Disclaimer: "Twilight" is owned by Stephenie Meyer. "Johnny Lingo and the Eight-Cow Wife" belongs to Patricia Mc Gerr.
A/N: This fan fic is a retelling of the short story "Johnny Lingo and the Eight-Cow Wife" by Patricia McGerr. (Not the movie, 'coz I only found out about it after I've written this fic.) Only it is written in Bella's point of view because I was always interested in what Sarita, the heroine, had to say about the matter. _
The setting is in Ford and Settle, fictional Pacific islands I made up by changing and omitting certain letters from the names of those places we are all too familiar with. Heh, pretty original, I know. LOL
Time period is contemporary, and the story may sound old-school but I imagine my islands are so small and remote that they are untouched by modernization and are not much different culturewise than they were 40 years ago.
And just so you know, I was listening to "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars while writing this, which explains the cheesy, fluffy conversations. And the title. :)
This final chapter was beta'ed by Pain Jane and PTB moderator Lulu M. You don't know how much your inputs mean to me. I think they improved the outcome tenfold! To all the PTB betas who had guided me throughout this whole "Amazing" experience: I luff you guys with all my heart! ;-*
"Well, Mr. Black, what brings you here?" Edward asked our guest.
"Someone told me that you are the man to go to if I wanted hard-to-find pieces," Mr. Black replied.
"At a price, of course," Edward said.
I busied myself with the flower arrangements on the table while they talked business, listening to their discussion with interest; I knew Edward would ask me about my opinion later. When he first showed me his library and taught me about Literature, History, Science, and Mathematics, he saw in me an eagerness to learn. That, along with my sound judgment, made him value my thoughts on almost everything. He would share with me various problems in his numerous businesses. When I accompanied him on his trips and meetings with his associates, I was like an adviser of sorts.
When there was a lull in their rather interesting conversation, I signalled one of the girls to bring the tray of refreshments to the rattan coffee table.
Edward thanked the girl and shifted to a less serious topic. "So you've been to Ford?"
I instantly paid attention because I wanted to hear something about my family.
"Yes," Mr. Black answered.
"Do they talk about me?" Edward asked.
"Yes, Mr. Crowley referred you to me."
"My wife is from that town." I could hear the tenderness in Edward's voice. My heart skipped a beat.
"Do they talk about her as well?"
"What do they say about her?" I leaned closer to the wall to hear better. I was curious about the answer, too.
"That you bought her for two hundred-forty sheep." I noticed the uneasiness in our guest's tone. "They still can't understand why."
"Don't they?" Edward sounded amused. "Everybody knows about it then?"
"Here, everyone knows about it, too," Edward said softly.
"I know. When I asked the men at the docks about you, they told me about Bella. Strange, but they have a different reaction to her name than the men from Ford. Well, I guess both of you are well known within these islands."
Edward laughed quietly. "I reckon it will not be forgotten for a long time. When people speak about marriages, they will remember how I paid the highest price for my wife."
Our guest snickered. "So after all the mystery, this is it? I thought you did it because you were so blinded by love that you couldn't see her for what she really was. I was mistaken. You did it out of pride. Well, you should know it backfired. The people of Ford are laughing at you. They think that such a smart businessman as you allowed yourself to be fooled by a poor old fisherman."
Black's words were like a knife through my chest. How dare he say such cruel words against my dear husband? The people from that damn town, as well as this stranger, were so preoccupied with outward appearances to really see the soul inside. Edward was the kindest, most generous man I'd known, and apparently, I was the only Fordian who saw it. I felt the sudden need to comfort him. He had done so many wonderful things to me, and I thought now was the time to return the favor.
Slowly, I entered the doorway, my eyes searching for him. Our gazes met, and I was suddenly filled with honeyed warmth. I approached him, giving him my most loving smile. I ran my hands along his broad shoulders in assurance and kissed his frown away. I spared a cold glance at our offensive visitor and got a glimpse of his complete confusion before I exited the room.
When I reached my previous hiding place, the feeling of bravado began to dissipate until fear remained. I wanted to run away, as I had many times before in the face of hostility. But then, I realized that the love Edward and I shared was stronger than any opposing force. I forced myself to stay in the dining room, determined to see things through.
"Who was that?" Mr. Black asked breathlessly.
"She is Bella, my wife."
"You married another woman also with the name of Bella?"
