Chapter 1, A New Start
Disclaimer: All Twilight related material is the sole property of the original author
"Are you ready, honey?" he asks while tossing our remaining luggage in the trunk. He won't admit it, but we're running away, escaping a life that's not meant for me, or so he says.
My father's a jazz musician—an ex-saxophone player, to be exact. He's extremely talented. I'd spent most of my adolescence in bars and dives watching and listening to him play. I'm so proud of him—the typical daddy's girl.
While most girls spend their childhoods playing with dolls and teenage years crushing on boys and trying to be like mommy, I spend mine worshiping my father.
Phil is my adoptive father. He took me in when I was just five years old — the ultimate favor asked by my biological parents, one last plea from his best friends. I can still remember the look on his face when my real father, Charlie, begged him to take care of me. Phil looked scared to death, like he didn't know the first thing about taking care of a child. At first he didn't, but he quickly learned.
We don't have much money — no big, fancy house or car — but we have each other, and he makes the best life for me that he can.
Over the past couple of years, things have started to change, and not for the better. I don't want to leave home, but things are getting…bad. Phil developed an addiction to alcohol and heroin, and it's beginning to take its toll on both of us.
I spend countless nights cleaning up vomit and praying to God not to take him away from me. It's a sickness, but it turns out to be the only way he can function. He needs it. Watching the withdrawal process is almost as bad as watching him completely fried.
Things became unbearable once he started owing people obscene amounts of money and making excuses for why I'd find strange men in the house and him doubled over in pain. He never told me flat out what the reasons are, but I'm not stupid. I know that we're running away — and why.
We're on our way to find a new life in this place called Forks. I've never heard of it, and it looks dreary enough with all the rain and mud that saturates the ground once we cross the bridge into the city.
The ride was long and exhausting, but we've finally arrived at our new home. I'm appalled, to say the least, when my eyes land on the thing that's being passed off as our new home.
"This is it?" I ask, surprised.
"Yeah, what'd you expect, a mansion?" He laughs sarcastically. "Come on, Bells, it'll be great."
"It's a dump!" I yell, not being able to contain my horror.
"Yeah, and it has two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bath. We're set," he continues, ignoring my outburst.
I'm mortified, but I remind myself it's all he can afford.
I step out of the truck and cautiously make my way up to the front door while he gathers our suitcases and places them on the porch.
"I need the keys, Dad."
Reaching in his back pocket, he flings the keys over to me, and I catch them effortlessly. I walk inside, inspecting the place carefully. It's clean but completely empty, not that I expected anything much. It just dawns on me that when we left, we left with absolutely nothing.
Leaving our previous home, there was no plan and no time to think. I remember it so clearly. I came home from school one afternoon, and my father said, "We need to move. No questions asked."
He told me to pack what's important to me and not to worry about the rest.
"So what do you think?" he asks, breathing heavily as he nearly collapses in the doorway.
"I think I need to get a job."
Later, I drive into town without a clue as to where I'm going. After barely convincing my dad I needed to find work, I walk into a local grocery store, hoping that there are some openings for cashiers.
I'm waiting for the manager to come back with an application when I realize that I need to pick up something for dinner. Looking around, my eyes settle on the deli counter. Since we have no food or cookware to prepare meals, sandwiches will have to suffice. I walk over and place my order.
After my order is filled, I go up and down the aisle, gathering bread and mayo for our sandwiches, tossing them in the cart. I grab a six-pack of Mountain Dew and some chips as well. Gazing up at the shelves on the right, I focus in on something I'll definitely need.
"Fruit Loops…perfect," I say, grabbing a box from the shelf.
Mental note, stop at the nearest convenience store for dinnerware and utensils.
As I'm pushing the cart down the rest of the aisles, I remember something else I need.
"Milk…I need milk," I ramble aloud when my cart rams into something.
"Oh, my God! I'm so sorry!" I throw my hands up to cover my mouth. "Are you alright? I'm such a klutz."
"I'm good," he answers in a strained voice as he tries to get back on his feet.
Oh, my God! I ran him over with a shopping cart.
"Here, let me help you." I reach for his grocery basket with one hand and curl my other around his bicep, trying to help him stand.
"You have a license for that thing?" he asks with a chuckle.
"I'm so sorry. Are you hurt?"
"I'm okay. It's a good thing I turned or else you would've broken my throwing arm." He's still chuckling as he reaches down, gathering the dislodged Gatorade bottles that are rolling around on the floor.
"Are you sure? I can drive you to the hospital to have it checked out, but you'll have to show me the way; I'm new here," I ramble, fearing I've already caused enough damage, and I haven't been in this town a good five minutes.
"Hospital?" he asks humorously. "I promise you that won't be necessary." He holds his palms up in front of him. "I'm tougher than I look."
