Hey there!

First time publishing a fic here. First time trying this out. I do not have a Beta cause I'm that new to all of this, so please bear with me while I figure this out lol. Writing this fic has allowed me to step out of my writer's block for a bit so I plan to continue this story. Hope you like it. Dedicate this story to my "clan" I have on twitter/whatsapp and that I'm blessed to have in my life. Love you girls, always and forever. Thanks for supporting.

Disclaimer: I've seen writers include this in their chapters so here it goes. I do NOT own Twilight or any part or character from that beautiful world. Just borrowing their names a bit cause our dear Stephenie Meyer said we could play with them.

"Renaissance of a Darkened Heart"

Ch. 1

"Bella!"

Chimed a high and pleasant voice at the top of the stairs, which I had just managed to go down from while carrying two large sealed boxes and to top it off, my lamp was precariously lacking balance on top of them. I stopped for a moment, taking a much-needed breath since my books had the intent of pulling an absent muscle from my arms at the moment, and before I could turn…

"Isabella!"

I turned to see my best friend and accomplice glaring at me and I involuntarily moved the boxes to my left, effectively managing to rest some of the tremendous... minimal weight from my boxes on the stairs. Yes. Minimal. As I tried to not pull a sweat from the effort, I also reminded myself that although my books weighted a ton, this was not to be shown in front of Alice or anybody else at the moment for that matter. Well, mostly Alice, she was already glaring at me a bit mad, did I really want to add a complain about the weight of the boxes she had insisted for almost ten minutes for me not to carry? I don't think so. You might not know Alice, but I know her and my dear friend is a force of nature that you only foolishly try to prevent upon any situation. Not to mention the force that she was with people. Alice was extremely good-looking, friendly, high fashion and had a heart of gold. She knew exactly what any girl needed and desired. With the boys, she was charming with her pixie haircut and beauty but fiercely firm in what she wanted. She sensed people in a way I had never seen anybody else do. And she definitely knew me, myself and I. How had I survived the past few years were still a wonder to me but that did not meant I had survived un-scattered, you see, there are other challenges apart from the ones that are mandatory in life, that I learned with Alice early on in our friendship. And I was still learning but gosh, I loved Alice to pieces. Which is how I managed to give a tentative forgive-me smile at my dear friend when I noticed she was still glaring. For someone that was 4'10 tall, she looked awfully threatening at that moment at the top of the stairs.

"Alice…" I finally said. I stopped suddenly whatever I was going to say after that simply because…was it the reflection of the light? Or…no… Alice had silent tears, as she glared with a slight pout giving her away. As I opened my mouth again, trying to ignore the sudden sadness I felt for my friend in order to know what had upset her, my eyes landed on my phone, which was in her left hand. It was then that it clicked. Unsuccessfully I tried to fight off a smile that was threatening to come out.

"Where you lurking into my phone Alice?" I said as I tried to not drop my boxes. The stairs must be flipping me off at this very moment.

"Bella, that has absolutely no correlation with what I just read!" said Alice with a slight wining in her voice.

"Ok so you were looking into my texts then"

"Bella you know that…"

But I didn't get to hear what I already knew from Alice when I heard "Bells!" from a rough and firmer voice that perfectly belonged to my big bear -brother-friend Emmet. He was huge and muscular with black hair and had "sympathetic dimples" in his huge easy-smile, as Alice liked to call them. That killer smile helped him with the ladies and I was immediately immune to it when we first met so we ended up being the best of friends when we were both in high school. He was the big brother I never had.

"Bella", he repeated going down the stairs and shadowing Alice on the way with his 6'5 height passing through, the same height that will shadow my own, 5'4, at any moment, as he kept getting closer. Why was I so obsessed with exact height measurements all of a sudden this morning?

"Let me get this straight," said Emmet as he approached me and with one hand got a hold of my boxes and with his other free hand a hold of my lamp. Damned him and his muscles. Damn books! They were tremendously heavy and as my hands fought to get some circulation back into them, he continued. "I drag my ass all the way to your school, to carry your shit, and you are still carrying your shit, what happened to taking advantage of having a boy at hand?"

