Disclaimer: We do not own Twilight. If we did, we would live in a giant castle with large screen TVs for Weezy and a grand piano to keep Bob out of trouble!
A/N: Sooooo we were put under strict instructions that there were to be NO presents for our beautiful NewMoonaholic's birthday. BUT, being the clever and sneaky ninja types that we are, we found away around it! Especially as words are free for everyone . . . It was originally supposed to be a one shot, but as we discovered, that was not a possibility! Our wordiness got out of hand, so this, our story, is dedicated to you, our wonderful Momma Bear and our beautiful Stanwee! We love you!
Happy Birthday, gorgeous!
Thank you to the wonderful and pretty TheHeartOfLife for donating her epic beta skills to help us out! We love you! Cookie?
Letting Go of Maybe
Chapter 1: First Day Complications
Isabella Swan POV
"Coming, Bella?" Jess stood beside the desk, eyeing me the way you might a mental patient. I hadn't even heard the bell signalling the end of class. Again.
"Uh, sure," I stammered out, thrusting the book I had been lost in into my backpack, earning myself an eye-roll from my friend.
"You know, Bella, I'm not sure To Kill A Mockingbird is a set text for AP Chem class," Jasper drawled, peering over Jess' shoulder into my backpack. "Just saying." His blue eyes sparkled with amusement as I pulled the tattered copy of my favourite book back out and smacked him around the head with it.
"Just because you can't read, Frank, does not give you the right to rag on those of us who can."
He grew out of his phase of wearing Fedoras and calling everybody doll-face in middle school, but he would always be Frank to me - ever since he stood up on stage in the sixth grade, in front of the entire school population, and sung Come Fly With Me while attempting to tap dance.
"You break my heart, Boo," he retorted, smirking at his use of the nickname I had hated since elementary school. He quickly hot footed it out of the classroom when I started to growl and rise from my seat, wielding the book dangerously in the direction of his head once more.
"Catch you later, ladies," he hollered from the doorway, before scampering off to his next class.
He laughed loudly as I shouted after him, "Yeah, you better run, Hale!"
I turned back to my bag then, quickly shoving everything from my desk in there without any thought for neatness or order. Jess watched me, sighing and probably itching to get her hands in there and sort out the chaos. I smirked at her pained expression, shoving the open bag closer to her, teasing and enjoying the look of intense disgust on her face.
Jess liked order. Her bedroom was like an advert for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Everything had a place and she freaked the hell out if something was not where it ought to be. I swear, she practically had heart palpitations once when Jasper deliberately rearranged her perfectly alphabetized CD collection, moving one CD from each letter and mixing them around. He had never been invited back and she swore that he never would be.
I was not organized. My life couldn't even pass for organized chaos. It was just plain chaos. No order whatsoever. The first few times Jess came round, I could see her fingers twitching, desperately wanting to tidy and clean, but I liked it that way. What was the use in having a perfect haven of order and tranquillity for a bedroom, when you walked out the door and the world was such a mess? Of course, when I put my logic to Jessica, she merely pointed out that the word "haven" was the part I wasn't placing nearly enough emphasis onto. I simply shrugged and after that we mostly met up at her house, where she could be sure of neatness and order.
A sharp flick to my right temple drew me sharply back to the classroom, where Jess was watching me with a mixture of impatience and amusement in her eyes.
"Earth to Bella. Come in, Bella. We're gonna be late for Spanish." She also hated to be late.
"Right. Spanish. Coming." She practically bodily dragged me to class, wittering the whole way about how Mrs. Wilson, our English teacher of a whole, impressive week, apparently fled the school in floods of tears on Friday after some genius freshman wouldn't let the concept of a character called Master Bates in Oliver Twist drop.
I rolled my eyes at the seriously concerning maturity levels in the school, and flung myself down in the chair that I always sat in for Spanish. In my world there were three things that you just didn't mess with: my kitchen, my friends and literature. My expansive collection of novels was the only thing in my life that was ordered. If you were looking for anything else in my bedroom, it could have been literally anywhere. But ask me for any book in my collection and I could direct you to it, no problems. Even Jasper knew not to mess with my books.
