Disclaimer: These characters belong to Stephenie Meyer I just tweaked the story a bit.
Learning To Love Again
Chapter One Home Coming
Bella's Point Of View
I shifted in my seat. I was starting to get annoyed and fidgety, sitting in the back of a car for long periods really grates on my nerves but I was nearly home. I didn't think I'd ever move back in with my parents when I left to go to college; I thought that was it. I was looking for bigger, more exciting things to happen in my life and the town of Forks couldn't offer me that. Don't get me wrong, I love my childhood home. I've got so many good memories of growing up here. Charlie and Renee were great to me. It was only when I reached my teens that I started to get restless.
I knew that when I left school, I wanted to go to college to study English and was aiming to get into Berkeley. My grades were good and I worked hard to make them better. I ended up graduating within the top ten percent of my class. Charlie and Renee were ecstatic which made me even more determine to do something with my life.
They'd married young and I followed soon after, I knew they had no regrets but I also knew my mother missed out on things. She never complained or regretted her decisions but she always told me to aim high and I was doing just that. Charlie was Forks' very own law enforcer, the Police Chief and kept everything ticking over nicely. Not that there was ever much trouble most of his days were spent playing cards with his assistant Paul.
The day I left for college in New York was bitter sweet. I knew it was what I wanted but I couldn't help the feeling I was going to miss the comfort of home. Renee couldn't hide her emotions and was crying as we said goodbye. Charlie on the other hand was never one for emotion and he kept himself hidden away only coming out to give me a kiss on the cheek once the car was loaded.
College was great. I met a ton of new people and made lots of friends; friends I knew I'd have for life. My dorm was small but perfectly sized for me. I loved every minute making sure I experienced as much as I could. I kept my grades up and was looking forward to my future. But then everything changed.
As soon as I'd gotten the call from Renee telling me Charlie had Testicular Cancer, I knew my place was at home. He needed me and nothing was going to keep me away so I dropped out of college and packed up my dorm, not knowing if my life would ever be the same again. My parents tried to talk me out of it but I knew this was the right thing to do. I wanted to teach more than anything but my mind was made up. I was going home.
As the 'Welcome to Forks' sign came into view, I felt a sudden sense of relief. The taxi driver slowed his speed as we neared the edge of town.
"Nearly home now lady"
My head shot up as the driver hadn't spoken in a while.
"It's nice to be back. Nothing's changed"
"Never does love, never does"
I shifted around in my seat to get a better look out of the window. It was drizzling which was nothing new for Forks.
"So how long you home for? Just a visit or for good?"
I started to fidget more, not really wanting to talk specifics to someone I didn't know.
"For good I think"
And that was the truth. I had no idea what would happen. All I knew was I had to take care of Charlie and my mom.
We stopped at a red light and all the faces milling around were familiar too me. One of my oldest friends, Angela Webber was outside the bank. She saw me and waved, giving me the biggest grin I'd ever seen. She was infectious, with her pretty looks and warm personality and she instantly made me smile. I waved just as the light turned green. I took out my phone to type out a text message.
Hey Ang we should meet up soon B x
I giggled as I almost instantly got a reply.
I looked back up to the taxi driver.
"Just an old friend."
I turned my attention back to my phone to see her reply.
Definitely! We need drinks and a gossip soon love you A x
The taxi came to a stop and it took me a moment to realise we were outside my house. I took off my seat belt and lent forward.
"How much do I owe you?"
The taxi driver shifted around towards me and pointed at a screen. I could see from reading it that how much the journey had cost. I was suddenly very glad I'd got extra money out at the ATM.
He took the money and counted it as I moved towards the door.
"Thank you. Keep the change."
I grabbed the door handle and stepped out feeling the rain on my face. I waited patiently for the taxi driver to open the trunk. He got out a couple of minutes later and opened it. I grabbed my cases and headed towards the front door.
"Bye" he called out behind me.
I turned and smiled just as the door swung open and Rene flew down the steps.
"Bella! You're finally home."
She grabbed me in the tightest hug imaginable.
I shifted trying not to drop my cases but she forced some more weight on me and they dropped to the floor anyway.
"Some things don't change do they? Where's Dad?"
She giggled and let me go, grabbing one of my cases and walking back into the house.
"He's in the den."
I left my case just inside the door and went round to see Charlie, asleep on the sofa. He looked worn out. I stood there for a moment, taking everything in and didn't hear Renee coming up behind me. I jumped as she put her hand on my waist.
"You made me jump."
"Sorry honey. He's okay, honest. I know he looks bad but that just means the chemo is working."
