A/N- I'm at it again. If you're new, welcome, and if you've been with me for a while now, welcome back. This is an Edward and Bella story. It will have a HEA.
I can't thank enough my wonderful pre-readers, Dinx, Jacndaniel, theblondebella, and amieforshort. You ladies rock my world! Infinite amounts of hugs to my beta, katydid2363. She's my rock that keeps putting up with my insanity.
Also, happy birthday lilmissb! I hope you have a fantastic day!
I do not own anything, Twilight or other, not even a copy of the movie Heathers. Fngrcufs, you're shaking your head in disappointment aren't you. *hangs head in shame*
In the Air Tonight
People come up with so many cliche sayings when they return home after being away for so long. 'Home is where the heart is'. 'Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to'..'Home is a place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in'. That one actually held true for me. But the one that I held near and dear to my heart was, 'you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave'.
Okay, so maybe it was actually from Hotel California, but it still held true, and why, after twenty years of being away from Forks, Washington, I had returned home. Yes, in fact, Don Henley was right. I might have checked out when I was eighteen, but they knew even back then, that I could never leave.
What I wanted was for someone to wake me up when September ended. And…now I had gone from the Eagles to Green Day. My musical library had no limits.
Here I was, on a cool September evening, standing outside of my old high school. Good old Forks High still stood proudly just as it had twenty years ago. People walked by, pushing strollers or holding hands. Laughing and smiling and nodding a polite hello in my direction. I guess some people still thought that since I was the queen bitch back in my days on the campus that I would still be that way now. Well, they were right. I didn't want to be here and had I not been so damn determined to win Homecoming Queen back in 1989, then I wouldn't have had to be here to begin with. But alas, I was at the top of the social ladder in high school. I was the one all the girls wanted to be (or hated) and the one all of the boys wanted to get with. Of course, being the "lady" I was, I had reserved myself for only one guy. Thinking about him now made me want to kick the nearest tree or trash can.
It was tradition in Forks for the newly crowned homecoming queen to be ushered in by the homecoming queen from twenty years prior. I, Isabella Marie Swan Black (now removed), had returned to pass the crown down to hopefully a young girl who wouldn't follow in my own footsteps. Not that I had lived a bad life, but I sometimes wondered if I could go back, would I do things differently?
High school was what I considered my glory days. (Bruce Springsteen anyone? Again, my library expands…) I was Forks High's "it" girl. Popular, smart, fashionable, and a down right bitch. I didn't leave this town with a bad taste in my mouth. I set off, in my mind, to accomplish whatever my little teenage heart desired. Of course, with that came the boyfriend (ex-husband) that I had followed to college because I thought we would be together forever. I should have known better. For a guy who still tried to be who he was in high school, even now, he amounted to a shit ton of bricks. Stupid asshole.
It was inevitable that I would run into him this weekend. He talked about this day more than I cared to remember. It's going to be great, he'd tell me. We'll go back and be the hottest thing this town ever lost. Just like old times, Bells. Old times my ass. I sometimes thought if I could go back and do things differently I would have, but things like that don't happen. People aren't given second chances. There are no do-overs in life. You have to make good on the choices and the path you've taken and just deal with it. No one is given anything. You decide your fate. You are the only one responsible for the fact that you have nothing, or no one to brag about to old friends. Unless, of course, you want to gloat about the fact that you took said ex-husband to the cleaners in the divorce. Shouldn't have cheated…
I continued my way through the crowds of people, praying that no one would stop and want to chitchat. It wasn't as if I was going out of my way to avoid everyone. I mean, I was here, right? I just didn't feel like being the chipper, happy go lucky, homecoming queen and daughter of the now retired police chief. I just wanted to crown the new girl and head back to Seattle. Seattle, where I had a cute little house and a cat that napped in the front window all day. That was all I wanted. Of course, things never worked out the way you want them to.
