A/N: I've had this story idea for a long time now. I don't know how I got "bride" out of "gift" during a conversation between my parents at Christmas time, but I did, and this story was created. I'd like to thank my betas Mel, TitaRita, and 4meJasper. They've helped so much!
I'd also like to thank my other beta, Christina. She was with me since this idea popped into my head and without her this story wouldn't make as much sense as it does and the plot line would be completely different. No where near as good as it is now.
You girls rock my soxs :)! (That was bad...)
I'm on Twilighted by the same name. I am hoping to be published on there soon. That's my goal :).
Full Summary: "Well, Mr. Swan, I didn't someone would actually...call."
Isabella Swan is eighteen years old with a promising career in dance and has a loving family. At least, she had a loving family until Edward Cullen took her as his wife. Bella is fiercely loyal, wears her heart on her sleeve, and loves with everything she has; Edward Cullen is her complete opposite. He's lonely, wildly misunderstood, and doesn't believe in falling in love.
Can an unusual situation bring these two something more than they bargained for?
Warning: Mentions past self-harm and abuse (Sexual|Physical|Verbal)
DISCLAMER: I do not own Twilight or anything dealing with the series; therefore, I do not own the characters. The plot, though, that's all mine.
Chapter 1: Hate
Are you suffering due to the economy? Are you struggling to survive?
Is your family slowly—figuratively speaking—dying before your eyes? Is your daughter no younger than eighteen or no older than twenty-six? Are you still caring for her in this poor economy?
No worries. I'll take her off your hands as my new wife. Money will be offered.
If you're desperate, call: 206.848.6647
"Well, Mr. Swan, I didn't think someone would actually…call," a female sitting in my family's living room spoke quietly, the surprise and disbelief evident in her voice.
I could see Charlie fidgeting in his seat before running a hand through his hair. "Well, uh, the ad said 'call if you're, um, desperate.'"
There was a long pause as the two of them stared at each other. I couldn't see his face, but Dad seemed to be sweating bullets under the beautiful blonde's watchful eye. Her eyes caught his every move-from a blink of his eyes to a twitch of his hand- he caught it. Her expression seemed to be stuck between disgust and sadness. Mournful.
"I guess we did. I just… Never mind. Mr. Swan, if you're really willing to do this, he'd like her with him as soon as possible. Pictures, medical information, education background, and anything else you think we may need before Mr. Edward is able to make a decision. If he picks you, twenty thousand dollars will be placed into a bank account for you. A contract will also be signed stating that no law enforcement agencies will be contacted and that you understand if Isabella was to leave, the money given to you will need to be returned. Your daughter will also need to come willingly and be old enough to understand and sign a prenup and a marriage license."
"She's eighteen," Charlie answered immediately.
"Mr. Swan, you do understand what you would be doing if Edward were to choose her? Sir, you could possibly be losing a lot more than your daughter. Are you sure this is what you want to do?" she asked with her voice as fierce as the fire that now burned in her eyes.
"I know what I'm doing, Ms. Hale, thank you," Dad spoke up and I could imagine him glaring daggers at the lady. His once nervous and cautious voice was now full of confidence and anger, his decision set in stone.
The beautiful blonde stood up from the fold-out chair that had been placed in front of our coffee table. She looked up at where I was sitting on the staircase, and our eyes locked and I gasped as I could practically feel the sympathy and pity that shone in her eyes wash over me in waves; it was then I finally understood what was going on.
I don't know what took me so long to figure it out, but I finally understood who the "her" in their conversation was. I finally understood that I'd never be back here again.
"Do you think I'm a bad father?" Charlie whispered once her eyes were back on him, obviously not noticing our silent exchange.
She didn't say anything for the longest moment, just stared at a picture of my family and me that was above our fireplace before the fire in her eyes returned, "Yes, Charlie, I do."
It was also then that I realized I'd just become someone's new trophy.
My dad had just sold me.
I walked down the stairs just as my dad came back into the living room after seeing Ms. Hale out. He stopped mid step and looked at me in surprise, not having been prepared to have this conversation at this time.
"Dad," I asked in disbelief, "what the hell have you done?"
Tears ran down my face, but I quickly rubbed them away when I caught the woman sitting next to me staring at me, concern clear in her eyes. I didn't want anybody's pity, nor did I need it. I'd been a big girl for a while now, and it was time I started acting like one. I could handle my problems on my own.