I nodded. He looked so frail, nothing like the guy I saw at Christmas.
Renee pulled at my arm and I reluctantly followed her through to the kitchen. '
"How is he really mom? Don't lie to me. He looks frail. I know the chemo does this but can't they do something else for him?"
She gave me a sympathetic look and sighed.
"Baby, Doctor Cullen is doing everything he can to get your Father through this. He knows what he's doing and your father trusts him."
I couldn't look her in the eye. I was trying to hold back the tears. She came behind me and squeezed my shoulder. I pulled a chair out from the table and sat down.
"So what else did this Doctor Cullen say?"
"He thinks your Father may need an operation if the chemo doesn't have more of an effect soon."
"Operation? What operation? Why didn't you tell me?"
I could feel myself getting angry so I took a deep breath in.
"Honey, there was no use worrying you. The doctors are going to run some more tests next week and we'll go from there."
I could feel myself getting angry again. My mom hadn't told me anything about an operation whilst I was in New York.
I'd never met Doctor Cullen before Renee had told me about him over the phone a few times.
"So this doctor. Is he good? The best?"
"He is and he's doing the very best he can. He told me he feels helpless. He and your dad are good friends. They've even been fishing together."
I looked down, ashamed I'd asked. I knew Renee would make sure Charlie had the best treatment.
"Do you have to work tomorrow Mom? Do you need me to do anything?"
She smiled warmly but it didn't quite reach her eyes.
"Just settle in. That's all I want you to do. You've done enough already."
I stood up, walking towards the fridge. It was nearing dinner time and she didn't look like she had the energy to cook. I opened the door and took a glance in and the damn thing was empty.
"Mom? Where are my truck keys? I need to go to the store."
She pointed towards the top draw in the kitchen. I should have known my truck keys would be in the same place they always were.
"We can order in if you like."
"No Mom. Dad needs fresh food. I'm going to the store." She knew better than to argue. She knew how stubborn I am.
I grabbed my keys and headed towards the door. The rain had eased off slightly so I made it to the truck without getting to wet. I jumped in the cab and turned the key in the ignition, jumping when the truck sprang to life.
"Jeez... I forgot how loud that was."
I backed down the drive way carefully. It had been a while since I'd been behind the wheel. I headed towards the store; I knew this journey like the back of my hand. It didn't take very long. I parked up next to a red convertible and couldn't help thinking it looked out of place in the run down store car park. I sat in the truck for a second. I wasn't quite ready to get out and face people's sympathetic looks.
"Come on Bella. Pull yourself together and suck it up. Charlie needs you."
My pep talk seemed to work for me as I turned the truck off and headed towards the store. I grabbed a basket and walked into the aisles.
"Bella? How are you?"
I didn't realise Eric, an old school friend had followed me into the store, "Hey Eric. I'm good thanks, how are you?"
He was looking at me with a sad expression on his face.
"I'm good. How's Charlie?"
I looked to floor and started to bite my bottom lip.
"He's as well as can be expected."
"Well, tell him I said he and I hope he's back on his feet soon. We should go out for drinks and a catch up. Let me know when you're free."
"Yeah, I will. That sounds good."
He smiled, "Well, I have to leave now. I'll catch you later."
I was almost glad he had to go before he started to ask questions I couldn't answer, "Oh, okay. I'll see you around."
I started off again, hoping I wouldn't bump into anyone else. I really wasn't ready to answer people's questions. I was picking up a carton of milk when I heard the cutest little laugh.
"Unky Emmett. Put me down! Aunty Rosie, tell him."
"Emmett ... if she throws up, you're cleaning it up."
The little laugh started up again then and I turned to see who it was. I knew most people in Forks but I couldn't place these three faces. The woman was blonde and the most beautiful person I'd ever seen. She belonged on a catwalk. The man was big; muscles everywhere with dark black hair. The little girl was blonde with tight curls and she took my breath away.
"I'll tell Daddy and Grampa. They'll tell you off."
"Like I'm scared of them", he tickled her and placed her in the cart.
She couldn't have been more than three but her speech was so advanced, it shocked me. I didn't think I could have held a full conversation at that age. I grabbed a few more bits, some cold cuts and moved along down another aisle. I picked up the local newspaper and a few more magazines I thought Charlie would like. I got everything I could think of and the ingredients for stew and headed towards the check-out.
I'd just joined the queue when my phone beeped.
Bella. Please can you pick up some pain killers? I completely forgot Mom x
The lady at the check-out cleared her throat which brought me back to what I was doing.
"You ready to pay?"
She was quite rude and was chewing on gum loudly. I looked down at her badge and saw 'Hi my name is Jessica'.
