Warnings/Disclaimer: Twilight is is Stephenie Meyer's, I'm just playing in her sandbox. This story is rated M for eventual lemons, and some minor violence, but only in future chapters.
Brief summary to be included on Story Teasers page: Bella had the job she'd always wanted, teaching kindergarten in the neighborhood she grew up in, until layoffs left her without a job. Edward had a job he loved, and a perfect family, until he learned it was a lie. When both return to their hometown of Forks, Washington to regroup, they learn that the best things in life can happen while you're busy making plans.
A/N: This story has been brewing for a long time and I'm so happy to finally be sharing it. Tons of love to my beta and bestie, A Cullen Wannabe, and Rosalynn for making my banner. This story was featured in the Fandom4Cancer charity at the end of last year. It is the first chapter of a multi-chapter fic that I will be working on later this year, I just wanted to post it so that the people who read it in the compilation could find it. Please put this on alert if you're interested, but know it may be a while before I continue it. I have some othe stories to complete first. Thank you for the love and I hope you like it.
Another first day of school in Forks. I had thought that I had experienced my last one of these seven years ago, but fate has a funny way of skewering even the best-laid plans.
For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be an Elementary School Teacher in Phoenix where I had grown up. I loved the fact that it was a big city, but still had the neighborhood feel where I lived in Scottsdale. When I graduated college, I found a small rental house near my old house and took a job at the same Elementary school that I had attended.
Getting that job after a semester of student teaching there was such a confirmation of all the hard work I'd done. Now most people wouldn't think much of it. I taught kindergarten, so how hard could it be? In truth, wrangling 15-20 five-year-olds was tough work.
So for the last two years, that's exactly what I did. I worked hard and was excited about coming up for tenure, but that's when the bottom dropped out.
Six weeks before the end of the school year, I was called into a meeting with the principal and superintendent of the school district. As soon as I sat down in front of them, I knew something was wrong.
"Thank you for coming in early to see us, Miss Swan." Principal Burke said as she smiled at me from the other side of the conference table.
"It was no problem; I was planning to come in to set up for arts and crafts this morning." I gestured to the bag of supplies sitting next to me.
Superintendent Chalmers stood up and paced nervously. "Miss Swan, I hate to have to tell you this, especially since you've made quite a place for yourself in the two short years since you were hired, but the budget cuts in the school district have forced us to close this school. We'll be combining the students with Desert Palm Elementary and unfortunately there won't be enough positions for all of the teachers. The positions have to go to tenured teachers first, and you're the only non-tenured kindergarten teacher, so we'll be forced to let you go at the end of the school year."
"We'll gladly write you a letter of recommendation and if you need anything else don't hesitate to call." Principal Burke was a lovely older woman and I knew she meant well, but I had rent to pay and no job to take care of it, and if they were closing schools in the area then there would be more teachers out there looking for work than there would be jobs.
"Thank you; I really do appreciate the kind words. Have the parents been notified of the school closings?"
"Letters are being sent home this week to inform them, but we wanted to talk to the staff first. If you could please keep it to yourself until the assembly on Friday, it would make it easier for us as we inform the other staff who we will be forced to let go of."
I nodded and stood up, ready to set up for a day of arts and crafts with a pasted on smile.
I was roused from my daydream by the bang on my floor. Charlie was trying to make sure I was up. Whenever I wasn't up and making breakfast for Charlie, he used the same trick he did when I was in high school, the old 'broom to the ceiling' method of communication.
Slipping on a comfortable pair of flats, I headed downstairs to start breakfast. Turning into the kitchen, Charlie was sitting in his regular chair watching the coffee brew.
Opening the fridge, I pulled out the eggs, bacon, margarine, and jam. Pulling the strips of bacon apart and sitting them in the frying pan, I started the bacon as I beat the eggs together with a little of the cream Charlie had out for the coffee.
"Big day today…you ready?"
I turned to smile at my father. As humiliating as it was to have to come back to Forks after making a run for it as soon as I graduated college, it was nice to get to see him for more than a few days as I pass through town on a school break. "Yeah, I've done this before…it'll be weird to only be one of four kindergarten teachers, my old school had nine."
"I still don't understand how they could fit all those students in one school; it'll be better for you here, less hectic."