I stopped to take it all in. I was here. I might as well enjoy the smell of the atmosphere for at least a second. I closed my eyes and took in the sweet aroma of the cotton candy and the fried deliciousness of the corn dogs. It was enough to wet my appetite. The sound of my name being called in the distance was enough for me to snap my eyes open in a panic. When my sight landed on the person who had called my name, my body visibly relaxed for the first time all evening.
I smiled a genuine smile as she approached. It was hard to believe that the woman headed in my direction was anywhere close to forty. She still looked like the same girl I had come to realize was my only true friend.
Her pace quickened, and when she was in my reach, her arms flew out and wrapped themselves around my neck. I hugged her back, and the two of us stood in the middle of the midway, embracing like the old friends that we were.
She backed off, her smile held firmly on her face as she gave me the once over. "Well, look at you! I swear, Bella Black, you haven't aged a day since the last time I saw you."
Angela Weber Cheney was honestly the sweetest person I had ever met. Ever. She was nothing like me, which made me question how on earth she and I were friends in high school. We were opposites in every sense of the word. From looks to personality, she and I could have posed as enemies from opposing cliques.
Where Angela was the smartest of our class, I was smart but more focused on the social happenings of high school drama. We ran in the same circle but Angela always stayed in the background, choosing to refrain from the antics of the misfits I instilled.
She never voiced it, but I had a pretty good notion that she never thought too highly of the teenage shenanigans I pulled. In all fairness, it wasn't just me who made life hell for those that were even the slightest bit different. Unfortunately, because I was the "ring leader" so to speak, I got the rep of the meanest of the popular group. I wasn't proud of how I acted then, now all these years later, but for all intents and purposes, someone had to fill that role. I justified it by saying that at least I was on the end that dished the hell out rather than one of the ones that received it.
Just as Angela had mentioned that I looked just as I had in high school, the same could be said for her. Her dark hair was just as vibrant as ever, her brown eyes showed no signs of age around the creases. I smiled at my old friend, pleased that even at almost forty we both still had a youthful glow.
"Thanks, Angela," I replied. "How are you? You look fantastic."
"Thank you. I'm good. Working at the school now. Did your dad tell you?" she asked.
I shook my head no. My dad and I had a strenuous relationship at best. I used to be the apple of his eye. His baby girl. All of that faltered when the most devastating thing that could happen to a family, did. We still spoke, but I rarely came home to visit him. It was wrong and deep down I knew that. I was his only child. I should have been a better daughter. Visiting him meant coming home and running into people that I wanted to forget about. A life that I wanted to leave behind.
"What are you doing?" I asked, trying to diffuse the topic away from my father.
"Oh," she said, her eyes lighting up. "I came home several years ago for a wedding. The baby of the family, Tommy, got married. Come to find out, he married the current principal's daughter. We got to talking and he mentioned that the guidance counselor was retiring. I had considered moving home to be closer to all of my nieces and nephews, Madison really misses them." I smiled brightly at the mention of her daughter.
"How is she?" I interrupted.
"Madi? Oh she's great. It was good for her, us moving back here. She's at that age now where she can baby-sit so of course, my brothers and sisters-in-law are eating that up. More time for them to actually go out and do something."
I nodded like I knew what she meant, but really I didn't have any idea since I had no kids of my own.
"And Ben?" Angela and Ben skirted around each other all through high school. It was apparent that they both harbored secret crushes on each other but neither made a move until she worked up the courage to ask him to the homecoming dance our senior year. When high school ended, neither had put their academic dreams on hold to be together. She went on her way, as he did his, but a few years later, they became reacquainted and were married. Not long after they found out they were pregnant. Madison was their one and only and from the pictures I had seen of her, she was the spitting image of her mom.
"Surprisingly, he's really happy here. When you're the only financial advisor in a small town, business tends to be pretty good," she said with a hint of laughter in her voice.
"I can only imagine. So, back to being the guiding force for young minds."
"Right. Well, when I mentioned my degree in psychology his ears perked up and he offered me the job right there on the spot. I couldn't believe it! I mean, I didn't accept it immediately; I had to talk to Ben first. After we both agreed that small town living, especially with Madison, would be better than high city crime, we packed up everything and moved back."
