A/N: I have had the worst time writing lately, and this is just a little story I started to try to work through it. No update schedule and nothing more than a general idea of where it's going, it's something of a vacation for my slightly control-freak tendencies, lol. Thanks for joining me for the ride. :)
You look so defeated lying there in your new twin size bed.
With a single pillow underneath your single head.
I guess you decided that that old queen holds more space than you would need.
Now it's in the alley behind your apartment with a sign that says it's free.
~ Your New Twin Sized Bed, Death Cab for Cutie
Bella Swan gratefully allowed her old queen mattress to fall to the ground in front of her apartment building before dropping down on top of it and stretching out, trying to catch her breath. Her long, dark brown hair was in a disarray, strands falling out of her rubber band and into her eyes, clinging uncomfortably to her sweaty neck. The sun beat down on her uncomfortably and was blinding even behind her closed eyelids. After struggling down two flights of stairs and across the yard with the heavy, awkward thing, she was drenched in sweat and panting pathetically. It didn't help that in an effort to save trips back upstairs, she was also grappling with a large cardboard sign that said "FREE" to place at the curb on top of the mattress. She really hoped that someone would take the damned thing because the thought of having to haul it to Goodwill in her Honda Civic made her want to cry.
You have no one to blame but yourself, she internally chided. And it was true. She chose to move clear across the country to Jacksonville, Florida, from her native Forks, Washington, leaving behind the dreary, rainy Pacific Northwest for the too-bright sun and subtropical heat. The persistent rain wasn't all she'd left behind. Her father, Charlie, and best friend, Rose, were amongst the discarded relics of her former life.
If she'd been smart, she would have gotten rid of the mattress before she left, instead of loading it into the U-Haul. But in her rush to leave, she and her father threw everything she owned into the back of the truck, hooked up her little green sedan to the trailer, and she was gone before the sun had set. She was a freelance editor, so as long as she had an Internet connection, she could work, which allowed her to take her time running away, stopping to see the country as she went. Which maybe meant it wasn't so much running away as slowly jogging away or perhaps even power walking away.
Well, whatever you called it, the sum total was that she left behind everything that wouldn't fit in the truck, including her ex-husband, Jake, and his newly ringed fiancee.
It would have been easy to assume that she was the angry, bitter divorcee who was traded out for a newer model, but nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter was, she and Jake never should have married. But when thirty was looming and she had only ever had a handful of short-lived relationships, she finally relented, giving in to his repeated suggestion that they could be good together-happy, even. Jake Black had been her best friend since she was a toddler, and she knew they got along well enough. The sex was okay, not earth shattering or mind blowing, but then again, outside of smutty romance novels, she'd never been privy to anything other than okay sex. Their friendship didn't really change once they were married; they just lived in the same house, slept together on occasion, and were the assumed 'plus one' to all their other friends' weddings and baby showers. It was exceedingly comfortable...boring, but comfortable.
She couldn't even play the roll of the jilted lover. Jake had done everything honorably when he realized he was in love with Rennie Masen. Bella remembered the day she knew that her marriage was a lost cause. She stopped by the autobody shop Jake owned to drop off some paperwork he had forgotten. The new secretary, a girl who looked to be in her mid twenties with curly light brown hair and vivid blue eyes, was sitting at the desk. At the tinkling of the bell on the door, she greeted Bella cheerily. "Hey, can I help you?"
"Yeah, is Jake in?" Bella had asked.
The girl's face lit up at the mention of Jake and she nodded her head. "Just a sec, I'll page him for you."
"Oh, that's okay, I'll just drop this stuff off in his office; he left it at home this morning."
Her smile faltered just slightly as she realized who Bella was, but she quickly recovered, bouncing out of her seat and rushing to Bella, sticking her hand out. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Black, I didn't recognize you! I'm Rennie; they just hired me last week. Nice to meet you!"
Bella reached out to shake her hand, quickly correcting her, "It's Swan actually, but just Bella is fine. It's nice to meet you, too! You're not from Forks, right?"
"No, Hoquiom. I lived there all my life but wanted to try something different. I saw the job ad and well, here I am." She laughed easily, shrugging.
Just then, Jake came in, wiping his greasy hands on a blue shop towel, smiling at Bella and Rennie. His gray jumpsuit fit tightly across his broad, muscular shoulders, and his long black hair was pulled back in a ponytail. He didn't set her heart racing by any means, but he was still nice to look at. "I thought I heard your voice," he said to Bella, kissing her gently on the cheek in greeting. His eyes shifted to the other woman. "Rennie, you should have paged me." But there was no admonishment behind his words.