At least, I was going to just as soon as someone helped me obtain more information about my husband. My husband; God, I'm eighteen and married. I'm eighteen and married, and I don't know anything about the man I'm married to! I don't know his age, I don't know what he does for a living—hell, I don't even know his name! Charlie didn't think to give me that information before shipping me off to some random stranger. The only thing that mattered to him was all the money he would be getting for shipping me off to said stranger. This man could be as old as my grandfather for all I know.
"It is 5:35 in the evening, and we have just arrived in Seattle. Please take your seats and fasten your seatbelts so you all may remain safe during this landing. I am your pilot, Ron Johnson, and thank you for flying Air—Tran," a voice announced to everyone on the plane.
I fastened my seatbelt and closed my eyes, imagining all the ways I could kill myself. Maybe I was being overly dramatic, but any other girl in my position, I'm sure, would be feeling the exact same way. Being sold doesn't exactly leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy on the inside. Though, I left willingly, so I couldn't complain. Much.
"Fuck," I hissed and slammed the plane's window shut to block away the glaringly bright sunlight, clearing away all suicidal thoughts from my head.
No matter how depressing, and now non-existent, my life was, I was not ready to die. Not now, and hopefully not any time soon.
"Come on!" I yelled to no one in particular, though a few people were eyeing me like I was yelling at them. I fell to my knees with a soft thud and loud groan and began picking up my things. God, could I be any more embarrassed than I already am?
I thought too soon.
"Ma'am, I believe these are yours." I looked up to see a tall, tan airport security guard holding my panties-my butterfly panties.
I had already fallen getting off the plane, my suitcases had popped open and now a security guard was holding a pair of my underwear, up high for the world to see. My butterfly panties. So if it hasn't become painstakingly clear, the answer was yes—I could be more embarrassed than I had already been. "Thank you, Officer." I tried to smile, but it just wasn't working for me at the moment.
I snatched them away from him and quickly shoved them back into my suitcase along with my other stuff that had fallen out and stood up, walking outside as quickly as I could.
It was because of moments like these that I would wish for a cell phone. I didn't need one back home because there weren't many emergencies that required a cell phone, but going out of state and not being able to find the Aphrodite, better known as Ms. Hale, who's supposed to be picking me up did. I began walking around aimlessly until my clumsiness decided to kick in, sending me and all my stuff onto the cold, concrete ground.
I stood up quickly and picked up all my bags before turning to face the woman I ran into. She stood at a reasonable height of five-seven with golden brown skin. Her dark-brown hair fell down in soft curls and stopped mid-back, gray lingering in every lock. She had curves that could put Beyonce to shame underneath her yellow sundress; her eyes were a pretty light blue and, if the gray hair is any indication, she had to be in her early fifties, but she doesn't look a day over forty.
Now, where my gracefulness was lacking, my luck picked up its slack. How lucky was it that I bumped into the woman carrying a sign with my name on it? Uh, very much so if you asked me.
"I'm sorry about that. I wasn't paying much attention. Obviously." I cracked a small smile at her tinkering laughter.
Her face relaxed into a smile I assumed she wore all the time; it was warm, pleasant, and very welcoming, "That's quite all right, dear. From the small amount of shock on your face, is it safe to assume you're Isabella Swan?"
I nodded my head. "Isabella Swan I am, yes, but…you're not Rosalie?" I pointed out the obvious, but it came out more as a question than me pointing out the obvious.
She laughed again and said, "No, no I'm not. I'm Cynthia, the help. Rosalie couldn't make it, so I offered to take her place."
My eyebrows shot up. "Does this guy really go around calling you his help? Like in the movie? I haven't seen it, but I guess that's what you are, but…damn, now I feel kind of like an Elitist and I promise you I'm not."
She threw her head back and laughed a genuine laugh, her blue eyes sparkling with emotions. "Master Edward does not call me that. I just like to tell people that now because every person always has a different reaction to that statement, and I always get a kick out of them; nice or not," she explained.
I got the feeling that this woman was not one to get upset easily, and that was a good quality for her and something good to know. With the way I'd been feeling, I was going to need someone who wouldn't get pissed at me for exploding. And then my thoughts shifted to Edward."That's a very old-fashioned name, and seriously? He doesn't call you his help, but he goes around making you call him Master Edward?"