"That's really great, Angela. I'm really happy for you," I said, hoping that she could hear the honest to goodness sincerity in my words.
"What about you?" she asked. "Your dad keeps me informed when I see him at the grocery store or the post office, but it's nothing like hearing it straight from the horse's mouth."
I laughed a little at her choice of words. "What do you want to know that you don't already? Jacob and I got married, had no kids. He had been cheating on me for a few years with a girl we both befriended in college. I filed for divorce, got the car and the house and now I'm here." I shrugged my shoulders like it was no big thing.
"Bella?" Angela questioned with a raise of her eye, seeing right though my facade. "How are you really?"
I sighed and ran my fingers through my long brown waves. "Honestly? I can't stand to be in the same room with him. I didn't want to come back and see him, or anyone for that matter. No offense," I offered.
"None taken," she replied with a weak smile.
"I was just so stupid then. I mean, really stupid. I was mean and followed him around like he was the second coming."
"I won't argue with you there," she said. "But you're still young. You could still find happiness."
"Really?" I asked in a disbelieving tone. "Who would want some has been?"
"Well..." she trailed off, tapping her forefinger against her chin. "I might know of one person who might have secretly been into you in high school."
"Angela, please," I protested.
"What?" she asked with mocked offense. "Do you remember Edward Cullen?"
I thought back trying to recall the name. It didn't register with me, but to be honest, if they didn't run in our immediate circle, or unfortunately was someone I, for lack of a better word, bullied, I had no clue who they were.
"I don't think so," I finally said.
"Oh come on!" she goaded. "Really? You don't remember him?" I shook my head no, ashamed of myself. "Well, no you probably wouldn't. He didn't run in our circle. He was one of the smarties. I guess that's why I knew him."
"Please," I scoffed. "You were probably the sweetest person in our class. You had no business associating with someone like me who was such a bitch."
"Bella, you weren't that bad." I gave her a knowing eye but said nothing. "Okay, maybe just a little. Edward was in your biology class."
"How do you remember that?" I teased. "I do good to remember what I had for breakfast the previous morning."
We both laughed at my comment. "He was your lab partner," she finally stated after we had stopped laughing.
I vaguely remembered sharing a lab desk with a guy. I had paid him no attention because I had my head so far stuck up Jacob's ass it wasn't funny. Then it dawned on me. Like a beacon of light shining down upon us. "You mean the guy I used to cheat off of?"
"Yes, Bella, the guy you used to cheat off of," she said in an exasperated tone, rolling her eyes.
"Oh, so he had a thing for me?"
"Who didn't? Anyway, he's back tonight to oversee the crowning. He became a best selling author. Maybe you've read his books?"
"Doubtful. I don't have time to read," I admitted. "If it doesn't happen in my office, I'm afraid I have no idea what goes on."
It was the truth. Being the human resources director for a law firm allowed me little to no time to actively seek out pleasures. It was a drastic change from the person I once was. Back then you could have found me at all the latest hot spots or in the know of all the juicy drama. Now, however, my job had taken over my life. I worked late hours and early mornings. The firm in which I worked had ten partners. Each one of them had a personal secretary as well as a runner, or two. The runner positions had a turnover rate that would make the food industry look like a ten-year plan. Not to mention, most of the attorneys were men, and once their wives caught sight of their newest personal assistant, she'd be out the door. It was grueling at times, but it afforded me the best of the best when it came to my own divorce.
"You need to get out more," Angela dead panned. "I know you don't visit your dad that much. I know you don't want to be here and I know that you would love nothing more than to not see your ex. Bella you're not the same girl you were in high school. You can't be. We all have to grow up at some point."
"Yeah," I said with no emotion in my voice. "Tell that to my ex-husband, who thinks he can run laps around these young football players."
"Speaking of," she said, looking at something over my shoulder. Curiosity got the best of me, so I turned around and was met with the still handsome face of my ex-husband, with his new wife on his arm.