"Yeah I'm ready to pay."
Instead of going back into the store, I decided I'd go to the chemist.
"That'll be forty-five dollars."
I took out my purse and handed her my Amex card after which I punched in my pin and packed my bags. I thought I had everything perfectly balanced until one of the bags fell slightly. I tried to catch it but missed, leaving me and all my tins on the floor.
Jessica, the girl at the checkout sniggered.
"What's funny?" I heard a guys voice say and I turned to see who it was. It was then I realised it was the dark haired man from before.
Jessica stammered, "Um..."
"Well, do you think it's funny?"
He was quite annoyed; obviously, her attitude annoyed him as much as it did me. '
He looked over at me and I could feel myself blushing. I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
"Um. Yeah. I'm fine."
He turned back to Jessica, "I'll be talking to your supervisor. You need to change your attitude."
He walked from the side of the checkout and grabbed a runaway tin which he handed to me.
"Hi. I'm Emmett Cullen." His hand was stretched out in front of him so I took it and he helped me up.
"Hi. I'm Bella Swan."
"You must be Charlie's daughter. I was wondering when we'd finally meet. Our dad's are good friends."
It took a second for me to realise he must have been related to Dr Cullen.
"So you're related to Dr Cullen?"
A big smile stretched across his face.
"Yep. I'm his son and that is my girl, Rose and my niece Ellie."
He pointed his head towards them as they walk towards us from the bathroom.
"Hey Rose. This is Charlie's daughter, Bella."
She looked over at us scanning me with her eyes before she smiled. I smiled back, trying once again to fight my blush. The little girl, Ellie was climbing all over Emmett so he picked her up.
"So little miss. Are you going to say hello to our new friend Bella?"
She looked at me and smiled, "Hi Bella."
The way she said it made my heart skip. I'd never been a big fan of kids but this little girl pulled at my heart.
"We should get going Emmett. It was nice to meet you Bella".
I tore my eyes away from Ellie and smiled at Rose, "It was nice to meet you all too" and with that, they left the store and I followed behind slowly so as not to embarrass myself anymore.
I got to the truck and threw everything on the floor. Rose pulled out of the parking space next to me in the red convertible. It sort of made sense then why that beautiful car was in the car park; it couldn't have belonged to anyone else really. I shut the truck up and walked towards the chemist on the other side of the street.
I was standing by the side of the road, waiting for the lights to change so I could cross when a silver Volvo speed past. I didn't realise there was a big puddle on the floor and I ended up soaked from head to toe.
"Crap! Why me?"
I walked to the chemist anyway knowing that Charlie needed pain killers. When I opened the door and stepped inside shivering, I saw Mrs Black behind the counter.
"Bella? What on earth happened to you?"
She walked over and wrapped her arms lightly around my shoulders so she didn't get too wet.
"Some idiot just drove through a puddle" was all I could say between shivers. Stupid silver Volvo owner. Mrs Black sat me down next to a heater in the corner of the store.
"You here for Charlie's pain killers?"
"Yeah I am."
She went behind the desk and threw a bag of strong pain killers together for me. I warmed up slightly; the heater was starting to dry me off.
"How are you Bella? I haven't seen you in so long." Mrs Black was back from behind the counter holding out a hot drink. I smiled and took it instantly feeling even warmer.
"I'm okay. Glad to be home. I just want to help Charlie get better. How are you and Billy?"
Billy and Emily Black's son, Jacob was my best friend when we were kids. We were inseparable up until high school when Jacob fell into the wrong crowd and started using drugs. We soon drifted apart and he went off the rails. No one has seen or heard from him in a year or so now.
"We're good Bella. We take each day as it comes now and take nothing for granted."
I wanted to ask about Jacob but I was scared I wouldn't like the answer so I took a sip of my drink instead.
"You can ask about him you know. I don't mind." I looked into Emily's dark eyes and they were full of love.
"How is he? Have you heard anything from him?"
She sighed, "Not for a while. He got in contact a few months ago asking for money but Billy told him he wouldn't give him any until he straightened himself out."
"What happened to him Emily? He was such a good kid. Why did he ever get himself involved with James and Laurent?"
Her eyes turned sad. I thought maybe I'd said too much. Stupid stupid Bella.
"I'll never be able to tell you why Jacob made the choices he did Bella and the way he hurt you was unacceptable. I'll never forgive my son for that."
I didn't like thinking about what he'd put me through so I pushed it to the back of my brain and locked it up. I think Emily sensed my discomfort so she changed the subject.
"How's Charlie holding up?"
