My Other Half
Bella is a student at the University of Alaska. She's fiercely independent, but everything changes when she meets a stranger who refuses to leave her side. This story explores the subject of vampire mating. AU
The main characters aren't mine, they belong to Stephanie Meyer. Thanks SM for letting us play with your creations!
A/N: I know most of you who have me on Author Alert are very loyal Jasper fans. Sorry, but this isn't a Jasper story. I'm still writing about Jasper and Bella on the two separate stories - Aching Looks and Breaking Hearts and Life Together. But, I couldn't get this story out of my head and it made me happy to write it. What does it mean for a vampire to find his or her mate? I'm really fascinated by the idea and wanted to explore it. Others have done it much better than me, but I wanted to add my contribution to the fandom. Hope you like it.
After Mom married Phil I could see how much she missed him when he was away. I had never been in love, so I didn't fully understand that kind of longing, but it was interesting to observe. She had matured a bit when she met him, and he seemed to bring out the best in her. Renee was a better person because of Phil. I had to admit that. She was still a scatterbrain and somewhat flakey, but she had a new sense of peace and confidence that she carried. Except, when he was away, traveling, she acted like part of her soul was missing. She was miserable.
Because of this, I made a decision. I was going to gain my independence a little earlier than I originally imagined. At the beginning of my junior year of high school, I met with my guidance counselor and designed a plan to take community college classes at night in addition to my high school AP classes during the day. These courses would satisfy high school graduation requirements and I would be able to graduate by the end of the year. At first, Renee baulked. She believed I could handle the work, but she wanted me to experience the supposed "magical" senior year of high school – with football games, spring break trips and prom and all the other traditions.
Did she know me at all? I was never into that kind of stuff. I wasn't anti-social at school, but I was studious, preferring to read at home on a Friday night than go to the mall with my friends. I definitely wasn't extroverted and I would not miss senior year...at all.
"Oh, Bella, you're 17 going on 30..." Renee sighed, as she signed the consent forms.
I quickly dismissed the resentment I suddenly felt upon hearing her words. She was right – I was more mature than most girls my age. But, Renee was part of the reason I had to grow up so quickly. I was the one who had to take care of her, as well as myself. I couldn't admit that out loud, though, even if she was well aware of it. It would've been stating the obvious. And, really, although I may have felt a little resentment about the reversal of our roles, I didn't regret the way things were turning out. I sincerely did not care if I had a senior year of high school. I was actually looking forward to being on my own, not responsible for anyone but myself.
"You could always go live with your Father, in Forks, if you want to get away from Phoenix," Renee told me, as she handed me the forms. For a person who was easily distracted, she was also incredibly perceptive.
"Forks?" I replied, with exaggerated disgust. "It's cold and wet...and ugh. No thank you."
Renee smiled. "Good. I would miss you, anyway," she responded sincerely, standing up to give me a hug, then walked to the house phone to call Phil.
I actually had considered living with Charlie as an option. We weren't close, but he was still my father. I loved him. Our personalities were more similar than me and Renee. We were both quiet, not needing to talk, rarely complaining, suffer in silence kind of people. I saw him during major holidays and for a couple of weeks of vacation during the summer. Living with him wouldn't be so bad, but I honestly could not see myself in Forks. Although I was exaggerating for Renee's benefit, it really was cold and wet and if I was going to be miserable, I'd rather be miserable in a place with sunshine.
Was I miserable? No. But, I suspected I would be in Forks. That's why I decided to go the "graduate early" route. It was only a year and at the end of it, I would go off to college, giving Renee freedom to be with Phil and giving myself freedom to be on my own.
It was an incredibly busy year. My daily schedule was from 7am – 2:30pm I was at high school, from 2:30pm – 5:00pm I was at the library doing homework, 5:00pm – 6:00pm I went home to make and eat dinner with Renee, then from 6:30pm – 9:00pm I was at the community college taking classes. On the weekends I slept and did more homework. I barely saw Renee, and she even occasionally left me on my own a few times a month, to go visit Phil. It was a challenge to balance my time, but academically I was handling myself very well. I was surprised that I was capable of handling such a rigourous workload.
When graduation day arrived, Charlie came down from Forks and Phil came off the road, and Renee was beaming with excitement, proud of me for graduating a year early. After the ceremony, we went out to dinner and I took the moment to announce my plans for college, when Charlie brought up the subject.
