Disclaimer: All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Okay, this one is for Melanie, who betas my work (except she doesn't know I'm doing this) and who is good friend.
This story has been running around my head for close to a year. I keep pushing it aside and it keeps pushing right back and Melanie drops the odd hint, encouraging me to write it. I'm not sure how many chapters it will be and I'm really not sure about the whole story, the premise is probably a bit odd, you might need to suspend belief a bit :)
Here we go...I hope you enjoy :)
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"Hey, Jake!" I nudge my best friend with my knee and he groans, fighting to stay asleep.
"Too early," he mutters and rolls deeper into my sofa.
"It's nearly noon," I grin, standing over him, hands on my hips, and nudge him again with my knee. He twists his head to look at me over his shoulder, he's frowning and his eyes are heavy with sleep.
"Noon? Are you serious?"
He blinks now and sits up, yawning, stretching. "Almost serious, or almost noon?" he asks, and at last I see it, that happy Jacob grin, even if it is a bit sleepy.
"Both," I declare and head for the small area of counter space with sink and cooktop that passes for a kitchen. "Breakfast...lunch?" I ask.
"Both," he echoes me and heads for the bathroom as I pull bacon and eggs from the fridge.
My new apartment is small, just three rooms, but it's affordable and all I need. And it's walking distance to the campus of Portland State University. It's good I'm not the sort of person who needs roommates because there's no space for that here.
I'm frying eggs and bacon and tomatoes as Jake walks back in, fresh from a shower, hair damp, and starts shoving yesterday's clothes into his backpack.
"Thanks for helping me move," I say over the sizzle of breakfast...or is it lunch? "I really appreciate it."
"No problem," he says without looking up. "Any time." He checks his phone and his goofy smile tells me he has a message.
"Beth?" I smirk and beneath his copper coloured skin Jacob begins a slow blush.
"Yeah." He texts something quickly and puts his phone away. I feel a rush of happiness for my friend that he's found the one, his soul-mate, but it's tinged with just a little jealousy because I once thought I had found mine. I used to smile and blush that way about someone. And even though my someone couldn't blush, he used to smile that way about me. But that was a long time ago now. Two years ago next Tuesday to be exact, but I'm not counting.
"How many eggs?" I ask, pulling my mind back to now.
"How many you got?"
"That'll have to do." And he's serious. I shake my head at werewolf appetites.
Outside it begins to rain. It's a soft shower and the drops begin a slow race down my windows.
"I can't believe you left sunny Florida for this," Jake scowls at the weather. "You sure you're not crazy?"
I shrug. "Maybe I am." I've certainly felt that way lots of times over the past couple of years. "I told you, I couldn't settle there. The college courses didn't really suit what I wanted to do, I didn't really connect with anyone...it was good to spend time with my mom, but apart from that it just didn't feel right."
Jake looks out the window again. "But grey skies and drizzle do it for you?"
I shrug. "Apparently."
Jake doesn't comment as I set a place for him at the counter and plate up. He eats greedily, like it's been months, not hours, since he's had a meal.
"How does Beth keep up with feeding you?" I ask, laughing, and he laughs too through a mouthful of bacon and eggs.
"Dunno," he finally mumbles. "Aren't you eating?"
"Can't. You haven't left me anything."
His mouth drops open, shocked, upset, and I laugh again.
"Gotcha! I made sure I ate before you woke up."
Now he glares and throws his napkin at me, but it misses as I walk over to the corner and start unpacking one of the two cardboard boxes there.
"You want a hand?"
Jake has already cleared his plate and comes towards me, crouching down amongst the boxes. Neither of them has been opened since I left Forks for Florida two years before. They stayed taped up and then came with me again a year later when I moved from Florida back to Forks for the summer while I waited for my transfer to Oregon.
It only takes a little while for the boxes to be emptied. Jake's hung my prints on the wall, I've put my books on the wonky shelves by the door. He hands me my CD's, one by one, as I line them up beside my small stereo.
"Alphabetical order?" Jake smirks at me. "That's so anal, Bella."
"Not as anal as some," I mutter and think vaguely of someone who categorised their music by year and then personal preference within that year.
I choose a disc and put it on. The music is bright and loud and I begin to grin as I nod my head in time with its beat.
Jake smiles. "I'm glad you got over your aversion to music," he refers to those dark days long gone.
"I got over a lot of things." I say the words, I don't necessarily believe them.
Jake sits back on the sofa while I stay on the floor, sorting now through my old collection of keepsakes that I keep in a shoebox.
"What's that?" Jake leans forward and picks something out. "A snow globe from Phoenix?" He shakes the glass ball and watches tiny flakes swirl and drift around a vivid green plastic cactus. "Are they serious? Snow in Phoenix?"
"Hey!" I snatch the globe back, offended on its behalf. "It's glitter, really. More of a glitter globe than a snow globe. And it's special. I've had it since I was eight when Renee took me to the Desert Botanical Garden."
Jake snorts and hands it to me as he looks in the box again.