I fixed my carry-on backpack on my shoulders in a more comfortable position and grabbed my other bags and began to run after Cynthia as she turned away from me without warning. "He doesn't make me call him Master Edward; he can't make me do anything. He absolutely hates it when I call him that which is why I do it. It makes for a great laugh."
I laughed and threw my things into the back of the Dodge Caliber we were riding in and hopped into the passenger seat. I immediately hit her with the twenty questions. "So, I've already figured out that his name is Edward. What else can you tell me about him? His age? What does he do for a living? What does he look like?"
The car came to a stop at a red light, and Cynthia turned her head to look at me with wide, surprised eyes. "You don't know anything about him? Your dad didn't give you the packet of information Edward was so kind as to send you?" she asked sarcastically, rolling those baby blues.
Cynthia began to tell me all about Edward, but I couldn't bring myself to pay attention to her. Charlie received a packet of information from Edward that was obviously meant for me just as much as it was for him, and he didn't let me see it? He allowed me to live in the dark, completely terrified of not knowing who I was being sent to; God, as if I didn't have enough reasons to hate him. "Oh, and to answer your previous questions, he's twenty-two and he's a lawyer," Cynthia finished.
How ironic: someone who's supposed to know the law like the back of their hand is the one breaking it.
I snorted and said, "A lawyer."
The car was once again in motion as soon as the light turned green. "The irony does not escape me either. The four years age difference doesn't bother you?"
I shook my head. "No. Four years isn't that big of a deal. I'm just glad he's not the age of my grandfather or something. That was one of my fears."
She let out a soft chuckle. "That would be one of mine, too. Is there anything else you're scared of? I'm sure I can clear up some of that for you," Cynthia offered. I shook my head and continued to look out the window. My stubborn, woman all alone wall back up in full force. I was a big girl, and I would handle all my problems on my own, including my fears.
Cynthia sighed. "While the three of us know that what he's doing isn't right, we also know he's not forcing you to be here. You can leave and go home if you want. Isabella, I want you to know that Edward isn't a bad guy. He's just wildly misunderstood and lonely, though I did tell him this wasn't the way to fix that," she admitted, "but I do think this could possibly be the best thing for him. I wish you two could have met under different circumstances because, Isabella, I think you'll be good for him."
I let out a loud, unlady like snort and shook my head vigorously. "Even if that's true, it doesn't matter. Maybe I am good for him, but that doesn't mean I have to be good to him, Cynthia. I don't want anything to do with him."
"Isabella, I can sit here and tell you all the things that make Edward a good man, but at the same time I should tell you that he isn't kind or generous to just anybody. He's already said that he isn't obliged to take care of you if you decide to, in his words, be an ungrateful b-word. You have to at least make an effort to be civil toward him," Cynthia told me firmly. There was no room for argument in her voice.
"I can be civil," I allowed.
Cynthia sighed quietly and turned right, putting us onto a freeway and letting the conversation drop. For now. My thoughts had echoed in my head.
The first thing to run through my mind when we exited the freeway and into a neighborhood was, damn, he's rich. The second thing I thought was the same as the first one, but with less awe and more anger. Damn, he's rich and he was able to buy me. There was also a little bit of resentment there, too.
Cynthia pulled us into a driveway, and I think I died and went to heaven. The house was huge, and if I had to make a guess, I'd say there were about six bedrooms inside. The biggest house I had ever stayed in was mine and that had just two bedrooms and a bathroom; this was a mansion compared to my old house. The driveway was long and steep and led you around to the side of the house to two large garage doors.
I didn't make a move to get out of the car, as the reality of what I was about to do finally setting in; I'm eighteen and married to a man I had never even met. "You go on, Cynthia, I'll be inside in a minute," I told her. "I need a moment."
She nodded her head in understanding and got out of the car. "It's going to okay, Isabella."
"Cynthia!" I yelled before she could close the door, "call me Bella, please." She smiled at me before going into the house.
I stared at the clock after Cynthia left and watched five minutes pass by. "It's now or never, Bella," I told myself. Opening the passenger door, I was only able to get my right leg out before the garage door opened. My body froze when a man I assumed was Edward walked into the garage.
No! I shouted in my head, I was supposed to come to you! I was supposed to be prepared! I'm not prepared!