Half of them weren't even in English - presents from my Uncle Phil and his girlfriend from their travels around the globe. My ever increasing bookshelf requirements had driven my dad crazy for years, before he finally just learned to accept it. He developed some pretty nifty woodworking skills in the interest of saving money.
"So do we get stuck with a substitute then?" I asked Jess, disheartened at the thought of a sub-par teacher for the one subject in that place that didn't make me want to scream. Mrs. Wilson wasn't exactly brilliant; she spent more time trying to shut the rest of the class up than she did actually teaching us anything, but at least she was actually an English teacher. Last time Mr. Banner, our Chemistry teacher, was off work with stress, they brought in a substitute who I doubt could even spell "periodic table", let alone tell you what it was. We spent three months learning from text books before Mr Banner came back, alarmed at how behind we were.
"Apparently not. Lauren said they hired a new guy straight out of college. She said he's hot, too." She waggled her eyebrows suggestively and I found myself rolling my eyes yet again.
"Dude, Lauren would find a toilet brush hot if it had the appropriate anatomy to keep her satisfied."
Jess snorted loudly, earning herself the attention of the teacher, who shushed her with a stern face, then continued with her dull drone to the end of the lesson. I didn't dare pull my book out in Spanish, as Seňora Goff constantly scrutinized the room with her piercing eyes that tried to hide behind pince-nez glasses. So I sat through the purgatory, hoping to God that the one lesson I could stand on my Monday schedule wasn't ruined by lack of a decent teacher.
When the bell finally rung, I couldn't suppress the loud whoop of joy that forced itself from me, unbidden. Seňora Goff glared at me, but there was not much she could do as the class had already fallen into loud chatter. Even if she'd tried to chastize me for my rudeness, I wouldn't have heard her.
I scampered quickly from the classroom, sighing audibly at the fact that Jess had merely picked up her chattering from where she left off. Her capacity for remembering entire conversations in almost painful detail never ceased to amaze me.
On and on and on she rambled about the new English teacher, who was, in the completely indisputable words of Lauren, "a total hottie." I didn't tell her that I wasn't interested in what he looked like, as long as he was carrying something other than cotton candy in his skull. What would be the point? In the first place, she wasn't interested in English. The only subject that she considered to be worth her time was Gym and that was because she had an A average from getting extra credit for being a cheerleader. And in the second, the concept of liking a guy for anything but his "smokin' hot body" would never register with her.
"Oh my God, Jessica, are you still going on about him?" Jasper's voice was lightly teasing as he appeared in the corridor behind us, tugging on her ponytail playfully. Then, standing tall and puffing his chest out in mock arrogance, he added, "Besides, he's got nothing on me."
"Yeah, Frank, you're adorable," I retorted, patting him patronizingly on the cheek then stalking off, giggling at the slightly hurt look on his face.
"He fancies you," Jess offered, smirking childishly at me.
"Ugh, Jessica Louise Stanley, you are out of your mind!" That's right – I went for the full name. She looked shocked for a moment, before she returned to her taunting and carried on in the same vein.
"Need I remind you, Blondie, that it was your ponytail that he was tugging on not ten seconds ago?" I interrupted finally. I couldn't help it. She was asking for it with her childish assumptions about the guy who had been my best friend for years. "You know what they say about boys who pull your hair. I better go hat shopping soon, huh?"
I was disproportionately amused by the hideous look of disgust on her face as she turned to me, with daggers flying out of her eyes. Everybody knew that she and Mike "captain of the football team" Newton were made for each other, and she had no eyes for anybody else. If he wasn't such an asshole I might have thought it was cute.
He was the man – the "special one" of the school. He believed, just like every other carbon-copy jock frat boy in training in the United States, that the world and all its contents were there for one reason and one reason only. And that, in his tiny little brain, was to make his life as perfect as it could possibly be.
The fact that I didn't hold to the same ideal as him had made me his prime target for conversion for three years, before he and Jess fell head over heels for each other, leaving me finally free from his sickening advances and wandering hands. Mike Newton did not like being turned down. Even now, he still occasionally looked at me with this expression on his face that suggested he was waiting for me to storm out of the room in a jealous rage, declaring that he shouldn't be with Jessica, but with me. Much as I hate to disappoint people, that was never going to happen. Jess could keep him, complete with his slimy blond hair, held-in spikes with too much gel, and his green eyes that sparkled more with sleaze than anything else. He made me sick.