"So, Bells, are you finally going to relax? You've worked so hard," Charlie asked, his tone betraying that he didn't fully understand why I rushed to finish high school. I never explained my reasons for wanting to graduate early, although it seemed pretty obvious to me.
"I'll be in Jacksonville this summer. You and your mom could join me," Phil suggested. "You could go to the beach, meet some kids your age?" Renee's eyes lit up at the idea and she looked at me expectantly.
"Or you could spend the summer with me in Forks?" Charlie added, his eyes hopeful.
It was kind of cute that my parents were competing to spend time with me. But, I had already made up my mind.
"Well...I've actually decided to start school early...I've..."
"Bella!" Renee interrupted with a shriek. "You're becoming a workaholic! You need to take a break, have some fun! You're only young once!"
I didn't respond immediately, thinking of how Renee continued to have "fun" throughout her adult years and probably acted younger than I did. Fun was overrated, anyway.
Charlie noticed my reaction and tried to ease the awkwardness.
"Where have you decided to go?" he asked.
Good question. But, I knew my answer wouldn't calm Renee down.
"The University of Alaska at Fairbanks," I answered quietly.
Charlie, Renee and even Phil's mouths dropped open in shock. Alaska was the last place they expected me to go to college. I already knew their main objections before they said it themselves. A) It was very far away and B) It was cold in Alaska and I hated the cold.
"It's a dry cold, not a moist cold, like in Forks," I spoke before they could protest. "And the summers are warm with daylight almost 24 hours a day."
Renee didn't shriek, but she was obviously confused and surprised. "Bella...Alaska? Really?"
It was an odd choice, I couldn't disagree with that. When I started to apply to college, months earlier, In my bedroom, I had a map of the United States. With a gold star, I marked all the locations that interested me. My entire life I'd lived in Arizona. I'd never traveled, except to California for vacation, Washington when I was child visiting Charlie, and to New Mexico for adventures with Renee. I wanted something different. So, I applied to random schools on the East Coast and in the Southeast...and Alaska. It was somewhat of a joke, really, but I also felt compelled to do it.
When the acceptance letters and scholarship offers arrived, I had many options to choose from. I thought long and hard about it and Alaska kept coming to the forefront of my mind. It haunted me. I even had dreams about it. Although it didn't make sense, I knew it was where I was supposed to be. But, I couldn't convince my parents that I was going to this school because I had a "gut" feeling about it.
"I was given a full academic scholarship, including room and board," I responded. The incredulity didn't leave their faces. They knew I was probably offered full scholarships to many schools.
I shrugged. "If I don't like it, I can always transfer."
"When are you leaving?" Charlie asked.
"In a couple of weeks. They have an early enrollment summer program...it's a requirement for my scholarship."
Requirement wasn't exactly true. It was optional, but I had no reason to remain in Phoenix.
Renee sighed. "You're only seventeen..." she murmured.
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. A year ago she was saying I was seventeen going on thirty. Now I was too young to go to college?
"I'll be eighteen in September," I reminded her.
Renee nodded, but she and Charlie both looked worried for me. I appreciated their concern, but felt it was a little late. Most parents were actively involved in helping their teenager choose where to go to college. I hadn't exactly hid the process from Renee and Charlie. On the phone with Charlie, whenever I tried to bring it up, he always told me he trusted my decision and that I had a good head on my shoulders. When I tried to show Renee different college brochures, she would look at them for a second, then become distracted by something more important.
So, no. I wasn't going to feel guilty for making my own decision about my future. I would be the one to live with the consequences, anyway, not them.
"Our girl is growing up so fast," Phil remarked, winking at me. He wasn't as worried about me as my parents, obviously, since he wasn't as emotionally invested as a new, often absent, step father. But, he wasn't a bad guy, either. "We can visit her at Christmas, Renee...or she can visit us in Florida."
My mother's face lit up, whether it was from the suggestion of visiting me or the reminder she would be moving to Florida, I didn't know.
"I'm proud of you, Bells. I know you'll be very successful at whatever you decide to do with your life," Charlie encouraged.
"Thanks, Dad," I replied with a smile.
Two weeks after graduation from high school, I arrived in Fairbanks. Despite my fierce independence, moving to a new state, one that was the complete opposite of the desert terrain of Arizona, was daunting. Alaska was breathtakingly beautiful, but it was very isolated. I didn't know a single person. Had I made the right decision?
These worries only lasted for a moment. I quickly pushed them out of my head. The decision had been made. I was sticking with it. I would miss the warmth of Arizona, and I would miss Renee, but I had the satisfaction in knowing that I was taking control of my life, making my own decisions. My new independence more than made up for whatever familiar comforts I had lost.
