A/N At long last, here is chapter 2. There will be more to come very soon, especially now. I am with NCChris on vacation for a whole month so we plan to write as much as we can while we are together.
I gave Dad a kiss and smiled fondly at his embarrassed shuffling as he saw me off at SeaTac's security gate. The stupid ritual of slipping off my shoes and emptying my pockets into the plastic bins helped keep my mind off the turmoil that was never far from my mind these days.
An hour and two peppermint mochas later, I was ensconced in the first class seat Phil had insisted was a perk of being a coach's daughter. I gave the flight attendant a slight smile and fastened my seatbelt, setting my iPhone to airplane mode and starting a playlist while the plane taxied down the runway for take-off.
My first flight had been uneventful, but the weather in Atlanta was stormy when I changed to my connecting flight. In fact, we'd been delayed for almost an hour on the tarmac. I spent the next leg of the flight playing Words with Friends with Emily and Embry and trying to ignore Jake's increasingly pleading text messages. I wasn't quite ready to forgive him for ratting me out to Charlie for the motorcycles and getting me grounded and banned from La Push just yet. Denting the aluminum baseball bat on his stubborn hard head had helped, but I was still resentful.
I reluctantly told Emily that I had to put my phone away as the pilot put the fasten seatbelts sign on again when the plane hit a pocket of turbulence and the attendant came around to ask that all electronic devices be turned off. Slipping the phone into my jacket pocket, I tightened my safety belt and took a deep breath as the plane bounced on an air pocket.
All of the turbulence was making me nervous. I had never been a fan of flying and this was the exact reason why. The flight bounced around as I clung to the armrests and tried to stay calm. My panic increased when the oxygen masks fell from overheard and we had to place them on our faces.
For some reason during all of this, all I could think of was that insufferable jackass, Paul. For whatever reason, his face wouldn't leave my mind's eye, which irritated me even further. Why the hell was I thinking of him at a time like this? I couldn't stand him and he sure couldn't stand me either!
The plane ride began to grow even bumpier before it finally evened out and I was a nervous wreck by the time it landed in Florida. Using the emergency exits to disembark had my nerves thoroughly jangled and the news crews were obnoxious as they badgered us for comments as we were herded to our terminal. I had never really be one for alcohol, but I could have really used a drink in that moment. I only relaxed minutely when I exited the terminal and found my mom and Phil waiting in the baggage claim.
I threw myself into my mom's arms as I saw her waving like a woman possessed, the last of my panic starting to ebb away as she and Phil surrounded me. The harrowing story poured out as we waited for my bags. We had just gotten to the car and were pulling out of the parking deck when my phone rang. Surprised, I answered after seeing it was Emily on the caller ID.
"Hi Emily...No, I'm okay. I just got into Jacksonville...The flight? Oh. It was okay for the first half, but the connector was AWFUL! Yeah, we lost cabin pressure outside Atlanta and had to use those little drop down oxygen mask things…"
I had to pull the phone away from my ear as the room behind her briefly erupted into pandemonium behind her at my recounting of the eventful flight.
"Emily? Is everything okay over there?"
I frowned when she hastily replied that some of the guys were over there and that she'd talk to me again soon before abruptly hanging up. Just before the call disconnected I distinctly heard Paul's smooth baritone roar out above the generally frantic din.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN HER PLANE ALMOST WENT DOWN?"
I cocked my head to the side and looked at my now silent phone in confusion before returning my attention to Mom as she half-turned to ask who was on the phone and point out some of the local sights.
"Oh that was just a friend from La Push...Emily Young."
I smiled and turned my attention back to Mom, doing my best to put the weird conversation out of my head for now.
I really just wanted to go back to Mom's house and decompress, but she wanted to go out to eat and show me the city. Both Phil and I knew that when she was like that there was no reasoning with her. We had no choice but to go out to eat and let her show me some of the sights at least.
Phil just shook his head when she started grilling me about boys and if I was still hung up on Edward. I huffed a little and tried to divert her attention.
"Did you get a haircut, Mom?"
I exhaled with relief when she started in about her gay hairstylist and how good he was.
"Oh, I will have to take you to him...your hair is starting to look like it has split ends, Baby!"
I could feel the anxiety melting away as my mom's strong personality began coming out. I was looking forward to a week of not having to make any decisions.
Of course, my good deed in asking about her stylist didn't go unpunished and I found myself perched in a salon chair with said hairstylist later in the week having my hair trimmed, highlighted, and styled to within an inch of my life. I smiled and let Mom and Ricardo do all the decision making. I didn't really care and it made Mom happy to send me home "a brand new Bella".
If I was being honest, I did feel good after the salon visit and spa massage with Mom. I was so used to taking care of everyone else that I seldom bothered to take care of myself or bother to splurge on things like the salon or spa for myself. Mom had grown up since marrying Phil and I appreciated that she was trying to help me shake the last of my Cullen-induced funk.
As I boarded the plane back to SeaTac at the end of the week, I was sad to leave her and Phil. In fact, as I passed through the security checkpoint, I seriously considered calling Phil and accepting their offer to stay.
The flight back was better than when I flew in, thankfully. I was able to relax and let time pass while the I traveled back home. I felt a new peace and strength from the visit. I had to believe that I was ready to let the Cullen's go finally.
I felt the last of my anger at my best friend melt away when I stepped into the terminal at SeaTac and saw my contrite friend standing there with his arms open wide. I let him engulf me in one of his trademark bear hugs.
"Wow, Bells! You look terrific!" He paused and gave me a more serious look, "I'm so sorry. Don't be mad at me anymore...I thought you were never coming home!"
I sighed just to give him a hard time, but finally laughed a little.
"Fine, Jake. You're off the hook. Come on. Let's go. I'll make you lasagna for supper."