I don't own anything Twilight; I'm just playing with what Stephenie Meyer gave us.

Thanks to Stratan for the beta work.

Chapter 1


The City of Forks Welcomes You

I wasn't entirely sure how I felt at the sight of that sign. It was hard to believe I was actually here, actually doing this, and yet I got strangest sense of belonging as soon as I'd arrived. Like everything that had happened to me was for a reason and that I'd been called back to this place. It was a weighty feeling to have, and it almost made wish that I'd never made that call to Charlie… never driven the seven hundred miles to Amarillo.


I swallowed thickly and let my eyes dart around the town, reacquainting myself with sights long forgotten, such as the diner my father had taken me to every Friday as a child, the turn off that led you to La Push, and the ocean just beyond the trees. There were a few new buildings and shops around as well, and I quickly noticed that while everything held a familiarity about it, it was all so... different to me now. Maybe it was because this summer, I actually had a purpose for being here, rather than just wasting it away with my dad as I'd always done before.

I reached up and felt the long, pink puckered scar that divided my chest, my constant reminder of why I was here and how things could change in just the blink of an eye. One day, you're lamenting over things like history reports and gym class, and the next, you're lying in a hospital bed, surrounded by wires and tubes while a doctor broke the news that your heart was dying, that you'd been born with this... defect that had been overlooked for years; one that slowly ate away at you while you wandered through life thinking that every fall and every strange shift in your equilibrium was because of some genetic flaw of clumsiness your mother passed down to you, when it was really one that ran so much deeper and created more problems, more pain—both physical and emotional—than you'd ever thought you could bear.

I glanced over at the file folder sitting beside me and had the sudden urge to snatch it up and cradle it to my chest. It held so much information about the girl whose life had ended so mine could finally begin. She'd given me a second chance, and it was hard to reconcile the immense gratitude and happiness I felt for being alive with the guilt and sadness I felt over her life being cut so short and so suddenly.

Those who knew Maggie Carr loved her dearly, and while I knew I had a few people who would have missed me if I'd actually died, I didn't create joy and light in everyone's lives like she did. She was smart and outgoing, compassionate and good, whereas I'd just always floated through life, unsure of both myself and where I was going. I had no real ambitions other than to survive high school and attend college. But Maggie… she had promise.

I sighed heavily and leaned against the door as I stopped at the lone stoplight in town. It seemed like such a waste to me sometimes, a feeling I had, unfortunately, become intensely familiar with over the last few months.

And I had no idea how to shake it.

I made it through town and to my father's house, pulling into the gravel drive behind his cruiser and cutting the engine immediately. I didn't get out, though. I simply sat and stared at the tiny, white house. It was the first summer I'd spent in Forks in seven years, and I had no idea what to expect.

I was set to attend—albeit a year late—the University of Washington in the fall, much to my mother's dismay and fierce objection. I knew how hurt she was when I announced my move and that it was because of my refusal to explain to her why Arizona State no longer appealed to me; why I no longer wanted to live with her. It was hard, but I kept my reasoning a closely guarded secret, knowing that she'd never understand the compulsion I had to learn about my donor and her family, much less spontaneously applying for UDub and packing my bags for Forks.

Even I didn't understand it. I just knew that this—he—was what I was here for.

Charlie opened the door and started down the sidewalk as soon as he realized I was here. His curly, dark brown hair ruffled in the breeze, and he smoothed his mustache down nervously. He'd been alone for so many years now; I couldn't imagine how much of an adjustment me living here was going to be for him.

Lines that hadn't been noticeable three years ago formed around his dark brown eyes as he smiled, and I opened the door and slid out of the truck to greet him. He stiffly wrapped his arms around me briefly, and then stepped back with a flush.

"You made it," he said simply.

"Yeah. I made it. You didn't think I could," I answered teasingly.

He shrugged. "Feeling all right?"

I gave him a look that told him exactly what I thought about that and nodded.

He chuckled, "Old habits die hard. Where's your suitcase?"

"Over on the other side."

He went to the passenger's side of the truck and pulled out my suitcase, handed me the coveted file, and then shut the door behind him on his way back up to the house.

I dutifully followed him through the front door, up the steps, and into the room I'd spent so much time in as a child. Pictures I'd drawn when I was little were still taped to the pale blue walls, and faded, yellow lace curtains still hung on the windows. It was like I'd been flashed back to a time when things weren't so complicated again.