"As if!" Jess exclaimed, flicking the offending ponytail huffily and then grabbing my hand roughly and dragging me, once again, to class. I needed to do something about this habit she had of pulling me around like a rag doll. "Come on, slow coach, I want to cop an eyeful of this new English teacher before he starts spouting Shakespeare at us and ruins the effect." I opened my mouth to respond that actually, if he started reciting Shakespeare or similar, it would increase his appeal for me, but evidently she was not done yet as she kept going, not even noticing that my mouth was moving. "Oh man, Bella, do you think he'll read sonnets out loud? Or Romeo and Juliet?" She sighed heavily, her eye lashes fluttering dreamily. "I love that film. Leo DeCaprio is the most beautiful man on the planet."
I didn't point out to her that just last week Jake Gyllenhaal was the sexiest man alive and before that it was George Clooney, and that, in fact, Leonardo Dicaprio was merely the latest in a long line of beautiful men that she would instantly have left Mike for if they were to so much as wink in her direction.
My musings over, I looked up to see we were in the doorway of the English classroom; Jess had finally stopping wittering and was standing in the door frame, gawping. A small poke in her back had her moving again, advancing further into the classroom with a small giggle as she gazed at the man sitting behind the desk.
Looking up at him myself, I was momentarily startled. He didn't look like a teacher. At least, not in that teachery-teacher kind of way. He was dressed in a smart suit, but the jacket hung vacantly over the back of his chair and his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, leaving the ample muscles of his arms on display for the female population of the class to gaze at adoringly. And they were. I wish I could say that I didn't partake, but when all was said and done, I was still an eighteen-year-old girl and I knew an attractive man when I saw one.
He looked so young, with deep, brown curls falling in a mop on his head andhis bright blue eyes sparkling as he watched everybody filing into the room and taking their seats. I could see a fire there, an enthusiasm burning deep, and suddenly I felt positive about my prospects for learning something from this man. I felt his eyes land on me and I stilled, staring straight ahead, fighting the urge to meet him, gaze for gaze. When the burning of his eyes moved on, I allowed myself to look up at him once more. I didn't understand the feeling that churned deep inside me as I took him in, every little bit of him. From his chalk-covered fingers, to his wide, genuine looking grin, he was, as Jessica would very probably put it, the most beautiful man I had ever seen. And just like that, I was smitten.
Emmett McCarty POV
Sitting in the teacher's lot on the first day of my first job out of college was intimidating enough, but seeing the little cliques meeting up outside was even more so. I was twenty-four and fresh out of college, with a shiny new diploma. I could remember high school clearly enough myself, so I knew what I was in for. My sister had always said I was charismatic enough to pull it off, but in Alice terms, that meant I was a jackass.
To get this job I'd been through three different stages of the interviewing process. I had the credentials; I'd won them over in the face-to-face and I'd passed a rigorous background check. They'd even offered me an extra position as the coach to the football team due to my career on and off the field. If it hadn't been for that accident I could have gone pro. As a wise person once said to me, put 'could have' in one hand and crap in the other and see what you get the most of.
I climbed out of my trusty rust bucket and slammed the door home, cringing as a couple of rust red flakes fell from the undercarriage. The first thing I was going to do when I settled in was buy myself a new car. The ancient Jeep had done me proud through college, but I wasn't a student anymore and I knew I needed something a little more respectable if I was going to do this.
Just like any school, the whispers started up almost immediately. I passed by a group of girls who went silent and fell into giggles and whispers after I'd passed. I wasn't a complete idiot; I knew I looked good. I spent an hour in the gym every night to keep up what I'd developed in high school. I knew it wasn't going to make gaining the respect of these kids any easier, but I couldn't stop living just because I was becoming a teacher.
I straightened my button-up shirt and continued on into the school, feeling the eyes of students following me through every corridor I walked down. For a hot minute, I actually felt horrible for objectifying Miss Reynolds my senior year. I felt like lobster in a tank at a Red Lobster restaurant full of people who hadn't seen food in a week.