I nodded as I poured the eggs into the heated pan and put some bread in the toaster. Finishing up our breakfast, I plated it as he handed me the want ads, while he read the sports page. That's another thing I loved about Charlie, he understood that I'd want my own place and didn't seem offended.
I looked over the few listings as Charlie's hand disappeared under the table. "Dad, don't feed Brandon any of your bacon, he won't eat his own food if he thinks he's going to get scraps."
My dad shook his head as he poured himself another cup of coffee. "You give him the bacon grease, trust me, he cleans the bottom of that bowl every day."
Brandon sat next to me, his big brown eyes breaking my heart as the massive German Shepherd waited for his breakfast. Getting up, I scooped his food into the large metal bowl and poured the bacon grease over it before placing it against the wall where he waited for it.
Looking at the clock, I ran upstairs to get my purse, fixing my hair into a neat bun as I made my way back downstairs, yelling out a quick good-bye before I ran out the door. I got into my black 2001 Ford Taurus, my other baby after Brandon, and drove off to the school to wait to meet my new students.
When I got there ten minutes later, I headed to the office to see if I had any mail, and that's when Angela Webber, my good friend from high school and the school secretary, caught me. "Bella, hey. I wanted to grab you before you went down to your classroom."
I looked at her face and was nervous about what she had to say. "Yeah, Ang?"
"Do you remember Edward Cullen?" She was holding some papers in front of her as she searched for the one she needed.
"No, but I do remember his younger sister Alice. He'd already graduated by the time I moved here."
She nodded, finally finding what she was looking for. "Well his son, Frank, is your newest student. He's moving in with his grandparents until Edward relocates."
I took my updated roster and frowned at the 21st name on my list, not because of the extra kid to worry about, but because of the circumstances that brought them around. "Do you know why he's not moving down with his son…just so I know how to approach Frank?"
Angela shook her head. "No, but Alice is dropping him off with her son Jack, so I'm sure she'll give you some sort of an idea. They should be here soon. She mentioned swinging by early to talk to their kindergarten teacher."
I smiled and headed around the counter, walking down the long main corridor towards the kindergarten classes.
I was taking out some supplies for the kids to create name tags for their desks when I heard the knock. "Bella Swan?"
Spinning around, I saw Alice standing there looking almost exactly the same way she did the last time I saw her 8 years ago, except for the slight baby bump she was resting her hand on. "Alice Cullen."
"It's Alice Whitlock now, but still, it's so good to see you!" She wrapped her arms around my neck as she hugged me to her and then pulled back to look at the two boys who flanked her. "This is my son Jack and my nephew Frank. They're both in your class. Isn't that great boys? Miss Swan is going to be a great teacher! I knew her when we were in school."
Both boys smiled up at me and I noticed the almost desperate desire to be away from a parental figure when the other kids came in from the bus. "Boys, why don't you pick your desks and cubbies that way you can put your stuff away."
Their faces lit up as they found two cubbies next to each other and then put their coats on the hook over them before running across the room to take desks next to each other and started playing tic-tac-toe on a piece of paper from Jack's backpack. "I haven't seen them this excited about school since they found out when classes started. Anyway, I wanted to give you a little bit of a heads up on Frankie. He's been having a hard time with the divorce Edward and his wife are going through. That's why he's down here in the first place, it wasn't' good for him to be in the middle of it. Edward's going to move here once everything is final, so we thought it would be better if Frankie was here for the beginning of the school year that way he wasn't the new kid in the middle of the school year on top of everything else."
I nodded. "It's smart, this way he can start fresh like all the other kids. Don't worry, Alice, I'll keep an eye on him. I know what it's like to be five and have one of your parents living hundreds of miles away."
Alice smiled again and then turned to the boys. "You two be good and I'll see you at home Jack." Alice took my hand and gave it a squeeze. "Have a good first day and I'll call you about grabbing lunch one day so we can catch up on the last decade, because the last time I saw you was at the Honors Bio final."
Shocked that she remembered that, I watched as she walked out the door, before turning to my first students.
My first two weeks of teaching went by quickly and today I was sitting in my classroom after school as Frankie waited for his grandfather to pick him up. Dr. Cullen and his wife technically lived outside of town, so Frankie usually rode the bus with his cousin and spent the afternoon at Alice's, but Jack had an appointment so I told Alice I'd wait until Dr. Cullen was finished with his patients. Frankie sat at his desk coloring while I looked through even more want ads, desperately looking to escape my childhood bedroom.