Just then, the manager of the store returns with application in hand. "Oh, there you are, Bella. I was searching all over for you. You can fill this out and bring it back, preferably before the end of next week." He hands the paper to me.
"Oh, thank you so much," I reply.
"Okay, well, I'll be hoping to see your application on my desk soon," he concludes and walks away, leaving me standing with the stranger I almost annihilated with my shopping cart.
"So you're new in town?" His question sounds more like a statement.
"Yeah," I answer while going over the available work schedules.
"A woman of few words, huh?"
"Ow! Oh, my God, my arm! Ow!" he yells and grimaces, grabbing his arm.
"Oh, my God! You are hurt! What can I do?" I rush to his side.
"Nothing, I'm just getting your attention." He smirks as his tone returns to normal.
"That's not funny," I say irritably. "I thought you were really hurt."
Quickly, I fold the piece of paper, put it in my back pocket, and veer my shopping cart around him en-route to the checkout line.
"Aw, come on. Don't be like that. I was only joking!" I hear him call from behind me with a laugh.
Ignoring him, I begin placing my items on the conveyer belt as the cashier rings me up, while packing my bags.
Heading out to the parking lot, I take a glance around to get more familiar with my surroundings. There isn't much to see except for the grocery store and a fast food restaurant.
It's still raining and it seems like there's no chance of it letting up. I pull my hood over my head, zip my jacket up, and start to load the bags into the car. When I turn to grab the other bag from the cart, it takes off, slowly rolling and smashes into the side of one of the parked cars, setting off the alarm.
"Jesus!" I wince and hurry over to assess the damage. A Volvo…Great!
I look around in complete panic, waiting to be verbally assaulted by some rich business guy who's sure to chew my head off about hitting his precious car.
Bending over, I ghost my hand over the driver's side door and notice that there's no visible damage, so I decide to make a fast getaway before I have to deal with anything unpleasant. Way to go! You've been here all of three hours, and already you've rolled over a guy and rammed a Volvo with the same damn cart.
"Leaving the scene of the crime?" I hear a deep, velvet-like voice from behind me.
I gasp and stumble backward, bumping into his chest and nearly knocking him over again.
"We gotta stop meeting like this," he says, trying to keep me from losing my footing.
"I wasn't leaving. I was just going to leave the driver a note, see?" I lie. I dig in my pocket and pull out the folded application, shaking it in his face trying to pass it off as the apology note.
He raises one eyebrow at me skeptically as if to say 'you are so full of shit' and crosses his arms over his chest. "Isn't that the application from the grocery store?"
"What the hell are you, a cop?"
"No, I was just going to help you out. I happen to have a pen and piece of paper, so you can leave your, uh…note," he adds disbelievingly.
"Oh. "I take the paper and pen from his hand. "Thank you."
The alarm of the car continues to blare as I crouch over the hood, thinking of something to write.
"Maybe you should just say something like, 'I'm sorry for hitting your car' and write down your name and number so the driver can contact you if he needs to."
Slowly turning my head, I scowl at his attitude and scribble on the sheet of paper. I fold and tuck it securely behind the wiper.
"Here, give me that. It's raining, and the ink will run," he says, snatching the note. Reaching in his pocket, he raises his arm, aims it at the car, and switches off the alarm. I stare at him in shock as he opens the note and reads over the contents. "This looks accurate." He nods approvingly.
"I can't believe you just did that!"
"What? Make sure I got the information of the person who just wrecked my car? Now I can call you if there are any problems with it in the near future." He ducks into the Volvo and pulls off, leaving me standing there stunned.
What the hell just happened?
I arrive back home after the nightmare at the grocery store and call out. "Dad, I'm back! I got stuff to make sandwiches!"
There's no answer.
"Dad!" I call again as I unload the groceries on the countertop. While I'm unpacking the bags, I hear a crash from upstairs. Instantly, my heart leaps in my throat. I'm all too familiar with the crashing sounds — it's either my dad passing out on the floor and knocking something over or some thug beating him to a bloody pulp.
Dropping the contents in my hands to the floor, I take off running through the house and up the stairs, taking two at a time. "Dad!" I yell as I reach the bathroom. The door's closed but not locked. Thank God.
"Daddy." I rip the door open. "Dad," I whisper again, my eyes darting to the needle and the wide strip of rubber on the floor. Quickly kneeling down, I put my ear to his chest to listen. "Oh, thank God, you're still breathing. Okay, come on, wake up daddy." I shake him gently. "Dad, wake up!"
He groans, and his eyes flutter open as he looks at me. "Bells?" His eyes are completely glazed over.
"Oh, thank God, thank God," I chant over and over. I cradle his head in my lap as a single tear trickles down my cheek.
"Bella?" he slurs.
"It's okay, daddy," I stroke his hair in comfort.