Jacob Black was the most sought after male in our class. He had everything. Looks, charm, athletic ability, a hot car, and me. Well, he had me until he thought Jane was a better fit. Tonight, however, it was apparent that he was trying to fit in with the younger boys that were milling around with hot little numbers on their arms. He was dressed in what could only be described as asshole apparel. Really, Affliction screamed douchebag.
Jacob had aged well over the years, like Angela and myself had. It was hard to believe that any of us were only a couple of years away from forty. The only thing about him was that his naturally dark hair now had a few specs of gray scattered about. His bronze skin still looked as youthful as it did twenty years ago. He worked out regularly and the buff exterior of his body proved that. I hated him for how good-looking he still was and for leaving me the way he did.
Jane was the complete opposite of me. My hair was brown, verging on a shade of black. My eyes were brown that glistened with flecks of honey and gold when the light hit them. My skin wasn't pale by any means but I wasn't naturally tan like Jacob. I had subjected myself to the tanning bed to achieve the sun look. A price I realized that I could pay for later.
She, on the other hand, was what some might call a blonde bombshell. I had it on good accord that she had to color her hair, or bleach it, to cover up the grays that threatened to shine through. Her blue eyes honestly made her face look squinty. She was tan, but that was a look also achieved by the tanning bed. A habit she still had yet to break.
Jacob and I had met Jane in college our very first day at orientation. She was from a small town, like us, and knew no one. Jacob and I quickly took to her and she proved to be a good friend to us both. Later, though, I questioned just how good of a friend she was to Jacob.
We spent our four years of college together, partying, studying, and doing all the things you do in college. After graduation, she stood up for me as Jacob and I exchanged vows. A few years later, I returned the favor and stood before God and her family as she married her now ex-husband, James. The four of us did everything together. We each focused on ourselves and didn't bother with the logistics of raising a family. There were too many social events that took place for any of us to have to bother with babies and kids. We were happy for a while it seemed.
Things fell apart when James and Jane divorced. Thinking she needed a good friend to provide a shoulder to cry on, I was there for her, and so was Jacob. We introduced her to men that we thought, maybe, she'd find solace in. She dated a few of them but never settled down. It wasn't until Jacob and I held a party for our fifteenth wedding anniversary that I found out what had been going on.
I never questioned just how long they had been messing around. I think, in the back of my mind, I already knew. The fact was they had been sleeping together. The shit had hit the fan the night of our party. I mingled with friends and co-workers who had come out to celebrate with us. It was at Jacob's and my favorite restaurant, a trendy little joint in the art district of the city. I had excused myself to the restroom after having a few too many drinks. The noises coming from one of the stalls made me giggle in my alcohol induced state. I recognized Jane's laugh and for a moment was proud of my friend for landing who ever it was behind the door. I had been seconds away from announcing my arrival when I heard Jacob speak. My body froze when I realized that it was him in there with her. Rage filled my body, and without giving it a second thought, I kicked the bathroom door in and found the two of them in a very compromising position. I'll never forget the wide-eyed looks they gave me after I had caught them. My blood was on fire, and my breathing was coming out in ragged pants. I remembered them both trying to rationalize their behavior. I knew their mouths were moving, but I had not heard a word either of them spoke.
Holding back tears, my need for the bathroom all but forgotten, I fled the party and went straight home. I had worked for attorneys long enough to know what I needed to do. I immediately called one of my co-workers, a ball busting lawyer who served the balls of the men she helped convict to her family for breakfast. She met me at the house where we changed the locks on the doors and promptly began the paperwork so that I could serve his ass papers.
The pretending to give a shit about Bella only lasted for so long. Before long, he and Jane were shacked up in her condo not far from our house. Victoria, the attorney I had hired, helped in making the divorce as speedy as possible. I wasn't quite sure how she had done it, but in the end, she came back saying that he wasn't going to contest to anything I wanted. That meant, the house, my car, my 401K, damn near everything was mine. Of course, he hadn't wanted to fight me on anything. He had all he needed and apparently wanted under her roof.