There was a light rap on the door and I looked up as Dr. Cullen walked in. Even though I didn't have a pet the first time I lived with Charlie, everyone knew the town vet, Forks was small like that.
Frankie's face lit up at the sight of his 'Poppy' as he flew out of the seat and into his arms. "Were you good for Miss Swan today?"
Frankie nodded furiously and I smiled, watching the interaction between them. "Frankie was the perfect gentleman, as always, Dr. Cullen."
Dr. Cullen turned towards me and grinned at the affection that I had for his grandson. "Call me Carlisle, Miss Swan."
"Then call me Bella, Carlisle." I countered and he guffawed.
"Very well." He looked at the circled listings on my desk and back up at me. "Trying to find a place to rent?"
I nodded. "I've lived on my own for seven years, so being back in my dad's house is a little crowded."
Carlisle smiled and took a few steps closer to my desk. "Well, if you're interested, I have two apartments over the office. Edward and Frankie will be moving into the two bedroom when he gets here, but if you'd like to, I'd gladly rent the other to you. That is, if you don't mind the noise."
I beamed at the idea. "As long as you don't mind my horse living there, I'd love to see the place." I held up the photo of me and Brandon out in the desert in Sedona and he smiled.
"That's quite a guard dog. I'm sure Charlie will miss having him around."
"It'll give him another excuse to visit, besides my cooking." I gasped at my forwardness, but Carlisle just laughed again.
"I'm sure he keeps you around for more than the food. If you'd like we could stop by now, unless you have plans?"
"I'm free. Do you mind if we go, Frankie?" Frankie had his bag packed as he shook his head violently.
"Nope. Miss Swan, you're gonna be my neighbor."
We both laughed at his enthusiasm as I grabbed my purse and bag and we headed out to our cars.
Fifteen minutes later, I was standing in the open room of the apartment over the vets office, staring at the kitchen which took up the entire wall with the brand new appliances and warm cabinets. The walls were slightly deeper than a sky blue and I was already thinking about what I could do with the pieces of furniture I owned. The place appeared to have been redone at some point, so all I would need to do was furnish the place and settle in. That was, if I could afford it.
"So, what do you think?" Carlisle asked, breaking me out of my thoughts.
"It's nice, what's the rent for it?"
"Five hundred, utilities included. There's already a cable line set up, so you can choose between that and getting a satellite dish. Although that deal where you get internet and cable all together is what my kids had when they lived here."
"Your kids lived here?" I asked, surprised.
"Yes. When Emmett and Rosalie first got married, I let them stay across the hall and when Alice married Jasper when they were in college, this apartment was where they lived during the summer. They've been vacant for a while now as both of them have houses and families."
"That's great that they had a place like this to get their start in the world. And five hundred is perfect, Carlisle. When can I move in?"
"When would you like to move in?"
I smiled, "I can have first and last month tomorrow, unless you'd like a month's rent as a deposit as well?"
Carlisle barked a laugh that even caught Frankie's attention where he was sitting listening to an IPod. "First and last is fine, I'm sure you're not going to trash the place and move out in the middle of the night. Why don't you stop by the office once you have everything ready and I'll have the keys ready for you."
"I will, thank you again."
"It's no problem, Frankie is very fond of you and Alice keeps going on about how she has to call you about lunch, so I'm sure we'll be seeing plenty of each other." Carlisle turned to Frankie and held out his hand, "Frankie, it's time to say good-bye to Miss Swan."
"Bye, Miss Swan," he waved enthusiastically and then the three of us walked out to the parking lot where we saw a man I remember very well.
"Sorry Doc, I know you close early on Friday's, but Muffin ripped out all of her stitches." Mike Newton stood there, cradling a Pomeranian to his chest.
"Carlisle, if you need me to, I can drop Frankie off at your house while you look at Muffin."
My voice got Mike's attention and he smiled, "Bella Swan back in Forks? Can't be."
"Oh, I'm back alright, how are you?"
"Well, if I can get Jessica's baby taken care of before she gets home from work I won't be in the dog house." We both laughed at the joke.
"Mike, why don't you bring Muffin in? Bella, thank you for taking Frankie home."
"No problem," I turned to Frankie, "looks like it is just you and me, buddy."
