not beta'd…

and 'Meyer' made the mold…but we are all here to break it…lol…

Chapter 1

THE SMELLS coming from the kitchen wafted through the air, enticing memories of better days gone by. She stood in the kitchen leaning against the center island, cutting eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, thinking that this evening was just what she needed. Bella Swan remembered those times when other people, the ones she loved and trusted, had taken care of her, planning out her days and comforting her.

Another year had gone by with nothing to show, except that her girls…two girls…very beautiful and bright...were a little older and a lot more of a handful. Bella had little time to herself, as she had no family to help out. Only her very best friend, Tanya, would step in and take some of the load off. Not that Bella was complaining, but there were those days when she wished she didn't have to worry about things, or have to plan her days. Longings could be harsh sometimes, but she would never trade her girls for all the lazy days in the world.

Her oldest daughter, 11, was rambunctious and sharp as a tack; June Reed Biers. She was the spitting image of Bella; long dark hair and pale complexion to match, brown eyes. June thought hard and played harder. There wasn't one boy in her 5th grade class that had anything on her. She was one step ahead of the rest…or so she thought…and Bella was encouragement in her ear. No-one was going to hurt her girl or make her feel inferior. Now her youngest, on the other hand, Rose Ellen Biers, was much different. She was blonde like her father and quiet, inside her head most of the time. When she watched you, it was like she knew something you didn't… right inside her young little head…that 9 year old 'little minx' of a head. That was the Gemini in her for sure!

Tonight will be wonderful…eating great food and playing games and watching movies. Girls-night-in! Bella was cooking up her special eggplant lasagna with braised broccoli, mandarin orange salad and garlic croissants. Her girls were excited, too. Now all she had to do was finish the lasagna and wash up before they headed to the park for the rest of the afternoon. There was a sale at Rembrandt's, the local art supply store, and she couldn't afford to miss it. Tanya (that's Tanya Cole, her best friend of seventeen years) had promised to watch the girls at the park while Bella went around the corner to the art store.

"MOMMM!" boomed June from upstairs. "Is it time to go yet?" she huffed.

Bella sighed (quiet solitude be-gone...poof!) and yelled back, "Give me ten more minutes, please!" She finished putting her lasagna together. Brushed her hair and changed into her favorite men's white t-shirt, blue jeans and flip flops. She'd already taken inventory of her studio, which stretched all the way across the back of the house. It had screen doors at each end, full view window frames, the kind that cranked out by a handle, and lots of plants. Bella loved plants, especially dragon palms or anything from the palm family. Her studio was better than most of the home-made art spaces she remembered from college...U.T. Austin (as if there was any other). At least her space had four walls and no 'pesky vermin' so to speak of. She was lucky there were no unwanted critters hanging around her home. Built in 1943, it was a charmer, similar to a lot of the homes in Georgetown, Texas. Creaking pine floors were great, but sometimes those old charmers could get cold and come attached with unwanted problems.

Grabbing her bag, she went through the kitchen hallway to the front stairs, yelling, "Okay, sweeties…it's time to go now!" She looked for the keys. "Shoot! Where are they?"

The girls came bounding down the stairs, some two at a time, and June, with a look of pure exasperation, says, "Weren't you listening to me, Mom?…I told you that I had your keys already and that I'm going to start the car for you! Uhhhhhggg," she groaned and let out all her breath, irritated once again that NOBODY ever listened to her when she spoke.

"Okay! I'm sorry I didn't hear you talking, sweetheart, but I was getting ready in the downstairs bathroom." Changing gears, she focused on Rose. "Sweetie, get your snack and get into the car, okay?" They headed out and Bella waited until everyone was fastened in, and started the car out for the park. They would normally have walked the seven blocks there, but Bella was planning on buying more than a few supplies at Rembrandt's and didn't want to carry them all the way home.

