So I finally figured out online editing/updating on fanfiction! Long time credit is coming to all the people I have to thank!
I've been updating this story on fanfiction as the chapters come in from Project Team Beta. I decided that it would be a much more enjoyable read if the grammar was correct! Hooray!
Thanks to korrineraylie and daniwerner from PTB for beta-ing this chap!
Thanks to Bonnsammy for validating!
My self-banishment to Forks had been delayed a few months by Phil's broken leg, but Renee was convinced she could handle everything, so I was resuming my exile to the drizzling Northwest.
I detested Forks, but I was looking forward to not spending another full summer under the blistering Phoenix sun. As much as I loved the heat and warm, I was very pale and the southern summer sun was a little too strong for my fair complexion. The constant cloud cover and rain offered a respite of my daily application of SPF 60.
At first when I told Charlie I wouldn't be coming until August, he assumed I had changed my mind altogether about moving up there. After some explanation of Phil's leg, and how I wanted to finish my junior year without interruption, he eventually understood. Charlie's usually not an emotional man, but I could tell he was excited that I was coming to live with him.
Charlie picked me up from the airport, and we rode back to Forks in comfortable silence, except for the occasional question about my flight or comfort in general. I dozed off at some point, and awoke just as we pulled up to the familiar house that had been my parents when they were first married. My bedroom was the same one I'd had since I was a baby, and the one the one I used whenever I visited Charlie. When I got inside to unpack, I noted that Charlie had added a desk to my room, and he had bought me a new double sized mattress and bed. Folded at the foot of the bed were some new sheets and comforter. I looked up at him and raised my eyebrow.
"I figured the least I could do was make you comfortable while you were here. The saleslady picked out the bed sheets. I hope you like purple." He looked embarrassed.
"Purple's great, thanks. You didn't need to go to such trouble. My old bed was fine." I smiled tentatively at him.
"Yeah, well…" then he trailed off into something unintelligible. "Why don't you get unpacked and settled in. I'm ordering pizza for dinner, and the Blacks are coming over." He turned to leave the room.
"I can make dinner, I don't mind." I offered. He flushed red and looked sheepish. My constant blushing was a gift from Charlie.
"Well Bells, I don't really have much food on hand to make a meal. Pizza's probably easiest. Billy and Jake won't mind." I made a mental note to take stock of the pantry and fridge later tonight.
I unpacked my clothes into the closet and dresser and grabbed my toiletry bag before I headed to the bathroom. Planes always made me feel kinda gross, so I was looking forward to relaxing under the hot water to soothe my tired muscles. The scent of my favourite strawberry shampoo offered some aromatherapy and comfort. I dried my hair and went downstairs just as I heard honking from outside. I heard Charlie call from the front yard.
"Bells, come on out for a sec." I poked my head out the door. I saw a rust-coloured, old school truck pulling into the driveway next to Charlie's cruiser. I stepped out onto the porch beside Charlie. "So, like your homecoming gift?" I stared at Charlie blankly, not understanding what he was talking about. "The truck - I bought it off Billy here. Welcome home, B, Bells." He smiled at me and his eyes crinkled.
"Wow." I was stunned. "Thanks Dad, this is amazing. You really didn't have to do this. I was saving up to buy myself something." I gave him a big hug, and we separated somewhat awkwardly.
"Well, like I said, I wanted you to be comfortable here." He was looking at the ground.
"He got a great deal on it too." I heard a voice call from across the yard. "Jake here fixed it up himself, so it runs perfectly." I saw Billy come around the front of the truck in his wheelchair, smiling as he looked up at me. I smiled back, remembering that I really liked Billy. He had always seemed so calm and majestic to me, like he held a lot of inner strength. I looked up behind him to see a beautiful boy pushing Billy's wheelchair. He had stunning russet-coloured skin and long, silky black hair. I looked down at my own pale skin and was immediately envious. He looked nervous at first, then saw me gawking at him and gave me a huge smile, showcasing his perfect white teeth.
"Bella, you remember Jacob right?" Charlie offered his introduction. Jacob? Hmm…It had been so long since I'd last been in Forks that I could remember were Billy and his daughters. I vaguely recalled a little boy that usually took off with Charlie and Billy while we girls were paired together in awkward silence, each of us being very shy.
"Yeah, of course. Nice to see you again, Jacob." Jacob looked at me, took in the look of concentration on my face and smirked.
"It's ok if you don't remember me, Bella. I was pretty small last time you saw me." He had a pleasant husky voice, and he certainly didn't look small now. He had to be at least six feet, maybe taller. As he walked up to me, I saw the hint of long muscles under his dark green t-shirt. I blushed.
"Er…no – I remember you," I stuttered, offering up a smile of apology. He laughed, it was throaty and deep, and I immediately joined in. He made me feel at ease for the first time since I arrived in Forks.
"Well c'mon in, everyone. The game is about to start, and the pizza is getting cold." I headed back into the house, followed by Jacob manoeuvring his father through the front door. Charlie came in last and went straight to the fridge and grabbed a sixer of Vitamin R for him and Billy, along with some sodas for me and Jake. I grabbed some plates and napkins and met the guys in the living room.
Jake and I talked all night, while Billy and Charlie were intent on the game. He told me about his friends, his school on the reservation and the VW Rabbit he was rebuilding. Jake was so easy to talk to, and he was a great listener. He asked me questions about Phoenix, my mom and Phil, how I felt about moving up to Forks. I couldn't really answer them as truthfully as I would have liked to with Jake, what with Charlie sitting right there. Whenever I seemed a little uneasy, he seamlessly changed the topic. I hadn't talked this much with anyone before. After the game was done, Charlie turned his attention to Jake and I chatting away.
"So, Bells, I'm gonna be out all day fishing tomorrow. Why don't you see if Jake will show you the beach?" Charlie winked at Billy.
"Subtle," Jake laughed. "I'd be happy to take you down to First Beach if you're free Bella, but no pressure." And I didn't feel any; I was looking forward to hanging out with Jake, although I was embarrassed that my dad had to orchestrate the whole thing.
"I'd love to. Sounds like fun. Um…is the water warm enough to swim in?" I had vague recollections about how cold the water always seemed to me. Charlie laughed.
"Well, Bells, it's no Phoenix, but it is August. You could probably go for a bit and not freeze." Billy and Jake both chuckled. "Well, I'm gonna run Billy back up to La Push. Why don't you follow us in the truck so you know where to go tomorrow morning?"
"That's probably a good idea. It's been awhile."
"Plus, you're saving me riding in the back of the cruiser." Jacob squeezed me around the shoulder and laughed. "I appreciate it." I flushed red at his proximity, but Jake felt really nice. He was so warm, or maybe it was just a reaction to me leaving the warm Phoenix sun behind.
I followed Charlie's cruiser about fifteen minutes to La Push and pulled up to a bright red house.
"Um, so what time should I come by tomorrow?" I asked quietly. I fiddled with my hands in my lap. I felt so stupid, like my father had to arrange for me to have friends. Not that Jake made me feel that way, but there was a part of me that was super self-conscious about tomorrow's beach trip.
"10:00am work for you? I don't know if you sleep in on Saturdays or not, but it should feel pretty warm by then, and we can swim later in the afternoon if you think it's warm enough." Jake chuckled at me.
"Ha ha." I tried to sound offended, but I clearly wasn't. "Ten sounds good. I'll see you then." Then, to my surprise, Jake reached over and pulled me into a giant bear hug – quite a feat in the cab of my truck. I tried not to look too startled, and then he was gone, trotting over to the cruiser to help wheel his dad inside. I followed Charlie back to our place, but I felt confident I could find Jake's house the next day.