I could feel Angela at my side as they walked toward us. "Stay strong," she whispered.
"Ladies, long time no see," Jacob said, wrapping his arm tightly around Jane. She gave us both a smile that made me sick to my stomach.
"Jacob, it's great to see you," Angela replied. She extended her hand to Jane before saying, "Hi, I'm Angela."
"Jane," she said shortly. "Bella, it's good to see you."
I rolled my eyes. "I'm sure it is."
"Ah, c'mon, Bells. Lighten up! We're back to where it all started." I knew what he was trying to do. He was trying to get me to see what we used to have. Make me realize that things would never be like they were. Little did he know, I'd change every damn bit of it, given the chance.
"Angela, it was really great catching up with you," I said to my friend. "I think I'm going to head on over to the stands and wait for the coronation to start."
"Oh, you can't leave!" Another familiar voice cried out. "The party's just getting started. The gang's all here now."
I slowed my movements and turned around cautiously. Standing in front of me was, in fact, my old high school gang.
Lauren Mallory, the second in command of our popular group, flanked the arm of Tyler Crowley. The two of them fooled around from time to time but never laid roots to one another. Lauren was too good to be tied down to one man. Of course, none of us were stupid. They got their rocks off with one another every time the chance presented itself.
It had been twenty years since I had seen any of their faces. Jacob and I had too much going on at the time to attend our ten year reunion. We knew that it would have been much more fun to see everyone twenty years later, as opposed to ten.
I remembered Lauren as being the very well to do girl. Her hair was always neatly rolled in soft curls and sat at least two inches from her head. Her makeup was always flawless and her clothes never had a wrinkle. It was a staple, of course, to be as presentable as possible in our little clique. We were the popular kids. We had reputations to uphold.
She smiled at me, her white teeth glistening. Tyler held her close with his arm wrapped tightly around her shoulders. He smiled at me, but it was more of a condescending smile than a friendly one.
Tyler was usually referred to as the jerk of our group. If you weren't directly associated with the popular kids, then he made sure to make your life hell. He teased and picked on everyone who was remotely different than us. Not to say that I was much better, I had passed around a few not so nice insults myself. His dark hair was slicked back and like Jacob, I could see his natural color slowly fading to gray.
Next to them was Jessica Stanley Newton, the typical eighties airhead or valley girl. She constantly smacked her gum, said "like" after every other word, and worshiped Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. Her blonde hair, back then, was piled high on top of her head with her bangs teased away from her forehead. Now, she wore it straight as a board and in layers. A cigarette replaced the gum smacking, and I briefly wondered where the DARE dogs were. Smoking in this day and age was strictly prohibited from school grounds.
Her boyfriend, now husband, Mike Newton stood at her side, his arms folded over his chest. He looked about like how I felt. The vibe that he would have rather been anywhere but here generated from his posture. Jessica smiled warmly and Mike nodded in my general direction.
"Bella, Bella, Bella," Tyler sang out. "How long has it been? Twenty years, huh?"
"Yeah." I nodded. "Twenty years."
"Too long," Jessica added. Her voice was still has shrill as ever. Age apparently hadn't made her sound any more adult like.
"Not long enough," I mumbled to myself.
"Well, I for one, am glad to see that we are all still as hot as ever," Lauren said conceitedly. "I mean, look around. Have you seen the people we graduated with?" She made a dismissive sound at her own question.
"I know right?" Jessica added, bringing out the valley girl in her sound.
"Were you headed to the stands?" Mike asked me.
"Yeah, I was just on my way," I replied.
"Great. Let's get going. It's been a long day of traveling, and I need to sit down."
My old group of friends and I walked over to the football field so that we could all get front row seats for the coronation of the new court. Jacob and Jane hung toward the back, and for that I was grateful. I had seen enough of the two of them in my lifetime and didn't want to stare at their embrace as we walked.
"Long drive?" I asked Mike as we walked.
"Yeah, and with four kids, it makes it that much longer."
"I can imagine," I said with a soft chuckle. "How old are they now?"
