Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer and Summit own Twilight. I just play around with the character.
Beta'd by AcrossTheSkyInStars
A Courtly and Principled Romance
I settled into my apartment and explored the town of Port Angeles. It was a quaint town, almost like a city. It was big enough so you wouldn't feel trapped, but small enough to feel comfortable. I had done my grocery shopping and managed to go to the local Target for other household items I had previously put off.
My new job was such a big help. It was the perfect thing for me to focus on. I was looking forward to getting into my lesson plans and practices. Music was a big part of my life. I felt completely at home whenever I was playing the piano or any other instrument.
I was classically trained in the piano, violin, and cello. I had taught myself how to play the guitar, and I was beginning to tinker around with the drums. My mom had put me and my sister, Alice, into music classes at an early age. Although Alice was trained in the violin, she preferred to dance. She was trained in Jazz and Contemporary. My sister and I were lucky to have such creative outlets that helped carry us through life as we got older. I could only hope and pray other people could be as fortunate as us.
Everything was taken cared of. I was ready to start at the school, and I was feeling extra courageous because I had decided to attend Sunday services and go to Emmett's luncheon. This was a big step for me because I hadn't done anything like that since Victoria had passed away.
Victoria was a friend of mine from church. She and I had been in the youth group together. We'd become close friends, best friends, even. I'd describe our relationship as more of a brother and sister type of relationship. I saw her like I saw Alice; my pesky younger sister who I loved and cared about. Victoria was a wild one, more so than Alice was. She experimented a lot with the drugs and alcohol. I'd had to call 911 on more than one occasion, and helped her into rehab. It was a strenuous time for us. Whenever she'd overdose, I'd feel like crap. For me, it was like constantly having to keep an eye on her. She was so child-like in that respect. I tried to be there for her, but in the end it just didn't work out that way.
Her passing was hard to cope with. I became depressed. I didn't cry or go to alcohol or any other vice. I just shut myself away from the Church and everyone I knew. My parents were at a loss at what to do with me. They tried to encourage me to participate in family functions and church activities, but I just wasn't receptive toward their attempts. Alice tried to be there for me, and in a way, she was the only one who could be there for me. She knew me, understood me, and therefore she was the best person I had to help me cope. Together, we decided I needed a change of scenery. So here I found myself in little Port Angeles.
I'd managed to do well on my own. I was self-reliant like that. I could take care of myself, I just couldn't take care of others, or so it seemed. It was a bitter thought, a depressing one, too. I was being hard on myself and I knew that. It was just difficult not to point the finger at myself. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That was how I saw myself. I tried, I failed, and I've kept failing. Alice told me to keep trying, to do good, and to be good. She always saw the best in me. She may be the only person who'd ever see that.
The one thing I still had to do was call my mom. She worried about me a lot, and sometimes it made me sad to see that I was the cause of her distress. She had high blood pressure, and I was sure I wasn't helping her health problems by being the way I was.
I knew Alice was right - I had to call my mom. It was just the right thing to do. She needed to know how I was doing, and I needed to convince her I was doing well, or as well as I could be given the sad circumstances which brought me here.
I grabbed my phone before I could talk myself out of calling her.
"Edward!" my mom cried. "Sweetie, I've been waiting for you to call. How are you? Did you move in already? Are you okay? Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Hello, Mom," I replied. I told her I had moved in already and that I was doing well. She accepted my answers, and then asked me if I was going to church.
My mom wasn't a demanding Christian mom. She accepted that she had done her best to keep me and Alice on the straight and narrow, but that ultimately it was up to us to keep on that path or not. She asked out of curiosity.
"I believe I am going to church." I pointed out the fact that I now worked at a Christian school, so now I'd have to attend chapel at least once a week. I was going to church all right.
"I just want you to be going because you want to go, not because you think you need to go. It's not an obligation, Edward. You know that."
"I understand what you're saying. Really, Mom, I'm okay. I'm going and it isn't a big deal, okay?"
"I love you, my little boy," she said, completely ignoring my defensive explanations.
"I love you, too," I muttered.
We hung up with a promise from me to call her again during the week. I loved my mom. She deserved the truth from me, but I was too used to sparing her the details.
That Sunday, I did go to church. I got there a few minutes early, and took a seat in the back. I didn't draw attention to myself, but at the same time, I wasn't unfriendly. If someone passed me, smiled politely, or waved, I'd return the gesture. I didn't go out of my way to be friendly, but I wasn't a douche bag, either.
I participated in the service, prayed, and even donated to the church. I knew how to act in church, and no amount of time away could really erase what I already knew about church and the Christian way of life.