Orientation passed and classes began. The workload felt easy compared to what I was taking previously. Some of my credits had transferred, so I was immediately able to take courses in my major – English. I was sincerely interested in learning and I made a couple of casual friendships with girls in my dorm. Life was...good. I even enjoyed living in weather in the summer was warm...sometimes hot...and it was light almost 24 hours a day. When winter arrived, there were seven long months of dark and cold. But, I surprisingly didn't mind it that much. I loved viewing the Northern Lights and the way the moon reflected off the snow.
Renee and Phil visited the first Christmas, but never returned. I stopped going on vacation with Charlie in the summer – it felt rather childish – but I remained in touch with both my parents through phone calls and emails. Renee always offered to fly me to Florida for a visit, but I objected that it was too expensive and she didn't try to overrule me. I missed my parents, but I was living my own life now.
After my freshman year, I rented a small cabin, close to public transportation and campus. It was a dry cabin, meaning that it had no plumbing, and that I had to go into town to get water, and use an outhouse as a bathroom. I imagined it was rather romantic to live in a cabin in the woods in Alaska. Young women, such as myself, rarely chose to live this way, but I wasn't high maintenance and didn't mind the inconvenience. When I arrived in Fairbanks, I began writing and knew I wouldn't seriously be able to continue this discipline if I lived amongst the distractions of dormitory life.
My workaholic tendencies didn't cease. I took the maximum number of classes allowed, worked part time at a bookstore in town, and during the evenings and weekends spent all my free time writing. I had a few friends, but otherwise I was alone.
I liked the solitude, but sometimes I did worry about myself. Maybe I was too isolated, too content with myself. I never connected well with people, with my clumsiness and innate shyness, but this fierce independence sometimes felt too independent. Shouldn't I share my life with someone? I wasn't lonely, but sometimes it felt like something or someone was missing...
Whenever these thoughts threatened to overwhelm me, I pushed them out of my head and focused on being busy. I was good at doing this.
Before I knew it, two years passed, and I was experiencing a senior year for the first time...in college. Due to transfer credits from community college, going to school full time, even in the summers, and taking the maximum number of courses each semester, I only had a few credits left to complete graduation requirements. I was taking an American Renaissance class three mornings a week and had an independent study project for Advanced Creative Writing. After a long discussion with my professor, and his approval after reading some of my writing, I was able to use the novel I had been working on for the last two years as my project. It gave me the motivation to finish it and was an easy six credits to earn towards my degree. I would have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English by May.
I hadn't meant to graduate from college in three years, but I was proud of myself for being so focused.
It was a quite life in Alaska, but I was content. Mornings at school, afternoons and evenings at the bookstore, nights at home writing. This became my routine as my 20th birthday passed and I began my last winter in Alaska.
Is it really my last winter here? I thought, as I walked into Gulliver's Books late one morning, after class.
I didn't have any plans after graduation. Although I seemed to rush through high school and even college, I didn't feel the need to rush away from Fairbanks. It had become home for me. Maybe I would apply for graduate school? Dave would probably allow me to keep working at the store...maybe I could work and use my free time to continue writing? Writing was what truly made me happy, other than reading, of course.
"I'm such a nerd," I chuckled to myself, taking off my coat and wiping my boots on the mat.
When I moved to Fairbanks I began working part time at Gulliver's Books and as my academic load lightened, I transitioned to working full time hours. It was a small bookshop, but the staff was a tight knit group. Dave, the owner, Maria the general manager, Annie the office clerk and Sarah the cafe manager had become like family to me. They were all older – in their late 40s to mid 50s – and had taken me under their wing when I first arrived in town. I spent a lot time in the store during my first summer, sitting in the cafe and writing for hours in my journal, or memorizing the stacks of shelves. Eventually Dave offered me a job, "Since you spend so much time here, anyway," he explained. My coworkers respected my privacy, and I knew if I needed anything they would be there for me.
"What are you laughing at?" Dave asked, as I walked over to the counter to put on my name tag.
I shrugged and smiled. "Just thinking about how weird I am...more happy to read or write than talk to people."
"You're not weird, Bella," Dave admonished. "Most people talk too much anyway. You don't ramble on like others do."
"Like me?" Sarah called out, walking down the stairs from the cafe on the second floor. She smiled kindly. "Bella, today's lunch is vegetable soup and turkey panini. Come get it whenever you're hungry."
