soon going to introduce her to the room of people. She swallowed hard and tried to steady her breathing. But there was only one thing she needed and that was the calm, green eyes of Edward on her. She looked to her left and there he was, standing still, leaning on a bookcase, and staring right back at her. His suit, not often used, hung on him in a way that made Bella want to peel it right off him. His crazy hair was barely tamed and there was a slight scruff on his cheek. Thinking of it made her touch her own cheek, as if she could feel the touch of his skin on hers right this moment. He smiled at her, as if he knew exactly what she was thinking and she threw him a mock scowl. She needed to be composed, not melting at the thought of him touching her. His emerald eyes twinkled as he continued to share her thoughts.
It had been an unexpected consequence of his bite and her first trip into the waves. They had become so in tune with each other's thoughts that they often spent long periods of time without exchanging a word. This was, of course, particularly useful when they were under the sea, swimming to Finfolkaheem, or Hether Blether, or any of the places Edward wanted to show her. She had swum around the wreck of the H.M.S. Hampshire, jumped off the cliffs Edward had made his playground as a child, and explored the island of Sule Skerry where Charles had disappeared all those years ago, before diving into the water again and returning home.
Finfolkaheem intrigued her the most. It was a world underwater, a series of tunnels and chambers, and a great hall where the curtains shimmered and changed colour. It was adorned with long-lost treasures, beautiful objects and multitudes of jewels from ancient shipwrecks. The sadness Bella felt when she considered the catastrophe of sunken ships was tempered when Edward revealed many of those lost at sea had joined this hidden world. She had been warmly welcomed by most of Edward's community, although Tanya, with her shining gold hair, had offered only a frosty greeting. But Bella trusted Edward enough to agree to spend the four or five darkest and coldest winter months there with him. The rest of the year was to be spent in Mike's mother's cottage, now their home on land, ideal for the long Orkney summers and easy access to the sea. And of course, Bella would travel to Forks once a year to visit her parents, with a detour to visit Alice and Jasper in their new home. Edward had promised to accompany her someday although he looked uneasy about aeroplane travel, despite the number of times Bella tried to explain the theory of aviation to him.
"Do you have a passport?" she had asked him.
He had shaken his head and laughed. "Di'na fret, lass. There are ways."
Esme McNab was in the audience, sitting straight backed in her chair. Bella smiled at her and Esme smiled too, and allowed herself a discreet nod in Edward's direction, for Bella's eyes only. Bella blushed and grinned back. "There is a special connection between the women in our family and the selkies," had been her warning and it had proved true. Edward was her destiny and now Orkney was her home.
The night she had swum to Sule Skerry had changed everything. After she stepped out of the ocean she felt a bond between her and this place become steadfast and solid. It was as if she had not only set free the Odin Stone but set herself free from her former existence. Her life so far had consisted mainly of studying – with her happiest memories being in the sea at La Push with Jacob. Now she saw that happiness return to her tenfold with the love that Edward enveloped her in. Everything in her life seemed to lead to this decision – to stay here, make a home with Edward, on the land and in the sea. Forks would always be her childhood home, a place of security, love and community. But to bide in Orkney felt preordained, now that she could swim as fast and long as Edward and the water was warm and welcoming. Charlie and Renee had accepted her decision, especially when they saw the change in her. She had returned for a visit at the end of the summer with a confidence and a poise that had grown from somewhere. And when she spoke of Edward there was no denying the sparkle in her eyes. They had teased her about her new use of Scottish words; dreich, fankle and muckle being her favourites, but they could see they were losing her to this tiny island, thousands of miles from them … but they would never stand in the way of what made her happy.
Donald began his introduction. He talked about Isabella Swan and how she came to be here, so far from her hometown. He talked about how fate had brought her here. He talked about how she had come to Orkney to finish her manuscript and gather folk tales to take back to America, but that wasn't why they were here today. She had written a new novel, an elegiac, mysterious blend of ancient folklore and modern island life. It had found a publisher in record time and was already being reviewed in newspapers and on radio shows. "A story too fantastical to be true, but too compelling to put down," wrote one critic, and Edward had chuckled. Truth is stranger than fiction, the two of them had agreed as they walked to the Odin Stone, repositioned in its old place, as if it had never been away. For a moment of fun they had joined hands through the gap in the stone and made promises to each other, just as islanders had done in handfasting ceremonies for centuries. When Edward kissed her hand, Bella thought of the day he had first done that, standing in the quiet of her garden, the sun just leaving the horizon, and how much had happened since then.
"I love ye, Bella," he had told her seriously, when they had unhooked their hands and turned their backs on the standing stone that had helped unlock the secrets of Bella's past. "Ye are my life now."
"And you are mine," she had replied, and it had felt as if they were standing on the top of the world, with every small rock and patch of moss, every grain of sand on Orkney's beaches, every fish exploring the sea, every bird circling in the sky in the right place. Everything was as it should be.
Bella allowed herself a last look at Edward's reassuring smile, a smile that told her of love and devotion, then she stepped forward and began to read.
haiver – to talk, gossip
sleekit – clever, cunning
bide – to stay, dwell
dreich – dull, dreary
muckle - large, great
fankle – to be in a muddle
To anyone who has read this story, my last thank you is to you. At whatever point you took a chance on The Selkie Man, I thank you for reading. Alerts, reviews and pm's – they have helped me to get to the end. Thank you so much.