"I don't know Em. He was asleep on the sofa when I got home. He looked so frail." My eyes started to fill with tears as Emily wrapped her arms around me and let me sob. I didn't realise how scared I was until that moment. I didn't want to lose my dad. She rubbed my back until my tears ran dry. Once I pulled myself together, I knew it was time to go; my dad would be waiting for his dinner.
"Em, I should go. I'm supposed to be cooking for Charlie."
"Ok sweetheart. You come back and see me if you ever need a break or to talk." I nodded as I headed for the door, turning back to smile at Em; to show her I was okay. I didn't want her to worry.
It was starting to get dark as I reached the truck. I jumped in and headed for home. My mind was all over the place.
I was home. My dad was sick. I didn't really have a map planned out for my future and then there was the beautiful little girl I'd met today. I don't know why but I felt connected to her, maybe I was just imagining it.
I shook my head to clear my thoughts. "Get with it Bella. You need to snap out of it for Charlie's sake."
I pulled back on to the drive feeling like I'd had the longest day of my life. As I walked through the front door, I could hear the sound of the flat screen from the den. I turned the corner to see Charlie sat up with a smile on his face; he must have heard the truck.
"Hey Dad, how you feeling?"
"I'm good Bells. It's good to have you back."
I couldn't help but smile. There was a small glint of happiness in Charlie's eyes and I could tell me coming home gave him that.
"I best go start you dinner. Wouldn't want you to waste away or have to endure Mom's cooking."
He smiled. "I heard that Bella. There's nothing wrong with my cooking..."
Both me and Charlie couldn't help but laugh. He rested his head back on the sofa as I made my way to the kitchen. I unpacked all the bags, putting everything away then I started on the dinner.
"You need any help honey?"
"No Mom, I'm good. I've got this covered."
I grabbed the biggest pot I could find and started to chop ingredients and throw them in. I knew stew wasn't really the greatest but Charlie liked it.
"Hey Mom. I met Emmett Cullen at the store. He was there with his girlfriend and niece. They seemed nice."
Renee turned and smiled. I'm sure she was worried I wouldn't like Doctor Cullen and would demand a second opinion. She wouldn't like that as they were friends.
"That's good. It's nice to know Dr Cullen's youngest son and granddaughter got here okay. They moved up from the city to be closer to the family. He's a single dad and his Mom worries about him."
Just as mum finished talking and before I could ask more, a loud coughing sound started coming from the den.
"Charlie? Are you okay?"
Renee rushed through to him and I followed close behind. He was being violently sick into a bowl by the side of the couch. The panic ran through me and I was frozen. I couldn't move from the spot. It felt like a life time before Charlie got composed and sat back up on the couch.
"It's just the chemo Bells. Don't look so worried."
"Does does that happen a lot?" I was stuttering, trying to keep my composure.
"Honestly Bells, if it makes me better, I can live with it. Don't freak out. If this means I can live to see my grandchildren, it'll all be worth it."
"You'll be waiting a while so you best keep up with the treatment."
Charlie sat on the couch grinning at me.
"I'll need to be there to walk you down the aisle too. Don't forget that one."
Charlie knows how I felt about marriage after what happened with Jacob; I hadn't let a man get close to me. My guard had been up for a while and will probably stay that way. I walked back into the kitchen and finished off the dinner.
While it was cooking, I sat down at the table and flicked through the local paper. I was scanning through when I saw an advertisement.
'Rainbow Kindergarten Wanted Teaching Assistant call 888 222 111 for more information.'
The ad instantly interested me. Sure, I couldn't train to be a teacher but I could get some experience. I'd never thought about teaching small kids before though. I started to tap my finger on the table when Renee came in to stir the pot that I'd been neglecting for the past ten minutes.
"'Yeah. No. Well maybe. There's an ad in the paper for a teaching assistant at Rainbow Kindergarten. It's close to home and will only be during the day so I could be home in time to cook dinner for you and Char... Dad."
Renee glanced at me giving me an evil look. She didn't like the fact I didn't call her, Mom and Charlie, Dad unless I was talking directly to them.
"You should give them a call tomorrow, see what they say."
"I'm not sure. Me and small kids? It can only lead to something clumsy happening."
Renee tried to hide her giggles. To say she did a bad job was an understatement.
"Mom, come on! You're supposed to be supportive!"
"Sorry Bells. I think it would be good for you though. You don't want to be stuck in here all day with us oldies."
"Mom. You're hardly old. Well maybe you are." She threw a dish towel at me and I couldn't help but laugh.
Once the dinner was done, we sat in the den with Charlie eating and talking about old times.