"Yay!" Frankie yelled as he ran for my car.
The drive was quick, with Frankie chattering a mile a minute about Alaska and all of the things he missed, but he never mentioned his parents, a fact that wasn't lost on me. After leaving him with a grateful Esme, who was thrilled to have finally met me, I headed home to see what I could throw together for dinner.
Charlie wasn't home when I walked in, so I let Brandon out in the back and then started on pasta because I could get it done in time. I had my lesson plan to work on and bills to pay, which were thankfully less than they were in Phoenix.
My dad walked in, calling out his hello as he put away his gun the same way he had when I was in high school.
"You're in a good mood tonight," Charlie commented as he grabbed a beer.
"I am, I found an apartment so I'm going to start moving in this weekend."
"Where are you moving? I think I should check the place out before you decide for sure." Charlie was officially in cop mode and I tried not to roll my eyes as I decided to be nice and just tell him.
"It's one of the apartments over Doc Cullen's. I saw it today and it's great."
I could see him relax as he settled in at the kitchen table. "Oh good, that's a nice little place and I'm sure he's okay with Brandon being the man in your life."
I didn't miss my dad's none too subtle hint at my single status, something he was all for at the moment. "He's fine with Brandon. I'm going over tomorrow to give him the rent check and he said he'd have keys for me so I can start moving in right away."
I drained the pasta and made our plates, placing them on the table before sitting down across from Charlie. We ate in silence, but when I got up to wash the dishes, I felt my dad's hand on my shoulder. "Don't be a stranger, Bells. I'm going to miss having you around."
"Dad, it's a five minute drive and I'm still going to come over here to have dinner with you once a week."
His mustache twitched and he leaned in to kiss my forehead before grabbing another Vitamin R and heading into the living room.
After I was done, I went into the basement to look at what I'd need to bring with me tomorrow and what could wait, and then started bringing up the boxes that would be going right away. The furniture would be trickier. I'd need most of it for the apartment, having sold what I couldn't take with me when I left Phoenix, but I would need a truck first.
I spent the rest of the night packing my room, too excited to work on my lesson plan.
The following day, I was up early, dropping my mail at the Post Office and filling out a change of address form before I drove to Port Angeles. There were a couple flooring places to look at and I was able to get a few area rugs at one that would help break up the hardwood floors that covered the entire apartment. The best part was that one of the employees lived in Forks, so he told me he could deliver them on his way home tonight.
By the time I was picking up cleaning supplies at the hardware store on my way to the veterinary office, I was grinning like a fool. Things were starting to feel right again, the way they had before I'd lost my dream job.
I walked into the office and was greeted by Kate, the receptionist. She smiled at me as she told me that Dr. Cullen would be out in a moment.
I reached into my purse to get my checkbook and wrote the check while I waited, but I was startled when a booming laugh sounded to my right just as Carlisle walked out of the back.
"Dad, you sure are cryptic. What did you need me to come down here for?"
I looked between the two men and saw the similarities between them immediately as they both had the same dimples when they smiled at each other.
"Nothing too sinister," Carlisle promised. "Emmett, I'd like you to meet my newest tenant, Bella Swan."
Emmett turned to me and raised an eyebrow, "Chief Swan's daughter? It's nice to meet you, I run Cullen Auto the shop two blocks down."
"Nice to meet you, too. I'm your nephews' kindergarten teacher."
"Anyway," Dr. Cullen interrupted, "I didn't know how much you'd have to move, or if you had any furniture, so I asked Emmett over to see if he could make his flatbed truck available for you."
"That would be great, but I don't want to impose."
"It's no imposition. The shop is closed tomorrow, so I could do it then, We'd just need to bring enough tarps to cover them in case it starts raining, but that's not a problem." Emmett's infectious smile had me ready to hug him as we agreed on a time and he headed back over to his shop.
"Now, are you ready to get upstairs and get to work?" Carlisle asked and I gladly gave him the check in exchange for the keys.
I grabbed the bags from the store and unlocked the stairwell door, ready to get to work. I started in the bedroom, cleaning the windows and went to get the Swiffer ready. I finished in there and moved onto the main room, backing myself into the bathroom with the Swiffer so I could clean it while the floors dried.