"Hello, Isabella, I'm…" he cleared his throat, "…Edward Cullen." His voice was velvety, yet rough and gruff all at once; deep. His hair, which made him look like he just got out of bed, was bronze, and he wore khaki shorts and a white button-up shirt that was opened on the bottom, revealing a white wife-beater.
I wanted to scream at him the instant he spoke because I could already feel one of my worst fears coming true, but I remembered promising Cynthia that I would be civil toward him, so I swallowed my anger and put on a small smile. "It's, uh, nice to meet you," I told him. I stared him down, trying to decipher the emotions in his eyes and on his face, but they were gone just as fast as they appeared until there was nothing at all. Until there was nothing but cold, dead eyes.
He took the hand I offered him and shook it quickly before releasing it. "I hope you'll be happy here, Isabella."
I snorted and said, "Not likely."
Edward's eyes narrowed. "Excuse me?"
My eyes widened, and I shook my head. "Nothing. Sorry. Can I go inside now? Find my room and take a shower, maybe even have a decent meal before I hit the sack?" I asked him as politely as I could and cringed, because that did not come out sounding polite at all.
"Can you cook?" Edward asked after a minute of silence.
Way to avoid my question, jerk.
I narrowed my eyes. "Yes, I can cook. And I can clean. I can do all of the wifely tasks you may need from me, Edward. I do, however, refuse to have sex with you."
He nodded his head. "I wasn't planning on having sex with you. Ever. I wouldn't," he assured me.
I rolled my eyes and looked away from him because, damn, that kind of hurt, but then I got even angrier. I was not supposed to be hurt because he didn't want to have sex with me. I should be okay with that, because I didn't want to have sex with him either. But I couldn't deny that it did hurt because the hole starting to form in my chest wouldn't allow me to lie to myself.
Hate him. Hate him. Hate him. Hate him. Hate. Him, I chanted repeatedly in my head. One of my fears was getting too close, and the longer I stood there talking to him; the more my fear was coming true. He's so handsome. But, hatred topped good looks every time.
I was always attracted to the assholes.
"Are you okay?" Edward asked. I screamed and nearly jumped out of my skin, banging my head against the car ceiling. I turned my head to see Edward squatting down next to me, much closer than he was just a minute ago. "You've been spaced out for about five minutes now."
I took a deep breath before nodding my head. "Yes, yes, I'm fine, thank you." I lifted up my head to look him in the eye and let out a small gasp. I watched him speak and looked into his eyes with anger, but looking at them just then, caught me off guard. I could see how beautiful those sea green eyes were. They were stormy and filled with emotions that I couldn't decode. "They're so green," I whispered.
So green like your favorite color, so green like your mother's eyes, so green like Forks, so green like home.
Home. God, I miss home. His eyes remind me of home, the other half of me, the romantic side of me, Romancella I've dubbed her, spoke to me in my head quietly. She sighed dreamily, and I rolled my eyes internally, snapping out of the haze and threatening to lock her up inside a cage if she doesn't stay quiet.
"You're talking about my eyes?" he said, and if I wasn't watching his lips so closely, I would've missed the small smirk that started to form. "Thanks, I guess, I get that all the time."
"Can you move, please? I'd like to get out of the car now," I snapped, feeling vulnerable and out of place. He stood up and headed to the back and got my bags out for me. "I can do that myself, you know," I told him.
He nodded his head and abruptly dropped my bags to the ground. "Fine, I'd rather not help someone who's going to snap at me at the most random of times."
"But was it really necessary to drop my bags on the ground?" I asked him. I walked over to where he was and picked them up, glaring at him.
"It was. You didn't want my help getting them out or taking them in. I imagine you wouldn't want me to bring them to you either," he said with a smirk cockier than a real one.
That smirk, plus what I was allowing to happen, plus what Romancella said finally caused me to snap. "God, I HATE YOU!"
"You hate me?"
I nodded my head and stepped closer to him, suddenly ready to give him a piece of my mind. "Yes, Edward Cullen, I. Hate. You. I hate you for putting out that stupid ad, I hate you for buying me, and I hate my dad for selling me to you. I. HATE. YOU! I'll be the perfect wife you need me to be in public and around your family, but other than that I want nothing to do with you, okay?"
I didn't give him a chance to answer. Instead walked into the house, bags be damned, ran past Cynthia despite her concerned voice calling after me, and found the nearest bathroom so I could cry in private.
And I hate that you make me feel at home.