"I made one of those when I was a kid, too," he grins. It's a box made of popsicle sticks that Charlie and I made together once during one of my summer visits.
Beneath it I see my well-worn copy of Wuthering Heights. I pull my old, dog-eared friend from the shoe box and flick through it's loose, yellowing pages. I've not seen it for two years. It was second hand when I bought it and now I can see its age is really starting to show. Some pages come free and flutter to the floor and I decide it's probably time to let the book go. I know the story off by heart, if I want I can always get another copy. But before I put it in the rubbish I shake it out gently over the floor.
"What are you doing?" Jake asks.
"I had a bookmark I really liked but I lost it ages ago. I'm just checking for it before I throw the book away."
Jake looks towards the shelves where the other books sit. "What's it look like?"
"A leather strip with Celtic patterns on it."
The book yields nothing except another couple of loose pages.
"Where's the last place you saw it?" He stands and walks to the shelves.
"Can't remember. It was before..." I stop for a second. "It was in junior year."
Jake starts flicking through books.
"Don't worry, Jake. It probably got lost when I moved the first time. No big deal."
His phone sounds and he grins when he sees the caller ID. He excuses himself as he steps outside for a moment, into the corridor. I smile and shake my head as I gather up Wuthering Heights and it's fly-away pages and go to put it in the bin. But at the last minute I can't do it and I re-assemble it and set it on the shelves.
When Jake comes back in I tell him he should probably get going.
"You throwing me out?" he grins.
"Yep. First day of classes tomorrow, I need to prepare and have an early night."
"It's two o'clock."
I roll my eyes. "Your girlfriend is missing you."
Jake grins. "Yeah, she is."
"And you miss her, so go."
I give him a shove and I might as well be shoving a brick wall, but he gets the message. He walks to his backpack.
"Oh, Beth says hi, and she hopes you've moved in okay." Then he frowns. "And she says she hopes I haven't eaten you out of house and home." I burst out laughing and he gives me a sheepish grin. "She wonders if she should be sending you a care package to make up for it."
"Jake, you've taken yourself away from home for two days and a night to help me, you've lugged boxes and bags and furniture, you slept on a sofa...I think I owe you."
"Nah," he says and pulls me into one of his deep, warm Jacob hugs. I feel safe here in the arms of my friend. He's seen me at my worst, he's been my rock, my sun, and without him I really don't know what shape I would be in now.
"Thanks," I whisper into his chest, and it's not just the move I'm thanking him for and I think he understands.
"Sure," he whispers back and kisses the top of my head. "So, call if you need anything."
"Let me know next time you're in Forks."
"And if that rust bucket of yours needs work, just bring it by the garage."
"Oh, I haven't even asked how business is!" I look up at him, aghast at my rudeness and ignoring his slur against my truck.
"Sure you did," he grins down at me. "When I arrived at Charlie's yesterday. You asked how things were and I said things were good."
I roll my eyes. "That's hardly..."
He kisses the top of my head again. "Business is good. Old Joe let's me run the place two days each week now. When he retires in a couple of years I'll take over completely, as Manager. He says we're getting a lot of referred business because of me."
I beam up at my friend. "Jake, that's fantastic. But not surprising - you're the best mechanic I know."
"I'm the only mechanic you know. But yeah, it is fantastic."
"I'm so happy for you!"
"Thanks." He's blushing again now and I laugh. Then he steps out of our hug and grabs his backpack. He drapes an arm around my shoulder and looks around my apartment. "So, right college, good apartment, you're smiling, looking settled...I'm happy for you too, Bella. You are happy, aren't you?"
I think over his words. Am I happy? I'm happier than I was two years ago. Happier than a year...six months...three months ago. Gradually, slowly, little by little, I'm moving towards happiness. I suspect it will always be a light that's shining out of reach, but at least now it offers me some illumination. There was a time I thought I wouldn't survive, but now I know I will.
I'll never forget him. He's etched himself not just on my heart, but into my soul. He's in my thoughts, in each beat of my heart, but my tears have dried and I've stopped looking for him wherever I go. I've stopped running to answer the phone when it rings, or when there's a knock on the door. I don't look for signs or clues anymore. Looking back, sometimes I think he lied to me when he left, that maybe he did feel something for me. It's the sort of thing he'd do - he'd lie if he'd thought it was for my own good, and I don't know if that possibility makes me feel better or worse. I try not to think about it too much.
I look up at Jake and try a smile - they come more easily these days and he rubs his hand over my head.
He gives me a final hug, wishes me luck for tomorrow and disappears out the door. I watch from the window as his car drives down the street and out of sight.
By my second week I'm already feeling more settled than I ever did in Florida. My classes are much more to my liking and I've already been out for pizza and a movie with a group from my poetry tutorial.
By my third week I'm feeling right at home.
After a month it feels like the awkward year in Florida never happened. The soft light at the end of the tunnel seems just a tiny bit brighter, though not necessarily nearer.
On Tuesday of my sixth week I sit in the main library, books spread on the desk in front of me as I research Tudor England for my history unit. Someone pulls out the chair opposite me and I look up.
