THE RETURN

By Lily Aurora

Chapter One: The Return

"That's it, the final box packed."

I sighed with relief as I sat on the edge of my small single bed, looking around at the boxes that lay filled and sealed with my worldly possessions. It shocked me in some sense that after four years how little I have come to posses, but then again I've never needed anything other than the bare necessities. I quickly glanced around the room making sure I had grabbed everything I needed. Four years I had called this room my own, the small living space was enough for me. It was somewhere to sleep, study and recover. And I had accomplished all three, but now it was time to go back.

Returning home both excited and scared me all at once. I had left with only a note explaining I had to leave. I couldn't tell them face to face. I didn't have the strength to. I had applied to colleges all over the U.S, needing to be as far away as possible. I knew Charlie would be hurt if I tried to explain to him why I had to leave. He would have thought it was something he had done. He would tell me he would be a better father and be home more. But he was already the best father anyone could have. So how could I explain I was broken, broken so badly by a vampire boy who claimed to love me? I couldn't. Could I? So I ran. Tucked my tail between my legs and ran as far away as possible. It was hard at first but I was determined to do this. Weekly emails were the only contact I had with my parents. After months of them both trying to find me and call me, I told them both that if they didn't give me the time I needed neither would see me again. Ever! Harsh I know but it needed to be said, how could I heal if they constantly questioned my reason for leaving.

I had spent the last four years studying hard. I wanted to become a teacher. I loved to read so being able to share my passion of books with others excited me more than anything and I knew I had chosen the correct career path. It was during one of my English lectures that I met someone I never expected to see again. Angela. She came walking up to me on the first day and quietly took the seat next to me sending me a shy smile. Not once did she ask me or question anything I did. When I refused to go to parties she would look at me knowingly and stay home with me as we watched movies and ate cold pizza. The topic of home never arose, not once did she ask me anything. It was half way into the first term when I gave her the full UN edited version of my failed relationship. She sat there quietly and listened as I spoke for hours. There was a lot I needed to get off my chest. As I finished she looked at me and smiled, still she passed no judgement, her only reply was, "I knew they were too perfect to be human," we both laughed.

I remembered then why I liked her so much. She was a gentle soul. One of those rare people who are just pure and good. From that moment on we were inseparable. I love her like a sister and her me. I think that's the reason as to why she is returning with me. I told her I could go on my own but she just gave me that look. There was no arguing with that look. I still hadn't told her everything, not the real reason but I had explained enough.

"Are you ready Bells?" Angela's quiet voice pulled me from my thoughts, I smiled brightly at my best friend.

"Yeah, I was just remembering all the fun we had in here." My eyes scanned the room again, God I was going to miss this place. Sitting on the bed next to me Angela bumped our shoulders taking my hand in hers.

"Trust me Bells, it will be fine."

Squeezing her hand gently I shook my head, "it's been so long Ang. What am I supposed to say what do I tell them?"

"The truth Bella, you tell them the truth and if they care about you they will understand. It will be fine everything will work out in the end."

Sighing loudly I nodded, "yeah you're right Ang. It's time to go home." I smiled at that. Home, God how I missed the green everywhere, the people and even the weather. "Come on then lazy ass we've got loads to do before we head off." I laughed as I jumped to my feet grabbing a box before walking out the door, Angela hot on my tail with another of my boxes.

Two hours later, a few stumbles over thin air and one destroyed box, we were on our way back to Forks. The car packed to the brim, full of our belongings and the rest being shipped out in a few days. Angela sat behind the wheel of her truck, it was a graduation present from her parents. My old faithful had finally had enough and decided to go to car heaven, 3 months into the second year of college. Thank god for Angela otherwise I would have been hiking everywhere and we all know how stable I am on two legs. The scenery flashed past in a blurred haze, we sang along to the radio, everything from rap to country came on, until Ang told me to go in her bag.

"What for, what do you seriously need out of your bag Ang, you're driving?"

Rolling her eyes at me. "Just do it Bells."