"Well Em, it is my shit", I said laughing as he rolled his eyes.

"OK, I carry your shit, you sit your ass down, I'm gonna get all this into the van" he said as he turned to walk the remainder of the stairs.

"And I talk to Bella!" said Alice appearing out of nowhere right in front of me. Her arms were folded in front of her and since she was, two steps above me, overpowering me at the moment.

"You are going back to Forks?" said my friend with a strangled tone.

"You make it sound like a disease", I said calmly and rolling my eyes. "Can I have my phone back?" I said as I held out my hand.

"Here" said a petulant Alice looking straight at me. "But you Isabella, will explain what is this nonsense, we just graduated for God's sake and we have plans and a business on the way, and you can't possibly think I'm gonna go shopping for Fall clothing without you at any point in the future, God knows what will you consider fashion this time and did I mentioned that my best friend made plans to move in with me! And now you are texting Charlie about going back, why? Do…"

"Alice!" I said stopping her rant, which I could've sworn she didn't even take one breath in between all of it. Another reason of why I loved Alice, well, just when she wasn't ranting like that to me. "Breathe please! I haven't changed any of our plans, I just changed my plans with Charlie, that's all".

"And when were you going to let me know about this?" said Alice after giving a big sigh.

"As soon as Charlie confirmed that he was gonna be home for a few days, he sometimes goes away for fishing trips at the reservation on the weekends, so I just gathered that it was gonna be better to let you know once I was sure about me visiting".

"So I lurked into your phone a bit too early" said Alice smiling unashamed.

"I hate to break it you but yes, always, come on" I said slightly shaking my head while going up the stairs. Alice jumped and hugged me on the way. She was back to her hyper-Alice-mode or HAM, as Emmet liked to call it. I couldn't help but smile at her enthusiasm.

Together we reached the top of the stairs and went straight down the corridor to the door of our apartment or what remained of it. What resembled a cozy and friendly apartment with several shades of contemporary art and well-matched furniture in purple, earthly colors and so on, thanks mainly to Alice during these past four years of course, now reflected a deserted island with non descript few boxes on the ground. This was the last trip. Each of us will carry one box and Emmet would take the remaining two and then that door and that part of our lives gone for good. Alice and me turned to look at each other at the same time. In that moment I finally recognized the glistening eyes of my friend, that same feeling she reflected when she had previously been at the top of the stairs, she wasn't crying because of my text but rather of the implications of that pre-last trip I was doing down to the van. This was over. As a knot formed in my throat and I felt a few tears going down my own cheeks, I felt an arm going around me and as another hugged Alice as well. We turned to see Emmet, playfulness gone and an understanding in his eyes, so we both hugged him and let out a big sigh, both of us at the same time. We looked at each other and gave a teary chuckle. Emmet just hugged both of us closer.

Our time as, a Design major (Alice) and a Communications and Business major (me), over. We had survived the University of Washington, now we needed to survive out there in the real world. Well, at least, Alice and me had a plan…

It was almost 4pm by the time we were done taking all of our stuff back to Alice's place. The Cullen Mansion for all intent and purposes, although I still did not want to go in because it will just make the future too real for the moment, we were there. Emmet let out loud and long whistles as he looked from Alice and back to me and back to the mansion. I ignored all of it and arguing our return trip to Forks we went straight into the side of the mansion were they had huge garages. I thought we were just leaving my stuff in there but was surprised when Alice even put her stuff in there as well. After pointing out she can just leave her boxes inside and have time to unpack, she arguedthat while I was gone she needed to decorate both her room…and yes my room. I ignored the implications again and tried to be quick so the people that worked for the Cullens wouldn't fuss over Emmet and me. Alice noted my attitude as she glanced at me and met her stare with mine, we would talk at another time, I knew that much, for now I needed to leave. We finished and after a long hug from Alice, Emmet and I took the road.