"Thanks, Sarah," I replied. They always made sure I ate lunch at work because they knew I often forgot to eat when I was doing schoolwork or writing.
"Good morning, Bella!" Maria greeted me warmly, walking in from the back office. "How are you?"
"I'm good," I responded politely. "How are you?"
"Oh, you know, experiencing the usual aches and pains of old age...I picked up a new shipment of books this morning at the post office and I think I pulled a muscle." She rubbed her lower back.
"I'm sorry. Can I do anything to help?" I asked.
She shook her head. "Dave was my hero...he brought all the boxes inside. Annie has scanned them all into the system, but, I do need you to shelve them. When you're finished, check back in with me, okay?"
I smiled. "Sure, no problem." Shelving books was tedious work, but she let me listen to music while I worked. Tourist season was over and only locals would be visiting. Should be an easy day, I thought to myself.
As I walked to the back office to grab the cart of new books by Annie's desk, I looked back and saw Maria and Dave whispering to one another. Although they weren't married or even officially dating, everyone knew how in love they were with one another. It was cute.
I put headphones in my ears, choosing to listen to one of Renee's favorite classical pieces, and wondered, for a brief second, whether I would ever fall in love or not.
Probably not, I smiled wryly. I wasn't even sure if I was capable of loving someone in that way. Eh. Definitely not. I was too independent.
The hours whiled away as I organized books and placed them on the correct shelves. Occasionally, I would pause to read the back cover of a book, if it looked interesting, but mostly I worked. It was until I felt my stomach rumble that I realized I had forgotten about lunch. It was time to take a break.
I took off my headphones and tucked them in my pocket, stretching my muscles, which were a bit stiff after hours of intense concentration. I closed my eyes and yawned.
When I opened my eyes, I noticed a man staring at me intently. In that brief second, when our eyes met, it was if time stood still. A shiver went down my spine and I blushed. Embarrassed, I looked down, covering my face with my hair, and turned to walk in the opposite direction.
As I made my way through the back office, taking the back staircase to the second floor cafe, I groaned. It had been too long since I had seen an attractive man. I didn't know how to react. I should have smiled, asked him if he needed help. Instead, I fled.
"So mature, Bella!" I muttered to myself, rolling my eyes. I stumbled through the kitchen.
"Sarah, I forgot to eat lunch. I'm sorry," I apologized. "Do you have anything left?"
"For you, of course. Relax for a minute and I'll bring it out to you."
"Thanks, you're the best," I replied with relief. My stomach was filled with butterflies and I was nervous and jittery. Was the man still downstairs in the bookstore? Did he think I was a complete moron?
I tried to calm down, pouring a glass of lemonaide and finding a seat at a table in the back corner of the cafe. Once seated, I put my arms on the table and lowered my head to rest on them. How could one look get me so flustered? I definitely needed to get out more. This was ridiculous. No man had ever had this affect on me before.
Suddenly, I felt the presence of someone standing beside me. At first I thought it was Sarah, bringing me my food, but she couldn't have been that quick. Whoever it was smelled really, really good, intoxicating sweet, and the butterflies in my stomach doubled. Could it be the man I saw downstairs?
Slowly, I sat up, gathering the courage to raise my eyes. My heart was pounding. I was almost trembling, but it wasn't out of fear or anxiety. I was having a physical reaction to this person standing near me.
When I looked up, I saw that it was him and I almost forgot to breathe. Gorgeous wouldn't begin to describe his god-like beauty. Dark eyes, bronze colored hair, perfect cheekbones, lips that begged to be kissed. He was looking at me intently, as if he was surprised at what he saw. In fact, he was almost smiling and that made me even more unnerved.
"Bella," he whispered. It wasn't a question. It was a statement. His eyes seemed be memorizing my face.
I swallowed, nervously. "Do I know you?" I asked. There was no way I would ever forget meeting this guy, but it was the only thing I could think to say.
He shook his head softly and glanced down at my name tag. Duh, I thought, wanting to hide. I blushed again and he smiled fully this time. I waited for him to say something. I didn't know if my mouth could form any coherent sentences.
Our eyes locked and this time I wasn't able to break away. Instead of feeling flustered, I felt...transformed...as if nothing would ever be the same again. The butterflies in my stomach remained, but they were joined by a sense of completeness. It was as if I had been searching for this man my entire life and now that I had found him, I was whole. I felt relief...I...I fainted.
Darkness covered me as I collapsed.
P.S. I love you. Please love me back with reviews.