"No hospitals," he demands, as much as he can.
I know what that means. It's always what he makes me promise afterward.
"No hospitals," I agree, rocking him gently, unable to control the now free-falling tears. "No hospitals."
Next morning, we eat breakfast in absolute silence. We always do after an 'episode'. It's easier this way, no arguing, no exchanging blame, just silence.
I sit staring at the back of the cereal box while eating. It's so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. I can feel his eyes on me, sorrowful and guilt-ridden.
"I know," I answer abruptly, knowing he'd apologize. Who is he kidding?
He always apologizes afterward.
I continue eating, unable to look him in the eye. He's not able to meet mine either.
He clears his throat and changes his approach. "School's starting in a couple of weeks. I guess we should look around and find one that you might like."
"It's Forks, Dad. How many schools do you think they have here?" I reply, sarcastically. "Besides, I'm getting a job." My annoyance becomes more noticeable.
"Bella, you have to go to school. We've been through this before." He sighs. "You can't take care of me."
"Fine," I snap, getting up from the table, nearly knocking over my chair in the process. I throw my bowl in the sink, not bothering to clean it before walking toward the door to leave.
"Bella." He sighs again, the dejection in his voice unmistakable.
"I'll be back later." And with that, I'm out the door.
I'm sick of all the rain, although it seems to match my mood perfectly.
After dropping off the completed application and my resume, which isn't impressive by any means, I notice a nearby field of some sort and decide to pull over for a while. I don't feel like going home to deal with my father, and frankly after the 'episode' I'm afraid of what I might find when I get there — possibly another attempt with the heroin needle, but with a different outcome. I step out of the car and cautiously make my way through the muddy trail. The rain's just a fine mist now, but it's still enough to annoy the hell out of me. God, does it ever stop raining?
I have no idea why I'm drawn to this place. It's the type of secluded place where potential murderers and rapists probably hunt their prey. But I'm drawn to it regardless—such a magnet for misadventure.
Once I reach the clearing, there's nothing but an array of flowers and trees — a meadow. It looks almost serene, like paradise — the Garden of Eden comes to mind.
Slowly, I walk over to one of the shrubs and reach out, letting the raindrops trickle onto my fingers from the flowers. "So beautiful," I whisper.
I whirl around, gasping and clenching my chest.
"That's the name of the reminds me of you…beautiful and mysterious."
"Are you insane? You nearly gave me a heart attack!"
"I would say that makes us even," he replies, grabbing the branch above his head and swinging slightly.
I frown, not knowing what the hell he's talking about.
"So I was thinking…I'm ready to collect for my car repairs."
"Excuse me?" I'm briefly distracted by a glimpse of a trail of hair that disappears into the waistband of his pants.
"My car. You owe me. I was going to call you, but this is even better, I have to say."
"I-I can't pay you. I haven't gotten a job yet, and I don't have any money. Besides, I didn't put a scratch on your car." I start to back away.
"Oh, I don't want money. I was thinking of something a little less monetary and a lot more…creative," he suggests, waggling his eyebrows.
I think for a moment about what he means by creative, and once I make the connection, my eyes widened.
"Sex…you want sex? What kind of per–"
"Whoa." He raises his hands, palms up. "I didn't mean that! Sex…Christ."
I pause, eying him up and down. "How did you know I was here?" I ask, fear and rising suspicion churn inside me.
"Did you follow me?" I begin walking back toward him.
"It's a public place. It's a coincidence. I didn't follow you."
"Coincidence," I repeat sarcastically.
"Or maybe it's fate." He shrugs. "Whatever it is, I don't think it should be ignored, do you?"
"What does that mean, exactly?"
He ignores my question and asks, grinning, "How often do you come here?"
"I'm not telling you," I turn away again.
"My name is Edward," he calls from behind me.
"I didn't ask," I yell back.
"Hey, you forgot something!"
I look over my shoulder to see him sprinting in my direction.
"You forgot this." He catches up to me, holding his hand out. His other hand is pushing the hair that's tumbled over his deep brow, back from his face.
My eyes dart back and forth between his eyes and his hand before I reach out, gently taking the flower he's picked from the tree.
He nods and repeats the words he spoke earlier, "Mysterious and beautiful."
"How do you know so much about flowers?" I ask him as we sit on a fallen tree trunk.
"I study things," he says simply.
"You…study things." I eye him skeptically.
"I like nature. It's beautiful, peaceful. My life is a bit...chaotic, and this place brings me calm." Do you know why I said it was mysterious? He gestures to the flower I'm twirling between my thumb and index finger.
I shake my head at his question, and wait for him to explain.
"Well, Acacia trees don't normally grow in Forks. In fact, they don't grow here ever."
"That's strange since I'm holding a piece of it in my hand. Unless it's not what you say it is."