Alice called while I was working in the bathroom, asking if I wanted to have a late lunch tomorrow after Emmett helped me with my furniture. I shouldn't have been surprised that she knew about him helping me, but I didn't expect him to call her that quickly.
I agreed to meet her an hour after we finished, and then I was back to the task at hand. I was surprised that I was able to finish everything I needed to do in a few hours, but the kitchen was mostly new and the walls had been painted since Alice lived here.
My phone rang around six, and I answered it to find out that Jerry, the guy who worked at the flooring place was leaving work and he'd be here in an hour. I drove back to the house and saw the pizza box on the table.
"I just picked it up, so it should still be hot," Charlie said as he sat across from me.
"No problem. How did everything go?"
"Great, I just got a call from the guy delivering the rugs so he should be here in about forty minutes. And Emmett Cullen will be helping me get the furniture out of the basement tomorrow."
"Wow, you were busy. Do you want me to help you drive over some of the stuff?"
"If you wouldn't mind. We can probably get one trip in before the rugs get there."
I finished my pizza and then we packed the cruiser and my car with a bunch of the boxes and then drove to the apartment. We unloaded them into the nook that I'd be turning into my office right by the bedroom, the last box being brought up just as the van pulled up. Jerry and Charlie carried them up, Jerry even helped us roll them out where I wanted them, one in the bedroom, the smallest one near the kitchen, and the largest in what would be the living room.
I went to get my purse, but my dad was already tipping Jerry and walking him out. We made one more trip to the apartment before I locked up for the night and went home to shower and get a good night's sleep.
In the morning, I made a few more trips with Charlie, until all I had left was to pack the rest of my clothes and that I could do on my own. Emmett knocked on my door at ten thirty with a tall blonde standing beside him.
"Hey Bella, this is my brother-in-law, Jasper Whitlock," he made the introductions.
"It's a pleasure. Between my son and my wife's praise, I was happy to help you out this morning." His smile was charming and the hint of a southern accent was endearing, it was easy to see why Alice brought him home with her.
"Thank you, your son is such a smart boy, and Alice is pretty amazing." I smiled back before getting my coat. "The easiest way to get the furniture out is through the cellar door, so if you're ready…?"
They both followed me around to the side of the house and we began loading up the furniture. Emmett had the bottom of the flatbed covered with tarps and my mattress was the first thing they loaded up. The box spring and headboard were placed on top of it and then tied down with bungee cords. Next, they loaded up the rest of my bedroom set and couch.
The drive was quick, with me following behind them in my car, and they got everything up the stairs easy enough. The second trip was the rest of my living room set and my small kitchenette table and chairs.
I'd sold my desk, so that would have to be replaced, but for now I was happy with how everything looked. They even attached my headboard to the bedframe before they said their goodbyes, refusing to take anything for their help.
I rushed home, showering and changing into one of the few outfits I hadn't packed and then filled the last suitcase and carried it downstairs.
Alice had asked me to meet her at a café that had opened on Main Street, so I drove there with my trunk and backseat filled with my suitcases.
"Bella," Alice waved me over from her table by the window.
"Hey Alice, how are you?"
"Good, my mom has all the grandkids today, so I get a break." She rubbed her belly and I smiled at how pregnancy seemed to agree with her.
"How many are there between you, Emmett and Edward?"
"Jasper and I have two, Jack and Bethany, who is three. Emmett and Rosalie have four, EJ is ten, Carol is seven, Kelly is six, and Robbie is two. Frankie is an only child, though Edward has always wanted a big family."
"Well I'm sure Esme is thrilled that he's moving home, that way she can see him and Frankie more often." I said, but Alice's frown made me wish I hadn't said anything.
"We hadn't seen Edward or Frankie in three years. Vicky would always pull some crap whenever they were getting ready to visit, so we're all thrilled that they're coming home for good."
Our waitress came over and we ordered, keeping the conversation much lighter as I told her about Phoenix and teaching. I told her about Brandon and I heard all about her education in New York and her internet fashion business. She had a factory that produced her clothes and she sold to a few boutiques in Seattle and Portland as well.
As lunch came to an end, we walked to our cars and agreed to do it again next Sunday.
The remainder of my day was spent unpacking my kitchen and putting my clothes away. I made my bed, not even bothering with the throw pillows as I set my alarm and crawled into bed with a single thought running through my mind. I'm home.