On the drive over, she couldn't help but remember coming to this very same park with her husband - that is, ex-husband! To make a long story short, his name was Riley Biers. She had been totally and completely swept off her feet during college. Riley was a 'bad boy', playing in a band at the time and providing her with mucho excitement…and mucho distraction. She had been head-over-heels-obsessively in love with him the moment she laid eyes on him outside her studio on campus. Riley had been across campus earlier that evening recording tracks in the basement of the college's media building. She had finished her work for the evening and headed out to leave, and…..there he'd been…smoking a cig and leaning with his elbow against his friend's van.

"Uh-hem! Earth to Mom!" June said. "You just missed the entrance to the park!" June covered her face into her knees, hoping the no-one had seen her mother's blunder.

"Sweetie - I can go to the next one, no big deal - okay?" Bella turned into the second parking lot and found a spot right in the shade of an old oak tree. They got out and walked over to the sand area where they were to meet up with Tanya. They had been doing this, meeting here, since Bella had first been divorced, seven years ago.

Thank-fucking-hell for Tanya!

She was a beautiful 'brown girl', or so she liked to refer to herself. Half African American and half Caucasian. Her mom was a successful clothing designer at their local Boutique; her dad was a traveling musician. Neither one of Tanya's parents had seen the need for marriage and, instead, had raised their child in two separate but very loving households. After high-school, Tanya had never left. She never felt the need to see or experience the rest of the world. She had graduated as one of the most admired young radio students in the region. Now she hosted a popular local radio-show and was very happy.

Her love-life rocked, too. That sexy voice of hers attracted as much attention as her body did.

The boys loved Tanya...

And she was good to them all in one way or another, but she was no tramp. She was 'class' personified; and extremely stylish. Fashion was a weakness for her. Tanya was constantly dragging Bella off on shopping sprees. They had become instant friends early their senior year during English class. Tanya had just moved to Georgetown with her mother so her mom could find a better and more inexpensive shop to relocate her boutique. They found a corner store, and with a lot of paint and a lot more hard work, their boutique opened just off the downtown square with a bang.

Bella looked around the park and finally saw Tanya approaching…and with a twinkle in her eye.

Uh-oh!

That usually meant she's got something up her sleeve. Bella knew she would hear it whether she liked it or not.

"Hey, girls! How are ya'll doin'?" Tanya hugged both girls and then Bella.

"Hey back, girl," Bella said. Both girls ran off to play, dropping their belonging where they stood.

"Bella, what is that you are wearing? Don't you want to look at least a little attractive and alluring when you get yourself out in public?" Tanya had been pestering Bella to start dressing up a little better and paying a little more attention to her face and style. If Bella wanted to catch a new man then she needed to look like she cared about it too, right?

Wrong.

"Don't even start. You know me. I can't go out of my house without my t-shirt and jeans. Come on, Tanya…I'm not going to get dressed up just for a Sunday trip to the park and buying art supplies. Now tonight, I promise I will at least put a little makeup on and wear something you have not seen me in at all this past year. Okay?" Bella smiled and bit her lip, knowing her girlfriend meant well, but Bella was not that desperate. Not yet, anyway.

"I know, girl, but you can't blame me for trying, right? And you are much too sexy and beautiful not to show it off!" Tanya reached for her cell phone and began punching in seven digits. "You go on to the store and we'll just wait for you here, and then tonight we'll have a great time… girl's night in!"

She pressed the send button and proceeded to transform into 'Sexy Tanya', talking and lightly laughing at the male voice on the other end of the line.

Bella didn't know who it was but she did know that if Tanya hadn't told her about him by now, then he must still be in the testing phase. Tanya had high standards, of course.

Walking back towards the parking lot, Bella turned and headed across the street and down one block to the art store, excited for the sale. There was hardly anyone on the street. The locals loved to stay in on Sundays to relax and unwind. She loved that about this town; the peace of it all. No need, just like Tanya said, to seek more. Except that she was a little lonely, and worried, on a small level, that there were no single, attractive men living here to even have a chance.

Freakin' A!…stop torturing yourself, Bella. It will come when it is meant to come.

a/n…*tries to act casual*….please let me hear what you think…..please please please….review review review…..or….just wave/send emoticon…send me a virus….whatev's…xxx