"Hi," whispers Alex. "Sorry I'm late." We're in the same study group for history. He's grinning at me as he pushes back his blond hair so it sits on his shoulders. Long hair doesn't always work on a guy, but it does on Alex. It works really well.
"Hi," I whisper back and watch as he pulls out his notes. He looks across at mine.
"Where are you up to?"
I give him a brief run-down on what I've covered. He nods and we get to work, fleshing out the theme for the assignment we've been paired up to do. Two hours later we stretch and yawn at the same time and then start laughing.
"Call it a day?" Alex asks.
"I think so. It's actually later than I thought."
It's almost seven o'clock and the library is almost deserted. They'll be closing in ten minutes. Alex clears his stuff, offers to walk me out but I want to borrow one of the books so I tell him to go ahead without me.
I sling my bag over my shoulder, grab the book and flick through the pages as I walk, head down, between the stacks towards the Loans Desk. In the distance I can hear the Librarian's voice; she's giggling and even after just six weeks here I know that's unusual, but before I can look up to see what's caught her fancy my attention is drawn to the carpet and I stop.
My bookmark is lying on the floor.
I stare at it for a moment, knowing it can't really be mine. There are probably hundreds like it.
I bend and pick up the strip of tan leather with its Celtic patterns of black dye. Some of the black is missing from the border around the edges, just like mine. Bewildered and confused I look absently at my bag. Had it been in there all along, only to fall out now? I shake my head, no; I've only had this bag since Christmas. I decide the bookmark probably isn't mine. I turn it over and in the bottom corner see the tiny, faded single letter drawn in pen...B
It is mine.
My brain doesn't know what to make of this. I try to build a connection, find a coincidence, something, anything that would explain it being here. I rub my thumb over the ridges of the pattern, making sure it's real and not something I'm imagining.
"We're closing now." The Librarian's voice comes to me. The giggles are gone and she's back to her usual officious self. "Did you want to borrow that?"
"Oh, yes, sorry."
I hurry to the desk and she processes my loan. I shove the book in my bag and head out the door. It's almost dark outside, the lights from the building blaze brightly and I stand under them, still staring at the bookmark as it lays across my palm, still trying to find a reason, an explanation...that elusive anything.
Suddenly, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. My skin pebbles in goosebumps and my body is alert. In the silence around me I hear the echo of footsteps and look up. I watch the figure come out of the gloom and as he comes down the path, before I can see his face clearly I know...it's in the set of his shoulders and the tilt of his head. And the way he walks...
It's Edward Cullen.
And I feel like I've gone into free fall. The world slips away and I'm left alone, floundering, helpless. There's no air in my lungs, my heart can't decide whether to stop beating or pound at triple pace - it decides to take turns with each as he comes closer.
I wonder if this is real. If he is real. Or is it just my mind playing cruel tricks. Memories I'd pushed away, good and bad, come roaring back; I'm impaled on some and embraced by others. Coming all at once, in shocking chaos and confusion, they crash over me in waves of hurt and happiness that defy description.
Somehow I remain still and upright.
Dusk is his backdrop. He's more beautiful than I remembered, and in the early evening light the shadows catch the planes of his face, the angle of his cheekbones, and I'm struck dumb. I can see his eyes now. They're amber, rich and deep and I can't think of how many times I've drowned in those eyes.
He sees me but his expression is still and easy, and I'm struck that there is no surprise or recognition. Then I wonder if he's planned this, if Alice has seen me in her visions and he's come back to me. I'm shaking now, and though I'm frozen to the spot my body is aflame. I try to say his name but the words won't come. He moves closer, and for a surreal second I think he's going to walk right past me, into the library, but he stops. His head turns in that way that I know so well and his eyes fall on my hand that holds the bookmark. Now he smiles and lifts his eyes to mine. I gasp, the sound tumbles over my lips as they tremble. We stare at each other for just the most fleeting fraction of a second and I expect to see something there...but I don't. There's nothing.
"There it is," his voice is as it always was - smooth, velvet. His eyes flicker down to my hand and back again to my face. "I think you've found my bookmark. I was hoping I'd left it here."
He's still smiling, politely, like we're strangers. Like I'm a stranger. He holds out his hand, his long, pale fingers just inches from mine, but I can't move. I'm like a deer in headlights. After a moment he reaches out and takes the leather strip from me, picking it up from the end so he doesn't touch my skin, and then grasps it in his hand. "Thank you very much," he says and turns to walk away.
"Edward?" I've found my voice, though it's not much of one. His name comes out strangled and he turns, his brow furrowed slightly. And I know that look - he could almost be annoyed now.
"Yes?" he says.
I rest my empty hand on my chest. He smiles and nods.
"Pleased to meet you, Bella," he says. Then he holds up the bookmark. "And thanks again."
He turns again and continues to walk away. Unable to move, I watch him go and as the fading light swallows him up I feel the world slipping away from me. My knees buckle and everything goes black and I never feel myself hit the ground.
A/N: Chapter two is almost finished and should be up in just a few days, hopefully.
Thank you for reading :)