Immediately after the service, I stood up and went outside to get some fresh air. I was the only person out there, standing off to the side one the church's front steps. I put my hands in my pockets and sighed.
Church itself wasn't bad. It was just a reminder of everything and everyone I had left behind. It had me in a melancholy mood, but whose fault was it but mine? I really needed to put more of an effort to actually start over. It seemed all I did was think negatively about the past. How could I really move forward if the past kept creeping into my mind?
All these negative thoughts were floating around in my mind. I was so preoccupied I didn't even notice someone had approached me.
"Hello," a soft, feminine voice said.
I turned around and saw a very young, sweet looking, heart shaped face. This woman had deep brown eyes, pale, flawless skin, and long, wavy brown hair. I studied her for a moment and soon realized I had seen her before. She was the kindergarten teacher.
"Good morning," I replied. I gave her my hand to shake and introduced myself.
"It's nice to meet you. I'm Bella," she said.
I smiled at her sweetness. She was very young and very nice, like...genuine nice. "Thank you, Bella. Nice to meet you, too, I'm Edward Cullen."
"I'm glad you made the morning service. Are you going to Emmett's lunch, too?" she inquired.
"I am," I said. "I don't know how to get there, though."
"Oh, it's not difficult. I can give you his address and directions if you'd like?"
"I'd like that. Thank you."
She smiled and quickly rattled off his address and directions on how to get there. She was right; it wasn't difficult. Emmett lived close to the church.
Bella and I talked a little more, just pleasant talk about my move here. She asked questions, but she didn't pry. I told her the very basics about my move here - I was from Seattle, decided to move out here for the job at Jubilee, and the rest she already knew.
"I'll see you at Emmett's," she said as she gave me a little wave.
I waved back and smiled, thinking to myself. She was the first person who had spoken to me since I'd moved here, really. Emmett and Pastor Cheney didn't count because that had been all business. Bella was the first to exude a kindness to me by speaking to me.
I couldn't help but think notice that although she was young, she was also very pretty. No wonder she didn't wear any makeup. She didn't need to. Her natural beauty was shining through. She was very nice to introduce herself. I'd hope that I'd get to speak with her again at the lunch.
"Edward!" Emmett cried jovially. He slapped me on the back and quickly introduced his wife, Rosalie. She was a tall and beautiful woman with blonde hair and blue eyes. They made a very beautiful couple.
"Welcome to the neighborhood, Edward," Rosalie said warmly. "I hope you're prepared for today. Emmett has a lot of fun plans for you."
"Really?" I asked, feeling a little nervous.
He laughed. "It's all fun. I promise. You like sports and video games, right? We're going to have a great time today. I hope you're hungry because I do a great barbeque," he said proudly.
"I'm ready," I said, although I really didn't feel ready. Emmett was friendly, much friendlier than I'd expect from a man of his stature. I really couldn't judge a book by its cover.
"Excellent," he exclaimed. "We'll introduce you to everyone, eat, have fun, and be merry. It'll be the perfect thing to get you assimilated here at Jubilee."
I thanked him for his graciousness and he waved it off, saying that I was part of the Jubilee family now. I'd never felt so relieved and welcomed in my life. Emmett had a special gift of playfulness. I believed he could help anyone to have fun and loosen up.
"We will see you there, Edward," Rosalie said as she and Emmett went off toward the parking lot.
"See you there."
As I walked to the parking lot, I took another look at the church. It looked different than my old church back home, but it was the same in so many other respects. The atmosphere and people were the same, and that was what scared me.
I didn't want to be a downer, at least not during Emmett's lunch, so I quickly pushed those thoughts out. I'd have plenty of time to think about the church later. I'd call Alice again and get another person's perspective.
I drove to Emmett's house, thinking that I was going to have a good time. I was going to do my best to really enjoy myself and have fun. This was a good thing, and I was blessed enough to be able to have the opportunity to redo my life. I was committed to do the right thing and go back to God. I was scared as hell (no pun intended) and I was stubborn, but at least I was trying. Trying less than one-hundred percent was better than not trying at all, right?
I had been dreading Emmett and Rosalie's luncheon. Normally, I wouldn't be so opposed to socializing with my co-workers, but I digress.
Emmett wanted me to reach out to the new teacher. I knew what that meant, and frankly I wasn't up for 'saving' someone. No one could save someone else. That was God's job, wasn't it? I knew I sounded bitter, but I couldn't help it. I didn't want to reach out to the new teacher, but it would be unkind of me to not even acknowledge him. I decided I would introduce myself, and maybe see if we could be friends.