Forks, Washington was approximately 3 hours away from our point of departure. I had to try to put Seattle and everything that it represented away for a bit. At least that's what I told myself since I forgot Emmet was in there with me as well.

"So…" Emmet said.

"So…" I replied with a smile. Emmet smiled as well and shook his head at me.

"Not funny"

" I never claimed to be funny…"

"Very funny Bella…"

I stayed in silence as Emmet kept mulling over the obvious. I knew he was deciding whether to keep up with our banter or just go straight into the issues at hand. Or both. Yes. Both.

"So we have at it now or in front of Charlie, you have three seconds..." he said finally.

"Em…" as I looked at him he interrupted me. "1...2…"

"I know who Riley slept with from your ex's…" I said calmly. There.

Emmet just looked at me for a second and then put his eyes back on the road. But he was not done, he tried saying something and then tried again and then we proceeded to go back and forth.

"What? You know?"

"You are such a girl Emmet…"

"Am not! Ok, one thing at a time…"

"Let's talk about Riley…"

"No. First. You."

"You know my mental retention is lacking at the moment…"

"What does that even mean? I knew girls had a smaller brain…"

"Bigger than your penis…"

"Do you want me to pull over right now? I can show you…"

"Ewwww no! No need…"

"Bella…"

"Emmet…"

"Your mental retention?"

"I just graduated so I don't want to think a lot, who knows, maybe by the time we get to Forks I forget about Riley…"

"You won't forget"

"Emmet!"

"I saw how you were looking at that place…" he said tentatively.

I sighted. The Cullen Mansion.

"It's just a lot to take in…" I said finally.

"Why are you stressed about this? You know, the Bella Swan I know thinks everything through and through…"

"I'm not stressed…I'm…I don't know…that's why I really didn't want to talk about it Em, I really don't know what is going on with me…and all of this…" I said honestly.

"And that is why you moved up your trip to Forks…"

"My room was always a great place to think…"

"No! It was a place for you to hide from us! I had to climb that damn tree and risk getting cut by Charlie's gun to take you out!" said Emmet a bit dramatically.

I laughed remembering those times. Well maybe he was not being dramatic, I thought, as memories of him carrying me over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes while I kept trying to stay at home by hanging on to the window. Jacob, Angela, Ben and Seth outside waiting and cheering for Emmet to hurry up so we could have fun. Good times.

"You know you could've just gone off with the popular kids, God knows those cheerleaders were after you and you had unlimited access to their parties" I said as I folded my feet under me and relaxing in the seat as the sides of the road took on light shades of green as a representation of the immense vegetation that awaited us once in Forks.

"Nah. I would've never changed hanging out with you guys for those losers. Plus, it gave me a bit of secrecy in front of the girls, win-win my friend" said Emmet laughing.

I just rolled my eyes.

We stayed in comfortable silence for what seemed to be a long time, until Emmet finally spoke again.

"You will have Jacob and me in Seattle if you ever need to escape for a bit you know…"

I smiled. Emmet's family, the McCarthys, had been early entrepreneurs in the late 30's and his family owned shares in an important automobile company. Due to the current economy, his father had started partnering up and doing other smaller extensions of several car businesses. Emmet was now continuing on with the business of the family and had his own business plan for which he had requested to partner with Jacob. Jacob was a brilliant mechanic. I still was not completely sure of what their business consisted off but both of them were moving to Seattle after a year of planning.

"I know", I finally answered. I smiled at Emmet. "Thank you Em"

"This means Football Sundays in Seattle," he said after a pause.

"I knew you had an ulterior motive!"

Emmet just laughed.

"Your…"

"I'm not cooking…" I said rapidly.

Emmet whined. "You want us to starve!"

"You won't starve! Now do you want to hear about Riley?"

"Oh that shit. Yes. But first! Why are you letting us starve?"

I rolled my eyes. Boys.