In all honesty, it wasn't much better in the teacher's lounge. There were a few younger teachers, but most of them were older and established, their eyes all full of humor as they watched the inexperienced new meat parade in while they recollected their own early days and dreams of change. I could just imagine what they were thinking: He's out of his depth. What is he thinking coming in here like that? Those kids will eat him alive.
The one thing they never factored in: I was from an inner city school. I could handle anything they threw at me, as well as what the kids thought they had for me. This was a relatively small town in a decent neighborhood.
"Hi." A blond stepped up first and held out her hand, with a genuine smile. Being a red-blooded American, I couldn't help the once over with my eyes, but to my credit, my eyes ended on hers, and nowhere else. They may have lingered on her legs where the fabric of her skirt ended. "I'm Kate Lewis. You must be Emmett McCarty?"
"Is it that obvious?"
"Only because you're well rested."
"You're only a week in." I raised my eyebrows at her and she giggled, fluttering her lashes.
"You got something in your eye, Kate?" A mousy looking guy asked with a smirk. "Or is that your pathetic attempt at flirting?"
Kate flushed and gave me an apologetic smile, making her way to the coffee machine to get another cup before the bell rang. I gave the killjoy a glare, before finding the locker I would be using.
"So," the ass said from behind me, elongating the "o" as he went. He leaned against the locker next to mine, his ankles crossing. "You gotta be what, twenty-three?"
"Twenty-four. What's your point?"
"Fair warning, kid, it's different on the other side. Don't go in there thinking you have common ground with these kids. Many have tried and failed. All you gotta do is look at the guy you're replacing. He tried too hard."
"Look . . ."
"Banner, Scott Banner."
"Scott, I appreciate the warning, but you do things your way, I'll do them mine."
"Just trying to help, bud." He crossed his arms over his chest and flexed his muscles. He was like a cat pissing on it's territory to make a point.
Yeah, I'm sure he was trying to help, I knew his kind and what they considered help. It generally consisted of butting their noses in and causing problems before there were any. Even if I got it horribly wrong, it was my mistake to make and learn from. His attitude said everything he didn't. He thought he was hot shit, and someone younger coming in and gaining the attention from him made him feel small. It wasn't my problem.
"The name is Emmett, not bud. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a class to teach."
"Don't say I didn't warn you." He smirked, turning away as he messed with the gel clad spikes in his hair.
I gave Banner a wave over my shoulder and Kate a wink as I passed where she was sitting. She blushed again, but dipped her head to take a sip of coffee as I left the room. The one thing most people didn't know about schools was that the teacher's lounge was just as cliquish as the rest of the school. I'd found that out quickly in the job placement I'd done. I may not have had any experience teaching, but I wasn't completely stupid.
I made my way to my first class, happy that I'd been able to come in over the weekend and navigate my way through the place. I knew the shortcuts and I knew the rooms I was expected to be in and when. I even had everything I needed correlated with the classes. I felt prepared and good to go.
I sank into the chair in the unoriginal classroom, with its pasty white walls and sterile smell and propped my feet up on the desk, reclining in the chair. Another ten minutes and chaos would break loose. The scuffing of chairs, the chatter of excitement, and the sizing up of the new teacher. I'd been there quite a few times in my formative student years.
I felt prepared, probably more than I should have, but I was about to find out whether my confidence was well-placed or not, and it came in the form of a ringing bell.
I waited patiently as the students filed in, stopping to stare at me, before finding their seats and falling into them with wide eyes, curious as to what I had planned. Their chatter roared in the small room, but I kept my stance, feet up on table and hands templed over my stomach as I watched with fascination.
The moment the door swung shut behind the last student, I let my legs fall to the ground with a thud. Every head in the room turned to greet me as I pushed up to my full six foot four inches.
"Take your seats and settle in, guys."
I waited until everyone was in their seat and watched the two girls in the back as they whispered back and forth. I didn't say a word; I just watched and eventually, every head in the room turned to them as well.
Both of the girls nodded in unison, leaving me to clap my hands together and back up to the board.
