A bittersweet smile crept across my face. In a few short hours, I, Isabella Marie Swan would be attending Dartmouth College. Not under the once assumed circumstances, per say, but I would be attending none the less. That fact filled me with both joy and a disturbing amount of emotional baggage that I hoped would not resurface for any great length of time.
Steadying my thoughts, I focused my attention on my newly acquired apartment. It had been one of the perks of deferring my studies for three years and offered the opportunity to save a little money, secure a down-payment, and restore my sanity from what had been a difficult few years. I could finally afford my own place and better yet, my own independence.
The place was a little fancier than I might have liked, though the clean lines and minimal decor were still to my taste. After a few coats of paint and some finishing touches, I was sure even Alice would be proud.
Who was I kidding? She'd have this place turned inside out and re-designed within an hour, but then again, I wasn't the fabulously fashionable Alice; I was me.
I chastised myself for the mental slip. Sure, it had taken me three days, two nights and a huge pot of coffee to finally inject some personality and color into the apartment, but I did.
And I did it my way, I thought with a smirk. That was something my old best friend Alice could never do – see something from my point of view.
I picked up a fresh towel and sauntered through to my new bathroom, one of the factors that sealed the apartment deal. It was perfect. Large, clean, crisp tiles; spacious, yet calming, very traditional and the shower. Oh my God, the shower was heaven. I threw my pants to the floor and shrugged out of my tank top while simultaneously starting the jets. I jumped inside and let out a low moan as the water greeted with a warm embrace.
My muscles were tense. Between the six and a half hour drive to Dartmouth and the strain of reaching and painting the high ceilings, my body was in dire condition. I let the water cascade down my back and turned the heat up, allowing the jets to work over my aching muscles.
My mind began to wonder over to the soldier – no – Major, who had stolen my fantasies; confident, controlled, and charismatic. He was a real man. I poured some body wash and began to tease the bubbles across my shoulders and chest. Ever since I had begun reading the journal, the author had completely consumed me. I wondered what he had looked like, what his voice had sounded like. My hands grazed down my body and began to tease slowly, just as I imagined he would. The way he described thrusting his member into his maiden's core was so visual and stimulating. His writing so affluent yet frenzied as he recalled every last detail; it was unlike anything I had ever read.
It had only been in the last year or so that I found a hidden confidence in my own body. My hair had finally calmed down over the years. I kept the length but the revitalized shine became part of a new and improved Bella. My body grew into itself and the extra height seemed to work to my favor and brought my limbs into perspective. No longer awkward and proportionately incorrect, I found myself happy for the first time in my own skin.
The sexual confidence, however, had always been there, pulsing through my veins. My desperate pleas for release tormented both me and my only romantic partner. He had been unable to meet those demands during my developing years, but once I found the journal and masturbation, life had taken on somewhat of a new direction. It was empowering.
The haunting voice of my ex disrupted my thoughts. "You still don't see yourself clearly," he calmly teased through the pouring water.
"No, Edward. You don't see me clearly. You never saw me clearly," I huffed into the shower. I let out a long, deep sigh of resignation and rolled my eyes. I realized, not for the first time, that I was taking to myself. "Thanks for ruining the moment again, asshole," I tacked on for effect.
I finished washing my hair and thought strategically about the day ahead. Today was going to be my first day at Dartmouth. It had been years since I had truly been left on my own. My last place of education was at Forks High, back in my hometown of Forks, Washington. I had been watched over every minute of my life ever since. It had also been five years since my first encounter with vampires. Five years since I first fell in love with Edward Cullen and only three years since my life had been changed, and not in the way I had once dreamed. As I prepared for the day ahead, I also realized it had been one year since I had fallen out of love with Edward Cullen, once and for all.
I looked over to my alarm clock and groaned; I was already late. I shook my hair out and made my way to the dresser, taking out my trusted skinny jeans. I'd be lying if I said I didn't like the way they hugged my curves. Slipping on a simple white tank top and grabbing my backpack, I made my way into the living room. I'd left my black ankle boots by the door next to my leather riding jacket. The Major had been a key role model in helping me to become a more prepared person, but I was still a disaster in the mornings.
Assuming there'd be a coffee shop on campus, I figured I'd treat myself on the way. I'd been emailed a schedule, a map and a list of social events, courtesy of the student body, upon registration. I printed off the schedule and map but deleted the third email the night it arrived. I didn't have time for social curtness. I did however, find time during the weekend to go to the local bookstore and pick up the last of my required texts. Keeping busy was the key to keeping my sanity, so long as it didn't involve people.
I slipped on my boots and jacket and hurriedly my way outside to my bike. It was a my pride and joy but was few decades old. Then again, I always did have an appreciation for the classics.
Classics? More like the antiques, I thought wryly to myself.
I pushed the thought to the back of my mind. Even though it had been three years to the day since I last saw the Cullen family, it didn't mean they didn't consume my thoughts almost daily. I had pushed my father Charlie to the end of his tether with my inability to let go after they left town. Six months later, he finally snapped. I'd never been more terrified in my life. Even facing James, a vampire hunter who wanted to drink my blood dry, seemed like a walk in the park compared to watching Charlie break down. Seeing his beet-red face while he and my mother fought endlessly over what to do with me broke what was left of my shattered heart.