My dad was smirking at me. I thought I had gotten rid of boys making fun of me after Emmet helped me with my bags and left to go home. Wrong. Charlie kept arguing he was not making fun of me, I knew better, he was happy I was here. Even, if it was for a few days.

"Bells"…said my dad as he fiddled with the sleeves of his flannel shirt.

I had arrived to Forks barely two hours ago. The pizza had been ready by the time I had freshened myself from the long day. Charlie was showing off his new phone skills with the delivery people around here. At least he was not starving.

"Bellice…"

"It's a new project dad, at the time we thought it was a good name", I said defensively. What? It was a good name. The fact that Alice and me put our names together in order to come out with it was barely the cause of any damage.

"Ok kiddo, so Alice and you have been going at this business for what?"

"Started two years ago, Alice does amazing work…"

"You have a website and a business and you haven't told me any of this why?" said my dad suddenly turning pensive while still staring at me.

"It's not a full on business Charlie, we're barely gonna start on that, it's a website that has been doing good, you know for starters…" I commented playing with a package of parmesan that hadn't been opened.

"So Alice and you are going to see if it's the real thing?" said Charlie completing the sentence for me.

"Yes. Exactly. It's just…" I took a long breath and looked at Charlie, my father and protector. I was so worried about him and made a mental conscious effort not to show this. "You don't have to worry, really, I'm going to stay with Alice for the beginning of this adventure and hopefully things will take off. I know that what you really want to know is if I'm gonna be safe and stuff. But its good, Alice managed to get a business loan and we should be good for the first three months"

Oh yeah. Have I mentioned that my dad does not know the Cullens are loaded with money? Well, he doesn't even know that Alice is a Cullen…for him it has only been Alice, just Alice, since I started my degree. Charlie nodded at me.

"Those first three months are the hardest Bells, I know that much" said my father as he took a sip from his beer. I stared at the R on the side of his beer in order to keep my façade going.

"I'm sure we'll be fine. We're excited and we have a bit of traffic on that website dad, hopefully it will hold for the actual store". I smiled. Well what I thought was an honest smile.

We stared at each other for a moment.

"Just being a dad here Bells" he finally said with a smile and a shrug of his shoulders, which I loved. Meanwhile the bottom of his dark mustache was flashing me a bigger smile after I reacted to that feature of him.

I stood up. There was only so much I could take in one day. I went and hugged him.

"Love you dad. Thank you."

Charlie turned a bit red. He was not used to affection. I wasn't either but being Alice's best friend and the receiver of a tremendous amount of affection on her part kind of took that shyness away from me. Well at least with the people I loved.

"Love you too Bells".

"I'm gonna get the dishes and then head to bed", I said as I grabbed his plate and then my own.

"So early? Its barely 9pm"

"I'm exhausted"

"Let me help you with those then"

"No, its just these, could you throw away everything else though?"

"Pizza on the fridge" said Charlie smiling.

"Yes. You know, Emmet spent half the way here trying to convince me to cook for him while in Seattle" I commented while putting the dishes away. It had only been us two so cleaning was easy.

Charlie laughed. "Well you spoiled us a bit Bells, can't really blame Emmet, I keep out of that cause having you drive three hours down here to bring me food is too much".

"I can't believe I end up with such misogynistic men as my family" I said rolling my eyes at him.

Charlie laughed some more. "We love you Bells and by the way", he said keeping out the playful tone. "I'm glad Emmet and Jacob are going to be there for you in Seattle"

"I know dad, just try to keep off the spying games with the boys will ya?" I wiped my hands on the towel next to the stove. And started heading to the stairs.

"We don't spy on you!" I heard him call at the door by the living room.

"Uhmm, I understand you cause you are a cop and my dad but I can still kick Emmet's and Jacob's asses so", I arched my eyebrows at him. Charlie just shrugged and smiled sheepishly. I started walking the stairs and called out a "Night" while heading to my room.