"You know Bells. I really think you should become a chef. Your cooking has always been good. There's a cooking school in Seattle."
"Dad. I'm not that good. I'm just glad you're not eating beans on toast every night."
Renee threw me a look. She wasn't a good cook and she knew it. I had taken over as soon as I was old enough to do it without harming myself.
"There's nothing wrong with beans on toast Bella. It helps yo ..."
"Helps in what way, Mom?"
"Well ... it helps you get rid of excess gas for one."
Both me and Charlie fell about laughing,
"What? It does!"
"Mom! That's disguising."
After dinner was finished, I went to wash up. We all settled in front of the flat screen after that. Dad put on a baseball game. I groaned, "I don't get it dad. What is it about baseball that you find interesting? They just hit a little damn ball with a stick! It's boring."
Charlie was not impressed with that statement, "Well Bells. If you took more time to learn about it, you might actually like it'."
"I doubt that very much Dad but whatever."
He stifled a laugh and poked me in the side so I poked him back. He soon turned his attention back to the baseball though when a loud cheer erupted from the flat screen.
"Bookworm." He counted.
"Hey now you two. We'll have none of this mocking. Bella, you've only been home a few hours. At least leave it until tomorrow. Your play mocking gives me whiplash. I never know when you're serious."
"That's better. Be nice."
"We're always nice, aren't we Dad?"
"We sure are Bells. We sure are."
I was slightly scared about asking Charlie about his treatment but I knew I had to bite the bullet. "So Dad, how's the treatment going? ...really."
I put emphasis on the word 'really'. I knew they were holding stuff back from me.
"It's going as well as can be expected at the moment kiddo. Dr C is doing what he can he thinks is best. They may have to remove more of it but he wants to wait before making that decision. I'm not bothered though. Not like I need 'em for anything anymore. My baby making days are over."
"Eww Dad. Really. That's sick. I'm your daughter for god's sake. Yuk."
He grinned, "It's up to you now kiddo."
I didn't say anything for a moment. I wanted to make sure he wasn't going to mock me anymore.
"So when's your next appointment? Maybe I should come along meet this doctor for myself."
"There's no need Bells. I'm a big boy now. Don't need you holding my hand."
"When's the appointment Dad? Don't mess with me or you will be poked."
He mocked me and pulled a face. "It's Tuesday, okay? Happy now?"
Renee shifted her body around to me, "Don't forget to call about that job."
"It's really nothing Dad. Just an ad I saw in the paper about a local Kindergarten needing an assistant."
"That would be good for you Bells. Get you out the house during the day and put some money in your pocket at the same time."
"Well, I'm thinking about calling tomorrow."
Charlie looked at Renee and nodded as they both spoke at the same time.
"Your calling them tomorrow!"
"Okay, okay. I'll call them but if I hurt any kids with my clumsiness, on your head's be it."
Renee rubbed my leg, "Good. I'm glad that's settled. Charlie? Find a movie to put on and I'll go get some popcorn."
She was back within minutes with a bag of popcorn; she must have got it from the pantry.
She handed the bag to Charlie and he ripped it open, sharing it around between us. It wasn't long before Charlie's soft snores started. He'd fallen asleep with the popcorn still in his hands. Renee removed it gently and sat it between us.
"It's going to be okay, Bella."
"How can you be so sure?"
She looked deep into my eyes and that gave me all the confirmation I needed. She didn't have to say anymore. We sat in silence for a while, just watching some cop movie with Mel Gibson in it. I'm sure I'd seen it before.
"I think I'm going to head to bed Mom, it's been a long ass day."
"Bella. Don't curse."
"I didn't curse."
"You did. You said ass."
"Mom, that's hardly cursing." She huffed.
"Do you need help getting Dad to bed?"
"No. He'll probably be more comfortable here."
"Okay then. I'll catch you in the morning. Night Mom."
I climbed the stairs being careful not to trip; I didn't want to wake Charlie. I knew tripping was a possibility because it happened all the time. I got to the top of the stairs and turned towards my room.
I turned the door knob and walked in. Nothing had changed in the time I'd been away. Renee and Charlie had left it be even if Charlie joked he was going to turn it into a games room. I went to my drawer and pulled out an old pair of pj's. I wasn't in the mood for unpacking tonight; it could wait 'til morning. I walked over to the bathroom, shutting the door behind me. I thought about showering but changed my mind so I washed my face and teeth and slipped back into my room. I pulled back the covers on my bed and slipped in. I switched off my bedside lamp and waited patiently for sleep to take me. It'd been a long day so I knew it wouldn't take long.
The next few chapters will follow Edward & Bella as they settle into there new lives and find each other.