If only it were so easy.

He sat the suitcase down and glanced around, running his hand over his mustache again. My lips twitched with a smile. It was a tic it seemed he'd picked up recently.

"It's not much…" he started awkwardly.

"It's fine, Dad. I promise," I answered with a smile.

"I got you a new bed so you didn't have to sleep on that lumpy, old mattress. The salesgirl picked out your bedding. If you don't like it, we can take it back. I think I have the receipt somewhere."

"Stop rambling; it's good." I glanced over at the deep purple linens. "I might even take it to Seattle with me."

He was visibly surprised. "Oh. All right. I'll let you… do whatever then. I'll be downstairs."

I waited until I heard the door click behind him, and then collapsed on the bed. If there was one thing I loved the most about Charlie, it was the fact that he didn't hover like Renee did.

For the first time in years, there was nothing but silence greeting me.

I was tired from the days of travel, yet too wound up to even think about resting for a couple hours like I knew I should. There was just too much to process. Before, it'd been a vague idea that had eventually snowballed into a plan. And now, now that I was here and actually doing this… It was almost overwhelming.

I dug out the simple, leather bound journal that I'd bought to help sort through all these conflicting emotions and sifted through the pages and pages of letters I'd written to Maggie as the weeks in recovery had dragged on. I found an empty page and started writing what was likely the first of many letters during my stay in Forks to the girl who'd never have the chance to read them.

Dear Maggie,

He's here. I can feel it. It scares me how connected I feel to him already. I don't even know his name, but I know that I'm supposed to meet him. I just wish I knew why. Telling him about you is the only thing I can think of, but it still seems wrong. Like there's more to it, and I'm just not seeing it.

I sound crazy, right? Sometimes, I think maybe I am. Like the psych eval I had to go under to make sure I could handle this was wrong or altered so I could have the surgery regardless of my mental state. I wouldn't put it past Renee to use the last of her savings and pay off some unsuspecting shrink to save me. After all, I am writing another letter to a dead girl. Just like I have been for months...

I'm just confused, as usual. I'll probably spend the rest of my life (however long it actually turns out being) confused. I hate being like this all the time. And while I know there'll never be a simple solution to this, I just wish that it were a little easier. I just want… I don't know what I want. To live, I guess. Since I was faced with the alternative, my life is so much more precious to me than it was before.

I have you to thank for that. Along with everything else.

I closed the journal and set it on the nightstand, along with my pen. I set the alarm on my phone, and then rolled over and buried my face in my pillow in hopes that I could shut of all these thoughts and fall asleep for a while. Sleep was my only reprieve these days, and I often wondered if maybe I should have refused the surgery, because as much as I loved being alive, a life where your emotions were in a constant state of chaos and your mind couldn't seem to accept this blessing you'd been given was no life at all.

I dragged myself groggily down the stairs and found Charlie in the kitchen frying eggs for a sandwich. He heard me shuffle over to the sink to get some water from the tap and turned around with a smile.

"Hungry? You missed lunch."

"Not really."

He turned back around to attend to his eggs. "So… you uh, you take a nap or something? I didn't hear you moving around…"

"Yeah. I didn't think I could, but I managed to fall asleep."

He nodded, his head bent down over the pan. "When's your appointment?"

"At four," I answered, taking a deep pull of water from my glass.

"Dr. Cullen's a good doctor. You'll like him."

"Mom thinks I should go ahead and get a specialist in Seattle," I replied.

I could hear his smile in his answer. "And what do you think?"

"I think I'm tired of specialists."

He carefully folded his eggs on one slice of bread and headed over to the table. "Yeah, I figured as much. You know you need a cardiologist, though, Bella."

"I know," I said, sitting in the seat across from him, "but my cardiologist back in Phoenix assured me that Dr. Cullen is capable of monitoring me this summer. Apparently, they've conversed."

He snickered at my description. "So your mother's just worrying like usual."


"You need to call her. She's already called the house twice. I let the machine get it."

I groaned and flopped my head down on the table. "God, why can't she just stop babying me already? I'm a grown woman, for shit's sake."