I heard the TV being turned on by Charlie in the living room. Time for the news I thought as I closed the door. I was just not having it today. Making sure I stayed on task before thinking any further, I grabbed my pjs and toiletries out of my bags, and then headed to the bathroom on the hall. Got ready for bed. After twenty minutes I was back, inside my bed, text for Alice letting her know I was safely home done, phone on silent and all my lights turned off. But I knew that sleep would take awhile if it indeed graced me with its presence tonight. Letting one single tear appear from inside of me get away, I let myself wonder over the days to come. There was only a certain amount of time I could run away from reality and that amount of time was in Forks now. I had to make sure Charlie did not notice anything and I had to keep myself in check in order to enjoy these few days I told myself. When the time at the end of this week came for me to go back to Seattle, I needed to have stories of my visit here in Forks and my mulling over my problems didn't qualify as a good topic. It had been hard enough for me to keep all of it away from everybody the past few years and I was still wondering why was this particular time giving me such a hard time on keeping myself on task. I was 22, not a teenager anymore. I placed the blame on the stress of everything and on the changes that I was going through since graduation, which by the way will keep taking place. I could not stop them. I shut my eyes for a bit and turned around to face the wall, trying to will sleep to come and make me forget for a few hours to gain some composure for the week to come.

It was that turning away and facing the right side of my room what kept me from seeing the light coming off my phone screen around midnight. Signaling a text from the person I wanted to never hear from again.

"Bella!"

I heard Alice before I turned to look up and almost got knocked down by her when I stepped out of my truck at the parking lot of CMC (Cullen Masen Corporation). She was so happy and I couldn't help but smile at her, hey, I was happy to see my friend again. The week at Forks had been interesting and not to mention: short. Proof of it was I being back in Seattle on Monday.

"I missed you!" said Alice calling my attention and taking in my appearance. "My brother it's waiting for us. Come on. How was the ride back?"

"A bit hectic, miss you too", I said as we started walking towards the entrance. "Emmet and Jacob rented a U-Haul that charged them an arm and a leg to bring everything to Seattle, including Jacob's bike, I was in between them on the way back cause they wouldn't trust me with Emmet's assistant on his actual car"

Alice laughed. "They just wanted to mess with you, at least you got to spend time with them. I'm sure Jacob was happy".

I rolled my eyes. "They are here in Seattle now Alice, I could've spend time with them in a more open space called apartment".

"That takes away the fun," she pointed out.

"It certainly does," I said as we continued talking about my week in Forks and once we were in I couldn't help but glance around. CMC was impressive on the outside and the inside.

Alice was fussed around as soon as we passed security and we got given badges with a personalized Alice Cullen on hers and VISITOR on mine obviously. As we headed to the elevator I just smiled at her.

"What?" said Alice as I kept looking at her with a knowing smile, "if you must know the whole family has one".

"So the whole family has a Prada purse badge with their name on it…" I kept looking at her.

She finally smiled. "One has to keep style everywhere".

I laughed. I kept making fun of her badge till we reached the 48th floor at CMC. Alice put in a code and as we stepped out of the elevator a stunning blond chick at the elevator welcomed us. This was my first time here at CMC and I seriously considered in that moment if this woman was related to the Cullens. Alice had amazing genes and from pictures she had showed me, so did her whole family.

"Welcome back to CMC Alice and…"

She looked at me looking for my name.

"Bella Swan" I said politely smiling at her.

"Nice to meet you"

"Tanya, is my brother free? We are suppose to meet with him but you know him and his time" said Alice rolling her eyes as we continued and headed toward the right corner were a big door awaited. Was this the only office in this floor?

"No worries Alice, Mr. Cullen is of course ready. He's just in a phone call with some business partners in the East. You know how these things go, Mr. Cullen is extremely busy but go right in. He will see you right away, if I'm not mistaken he should be finishing up that call in the next five minutes", said Tanya as she opened the door.