"Nah, it's okay, I was just going to put these in your office. Rennie offered, but I didn't want to bother you."
There was a niggling of something in her mind, even then, in a perfectly innocent moment, that told her to pay attention. The thought wasn't threatening or possessive, more curiosity. So, as she waved goodbye to the pair and went out to her car, she paused for just a moment to watch them undetected. Jake had walked up to the counter standing on one side while Rennie returned to her seat on the other, and what she saw wasn't at all untoward or sordid, there were no lingering glances, no shy touches, but looking at the two of them was like looking at two parts of a whole. When Rennie shifted to the right, so did Jake, when he tucked a piece of his loose hair back, she reached up to do the same to her own. The pull between them was tangible, visceral. And it was obvious that it was completely unconscious on both of their parts; neither of them had any idea that they were doing it.
Bella went home that day resigned that things were going to work out the way they worked out. She truly loved Jake, but they weren't in love, and because she loved him, she couldn't begrudge him the chance to be with someone who deserved him, someone who was meant for him. When the time came for a decision to be made, she wasn't going to stand in his way.
Things had been fairly normal for the next couple of months. Rennie's name made a frequent appearance in her and Jake's conversations about the shop, and she became a fixture at their barbecues that summer. They never talked about it, but it was obvious to everyone that Rennie fit into Jake's life in a way that Bella never had.
The first time Rose had seen the two of them together, she pulled Bella aside in a fit of anger and worry.
"You have to tell him to fire her! You can't just let this go on!" Rose said, indignantly.
Bella just smiled at her friend, knowing that her tendency to sometimes be overbearing came from a place of love and protectiveness. "I'm not doing that, Rose. I'm not interfering," she said firmly.
"You have to be fucking kidding me! You're going to just let that hussy come in and steal your husband? You're just going to sit back and let them fuck right under your nose?"
At that, Bella stiffened, her cheeks flushing with anger. "You know as well as I do that Jake would never do that. And no, if I truly thought he was cheating, I wouldn't just sit back. But I also refuse to play the part of the jealous, possessive wife. I trust Jake to do the right thing."
"And when he comes to you and tells you he's in love with her, you're just going to let him go?" Rose asked sarcastically.
"Yep, pretty much."
Rose gave her a look of pity, shaking her head.
Her friend had always said that Bella didn't believe enough in her own worth, while Bella held that she was just realistic. At the time, she thought Rose's pity was born from their old argument. But, now, laying here in the hot Florida sun, tired and alone, she got the feeling that there had been more to it.
Pursuing that line of thought seemed futile, though. It was easy for someone like Rose to pity her, Rose had found her 'one,' Emmett McCarty, in high school and had never spent a moment apart from him. Where as Bella had sat by and watched as, one by one, her friends settled down in relatively happy marriages, always wondering what was so wrong with her that no one could hold her attention long enough for things to get serious. She was resigned to having a comfortable, safe marriage with Jake, someone to share her life with and grow old with. But if she couldn't even hold on to that, then obviously she was just destined to be alone. And she could live with that...would have to live with that.
And that was how, just months after her four-year-old marriage was dissolved, and a few weeks after Jake had proposed to Rennie, she found herself clear on the other side of the country. She couldn't sit by and watch as everyone she knew took on that same look of pity that Rose had given her. She wanted to start over, new city, new home, new outlook on life. She could be alone by choice here, make a conscious decision to live her life for herself, and not live with the stigma attached to being the perpetually single woman in a town of happy couples.
Feeling resolved and lighter from her internal pep-talk, she finally sat up and opened her eyes, momentarily blinded, and rubbing them trying to bring the world back into focus. She figured she should probably get up, lest the neighbors think she was crazy, napping on a mattress on the lawn, in the middle of the day. Movement behind her caused her to spin around with a yelp, the sudden motion making her slip off the edge of the mattress, landing on her ass unceremoniously on the ground.
There laying beside her, sprawled out on his back with his arms resting comfortably behind his head was the most gorgeous man she'd ever seen. His reddish brown hair shimmered in the sunlight, and his green eyes almost perfectly matched the grass just inches away from his head. His blue tee-shirt clung to his chest, riding up just enough to show the muscles of his lower abdomen and the light dusting of hair leading down. And he was grinning at her.
"Nice day for a nap, huh?"
A/N: Thoughts? If you're interested, please be sure to review and let me know-it'll motivate me to finish the rest of Ch. 2 that's sitting in my gdoc folder. ;)
Thanks to Kas90 for beta'ing, and Sammielynnsmom and KrisScott for pre-reading.
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I own nothing. Until next time! ~Kimberly