"Bella." His attempt at scolding was in vain. Laughter tinged his gruff voice, and he cleared his throat trying to cover it up. "You're not that grown. And you've been through a lot. Give her a break."

I groaned again but knew he was right. "I'll call her when I get back later, okay? I kind of need a little bit of time to prepare. She's… insane."

"Insane. Boy, I hope you don't talk about me like that when I'm not around."

I threw him a winning smile and stood up. "Nope. I like to refer to you as robotic."

He rolled his eyes, knowing exactly what was coming next.

"You know, because you're completely void of emotion with the exception of a few small laughs and a smile hidden behind that mustache of yours?" I continued.

"I'm better." Since he had to see me wasting away in a hospital bed for months while I waited on a donor match.

The unspoken words hung between us for a moment. Determined not to dwell on how awful my past was, I quickly shook it away and squeezed his shoulder on my way back up to my room. "You are. You gave me a hug when I got here."

"Yeah," he said, shoving his sandwich into his mouth so he didn't have to talk any more about it.

"I'm going to unpack before I leave," I called out to him.

Satisfied with the grunt of approval he gave me, I hurried back up the steps, tripping a little on my way up (even with the new heart, I am still my mother's daughter) and started working on organizing my room.

I didn't have much, but then again, I didn't really need anything more than I'd packed until I left for Seattle. Then, I'd need to figure out how to buy winter clothes. Meaning: I needed to find a summer job. With all the expenses from my numerous hospital stays and the surgery, we didn't have money for things like that, even with the different financial aid programs available for patients like me. In fact, I was seriously debating just buying some sort of parka and trying to make it through the winter without anything else. I had jeans; I had a couple long sleeved shirts. I could probably do it…

If I kept the dorm's heater on high.

It wasn't long before I had my drawers partially filled, the desk set up the way I wanted it, with my laptop plugged in and waiting for me, and clothes hung to cover the expanse of only half the tiny closet.

It was kind of pathetic how little a person can acquire when you practically set up residence in a nearby hospital.

I changed out of the clothes I'd traveled in and into a clean pair of jeans and a shirt that matched the dark purple of my new bedding, hoping that Charlie would understand the meaning behind my choice. He didn't have to scrape up the money to buy me a bed. He didn't have to risk his job or use his connections as Fork's police chief and do all the research on Maggie and her family I'd so desperately wanted. But most of all, he didn't have to let me live here with him while I tried to maneuver my way through this… aftermath. "Appreciative" did not do what I felt justice.

I grabbed my gym bag and shoved some random clothes inside then found my black Nikes and did the same with those. Charlie had told me about a gym near the hospital, and I wanted to check it out before I came back home. After weeks of required physical therapy—and the fact that this whole experience had been eye opening, to say the least—it had become part of my routine, as weird as that still sometimes felt. I still dreaded stepping foot on the treadmill, afraid that I would trip and fall in front of everyone in the gym, but the alternative—not busting my ass in the gym—was unacceptable. I had to take care of myself now and be more aware of my body's reactions to certain things, especially with the possibility of rejection always looming over me.

I went back downstairs and found Charlie in the living room watching a ball game. I cleared my throat to get his attention and grinned when his head snapped up guiltily.

"I'm heading out. I think I'll go check out that gym you were telling me about before I come back home. Want me to run by the store after I'm done and pick up something for dinner?"

"Uh… you don't have to cook, Bells," he replied, letting his eyes drift back to the TV.

I shrugged. "I need to eat too, you know."

He chuckled and took a pull of his beer, not bothering to say anything more.

"Okay," I murmured to myself slowly. "Looks like he's getting whatever I feel like making then."

I giggled on my way out the door. Maybe having to eat a piece of grilled fish, brown rice, and steamed broccoli would make him a little more vocal.

It was worth a shot.

I found the hospital easily and parked as far away from the building as I could, another habit I'd picked up after the surgery. Walking was a huge part of my recovery. I'd taken more flights of steps than I could count and had made it a point to walk as often as I could until I felt up to doing a little more. Parking in the back row and walking to the door was an easy way to get in a little extra those first few weeks out of the hospital without feeling like my chest was going to split open in the process.

I slipped my purse over my shoulder and slammed my hand over the lock inside my truck before I shut the door and started toward the building. I took one step away from my truck, and then suddenly pressed myself up against the grill as a shiny, silver Volvo whizzed right by me, stealing my breath.