Digging through her bottomless pit she calls a handbag I came across a CD marked road trip, looking suspiciously at the offending CD I turned my attention to my friend.

"A CD, is this what you wanted so desperately?"

"Yep." She said sounding like a 5 year old as she popped the P and practically bounced in her seat.

"What's on it?" I held it at a distance not too sure if I really wanted to know.

"Pop it in and find out." She giggled, I slipped the CD in, looking at my so called friend. Jesus, this was not good. A giggling Angela meant one of two things, an over indulgence of vodka or...You Can't Touch This...blasted from the speakers making me jump from fright and moan in embarrassment, a mix CD of very, very sad music. I love Angela more than anything in the world but this mad obsession she has with anything cheesy is not good, not good at all. I looked over at the dark haired girl who was now singing along, badly. MC Hammer's one hit wonder and bouncing in her seat. I groaned again and tried to shimmy down my own seat, hopefully no one will see us.

"Come on Bells, sing with me."

"Oh my God Ang seriously! MC Hammer?"

"Of course." She laughed in my face, "Honestly Bells, don't think I've forgotten that night in the karaoke bar."

"Oh God, was I ever going to live that down?"

"No you're not."

"Dam it, I said that out loud."

Angela laughed, "Yes you did, now come on, just let loose, it'll be fun."

After another few minutes of watching Ang belt out with the best of them I gave in and sang along. As we made our way through various cheesy tracks we decided to take a break, we had been on the road for 4 hours and the truck needed re-fueling and so did we. It would be another 4 or 5 hours before we got to forks. Using the rest room we decided to grab some lunch, sliding into a booth I scanned the menu, my eyes stopping at the steak sandwich, Ang joined me in my meat feast.

"How you doing Bells?" Angela's warm gaze ran over my face watching me closely for any signs of panic.

"I'm fine honest." I answered not quite meeting her eyes as I took another sip of my coke.

"Bells, I understand if you're nervous its natural. Maybe you should ring your dad just to give him a heads up that we'll be there tonight."

Shaking my head. "No Ang it's better this way. I want to surprise him. It's only a few days difference."

"It's a two week difference Bells." she chuckled.

"It will be fine."

"Why don't you want to tell him sweetie, I'm sure he won't be mad with you, it's been so long since you've seen each other."

"Exactly Ang, I know Charlie he will make a big deal out of me coming back, invite people over, people I'm not ready to see yet." I answered quietly.

She quickly grabbed my hands, "OK sweetie I understand, we'll do what ever you think is best, but Bells baby you will have to see him eventually, your dad is his dads best friend how long do you think you can hide from him, from all of them?"

"As long as I can Ang, I'm just not ready to see him yet, I can't even imagine what it's going to be like. He's going to hate me."

"No he won't Bella. If he loved you like I think he did then he will forgive you for leaving but you need to tell him why."

"I know, thanks Ang, for everything. I don't know what I would have done without you."

"What are best friends for?" She said as she gave me one of her full face smiles.

I smiled at my best friend, I was so thankful to have her in my life. I regretted not getting to know her better when we were in school but maybe if I had we wouldn't be as close as we were now. Everything happens for a reason. I'm a firm believer in that now, it took me a while to get there but that's one thing I am sure of.

Four hours and twenty eight minutes later we were entering Forks. Nothing had changed, I smiled as I took in the green scenery. The local stores, the kids playing, everything was the same. It was home. I was home, finally. I smiled at Angela who beamed at me. I could feel her excitement. Her parents had moved out of Forks when Angela had left for college. They had told her they fancied a warmer climate so they upped and moved to Miami. Thankfully they didn't push Angela to move there with them. They still owned their home in Forks and told us we could stay there as long as we wanted, having sold their small dental practice it made them financially stable.

"You ready Bells." Angela asked as we turned onto my street. I could see my dads cruiser parked out side our house.