"Oh, it is, but it's a mystery as to why that tree is growing in this meadow. When I first found this place, I was drawn to the beauty of the tree, so I researched it. I found out that this particular flower only grows in tropical, warmer climates and strangely enough, not in a place where it rains this much, ironic, huh? I always thought flowers needed plenty of water to flourish."
"Yeah, I would think so." I peek over at the side of his face while he's focusing on picking something up from the ground. I've never met a guy with lashes so long. His jaw is perfect, chiseled. He looks over and catches me ogling him, and smirks as if it's natural for someone to do so. I'm sure that for him it is.
He shrugs, and continues to gently pull at the grass, and educate me on the flower. "Although there are over eight hundred species of Acacia, this one might be the one that can withstand a lot of rain. Where are you from?" He changes the subject, smoothly.
"Anaheim? And you moved here? Why?"
"Personal reasons." This is the only answer I can give him. "So, how do you think the tree…?" I continue, quickly getting back to the topic at hand.
"How does it exist if this isn't where it normally grows? Well, I think someone cultivated it here, that, or it's magic. This place looks pretty magical to me, don't you agree?" He beams at me.
Wow, what a smile.
"So, if they don't grow in Forks, then where?"
"It all depends. Different species grow different places, but the one you're holding, I've seen in Africa."
"You've been to Africa?" I'm awestruck. I'd never been anywhere, Forks is the only place I've traveled to, if you can call it traveling.
"I have, for my Mom's birthday a few years ago, but I found out about the tree from a book." He laughs, probably seeing how overly-excited I get, hearing that he's been to Africa.
I smile back at him.
"On another note, I also hear that the yellow blossom Acacias were made popular by early American Indians."
"Popular for what?" My curiosity is piqued.
"Well…they used them as gifts to woo unsuspecting females." He looks at me, quirking an eyebrow.
At that moment, the sky opens up again and it pours down with a vengeance. I yank on my hood and stand, looking around for refuge. "God, I hate the rain!"
"Here," he says, holding out a hand to me, "I know a place."
He's crazy if he thinks I'm going anywhere alone with him, but for some insane reason, something inside convinces me to take his hand and follow.
We quickly make our way through the meadow, splashing water and mud along the way, until we reach his car. He unlocks the door with the remote and motions for me to get in.
I blink at him. My expression must been one of apprehension because he's quick to reassure me.
"I'm not going to hurt or kidnap you or anything. I just want to get you out of the rain. We can sit in here until it slows down some or until you dry off, whichever comes first."
He holds the door open, and I slip inside, suddenly very aware of how irritating jeans feel when wet. I hate the rain.
He makes it around to the other side in a hurry and quickly hops in.
The heat feels so good once he adjusts it to the right temperature.
"Thanks," I say, looking away from his face, but not before I memorize everything I notice about him at lightning speed. With his hair soaking wet, slicked back, eyelashes spikey from the droplets of rain that cling to them, and perfect mouth, he's without a doubt the most amazing guy I've ever seen.
"I hate being wet," I say and instantly regret it. My eyes widen as I see a slow smile spread across his lips. I shake my head in embarrassment, feeling like an idiot. "Um…"
"Being wet can be fun," he says, licking the rain that's dripped from the tip of his nose down to his top lip. "That is, if you're wet at the right time." His smile grows wider.
I can feel myself beginning to sweat.
Did he really just say that to me? Did I really just leave myself open like that?
"Like when I play football…it's an adrenaline rush when it's raining," he continues, leaning back against the headrest. "Do you like football?"
"Maybe you'd like it if you came to watch me play sometime. I'm really good."
"You're modest," I fire back sarcastically.
"No, it's just what people tell me," he says, turning to look at me, his head still resting back.
"What position do you play?" I ask, feeling the panic leave my body.
"Quarterback, he responds, his voice trailing off, a little bit of the glimmer dying in his eyes. He looks away and focuses on the view outside of his window. I want to ask if he's alright, but decide against it.
"Where are you parked? The rain's letting up."
"Oh, um, out on the road."
He nods and starts up the engine.
"Where are we going?"
"Relax. I'm just going to drive you to your car." He smiles, reassuring me.
He shifts the car into gear, and we slowly pull out of the grassy, muddy area and out on to the road. Once we reach my car, I jump out without hesitation.
"Don't forget this," he says, holding the flower out to me once again.
"You're welcome." His tongue darts out to wet his bottom lip. "Can I call you sometime?"
I stare at him for a moment, trying to process what he's asking me. Call me…as in call me, call me?
"I guess." My response grants me the most perfect, brilliant smile from him. I get into my car and drive away with a final wave.
On the way home, my mind is flooded with images of damp, auburn hair, green eyes, and the most kissable lips I've ever wanted to feel on mine.