I gasped and threw my hand to my chest as adrenaline rushed through my body. My heart reacted slightly; kicking up a little before settling to its normal, steady thrum. It was kind of odd not having the typical reactions that I once did. This heart beat faster when I was resting and slower when I exercised. It didn't have the same nerve connections as my old one did, something my doctor had referred to as a "denervated heart".

I watched the car whip out into traffic in an effort to curb that train of thought. I tried to stay away from all the technical terms. It wasn't necessarily confusing. I understood what they explained to me just fine. It simply made me feel anxious, knowing what could possibly go wrong with me. It was as everyone always said: ignorance is bliss.

"Fucking asshole," I grumbled and adjusted my purse back on my shoulder. "Learn to drive."

I eventually made it into the hospital and found Dr. Cullen's office. I slipped inside the waiting room and signed in. After waiting for a few minutes, I gave them my insurance information, and then found myself following an exhausted looking nurse back to a room.

After she took my vitals, she gave me a paper gown to change into, and then left the room.

I didn't have to wait long—one of the perks I assumed came with being in a small town—before Dr. Cullen was lightly knocking on the door and letting himself inside.

His smile was blinding and warm; his eyes were a beautiful shade of blue. He was hot for an older guy… Really hot, actually. I could feel myself flush as he came toward me, thinking how wrong it was to be checking out this man, and averted my eyes to the white wall. The wall was plain and safe. Dr. Cullen was not.

"Hello, Isabella," he greeted, his voice laced with kindness.

"Bella," I corrected. "It's, um, it's Bella."

"I'm sorry. No one made a note in your chart."

"It's fine. I'd normally not even say anything, but I figure I'll be here a lot, so…"

"We should be well acquainted," he finished for me.

"Something like that."

"Well, in that case, call me Carlisle," he responded, flashing me that blinding smile again. I could see it out of my peripheral.

"Okay, I'll try. Can't promise much, though. Politeness was sort of ingrained into me from birth. You can thank my mother."

He laughed under his breath as he sat on the stool in front of me and opened the massive stack of papers that was my chart. I fidgeted nervously as he flipped through the pages, silently chewing on my lip as I waited for him to say something about abuse or whatever else all these doctors in the past had always assumed.

"You've got quite a history, Bella," he commented lightly.

I watched him drag his hand through his blonde hair to keep it back as he continued to study my chart then immediately dropped my eyes to my hands. "Yeah. I was in an out of the hospital a lot before the surgery."

"So I see. And no one diagnosed you with HCM until you were sixteen?"

I shook my head, feeling a little more comfortable with the good-looking doctor. He felt… I couldn't explain it, really. Familiar, like a lot of things in this town seemed to.

"I come from a clumsy family. We'd always just assumed I had a more… severe form since every time I was up and running around, I fell." Not one doctor had connected the dots, the dots being that my only symptom was one of the few symptoms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: lightheadedness and fainting during physical exertion.

He smiled a little with that. "Are you still clumsy?"

I blushed again. "I still trip and forget where the doorways are, yeah."

"Nothing serious, though, right?" He glanced up at me, expectantly awaiting an answer.

"No. No stitches or broken bones since the surgery."

He nodded. "Taking your meds?"

"Every dose."

"Excellent. Any issues, any signs of rejection?"

I knew the symptoms. Shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, fluid retention… They were always in the forefront of my mind. "No. Whatever cocktail I'm on seems to be working."

"Are you sexually active?"

"No," I answered quickly, unable to look at him.

"Good. If that changes, you need to let me know immediately. I'll want to alter your prescriptions, whether you're on birth control or not. Okay?"

I blew out a breath. I already knew all of this. I was well versed in the after care of a heart transplant patient. Those immunosuppressant drugs that kept me alive? Some of them carried huge, potential risks to an unborn baby. And while a baby was not in my near future, if ever, I knew accidents happened, no matter how precautious you thought you were.

"I will," I promised, even though my vow was hollow. I'd never even kissed a boy, much less come close to falling into bed with one. A heart condition tended to wreak havoc on your social life that way.

Carlisle set my chart down on the counter beside him and stood up so that he could examine me. He started with a normal physical then shifted so that his fingers pressed on my lymph nodes. He then moved my gown away just enough so he could see the scar that ran down the length of my chest.