"The twins are ten, and the baby is five. The oldest just started college."
"Wow," I mouthed out loud.
"Jessica, you look amazing for having four kids," I said to her. She smiled brightly at the compliment.
"Thanks, I work out a lot. And even if I didn't, the twins constantly keep me on my toes."
"You have got to be kidding me," Lauren said loudly.
We stopped at a tent situated just steps away from the football field.
"What is it?" Jessica asked.
"A fortune teller. Oh we so have to go in," Lauren said with enthusiasm.
I tried to make myself invisible to the group. No way did I want to go into some rickety tent and pay someone to tell me what I already knew. I had lived it, no need to be reminded of all the despair I had gone through. Just as I was fleeing toward the back of our circle, Lauren cried out.
"Oh, Bella, you have to go in!"
"No, I don't think so."
"Why not? C'mon, it'll be fun."
"Yeah, Bella, why not?" Jacob interjected. I could hear the smugness in his tone. "Are you afraid of what she's going to tell you?"
I spun on my heel and glared at him. How dare he? I thought. Afraid of what she could tell me? I didn't think so. I just didn't need to hear, again, how my life was going nowhere fast.
"Bella," Angela's voice said softly in my ear. "Remember what I said about having secret admirers?"
I stole my glare away from Jacob, who was smirking at me, and focused on what Angela had said. "Think about it."
"You can't be serious?" I said low enough, hoping the others wouldn't catch on to our conversation.
"Why not? What do you have to lose? She may tell you that you're life hasn't even really begun yet. Maybe you'll meet the man of your dreams here this weekend?"
"You going in or not?" Tyler asked, huffing.
"She won't," Jacob said. "She's too scared."
He laughed at his own words, and before I could second guess what I was doing, I marched through the people I had once considered friends and into the fortune teller's tent.
The room was dark upon entering. The sun hadn't officially gone down outside yet, so I wondered how in the world the tent could be so dark.
The walls were covered in some sort of velvet curtain in a deep crimson. I walked over and let my hands graze its surface. Through the tiny foyer of a room, a pair of curtains fluttered open, which I found odd since there was no breeze. I turned around to see if maybe someone had followed me in but no one was there. Through the curtains I could see a faint light emitting. I drew in a deep breath, determined not to let Jacob or the others get the best of me. I could do this. It was just a harmless fortune teller. Half the time, these people were just trying to scam you out of money by giving false hopes and dreams. I was sure, in my case, she'd get a good laugh.
I walked through the curtains and was met with an elderly woman sitting behind a small table, a crystal ball perched on top. I laughed to myself, admiring the fact that she had gone all out with her display. As I made my way closer, her head slowly raised until our eyes met. I gasped as she stared at me. It felt like she was staring daggers into my soul.
"Take a seat, child," she insisted.
I did as the woman said, finding that there was no will in my head to tell me to do otherwise. It was like she was pulling me in and if I'd wanted to escape, I feared I wouldn't be able.
"Give me your hand."
I extended my hand across the table, letting my arm rest next to her crystal ball. She took my hand in hers and traced the inside of my palms with her fingertips. An occasional sigh or gasp would emit from her mouth, but she said no words. Before I could ask her what she saw, she gripped my hand tightly, causing my eyes to bulge. I looked at the woman, scared for the first time. Her breathing had become labored, as her own eyes grew larger. I tried to free my hand from her grasp, but her hold was strong, too strong to release me.
Without a word, her head fell against the table. Her hold loosened and I extracted my hand, pulling it to my chest. I sat for a moment wondering if maybe this was all a part of the act. Maybe she needed a few minutes to really give me the full effect. I couldn't take the silence any longer, so I called out to her.
"Ma'am?" I asked, my voice quivering.
She didn't answer so I shook her lightly on the shoulder, hoping to get some sort of response from her.
"Oh God," I said to myself. "Ma'am!" I said louder. "You have to wake up!"
