I'd almost forgotten how beautiful Seattle is in August. The sky is always blue, the snow sparkles atop the Olympic Mountains, the evergreens are as tall and green as ever. The air even smells especially sweet. Not to mention, of course, that Seattle is my best friend Faith's home base, and my other best friend Hanna, is part of Faith's home base these days. Maybe someday, if I ever decide to settle down, I might choose to live in Seattle so that I could be closer to those two.
Faith and Hanna have been like sisters to me ever since we met on the playground almost twenty years ago. Our parents knew we were trouble from the beginning when we got lost in the bushes and took down a child predator. Or there was the time we all plotted to get me to meet up with Dustin Jeeber – the love of my sixteen-year old life. Then there was that road trip we took to Mexico without telling Faith's dad. Can you say helicopter rescue?
That all seems like eons ago… back before Hanna starting working for Faith's dad, before Faith made it her business to assure that all of the developing world had access to clean, potable water, and before I started working as a foreign correspondent for the BBC. These days it's not often that the three of us are on the same continent, let alone the same city.
This isn't just any day, though. We're all assembled in the same city for a very specific reason. The three of us are in Seattle for what's sure to be the event of the century. Faith Masen is marrying Jonathan Kent, her former bodyguard and the man of her dreams. Hanna calls him Clark behind his back, but I would never tell Faith that. There seems to be a few things I'm not telling Faith these days.
Faith and Jonathan have had a ridiculously sweet storybook romance from the start. Faith was determined to hate whomever her dad assigned to her since he'd gone out of his way to make sure she wasn't paired with Hanna. Of course, it took all of about two seconds for Faith and Jon to fall madly, head-over-heels in love at first sight. The funny thing was that neither of them could bring each other to admit it. Hell, they could hardly bring each other to say anything at all.
I remember the first day I saw the two of them together. I think it was just a couple of weeks after he'd started guarding my friend's body, so to speak. I'd just flown into Seattle from Dubai and Faith met me at the airport. I knew something had forever changed from the moment she hugged me. Her cheeks were super pink and she seemed breathless, not to mention the thick cloud of tension that hung in the air around us, something I'd never previously associated with SeaTac airport. It felt more like Morocco before a sandstorm.
"Hey, what's up?" I asked.
"Nothing! What do you mean?" she replied, glancing nonchalantly over her shoulder.
"Nothing, I guess… Ooh, I can't wait to show you what I found for you in the textile souk in the Basktakia Quarter! It's going to look amazing with your eyes."
It was more than a little difficult to find Faith something she didn't already own or that she couldn't acquire at the touch of a button. I was beyond excited when I found a dusky rose colored, embroidered silk scarf in a tiny shop in the old part of the city.
"Wow, Thea, you know you didn't have to do that," she said, once again peering indiscreetly over her shoulder. I followed her line of vision, but didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.
"How's your family?" I tried.
"They're good. Dad's working on new monetary software for the European Union and Mom's opening a school in Bolivia. I can't keep track of Alec these days. He's climbing Kilimanjaro, I think. Maybe the Matterhorn, while he spearheads a youth leadership program, of course."
This time she glanced over the opposite shoulder.
"What do you keep looking at?"
"Is someone following you?"
"Doesn't your dad usually hire people to do this kind of looking?"
"Well, yeah, I mean, he did. He's, I mean, he's kind of... Jonathan is new."
I'm not used to bodyguards; I'm more often than not traipsing through war torn countries and scenes of humanitarian devastation with nothing but a camera, notebook and my iPhone. So I hadn't picked out the hunk in a suit looking artfully inconspicuous and incredibly hot as he hung out across the hall.
I may have ogled. Like most of Faith's dad's employees, this guy knew how to wear a suit really well. I couldn't help but grin. I think I could feel the heat of Faith's blushing cheeks as she stood next to me. Jonathan took our attention as his cue to make his way over to us. I felt Faith subconsciously grab the edge of my coat in a death grip.
"Ms. Swan-Clearwater," he offered with a nod. He didn't even look over at Faith. Some bodyguard.
"Mr. Bodyguard," I giggled.
He almost smirked. "I can take your bag."
"I can take it myself, thanks."
"If you'd prefer."
With that, Jonathan stepped away so that we could walk back to the waiting car ahead of him. I glanced over at my friend to waggle my eyebrows, but when I caught sight of her, she was so different from her usual self-assured, bubbliness that I became alarmed. Faith was pale, sweaty and appeared to be a little ill. She looked like she wanted to jump out of her skin.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
Jonathan was immediately on alert. "What's wrong, Ms. Masen?" he asked. When he touched her shoulder, they both jumped like they'd set each other on fire.
Faith usually prattled on a mile a minute, yet she couldn't produce a single word.
"Earth to Faith."
"Umm…" Faith blushed and pushed her hair behind her ear. She smiled and looked out a window at the runway. Jonathan ran a hand through his hair and huffed. Pieces of a puzzle fit themselves neatly into place.
"Hey, Faith, say cheese!"
I whipped out my camera phone and took a picture of the two of them and took a look at the results. Yep, those silly kids were in total love and total denial.
It took Hanna and I and some planning, a suddenly urgent trip to Rwanda to look into a village whose well had just run dry, and some alone time for Faith and Jonathan to finally, ahem, speak to one another. And maybe kiss. If I know Faith, it was probably just a kiss on the cheek. But at least they began talking and liking one another in that out-loud kind of way.
Tonight on Mr. Masen's yacht, Jonathan and Faith are anything but shy and awkward around one another. The way he holds her hand is completely familiar, yet it's also apparent that he cherishes her more than his own life. She grips his fingers like she's holding on forever. I watch her smile when he squeezes back.