"It looks good," he murmured, slipping the stethoscope in his ears. "Everything looks good. Take a deep breath for me."

I did as instructed, letting it back out slowly.

He pulled his stethoscope away from his ears, and then backed away from me. After a few words about a urine and blood sample before I left, he scribbled a few things down on my chart and then started toward the door so I could get dressed again.

He reached for the handle and turned around. "Charlie says you'll probably want a job while you're here?"

"Um," I shifted on the table, careful to keep the gown closed, "yeah. I'm a typical, broke college student."

A frown flickered over his face, like he knew there was more to it, but was gone so fast I thought I might've imagined it. "My son could actually use some help in his garage."

"A garage?" I asked skeptically. I knew nothing about cars.

He nodded and pulled out his wallet, rifling through it for something. He pulled out a white business card and handed it to me. "Office work. Invoicing, filing, answering phone calls… Things like that."

I glanced down at the card and felt a wave of relief. "Oh, okay. Thanks."

He smiled brightly. "I'll have someone give you a call when we get your labs back, but I don't anticipate anything unusual with them."

I nodded.

"Take care, Bella."

After the gym, I stopped by the store and grabbed everything I'd need to make dinner at Charlie's. I'd intended to go straight home, but as I passed the garage Dr. Cullen had told me about, I noticed the lights still burning brightly inside. I pulled into the parking lot and let the engine idle as I checked out the building. Tan sheet metal made up the walls and framed the tall, white doors of the bays. A cheery little garden surrounded the white sign just as you walked inside, and even though the garage itself was surprisingly clean by any outsider's standards, its perfection seemed a little out of place.

Which made me realize that I was definitely not so clean after working out for an hour. I flipped the rearview mirror down and stared at my reflection. My face was still flushed from all the time I'd put in on the elliptical and my hair was plastered against my head from sweat. I quickly yanked my ponytail out and combed through my hair with my fingers, deciding that wearing it down would be better. Down would help camouflage how truly disgusting I was.


No matter how much I knew that I should just start the truck back up and go home, come back in the morning after I'd slept and showered, I couldn't seem to move. I needed to go in there. It was like a cable was reeling me in, pulling me to whatever was inside. It was the same feeling I'd had since I'd first started this whole… journey, if you will.

Of course, I didn't ignore it.

I got out of the truck and walked over to the black lacquered door, shivering as a cool breeze rushed over my hot skin. This odd feeling bubbled up in my chest, but I quickly shoved it down, intent on looking as calm and collected as I could when I went inside. I needed this job.

I slipped through the door and glanced around quickly. Another door that led to the office was on my right, and a cavernous expanse of auto equipment and tools were to my left. The sound of angry, heavy rock music streamed from a stereo in the corner. I let go of the door and started toward the direction of the music, only to jump in place when the door made a popping sound and slammed shut behind me.

"Fucking Christ, Emmett!" a deep, agitated voice called out. "Are you ever going to fix that piece of shit door?"

My eyes followed the sound of the man's voice and found him under the chassis of an older, maroon Malibu. Nothing but a pair of jeans and black work boots stuck out, both marred with grease and oil and… God only knew what else.

I cleared my throat pointedly and watched his body tense under the car. He threw some sort of tool down, creating a clanking sound as it skittered across the cement floor, and pushed himself out from under the car in a smooth, practiced movement.

He stood up and stretched, his lean muscles flexing and exposing his stomach and the dark trail of hair that led… I swallowed hard and focused on his face. He pinned me with a hard stare, causing a blush to creep up into my cheeks. His jaw was strong and tense, and his eyes were as green as the trees and the moss that clung to their trunks outside, burning with such intensity that I lost my breath.

He was, without a doubt, the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

He grabbed a faded red rag off the hood of the car and wiped some of the black off of his hands, wordlessly smudging it across his perfect, pale skin before dragging one hand through his messy copper hair roughly.

"We're closed," he said, digging into his pocket for something.

He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, tipping the pack enough so he could pull one out. He lit it and took a deep drag; smoke curled in the air around him, fading as it rose toward the ceiling. I watched the smoke hypnotically plume from his mouth, unable to think as I saw the way every part of his body relaxed almost instantly. My hand unconsciously came up to rub at my chest, and he lazily followed the movement, letting his tongue roll over his lips once. My chest burned, ached with longing, and then all of the sudden my brain kicked back into gear and I jerked myself as far away from him as I could get.