"I am Mr. McCarty, and I will be your English teacher for the remainder of the year. I will also be coaching the football team. Should you have any questions for me, you will find me in this room or my office in the gym. I have an open door policy. You have a question, even if you think it's dumb, come and see me. It's better than getting a fail for this class. I talk fast, and I write like a doctor. If you don't follow me, stop me and I will go over it again. I don't mind discussion in class as long as it's on topic. Do you have any questions?"
"Aren't you a little young to be a teacher?" Some kid in the back asked. He was smirking as though he was being a smart ass. Little did they know that's who I was in High School.
"Don't let the dimples fool you, kid."
That got a giggle from the girls in the room, and the guys seemed to elbow one another.
"Any valid questions from the peanut gallery?"
When there was no answer, I moved onto the curriculum and started the class. It seemed as though I'd managed to keep most of their attention. We were only a week in so they were still reading the books on the list, but I always started with my favorites and worked my way through them.
I tried to keep their attention, not making it the boring lessons I had remembered from my time in school. If I started losing one, I would amp up the volume and get a laugh before moving on.
I kept the method going through all of the classes and when lunch finally rolled around, I felt a little more confident. So far, so good. Not only were the kids paying attention, but I found I was enjoying myself. The English classes were a passion of mine, but I had to be honest, I still loved football. I wanted to get out there and assess what I had.
When I finally fell into a chair in the teacher's lounge, I was happy to realize I only had two classes left before I was able to get out to the team on the field.
"How's it going?" Kate asked, perching on the chair beside me with a tray from the cafeteria.
"You're not going to eat that trash, are you?" I asked, offering her a smile.
"You got a better idea? The school is too cheap to replace the refrigerator that broke a decade ago." She smiled, pushing around something that resembled fries.
"I'm full of ideas, sweetheart."
"Oh I don't doubt that for a second, Emmett."
I checked my watch and pushed up from the seat I was using. I made my way to the door that led out to the administrative office and gave Mrs. Cope a wink as she handed me the pizza box I'd had delivered.
"Is that even allowed?" Kate asked as I sat down beside her again.
"I asked Mrs. Cope and she said she wasn't sure. As long as I didn't make a habit out of it."
"You're something else."
"No, see now you're the one limited on vocabulary. I'm ingenuitive."
Kate shook her head and laughed. At least I'd made a friend. It was worse in this stuffy lounge than it was out amongst the students. Scott Banner stood in the corner, telling stories of how his substitute was a complete moron and that the school board should be more picky. His small group of minions seemed to be nodding their heads like dashboard ornaments.
In the opposite corner was the Spanish teacher. She was speaking just as loudly and with her heavy accented English, I couldn't figure out what the hell she was saying. I was happy to be sitting in the middle with the one seemingly normal person here. It was going to be a long year if I only had one person to talk to, though.
"Ingenuitive it is then," Kate said, taking a slice of pizza as I slid the box toward her. "And so much better than the muck I was about to eat."
We ate in silence for a while, but as the slices diminished and the silence expanded, I was ever aware of the staring Scotty seemed to be doing.
"So tell me, Kate. Does Banner always talk to you like that, or only when he's jealous?"
"Jealous?" Kate laughed, her chin on her hand as she surreptitiously looked to where Scott Banner sat with his fellow science department nerds. "Why would he be jealous?"
"You really don't see it?"
I raised my eyebrows at her as I sat back in my chair. It was amazing to me that people didn't catch something that obvious. My eyes moved to Banner's before I looked at Kate again.
"He likes you, that's why he did what he did to you when we met earlier."
"You think that stops him from being attracted to you?" I asked, leaning forward. "Men don't always think with their heads. Just because he's married doesn't mean he can't appreciate beauty when he finds it."
Kate laughed and place her hand on her neck. "Why, Mr. McCarty, are you callin' me beautiful?" she asked in a southern accent.
At that moment my phone decided to buzz in my pocket and I knew exactly who it would be. Pulling it out I held it up for Kate to see. "Saved by the bell."
"So it would seem," she mused.
I excused myself and hit the send button as I approached the doors that led to the small area just outside the lounge. There were some benches out there and I assumed that, as they weren't being used by the students, they were reserved for the teachers. I took a seat and leaned against the table as I held the phone up to my ear with amusement.