I look through the lens of my camera, steal a picture of those happy hands and sigh. I'm so overjoyed for Faith. She has such a pure heart to match her brilliant mind, it's right that she should find such a perfect love. I take a few more shots as he sneaks a quick kiss. I watch her eyes glimmer as she gazes up at him. They've helped me to believe that falling in love still happens every now and then.
Through the lens of my camera, I notice Hanna and her boyfriend, Decker Thompson, wander into the frame. They've been dating for a while now, but she's kept things largely under wraps. She's usually tight-lipped about her heart, but she's taken it to whole new level this time. And this time around she's made me promise to keep my lips tight as well. It's killing me.
Decker's totally Hanna's type: tall and dark, and if truth be told, looking a little like a younger version of Hanna's father. I'd never tease Hanna about that, though. She's not the kind of lady you tease. Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Decker's not completely Hanna's type; he works undercover for the Seattle P.D. Not only that, but he comes from a family of police officers. He's got eight uncles on the force, and his dad and grandfather are both retired cops. Hanna's dad nearly died when he found out.
Hanna's relationship with Decker seemed to start the same as it always does for my friend. She meets a super hot guy, they worship the ground she walks on, and she eventually finds a reason they aren't good enough for her. With Decker, though, that reason never came. With Decker she doesn't joke about their sex life, she doesn't string him along, she doesn't jokingly underplay their relationship. She smiles in a secretive way. She hums when he's near. Tonight, through the lens of the camera, I can read the writing on the wall. She more than likes this guy. She thoroughly loves him.
It's also not hard to see that he adores her, and hey, I can't blame him. Hanna's smart and quick-witted and her body could probably be registered with Washington State as a deadly weapon. She's Tyler's right hand woman, and if the big guy ever actually retires, Hanna's next in line to head-up Masen Security.
"What're you doing back here?" Faith's cousin Jackson asks, nudging me in the ribs. He looks a little awkward in his suit, like he's not quite used to wearing one of those things.
"Just observing, I guess."
"We're supposed to be celebrating."
"I'm doing that too. I just needed a break – and some candid shots. Faith's gonna love the album I put together."
"You here with anybody?" Jackson asks, glancing around like I might have a date lurking behind the bulkhead.
"My parents, I guess. And Faith and Hanna, of course."
Jackson rolls his eyes. I know that's not the answer he was looking for.
"What about you?" I ask.
Jackson shrugs and kicks at an imaginary stone. "I was kind of thinking that maybe we could be each other's date. For convenience. Sucks being at a wedding alone."
"Thanks, but I don't need a pity date."
"Yeah, no, that's cool."
"Anyway, you're Faith's cousin. That's practically incest."
I flew in from Kuala Lumpur three nights ago… alone, as usual. Despite my lifelong certainty that I would eventually fall completely and totally in love with some mysterious older man, just like my mom had, the years have ticked slowly by without that particular dream ever coming true.
Sometimes Hanna jokes that Dustin Jeeber ruined me, and don't get me wrong, he did kind of break my heart, but I pieced it together long ago. The thing is, I've just never felt those butterflies. I've never been swept off my feet. I've never had that heart beating out of my chest feeling. There were guys I liked enough. There were guys I admired. There were guys I thought were smokin' hot. But I've always remembered my step-dad's words. It's been almost ten years since Edward told me to guard my heart and to make certain I was sure about a person before I let them have a hold over it.
I've never, ever been sure. My heart's always been my own.
"Maybe if you just stayed in one place for more than a month," Faith offered after she'd been dating Jonathan for a year. "Maybe you've already seen him in a crowded bazaar in Marakesh, but you were only there for a week so you never had a chance to meet."
"If we saw each other, wouldn't we know?" I'd like to think we'd know. "I mean, didn't you know when you first met Jonathan?"
Faith blushed all over. "Fair enough," she mumbled, flustered.
"Date or no date, Faith sent me to bring you back. Don't want to upset the bridezilla on her big day."
Jackson and I both laugh at that. Faith is as far from a bridezilla as anyone could get. How someone could be so privileged and so gracious at the same time, I'll never know.
"Fine, Jackson, my not-a-date, let's head back. Wouldn't want to piss off the monster bride."
We chuckle a little and Jackson holds my hand and helps me down from my perch. Heels were never my strong suit and I'm not used to champagne mixed with steep steps. I tuck my camera into its case and ignore the lump in my throat as I gaze across the deck at my friends – each with their arms around their man. Each of them - obviously in love. I'm here to celebrate the happiest day ever in my best friend's life. I'm thrilled for her and so excited to be a part of it all. Anyway, it's not like I need a man to be complete. I'm Thea Swan-Clearwater, foreign correspondent, photojournalist, badass. I'm cool just being me.
A/N: This is another little story about three separate girls from three separate fics.
- Thea is Little One from There is a Light,
- Hanna is The Dick and The Swan's daughter from Edward Cullen, Dick for Hire,
- Faith is Edward & Bella's daughter from Fridays at Noon/Once Upon a Saturday.
We tentatively plan on updating every Wednesday & Sunday, or Tuesday and Saturday - okay, okay, twice a week. The chapters will each be from a different girl's POV.
I'm completely excited to jump back into their lives, and completely grateful that to have dedicated readers that want to take the trip too. I'm also unbelievably lucky to have friends like Jo & Amy - two women who's writing constantly inspires me, and who are sweet and supportive and live way too far from Philadelphia. ~BDC