He looked… pissed, for lack of a better word, but his voice was smooth and calm. Uncaring. "Don't like smokers?"

I didn't know how to answer that question. It'd never bothered me before, but now, I didn't want to breathe it in, knowing that its toxins were going straight into my bloodstream… this heart.

My silence was answer enough for him. "Then leave."

I shook my head and focused on finding my voice again. "I um, I… Are you…? Dr. Cullen said you were hiring," I stuttered, immediately flushing in embarrassment again.

His eyes narrowed as he scrutinized my face for some reason. "You want Emmett. He'll be back tomorrow morning." He blew a stream of smoke my way and raised his brow, almost as if he was daring me to say something to him about it.

I backed up a little further. "Stop it, would you? I can't be around it."

He shot me a patronizing look. "Allergic?"

"No, the heart… I mean, my heart…" I shook my head, deciding not to bother with an explanation. He wouldn't have cared, and even if he had, I didn't want his pity. I'd had enough of that in my life. "Never mind."

He shrugged and turned away to dig in the massive toolbox behind him, leaving me to stand there stupidly. My jaw dropped at his blatant disregard for manners, and anger pounded through me.

"What a fucking prick," I muttered, spinning around to leave.

I was almost to the door when another loud clattering cut through the air behind me, stopping me dead in my tracks. I craned my neck slowly around to see him, catching him as he dragged his gaze over my ass. Heat bloomed inside me so strong that for the second time in the span of only a few minutes, I lost the capability to breathe again.

"What?" I eventually snapped, still fuming through my haze. "Like what you see? Expect me to just bend over and let you do me here?"

A tic worked in his jaw, and he threw the cigarette butt down on the floor and stamped it out angrily. "Not in the fucking least," he retorted, wrenching the volume level up to blaring and dropping down under the car before I could say anything else.

I exhaled sharply and stormed out of the garage, determined to get out to the truck before I let any angry tears fall. All I could think about was making it home so I could start searching through the classifieds while I cooked dinner. There was no way I would ever work around someone so disrespectful.

I knew I wasn't much to look at. I'd always considered myself to be awkward, gangly, and plain. My hair fell limp around my face and was—to me—the most boring shade of brown known to mankind. My eyes were no different. I'd longed for something other than the flat brown I'd been born with. I was thin, but soft. I hadn't been blessed with curves and had no muscle definition of any kind, no matter how many hours I'd spent in the gym lately. To have it just announced like that, though…

Charlie knew something was wrong as soon as I stomped my way through the living room with the bag of groceries in my hand, but wisely stayed away. I slammed pots and pans around and tossed silverware haphazardly in the sink as everything cooked, still boiling with anger and quite frankly, self-loathing.

I raced back out of the kitchen and snatched the paper off the coffee table, shocking Charlie. I searched through the pages and found the classifieds, feeling an odd sense of disappointment when I was flooded with all the "help wanted" ads.

I wanted to slam my head against the table in frustration. "What is wrong with you?" I moaned to myself.

Charlie's footsteps echoed behind me, and I could hear the chair squeak as he sat down next to me. "Want to tell me what's going on?"

I shook my head vehemently because I didn't know what was going on. I wanted to get as far away from the man in the garage as possible, yet the thought sent the strangest pang racing through my chest, almost as if this heart was pleading to get closer to him.

"If it's about your appointment, Bella, you can-"

"It's not," I breathed, feeling incredibly guilty to have caused just the tiniest bit of worry for Charlie. "Everything checked out fine. I promise."


He looked at a loss for words, so I got up and checked the broiling fish, happy that it was done so I had an excuse to busy myself with the mindless task of plating the food before I broke down and cried.

I sat Charlie's plate down in front of him and watched him stop as soon as he realized what was on it. He eyed the broccoli suspiciously while his hand was suspended in mid-air. He exhaled loudly, and then finally picked up his fork.

"Looks good," he commented, feigning nonchalance. He was almost as bad of a liar as I was.

I suppressed a laugh. "Thanks. I didn't know what you wanted, so I made what I usually eat. Worked out, too, because you have all that fish in the freezer."