On Sunday, I went to church as usual. I sat next to Emmett and Rosalie while Pastor Cheney gave a sermon. Although I considered myself a Christian, I still found it difficult to pay attention during church. Sitting down listening to the pastor talk for nearly twenty minutes was enough to make me lose concentration. My mind wandered more often than I'd care to admit.
After Pastor Cheney's sermon, the service continued, and when it was over, I greeted some of the church goers I knew. The nice thing about church was the mostly everyone was kind to your face, at least. I'd made a lot of nice acquaintances over the years, and I was thankful for being around such a lovely group of people.
I wasn't much for socializing, so I decided to go outside and take a break from everyone. I pushed open the church doors and immediately clutched my cardigan closer. It was a chilly day, and I frowned at my fashion choice - a long skirted dress and a cashmere cardigan. It was very appropriate and modest for church, but not exactly good for the weather. Wonderful Bella.
I stood outside, taking in the light smell of rain. I loved the rain. To me, it seemed like rain made everything better, it washed away all the bad things and made everything brand new again. I was enjoying the weather when my eyes fell on a stranger.
A tall man with auburn colored hair and a leather jacket stood by the side on the church steps. He had his hands in his pockets, oblivious to everything that was going on.
He must have been the new guy. I vaguely remembered Emmett taking him on a tour of the school campus. I was on the playground with my class when I turned around and saw Emmett and him, the new guy.
Before I could talk myself out of introducing myself, I was right in front of him, ready to shake his hand.
He was tall, much taller than I had originally thought. I really had to look up at him in order to talk to him. He was nice, though, quiet but genuinely nice. He made me smile, and that was something that resonated with me.
His name was Edward Cullen and he had very green eyes, so beautiful to look at. I almost believed he wore contacts. He was handsome with a pale complexion and a dazzling crooked smile. I could easily be friends with him.
We talked a little bit about the lunch Emmett was hosting. I gave him directions on how to get there, and then we departed from each other. I assumed he was going directly to Emmett's and Rosalie's place. I hoped he found my directions helpful.
After departing from Edward, I went to chat with Rosalie, telling her that I would be going to her place, and that I was looking forward to Emmett's barbeque. I admitted he had wonderful skills with that grill.
I made my way to my car and smiled as I thought about Emmett's famous barbeque. What could I say? I liked food, and he knew how to make delicious barbeque.
By the time I got to Emmett's house, there were a few handfuls of people already there. Angela and Ben were there, helping set up. I saw Jessica and Mike Newton setting up the drinks. They said hello to me. I liked Jessica and Mike for the most part. Jessica was the second grade teacher at Jubilee and Mike was the manager of his family operated business. They were a little stuck up, but not too bad.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" I asked Rosalie as I gave her a hug.
"You could grab the plastic plates and utensils, and then you could help set up the video games system for the kids," she said. "Thank you, Bella."
"Don't mention it," I replied. I went into the kitchen and immediately went to collect the plates and utensils and everything else I thought we'd need. After that task was done, I went upstairs to Chloe and Preston's rooms. Chloe and Preston were Emmett's and Rosalie's children. Chloe was six and Preston was three. I had Chloe in my class last year, and really liked her. She was very sweet.
"Miss Bella!" Chloe said as I walked into her room.
"Hello, Miss Chloe," I replied as I gave her a hug.
"Are you here to help me set up the Wii?"
"I am," I confirmed. "Are there any other games you would like to play with?"
For the next few minutes, Chloe and I set up the Wii console and took out a variety of board games for the children to play with. Angela and Ben had a little boy named Anthony who was Chloe's age. I had taught him last year, too. There weren't going to be a lot of children, but it was always better to have a lot of games than not enough.
After I helped Chloe set everything up, I went downstairs to see if everything was ready. Many of the adults were running around, and a lot more people had arrived. I was quickly whisked away to talk and mingle with the people who had just arrived. I talked with a lot of my co-workers. Many of them I liked well enough, but I wasn't particularly close to them. I was more of a private person. I kept to myself and tried to treat everyone with respect and dignity, but I never tried to be friends with everyone. That just wasn't me.
After a while, I grew tired of talking with them, so I decided to go to the backyard to see if Emmett had made a dent on those burgers and ribs.
I was happy to see that he had begun to barbeque. He was surrounded by a few of the teachers and staff, and the new teacher as well.