"Yeah. I think I am." I smiled back at her, my palms were sweating, I was so nervous but excited. I felt like a little girl all I wanted to do was throw myself into my father's embrace and smell his aftershave. Before Angela could put the truck into park I was out the door and rushing to the porch. I shifted nervously from one foot to the other. I glanced back at Angela who animated me to knock the door, I rolled my eyes at her and wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans again, swallowing thickly I rapped my knuckles against the door and took a step back and waited. After a few minutes I heard movement inside, my fathers heavy footsteps drew closer. Please, please don't be mad, I prayed in my head. The turning of the handle drew my gaze, slowly the door opened and there before me was Charlie, my dad, before he could speak I had thrown myself into him my arms wrapping them tightly around his neck in a vice like grip as I sobbed into his chest.

"Bella?" His voice sounded confused as he held me at arms length for a moment looking deep into my eyes, "Bells." His eyes filled with tears as he realised I was there really here in his arms. "Oh God Bella I've missed you so much." Charlie's hold on me tightened as I cried into his loving embrace. We just stood there holding each other for how long I don't know, it was only when the truck door shut did I reluctantly pull myself free of my fathers arms. Angela stood there sheepishly.

"Sorry." She blushed. "I didn't mean to interrupt it's just," she shuffled back and forth slightly, "I really need to pee."

I laughed along with Charlie as he pointed her towards the bathroom. As Angela disappeared from sight Charlie turned to me.

"You're home early Bells, I didn't expect you for another few weeks."

"I know, I'm sorry it's just I couldn't wait."

"Don't be sorry Bella, I'm glad you home I've missed you so much."

"Me too dad." I snuggled into his chest again as we waited for Angela to come back downstairs,

When Angela joined us I introduced her to my dad. We made small talk for a while and then decided to order some dinner. It was late and none of us wanted to spend any time tonight cooking. Charlie ordered pizza, chicken wings, coleslaw and cheesy garlic bread.

"So where are you two staying?" he asked as he placed the ordered food on the kitchen table.

"My parents still have a house here and they said we could use of it for as long as we wanted. Plus we don't need to pay any bills just the food shopping."

"Good, so you're staying in town for a while then Bells?"

I knew this was Charlie's subtle way of trying to gather information, about as subtle as a sledgehammer if you ask me.

"I'm staying for good dad. I'm hoping to find a teaching job locally or at least no more than an hours drive away."

His smile said everything. "Good it will be nice to have you back home."

"It will be nice to be home, I've missed it."

Angela was smiling as she watched me and my dad talk, I forgot how easy Charlie was to talk to once you started the ball rolling.

"So what bout you Angela, what are your job plans?"

"Oh um, I want to teach as well. Bells is the brains, reading books and what not." she answered as she waved her hands in the air as she spoke. "I'm the artist, I love to paint, sketch, carve anything really that involves expressing yourself artistically."

"Are you staying in forks as well or you moving with your folks?"

"Well I'm hoping to stay, I didn't realise how much I would actually miss it here until I was at college so if like Bella I can find a job locally I'll be staying too."

"Good, good," he smiled digging into his pizza and chicken wings.

Dinner passed by quietly after that, Angela and I cleared away all the rubbish before saying good night to my dad. We were going to make our way over to Angela's house and just crash, it was too late to even consider unpacking anything.

"Why don't you two stay here tonight, you can share my bed and I can take your old one Bells."

"It's OK dad we don't want to be any bother," and for a brief second I saw the disappointment flash across Charlie's face, "but if you're sure," I ended quickly.

"Of course, you two have had a long trip. Have a good nights sleep and then you can get an early start unpacking tomorrow. It's my day off as well so I can give you both a hand."

"That would be great dad, thanks."

"Yeah thanks Charlie, an extra pair of hands would be awesome." Angela chirped in.

Saying good night to my dad we dragged our tired bodies to bed not even bothering to change into bed clothes. We stripped down to our underwear and T'shirt's crawling under the comforter and within minutes we were both fast asleep. Angela probably dreaming about what other cheesy tracks she could torture me with and me wondering what tomorrow would bring and when would Charlie mention Jacob Black.