She didn't move, and I knew I needed to seek some sort of help. I rose from my chair and turned around nearly tripping over a rug on the floor I hadn't noticed when I entered. As I righted myself, I pushed the curtains aside but stopped when a voice cried out for me to wait. The voice sounded different, much younger than the voice of the woman who had collapsed at the table.
"You need my help," she said again.
I turned around and held my breath when I saw that the woman was, in fact, not the same. This was a young woman, maybe early twenties, with short, dark hair. With shaky knees, I walked over to her and, upon further inspection I realized that I knew this person. Well, I didn't know, know her, but I knew who she was. I had to be dreaming. This had to be some sort of sick mind game that my so-called friends and, most likely, ex-husband, had pulled. It wasn't possible for a young Winona Ryder to be sitting in the same chair that was just moments ago occupied by an older woman with wrinkles and gray hair.
"They put you up to this, didn't they?" I accused. "Who was it? Jacob or maybe Lauren? I swear I knew that bitch always had it out for me."
I shook my head and stilled a laugh.
"I don't know whom you're talking about," she said. "No one sent me here."
"Well someone had to have!" I shouted. "If not for the fact that those assholes out there are trying to get at me for something I'm sure I did to them, then for the fact that you," I stressed, "can't be real."
She looked down at her chest and placed her hands over her heart. "I'm breathing and my heart is beating. I have to be real."
"But...but you CAN'T! You're too young! This isn't 1989 for Christ sake. It's 2010!"
"I think that's elementary," she said with a wave of her hand. "What's important is why I am here."
"Why are you here?" I asked in a mocking tone.
"To help you. You need my help." Her tone was firm. She wasn't backing down from whatever she believed she could help me with.
"And what kind of help do you think I can get from Winona Rider, who remarkably looks exactly like Veronica from the movie Heathers?"
"I believe you can relate to the movie more than you think. Weren't you and your friends," she said, motioning toward the back of the tent where the entrance was, "very much like those from the movie?"
I rolled my eyes. "Um, news flash, we never killed anyone."
"Maybe not physically, but you might have damaged a few souls."
"You have to be on drugs. Or I am. There is no way that I am standing here talking to Veronica," I said, using air quotes around her name.
"But you are. Now, twenty years ago, weren't you labeled as the popular clique? The mean girls?"
I said nothing in reply to her. For several minutes we stared at one another, neither wanting to be the first to relent.
"We can do this all night," she finally said. "I have nowhere to be."
"What do you want from me?" I asked.
She laughed, clutching her stomach. "What do I want from you? Oh no, it's what you want from me. Did you or did you not say that you'd like to have a second chance at life? "
"Yes, but...how did you know that?"
"I just do. It's not important, I can assure you. What if I could give you that second chance? What if you could do it all over again? I have to ask, would you really do it differently?"
Would I? I asked myself. I liked to think I would, but when I thought back on my time in high school, it really was some of the best years of my life. I had everything. Why would someone want to change that?
"This is what you need to ask yourself. You've been given a second chance to make things right, Isabella. You need to dig down deep within yourself and really question whether or not you'd do things a different way."
"But why would I?" I finally voiced aloud. "I had everything...I was popular, had the best boyfriend, and no one messed with me."
"That's all true, but what has it gotten you? What do you have to show for all that you had twenty years ago?"
She was right, and it hurt to hear someone say it to me. I had nothing to show for it. No husband, only a piece of trash who decided that I wasn't what he wanted any more. I had no kids to spend my time with. Hell, I really had no friends to speak of.
"I can give you the chance to go back and do it over. Maybe if things go right, you'll be a different person twenty years later. Maybe you'll have the family and friends you secretly desire."
"Let me get this straight. You're telling me that you can send me back? To 1989? And in doing so, I can change my fate?" She nodded.
"This is absolutely insane. You know that time travel doesn't exist, right?"