Alice nodded at Tanya and I followed her inside. Tanya smiled at me before heading out and closing the door behind her. When I turned around I finally heard a quiet velvet voice from behind a chair that was facing away right behind a big and elegant desk. It wasn't until I turned to look at Alice and she addressed two other people inside that I noticed anything else.

"Jerry, Tom, nice seeing you, is my brother almost done?" said Alice smiling at them.

I resisted the snort that was threatening to escape when I glanced at the two muscular guys with huge-dark-black sunglasses. Bodyguards no less it seemed. Alice had an undercover one during our time at UW but these two…Tom and Jerry.

"Bella" said Alice smiling. She knew what I was thinking.

Tom and Jerry gave a slight nod to both of us in order to address our presence. I took a long breath and murmur, "those are their actual names?"

Alice nodded and we let out a small laugh, well I thought it was reserved. Cause in that moment I really wanted to say something to Tom and Jerry like…

"Quite a juvenile thing to notice don't you think Ms. Swan?" said the velvet voice.

I froze and looked up finally connecting the voice to the body and that body to Alice's older brother. He was looking right at me. I wasn't sure if I was out of breath for a moment for getting caught making fun of his bodyguards and/or for his utterly and stunning beauty in person. He was incredibly good looking in pictures but it was something else in person. I didn't had much time to really check him out…why was I checking him out? Well, Alice took one for the team.

"I've done the same countless times, haven't I boys?" said Alice addressing Tom and Jerry.

Tom and Jerry nodded.

"You are here on business Alice, just remember that", said the head of the Cullens as he gave a cold stare at me. I cleared my throat and stood straighter, his gaze not giving anything away.

"So I guessed your dealings didn't go well brother", said Alice looking at her brother.

"That is none of your business Alice, when you are here on a professional note that is. So can we cut right in?" said the breath-taking man as he stood up and faced us putting his hands inside the pockets of his suit and looking like he was modeling without effort.

"So you are Swan", he glanced once again at me, "the girl that has been freeloading of my sister for the past few years".

He coldly stared at me and gave a cocky smirk. What did he just say?

"What the…" voiced my friend at her brother.

"You," he kept staring at me, "are under the impression that you will come here and start a business with my sister and that my money will go to you, freely, you hit the jack-pot didn't you Swan?"

I stared at the bastard. Yes. Bastard. How could he think any of this? What was going on? Did I need more trouble in my life? It seemed I was staring right at it.

Edward Cullen.

"How dare you Edward?" said an angry Alice beside me. I just heard it cause I just kept looking at Edward. I haven't even met him for ten minutes for God's sake, what is he going on about?

"You want my money sister, you both, that allows me to be honest with your friend over here" he said distastefully.

"I'm leaving Alice", I managed to say finally, and I had no idea what was going on.

"Oh", said Edward smirking at me, "the victim departure isn't it?"

"Edward" warned Alice while she took my arm. "Bella wait please"

I looked at her cause I couldn't keep looking at her brother.

"Alice I barely know your…him, I don't know what's going on but I want to keep respecting your family please, I need to leave," I said a bit hurriedly. It was enough that I was mentally insulting her brother right now.

"No. Bella. Edward is going to apologize and for the love of God tell me how dare you insult Bella when you don't know her!" said my friend looking at her brother with those last words.

I kept trying to leave.

"Let her leave Alice, she will talk and cry to you about this later on today, you and her will be begging for my money by the end of the week", said his cold voice.

"I don't care about your money Edward!" Alice kept grabbing at me.

"There are several credit cards in your purse that say otherwise", he replied calmly.

"That is my money too", said Alice truly mad. "Why are you acting like this Edward? Apologize right this second!"

"Save the theatrics sister, not your money till you are 25 remember? Or longer if I decide so, and now that we got that clear, tell me how much you does your friend plan to get out of this, how much for leaving my sister alone Swan? The smell of money is turning you crazy isn't it?"

My heard snapped in shock at his words and I looked finally directly at him in anger.

"Fuck you!"

And that was the last thing I said as I stomped away from that office from hell.