Edward Cullen was an enigma to me. He possessed all the qualities of any Christian I'd met, but there was something else to him. He had an air of mystery and darkness about him. I wondered if it was my trepidation to meet him that caused me to see him in that way. Maybe it was our similarities that had me thinking he was mysterious. Everyone had a past, and both of ours weren't very pretty.
"Howdy, Bella!" Emmett called.
I smiled at being spotted. I waved from where I was standing before walking toward him. I said a polite hello to everyone, but my eyes lingered on Edward. He acknowledged my greeting with a small smile, and I'd be remiss to admit it made me smile back.
"I was just introducing Edward to the rest of our staff," Emmett explained. "Maybe you could take over his little meet and greet."
I knew what he was trying to do, and I had been opposed to it. However, after meeting Edward, I felt like maybe Emmett was right. The new teacher and I had a lot in common, and perhaps we'd be able to become friends. Lord knew he needed it more than I.
I took over introductions and led Edward around the backyard, introducing him to the staff and other teachers. Along the way, I explained to him what Emmett and Rosalie's lunches normally consisted of. There was always food, games, and more games. Emmett was big on football, so we played a friendly game of touch football. It worked great as an ice breaker.
As I took Edward around the house, I noticed he was quiet, but he could also be socially engaging, too. It was obvious to me that he had been in this type of environment before. He was polite, even charming at times. His handsome looks helped, but his engaging personality was an added bonus. I could tell that he had been nervous at first, but he had gotten comfortable. It was surprisingly nice to meet such an enchanting person.
By the time we made our way to the backyard, the food was mostly finished. Everyone helped themselves, and I ended up on the patio seated next to Edward. It was just the two of us.
"Thanks for being my tour guide," he said.
"You're welcome," I replied, smiling. "If you don't mind me asking, how long have you been a teacher?"
"Three years," he replied. "I got my degree early, and I started teaching right away. The opportunity presented itself, and I jumped at it."
"You've taught music all these years?"
"No. I was the Physical Education teacher at my old job, and I taught music on the side. I double majored in college," he explained.
"That's impressive," I said.
He shrugged modestly. "I enjoy teaching, but music is definitely a passion of mine."
"So, I suppose you're excited to be our new music teacher," I teased.
"I am, actually. It will be a big challenge for me, but I'm looking forward to it."
We talked about the school year, and I was delighted to learn that not only was he charming, but he was funny, too. He asked me about my kindergarten class, and I was all too happy to share stories of my cute, little ones. I loved to talk about my class because they were adorable. Little children had a different way of perceiving things, and I found it refreshing to learn from them as well.
"So you've basically taught all of the staffs' children," he stated.
"Only those who have children, but there are few teacher who've been here for twenty-something years, so no, I haven't taught everyone's children."
"Still, you've taught Emmett's kids. That's pretty cool."
"Chloe loves me," I said happily.
"He's too young for me, but I'll have him in my class eventually."
"Looking forward to it, huh?"
After we ate, we played a game of Charades. Rosalie loved that game, and we often played it before we played football. Okay, I didn't play football all the time. I wasn't the most coordinated person. I had trouble with running fast, too. Although, I thought Edward would be excellent at the game, since he had been a physical education teacher before.
I ended up being right about my assumption. Edward had played well in the game. He was on Emmett's team and they had won.
"How'd I do for my first time?" he asked as he came up to me. He was sweaty and his cheeks were flushed. His eyes were bright and he had a big grin on his face. He looked pleased with himself, and I found I was happy that he was happy.
"That's the second time you've said that today," he boasted.
"Maybe you're an impressive guy."
He leaned closer, looking down at me with a serious expression. "There's nothing impressive about me." He quickly turned away from me, jogging back to the yard.
I was left speechless. What had just happened?
I watched as he spoke to Emmett. He seemed to be leaving, and for some reason, that made me angry. He was leaving because of me? Was it something I said? I had to find out.
My eyes followed him. He made his way to the gate, and that was when I decided to follow him.
I was detained by a couple of people, though. Apparently they had questions regarding chapel, and for the life of me, I couldn't understand why they chose to ask me right then. I quickly told them that I would get back to them on Monday, and ran off to pursue Edward. I was becoming disappointed, thinking he had left.
As luck would have it, I found him standing on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette. That was surprising.
"Don't act like you don't know what I'm doing," he said icily.
"That wasn't very nice to say," I pointed out.
"We can't be nice all the time," he stated.
"So was everything in there an act, or are you really this big of a jerk?"
"I'm a Christian, Bella. That doesn't mean I'm not a sinner." He flicked his cigarette off to the side and got into his car without saying anything else.
A/N: Scripture verse from Romans 3:23