"No," Edward expressed the first real sign of annoyance, "She is Isabella, Charlie's only daughter, from Ford."
"But that's impossible!"
"Is she different from what you have heard from the good people of Ford?"
"Yes, I-I don't understand... "
"Humor me, good sir," Edward told him. "Imagine yourself as a woman."
"All right?" Black replied reluctantly.
"Imagine you are a young woman about to be married to a man. Can you picture it?"
I smiled, seeing where Edward was going with this.
"Now, imagine you are being bought by your husband for thirty sheep. How would that make you feel?"
"Terrible," Black said softly.
"Exactly. I would never let that happen to my Bella."
I fell even more in love with my husband at that moment.
"So you did that to keep her from getting hurt?" Mr. Black clarified.
"You could say that, though it's not the entire reason," Edward told him. "In Ford, I noticed that she felt absolutely worthless, and the people never let her forget it. Now, she knows the truth. She knows that she is worth more than all of the women of Ford put together."
After that, our guest grew silent. He trudged to his room, probably to ponder on Edward's words. Meanwhile, I wasted no time in rushing to my husband's side. He pulled me into his lap much like when we had first met.
"You certainly gave him something to think about," I commented, wrapping my arms around his shoulders and resting my head in the angle of his neck.
"Did I?" He laughed, burying his face in my hair and breathing in deeply.
I remembered the bewildered look Jacob Black gave me earlier and asked Edward about it.
He answered me by raising a brow. "What do I tell you every morning when you wake up?"
"That I am amazing, and that there's nothing about me you would ever change," I recited out of memory.
"Do you believe that?" he asked.
"No, I don't think you fully understand. It's a good thing I bought this from Mr. Black. I was going to give this to you on your birthday, but today is a day of revelations, so I might as well ... "
I sat up, watching as he pulled out a long, simple wooden box from his trousers' pocket and placed it in my hands. For a moment, I just looked at it, weighing it silently. Then curiosity got the better of me, and I lifted the lid and took out the present. It was an antique gilt-bronze hand-mirror, adorned with engraved images of birds, ribbons and flowers. I admired the patterns at the back until a feeling of uneasiness began to gradually creep in.
I realized that I had not seen my reflection for quite a while. When before I had convinced myself that I didn't look at mirrors solely because I didn't care anymore, lately I acknowledged that a part of me was still scared. I could not completely eradicate years of insecurity, even though I felt that I was taking big steps towards accepting myself. Maybe I avoided reflective surfaces because I was trying to forget the stigma that went with my appearance, or perhaps I just wanted to pretend that I was better than I really was. Whatever the reason, I was taking the coward's way out.
On the other hand, Edward knew me so well that he must have picked up on my lingering anxieties before I had even noticed them. Once again, he was keeping me from running away from myself. His gift was like an unspoken challenge, and I owed it to him to be strong enough to take it. Otherwise, all his efforts at helping me find myself would have gone to waste.
I closed my eyes, inhaling deeply as if physically gathering courage into me. I channelled the new, more powerful Bella, the woman Edward insisted was the real me. Steeling myself, I turned the mirror over and looked directly into it. I gasped.
Staring up at me was the most breathtaking woman I had ever seen. She exuded confidence and grace unparalleled even by the fair Rosalie. Her white skin glowed like alabaster, her cheeks and lips flushed pink with life. But the most glorious part of her were her eyes: they shone with the light of a thousand stars, which could only be attributed to the joy of love and acceptance.
"I look different," I whispered. It was a gross understatement. I had completely transformed from an insignificant waif into this mysterious, fascinating woman in the mirror.
"You are the same Bella I fell in love with. I saw this part of you when we first met. It was there all along," Edward explained. I saw a glimpse of the shrewd trader who had a knack for seeing the potential in even the simplest things. But I knew I was more precious to him than his most prized possessions. "Only when you let go of your fears and doubts did you finally allow it to shine through."
My heart was so full of emotions I couldn't seem to express in words. I kissed him instead.
"Now, Bella, do you believe?" he murmured knowingly.
I did. I finally, genuinely believed.
A/N: That's all folks. Hope you enjoyed this brief story. And for those who were wondering what these weird O O symbols between chapters are, they are EYES. Coz', as the sadly overused but nonetheless truthful saying goes, "Beauty is in the EYE of the beholder." Cheers!