"She might as well be dead. In fact, Renee," he sneered at my mother, "I wish she was! At least she'd be at peace."
My mother, for the first time in existence, was speechless; but she didn't disagree.
My parents had both looked up from their argument to find me standing in the living room archway of Charlie's home, frozen with shock. The shame, guilt and embarrassment of their quarrel was clearly written across my face. I realized then and there that my behavior in the previous months had been no better than what Edward had done to me. I was quickly destroying those around me, piece by piece, with my selfish haze. I refused to give in to the pattern of destruction any longer.
My mom had stayed for a few more weeks before making her way back to her husband Phil, and Charlie? Well, Charlie took a little longer to convince that things were going to work out in the end. It took a another year of intensive counseling to finally work through my issues, and even though wasn't quite back to who I used to be, I was somewhat proud of where I'd evolved.
The look of pride on Charlie's face when I told him I'd been accepted to Dartmouth was one of the happiest memories. We both broke down into very un-Swan-like tears and held onto each other for dear life. We both knew what it meant — it wasn't just Dartmouth; it was the progress I had made. It was us finally moving forward — we just didn't need to admit it out loud.
A week later, he told me that he and Sue Clearwater had been planning to move in together. After finally admitting that they both enjoyed more than each others' company, and yes, I still cringed at their description of the impending relationship. Charlie sold his house, retired from work, and spent his time down on the reservation. If only he knew exactly what I meant when I told him I was happy that he was 'safe and well looked after'.
I glanced up as I pulled into the parking lot, barely aware that I had even arrived. A few heads instinctively turned to the purr of the engine as I parked next to another bike, one much nicer than my own and probably a lot more expensive.
"Well, someone has good taste," I mused as I fixed my helmet to the back of the bike and locked up.
Making my way toward the building, I let out a deep gasp as I finally paid attention to the scene before me. Hundreds of students were grouped together outside an enormous building complex laughing and joking. It suddenly hit me in the pit of my stomach that this was it; I was here. As I let out a deep breath I reminded myself that it was time to move on and took the first step forward.
Pushing onward, I made my way to the back of a large lecture hall and took my seat, making sure to leave my bag on the empty seat beside me. I wanted everyone to known I had no intentions of making friends while I was here. I opened my bag and took out my new laptop. It had been a gift from Charlie and Sue. They had thrust it upon me before I left in an embarrassed attempt to wish me well. After telling Charlie it was inappropriate and he had already done so much for me, I realized that it wasn't entirely for my benefit. The pleasure they took from giving me something to help with my studies was a gift in and of itself to them. I graciously accepted and had filled it with music and movies in anticipation of my move. Today, however, I would start to fill it with notes and essays.
The professor entered, an elderly man, dressed in slacks and tweed. He seemed neither here nor there as he tottered around his desk. After fluffing his papers for the longest duration, he finally began to teach. Halfway through the lesson, he finally decided to introduce himself as Mr. Elgan and proceeded to finish the second half of the lecture on an entirely different topic than in the first. I looked around the now filled lecture hall and could see that I was not the only person who seemed quietly confused by his teaching method. After jotting down a few more notes, he referenced a few books we should read, which thankfully I did own and had already read.
As the first class rolled to a halt, I decided to make my way to the cafeteria after missing my morning coffee stop, when I tripped on the second to last step of the lecture hall and landed against a rather soft wall.
"You okay, there?"
I looked up to find that it was not a wall I had walked into, but rather, a beefy looking Jock. Tall, dark, messy blond hair and piercing green eyes. I admit, he was a good looking man-wall to fall into, but wasn't my type.
"Yeah, I'm fine, thanks. Just clumsy," I trailed off as I patted myself down. He would never find out how true my words were.
"Oh, okay. First day?"
I looked around. Sure enough it was just me and him left in the lecture hall.
"Yes," I growled somewhat defensively, remembering where I was.
I was past my comfort zone, and if we continued talking, I would invariably be attached in some sort of amicable friendship with this guy for the rest of the year, something I did not want to encourage.
"That was a stupid question. I'm Ben, by the way," he encouraged, holding out his hand. "Are you going to the cafeteria?"
"No, I'm meeting someone," I lied, leaving his hand mid-air. I'd grown out of the usual introductions of "Isabella, but you can call me Bella." Somehow out of high school, it took on an entirely different connotation.
"Oh." He paused, obviously noting my eyes looking to the door fleetingly. "Are you seeing, I mean meeting someone?"
And so it begins, I thought sarcastically.
"Yes. My boyfriend." I bluntly responded, "Well, it was nice to meet you, Ben. I'm sure I'll see you around."
I made a hasty exit. No matter how long or short the conversation with members of the opposite sex, it always seemed to end up in the same place, did I have a boyfriend?
