Challenge Number/Title: #1 – Rocky Horizons

Date Posted: January 31, 2013

Fandom: Twilight

Rating: M

Genre: AH, AU

Content Descriptors: Angst,Drama, Mystery, Romance

Character Pairing: Edward/Bella

Prompt: picture.

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"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."

― Søren Kierkegaard

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ONE.

For once, it was a nice day in the northwest peninsula. The sun shone high in the sky, warming her cool skin as if she were sitting in front of a roaring fire. The unexpected heat made a once-dreary town come alive again after months of cloud overlay and torrential downpour.

But from where Bella Swan rested—80 feet above ground at the edge of one of the sandy rocks overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean in La Push, Washington—it felt wonderful. Camera in-hand, she crawled a few inches closer to the ledge in order to focus on some of the native children playing at the shore. This must be what God sees from his kingdom every day, she thought to herself. It was a spiritual feeling to be so high above everyone else, like she could see and learn things that others couldn't.

Trapped inside the back pocket of her slim blue jeans and buzzing against the underside of her brown leather satchel, her phone called for her attention. She ignored it and pulled the hood of her black sweater down, fixing the pompom on top of her beanie. As beautiful as it was from her vantage point over the ocean, she was growing restless.

If someone were to have asked her five years ago that she would be where she was now, she would have laughed in their face. She'd had a plan. It was a good plan—great even. Get into NYU, graduate with honors as a criminal justice major, get into Quantico, become an FBI agent, catch dangerous criminals, become one of the top female FBI agents—no—top FBI agents of all time, win a congressional medal of honor, meet a great guy who accepted all aspects of her life, get married, have 2.5 kids and an academy-trained dog, write a book, get published, raise a family, write another book, grow old, be an awesome grandmother, retire and enjoy the rest of her days with her husband, traveling the world.

Those were goals she'd set for herself since the age of eight when she witnessed her off-duty father—Chief of Police, Charlie Swan—take down a would-be robber in a convenience store one random afternoon. Some girls wanted to be princesses or ballerinas, Bella wanted to be a cop like her father. Ambitions such as these usually caused arguments between her parents because Renee was against Charlie's encouraging Bella's "silly, dangerous dream".

When Bella was twelve years old, her father had picked her up from school early one day with red eyes and a sorrowful gaze. He'd sat her down and told her that Renee was gone and she wasn't coming back.

"Like, with the angels?" Bella had asked softly.

It pained Charlie to have to shake his head and say, "No sweetheart. She went to stay with Grandma Marie."

"But she forgot me." Bella said in confusion.

He'd pulled her into his arms and had held her tightly. "I think your mom forgot a lot of things, honey."

None of that mattered now; if anything, it had only helped to solidify Bella's plans. From that day on, she'd had a one-track mind, and was lucky enough to find someone way before schedule who loved and accepted her. He was supportive and optimistic, and he never laughed at her when everyone else made a joke of her after her mother had left.

He was always there for her… until the day he wasn't.

Suddenly, Bella's camera lens found its focal point. Bright white smile, rustic tan skin, dark shaggy hair and powerfully-built arms wrapped around a tiny woman's waist. Bella zoomed into focus and began to snap image after image of the couple embracing and kissing. The wind swept the woman's hair across her face and the way he lifted a hand to brush it aside was her money shot.

Ah, amore.

She snapped pictures until the couple's heated make-out session grew too intense for Isabella Swan to handle. This was how she made her money—exposing cheating spouses, finding thieves, missing persons, cracking codes and encrypting documents… the list went on. She was that good.

Exhaling a long breath of air, Bella pulled at her blue scarf and sat upright to stretch before disassembling her camera to put away in her bag. Humming the tune to Carrie Underwood's "Before he Cheats", she pushed up to her feet and began the long hike back down to her truck. She planned to go home and shower, maybe have dinner, and call to check in with her dad.

Then she'd let Leah Clearwater know her fiancée was a cheating liar.

Swinging open the door of her rusty red truck, her phone had begun its persistent buzzing again. Without checking to see who was calling, she answered with an exhausted, "Swan."

"Hello?" The caller answered callously. "Is this Isabella Swan?"

"The one and only," Bella replied, arching her back until she heard a faint cracking of bones. It felt marvelous.

"The same Isabella Swan who went to Forks High six years ago?" The masculine voice on the other end caused Bella pause.

"Uh, yeah? Who is this?" She felt the first signs of anxiety wrap its hands around her as familiarity rang in her ears.

"It doesn't matter who I am." He barked—much like he did in High School to anyone who dared defy him. "What matters is what you can do for me and you can start by meeting me in your office within the next twenty minutes."

She had to lean against the front end of her truck for balance as her knees buckled unexpectedly. He had to be kidding, it was unfathomable enough for him to have the gall to call her in the first place. But to start demanding her to comply with his every wish? It was as if nothing had changed.

"Go fuck yourself!" She snorted and ended the call.

Halfway through her drive home, her phone buzzed and this time she did check the number ID. It was Rosalie this time, thank God.

"You will never guess who had the balls to call me earlier." She shook her head at the memory of his callous tone.

"Royce King," Rose answered without hesitation.

Bella balked and almost missed her turn back into Forks. "How…?"

"Did I know? Well, it's easy. His lawyer is standing right in front of me. You might know him," she stated, with a dramatic pause. "Crazy sexy hair, wicked sharp jaw line, full luscious lips, and intense green eyes?"

Her heart stopped cold. No. Please no. She gulped and prayed her suspicions were wrong, but she knew she wasn't. Just like she knew he preferred Coke over all other soft drinks, or that he cried at the end of The Notebook but swore it was allergies, or how soft his lips felt against her skin—or how it felt to have him rip out her heart and stomp on it in front of everyone. Yeah, she knew who it was at her office.

"Edward Cullen," she whispered.

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A/N: Thank you to my Penny for showing me this challenge and encouraging me to keep going even when I get discouraged. BIG thank you to mariahajile and mauigirl60 for being amazing beta's! You two are so sweet and awesome! Thank you Kaia because, well, you'll always be my beta fish no matter what. ;)

Everyone go read Londonstew's entry to the PTB challenge, she writes under the name: heatherarielle.

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