He grunted and took a bite, his eyes widening in surprise. "It's good, Bella. Really good."

"You thought it wouldn't be?" I asked, a hint of a challenge in my voice.

He flushed. "No, I… Hell, I thought it was going to taste like rubber," he admitted sheepishly.

I giggled. "No. Not rubber, Dad."

We ate silently for a while; Charlie cleaned up what was on his plate and went back to get seconds, grabbing a beer out of the fridge on his way by.

"So… You liked Dr. Cullen?"

"Yeah. Seems like a good guy."

"You'd like his wife too," he said, spearing a piece of broccoli.

"How, um, how old is he?" I asked awkwardly.

"Early forties," Charlie answered with a frown. "Esme—his wife—is a little younger."

"And they have a son who owns a garage?" I asked in surprise.

"Emmett, yeah," he said with a nod. "They were all adopted."


"Uh-huh. As teenagers. All three of them. People still think the Cullens are nuts for doing that." Charlie suddenly got extremely uncomfortable, alarming me.

After a few excruciatingly long seconds, I couldn't stand the anxious burn in my chest any longer. "Dad?"

"Are you sure about why you're here?" he blurted out.

"I'm pretty sure, yeah. Why?"

"It's just…" He paused and stared at his plate for a moment. "I found the name of your donor's brother today."

I was suddenly giddy with anticipation, all thoughts of the red-headed asshole from earlier forgotten. "Really? Who is he? Does he live in Forks like we thought?"

"Yeah, he lives here. For now, anyway," Charlie answered reluctantly. He pulled out a slip of paper from his pocket and pushed it my way.

I reached out to take it from him, my hand shaking nervously as I did. I stared at the script on the paper in disbelief unsure if I was reading it correctly or if it was some crazy figment of my imagination.

Edward Cullen.

The name sent a jolt of electricity through me, and I knew that trying to stay away from the garage and the irritating man inside was no longer an option. I wanted to scream, but it seemed almost like too much work at this point. I was merely a puppet being dragged behind… whatever the hell this obsession of mine was by its strings.

"Cullen?" I managed to eventually croak out. "As in Dr. Cullen?"

Charlie nodded somberly. "His youngest, actually."

"What's he uh… what's he look like?"

"Tall, funny colored hair. Kind of red, I guess you'd-"

I held up my hands to stop him; I couldn't hear any more. I squeezed my eyes closed and focused on breathing calmly. It was like a nightmare slowly unraveling before me. "He works at the garage?"

Charlie scowled. "I think he helps out from time to time. Why?"

I pushed my plate away, suddenly not hungry. "No reason. I think I'm going to take a shower and crash. I'll clean all this up later," I said numbly.

"Bella, what's going on? You look… green."

"I'm fine, Dad. Just tired," I said, giving him a reassuring smile.

I managed to escape and fled to my room. I flipped open my journal and feverishly started writing on the first empty page I found until my hand cramped and I couldn't write anything more.

I had his name. All the comfort I thought that would come with it was nowhere to be found; instead, I was wrapped up in fear and apprehension for when the words finally left my mouth, and just as abruptly as my decision to come to Forks in the first place, I was second guessing every last one of those reasons I had for coming.

The song Edward was listening to in the garage was TOOL's "Forty Six & 2". Mainly because of these lyrics here:

My shadow.
Change is coming through my shadow.
My shadow's shedding skin
I've been picking
My scabs again

I've been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could've been.
I've been wallowing in my own chaotic
And insecure delusions.

I wanna feel the change consume me,
Feel the outside turning in.
I wanna feel the metamorphosis and
Cleansing I've endured within

However, the entire fucking song is appropriate. So Google the lyrics if you don't know them ;)


I hate these things...

Yep, angst. It's been a while for me. I've had a lot of RL issues going these last few months, so it's great to be posting something again.

WYWG readers: It's coming. I promise. I was blocked for like, three months. Sorry!

The fic is supposed to be mysterious, so if you have questions, as always, you're free to ask. I just can't guarantee that I'll ever answer them. They will all be attended to eventually.

New Twitter account, because of all those RL issues I might've mentioned. Follow at your own risk... JT040708

EPOV up next. The update is scheduled for 7/27

Thanks for reading :)