"Ugh, I hate it when you go Gaelic on me," Alice retorted, her annoyance clear in her voice.
"It's our heritage, you brat. Not my fault you don't pay attention when Dad talks."
"It's a forgotten language. Not even the Scots use Gaelic anymore," she complained. "Anyway I figured it was lunch here so you're probably doing the same. How's the first day going?"
"So far so good, but I should mention one thing."
"And what's that?"
"We're in a different time zone. What class are you cutting?"
Her silence told me exactly what I needed to know. Alice had always been small; for some reason we'd both been on either side of the spectrum. I was tall; she was tiny. She'd always been fine while I was in school, but from the moment I'd left, she'd had a problem with some of the girls there.
Unfortunately, eight out of ten times, they were my ex's younger sisters, or cousins, or nieces - in once case. I hated that she was baring the brunt of my having fun in high school, but when you're seventeen and girls are all about you, you really don't say no.
"Okay, who is it then?"
"It doesn't matter."
I made the sound of a buzzer. "Wrong answer there, twinkle toes. Wanna try that one again?"
"Seriously, no big deal, Em. Listen I should probably go."
"You know you can talk to me about anything, right? I know that it sucks, and if I could go back and change it, I would, but this isn't your problem, and these little witches will get it if they don't stop. If I have to take vacation to do it, I will."
"You're such a jackass, but I love you, big brother."
I grinned at the small sigh that followed. "I love you back, piuthar."
She growled down the phone and I couldn't help laughing at her. She was so easy to wind up. One little word could send her on a tirade, but I could hear the resignation in her voice. Those girls were getting to her and I blamed myself for it.
Alice was one of the sweetest people I'd ever met and didn't deserve to have this kind of thing come down on her. None of her friends went to the same school as her; they were all in her dance classes that she took almost clear on the other side of the school. Mom had always complained when she'd had to drive her, but Alice said she'd done the research and this was the best in town. Mom believed her because it was probably one of the few lies Alice was good at.
"I'll call you tonight," she whispered and hung up.
I shook my head and hung up the phone. As a teacher, I shouldn't have been encouraging her to cut class, but she was my kid sister and I knew exactly how they screwed with her. I only had one person left in my home town that I could call, and I knew he would go to the bat and back her up if asked him to, but that was my last resort. She was only a week into her senior year and the son of a bitch was crazy. The last thing I needed was for her to be even more embarrassed.
I just knew that if she needed protecting, he would be the first person I called.
I made my way back into the school and joined the flurry of activity in the halls. People were talking loudly amongst themselves as they got ready for the last two classes of the day, and then there were the ones who hadn't had a class with me and were stage whispering about who I was.
I had only two more classes until football practice and it was almost a countdown. The school hadn't had much luck with wins and I was hoping to change that. I would take them to the championships if it killed me. The principal was confident that I had it in me and I had to prove it, not only to him, but to myself as well. After a day like today, I was willing to do some laps around the field with them.
I ended up counting down the minutes with most of my students.
When I only had one class left, I was almost home free, but of course I wasn't that lucky. I was never that lucky. The last class of the day brought me my Achilles' Heel. I'd always sworn to myself that I was stronger than that; that it wouldn't happen to me. That the very thought of it disgusted me. It was exactly that arrogance that hadn't prepared me for what was about to happen.
I was in the chair at my desk. She walked in with a couple of girls whose eyes were already sizing up the new teacher, but she was different, so much older than the others, and a beauty that I could never have imagined even in my wildest dreams.
Her mahogany locks fell in gentle curls around her shoulders and her brown eyes were wide with curiosity. I wanted to stare at her all day, but I knew I couldn't, I knew I would never allow myself that. Ethics screamed in my head, shutting down every part of me that reacted to this beautiful creature that had just entered my world. Maybe, just maybe she'd be just as materialistic and vapid as her friends seemed to be, that was more than guaranteed to get me over this smack with the stupid stick.
I knew better. I knew myself better, and only three words seemed to slam against my brain as I looked anywhere but at her.
Dude, you're screwed!