I was not so ignorant to the advances made by boys, guys, men or on the rare occasion, women. I knew my doe-like eyes and pouty lips appealed to them. The innocent look of my face paralleled with the body of a woman; I'd been told in the most vulgar of fashions what members of the male sex would like to do to me. Occasionally, a real smooth talker would try to tell me that he could please me in ways that my "boyfriend" couldn't, that he was the better guy and to give him a shot. I always rolled my eyes and always walked away, usually after a swift right-hand punch.
Like any of those guys would even come close. "Your not even the right species, jackass," I continued to rant to myself.
I made my way to a small coffee shop and ordered two large iced coffees. I was back in the same lecture hall after the break and no doubt would need plenty of coffee to get me through this next lesson. I took a long walk around the grounds, hesitating to stay in one place for too long for fear of awkward small talk before finally making my way back to my seat. Settling back in, I resumed my previous notes. Does Mr. Elgan have any idea what he's talking about? I wondered as I got comfortable. I looked up to the board, and realized that no, he didn't.
The day was already speeding by, and I was looking forward to going home. It had been a few days since I had read over my journal and what with the move and all, I felt like I had neglected the Major. I missed him more than I'd have liked to admit. His handwriting was an elegant script in a faded brown leather tome with torn binding; it was obviously heavily used and once loved. After losing myself in the text on many occasions, it was clear the book had been places; it had traveled and seen sights I could only wish to see. The owner was cordial, experienced and utterly charming. I had found the book online and bought it purely on want. It was a beautiful book to look at it and had attracted me somehow. It was only when it arrived and I had read through the notes that I realized was a true treasure I had stumbled across. Yet half of it was missing.
I had quickly contacted the previous owner to find out if there had been any other sections or books or artifacts of a similar nature to go with this book, and after a few lengthy discussions, the owner hesitantly sent me a short collection of inserts for the journal. The same eloquent script flowed through the newest of pages but neither spoke of where or who he was but rather, only of his want, his needs and his desires. It was a sexual journal of sorts and was completely fascinating – even more compelling than the last. The two parts lay side by side in my bedside cabinet seeking my full attention, whether I was near or far.
The sound of people rustling woke me from my daydream, and I hastily picked up my backpack and made my way out of the class. It was only once I felt the cool air that I realized I was free. Confidant that I had made it out of the way of my classmates, and possibly Ben, I made my way down the steps cautiously and headed for the parking lot.
There, caught in my vision, was the firmest ass I'd ever seen, tightly clad in well-worn Levi's and cowboy boots, he certainly stood out from the crowd. The owner of said derrière was tall, yet stocky. He had to be a teacher, no student had whatever that was. Beneath his leather jacket I could make out a set of broad shoulders and a well-defined figure that captured my interest like no other, but it was his messy blond locks that made me gasp. Even from behind he was perfectly angelic. The way the sunlight flickered through his hair, I found myself speechless for the first time.
My assailant quickly pulled on his helmet and straddled his bike; the same one I had admired just this morning. My thoughts at this point were anything but sin-free as I envisaged joining him for a long ride on the back seat, tugging fearlessly to remove his jacket to get closer to him. As the bike pulled away, I realized I was not the only female, or male, in the vicinity that had been attracted, or rather distracted, from such a sight.
"Well, Major, looks like I have a body for you to borrow for my fantasies", I lustfully mused as I watched the bike move quickly into the distance.
As I rode home, I tried to think back to the last time when a guy had captured my attention and genuinely couldn't. Edward was had been perfection. Impossibly, inhumanly beautiful. His boyish good looks made me weak at the knees as a teenager, but as a woman, this blond haired stranger had me positively swimming in my panties. As I started the bike up, I thought ahead to the journal and made my way home, weaving through traffic, as I tried to figure out what this could mean.
Once home, I curled up on the couch in my pajamas. I had started keeping my own journal shortly after reading the Major's. My therapist said it was a fantastic idea and went on to enthusiastically describe how writing down my immediate thoughts would be beneficial during the healing process. He commented on how I spoke of the "coven" and "vampires" and that they were indeed beautiful metaphors for the control issues and low self-esteem I was facing in my previous social grouping. I stopped listening to his psychological bullshit a along time ago. If only "he" knew that too.
Once I had poured out my thoughts, I could be sure of was how familiar it felt to write, almost like I was writing to an old friend, someone who understood me and that "vampire" was a 'metaphor' for actual bloody vampire. On occasion I would read back over the entries, only to find it almost fictional myself. My life had been filled with so many unbelievable events already, I shuddered to think of what the future would hold. I stopped going to the therapist a few months ago, but continued with my journal.
Without thought or hesitation, I wrote down the day's events quickly and honestly. The tall blond stranger on the bike took a front row seat in my visions as I wrote down line after line of unconscious thought and quickly thereafter tried to make sense of this new revelation that maybe I could date one of my own kind after all.
I sought out the healing power from writing my innermost thoughts to my new friend. It was a hell of a lot cheaper. I mirthlessly laughed to myself as I paused in thought, once again distracted by my new interest. I supposed this would be the closest to my thoughts Edward would ever be able to get. I tried not to think anymore of what he would make of my thoughts, I knew he wouldn't like what I have to say. Truth be told, I wasn't the shy, overshadowed little girl called Bella that was in love with a vampire named Edward. I had grown up.