"Then you have nothing to lose, do you?" she replied, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
I sat and thought for a moment. Maybe she was right. If she could do what she was telling me, then I had nothing to fear only a new life to gain. I eyed her and the room as I thought about my decision. I tried to look for any signs that I was the target of some sort of hoax. The room was bare except for the small table with the crystal ball and the two chairs on either side. The light I had seen earlier was a chandelier that hung from the ceiling. My gaze traveled up to it, wondering how on earth it was strung up there.
"It won't fall," she said, taking me from my musings. "At least, I don't think it will."
I gave her a half smile before I retreated with my thoughts. If I could go back, then maybe I could change what happened with Jacob. It was true that he had turned out to be a lying cheating asshole, but I had loved him at one time, anyway.
"You know what?" I finally said. "I'll do it. I have nothing to lose." I threw my hands up in the air in surrender. "Time travel isn't real. Therefore, after you con me out of however much this little party is going to cost, I can go back to living my life and everything will be as it was."
"Or you could change it," she stated again.
"Right," I said, drawing the word out. "Let's just do this, okay? I have a new queen to crown and I want to get it over with so I can go home."
She held her hand out, waving it towards the seat I had occupied when I entered. I sat down and eyed her, waiting for pixie dust or something equally cliche to time warp me back to 1989.
"Your hands," she said. "I need them both."
I held out my hands for her as we sat at the table facing one another. "There is one more thing, Isabella."
"Of course," I said, wondering how long it would take her to work up to this. "I'm assuming you want payment. Tell me, Madam Veronica, how much is this going to set me back?"
"You have a rude awakening headed your way, Isabella Swan. The only payment I hope to get is seeing you again and knowing that you made the right choice."
"That's mighty nice of you," I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. "So tell me, what else is there?"
"You have a goal when you reach 1989 again. You must change the lives of six people who you affected."
"Are you serious? Who are the six?" I questioned.
"I can't tell you that. That's for you to figure out."
"You do realize that I wasn't everyone's favorite person. That's like looking for a needle in a haystack."
"I'm sorry. That's the price you pay for returning. You have a choice. If you don't want to accept the terms, you can walk back out of here to people who never really were your friends and to your ex-husband and his new wife."
"Or, like you said, I can go but I have to help six other people?"
She nodded her head but said nothing to back up her previous statement.
"What if I can't help them? What if they don't want to be helped?" I asked.
"Everyone wants help, some people are just too scared to ask for it. As for what happens if you don't succeed, I wouldn't worry about it. You're a smart girl you'll do the right thing."
"Whatever, its not like time travel is possible."
"Are you ready?" she asked, squeezing my hands in hers. I nodded. "Very well."
I wasn't sure if the wind outside had picked up or what, but the entire tent shook with force as the air around us swirled. My hair fanned across my face before blowing in the breeze. Madame Veronica, which I had dubbed her in my head, held my hands tighter. I watched her, waiting for a spell to be said or some sort of incantation that would transport me back in time, but she said nothing. Her eyes locked with mine as the gust of air continued to swirl around us.
My head began to feel heavy. It was almost as if I couldn't hold it up on my shoulders any longer. My vision began to blur and it was like Madame Veronica kept getting further and further away. It felt as if she was still holding my hands but her face seemed to be far off in the distance.
My eyes started to drift close and it became too much for me to keep them open. The whipping sound of the wind around me grew louder and the only visual I could come up with was feeling like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when she got swept away.
Unable to keep my lids from falling, I allowed them to close and everything went black followed by a deafening silence.
A/N- I know the whole time travel thing has been done before. Living Backwards is an amazing story, but this one is a little different. As you can tell, we're headed back to the eighties. I hope you enjoy the "excellent adventure". If you want teasers and pictures of inspiration then follow me on tumblr. holly1980 (.) tumblr (.) com I'm also on twitter, Hollister_1980
Next update will be on March 17th! Let me know what you think and if you're excited to break out your Aqua Net! Until then, I'm headed to New Orleans for Mardi Gras so I won't be able to respond to reviews until I get back. If you've reviewed any of my other stories and I haven't gotten back with you I'm going to! I'm so sorry, things have just been kind of wonky lately.
Hugs and kisses to you all!