"Okay Miss, just so you're aware this tattoo could hurt a bit." I had to laugh at Sal; every time I come in to get a new piece, he gives me the same warning.
"Really sir? Every one's told me that getting tattoos is like being tickled by feathers." I leaned back against the parlor chair and let my head hang down completely relaxed as Sal applied the stencil. In my life there are few places I'm able to go without a camera being shoved in my face, this is one of them.
My name is Isabella Swan, Bella for short. I was in the music industry for a couple of years until I got pregnant and decided the last thing my kid needed was his mom away from him on tours nine months of the year. The funny thing was that I wasn't even well known until I quit the music scene, but once I left my music started selling like hot cakes.
When I had Eli I was stuck wondering what I was going to do with my life when Michael Newton, manger to models, approached me. He said the modeling scene seemed ready to make the shift to feature models with tattoos; they just needed the right face to help them with it. Now People Magazine is calling me the model that revolutionized the industry and tabloids cannot seem to get enough of me. Sal's shop is heavily guarded because every one and their dog tries to get a picture of my new piece first, last time I checked the going price for a picture of a piece of fresh ink on my skin was $200,000.
The other thing the tabloids want from me is a picture of Eli's face, something I am not willing to give. None of the media knows who his father is and to keep it that way and keep Eli's father from finding out about him I vigilantly guard him from the paps.
"Okay Bella, I've finished my master piece." Sal leads me to the full-length mirror and holds up a smaller one behind my head so I can see the new tattoo on my neck. A beautiful dream catcher done all in grays except for two vivid red feathers hangs eerily down the center of my neck. Now hopefully the nightmares will stay away.
"Thank-you Sal, it's just what I imagined." I hug him before letting him apply ointment and gauze; finally it's time to leave.
"Good luck out there Bella; last time I counted I saw at least eight paps." Sal's receptionist Giovanna tells me on my way out the door. She's right there are a hell of a lot of them out there but I am not fazed, I just press on foreword to my S.U.V.
"Isabella, can we see your new ink?"
"Isabella when will we get to see all of your beautiful baby boy?"
"Bella is it true you were in a relationship with movie star Edward Cullen before you and he became famous?" I want to freeze at the mention of that name but I know I have to go on unfazed as if that name didn't bother me at all.
Finally, I reach my vehicle and get into it, starting the engine right away so the paparazzi backs away knowing I could very well decide to hit them with my car. 30 minutes of driving just over the legal speed limit later and I've made it to the Swan Fortress as I call it. My gated six acres of heaven complete with thick greenery in the form of evergreens so no cameraman on foot can get even the blurriest photo of my house.
I park my car in the driveway before hurrying down the path towards my guesthouse. Angela, one of my good friends from high school and Eli's nanny lives there. I pay her for 24-hour accessibility along with extra money for when she's watching my munchkin and have provided her with the guesthouse so Eli gets a change of scenery. She has told me time after time I pay her far too much but I just shrug it off, Angela is probably the sweetest person I've ever met and she deserves every penny she gets.
I've just started to open the door when I hear my little angel.
"Mommy's here." He tells Angela matter-o-factly. At two and a half years old, he already has quite the attitude. I walk in to see Angela and him at her kitchen table shaping dough, well Angela is shaping dough and Eli's just pounding his piece with his little fist.
"Hey Superman, how are you?" He giggles as I lift him from his chair and twirl him in the air.
"I bake." He points at the abused dough lump I just pulled him away from.
"I'm sure you did." I turned to Angela.
"Angela it looks like some of your buns are going to be pretty lumpy."
"Those are the ones I'm giving to you." She laughed.
"Eli can you say thank-you to Angela for watching you while Mommy was busy."
"Thank Angie." He grinned at her, Angela got up so she could give him a hug good-bye.
"I'll see you tomorrow little man. How does your new tattoo look Bella?" I turned around so she could peel back the gauze and take a peek.
"It's beautiful, number thirty-two right?" I was surprised that she had kept track of just how many tattoos I have.
"Yes it is, thanks again for watching Eli, I hope your gallery goes great tonight Ange." Angela was an artist in her spare time, specializing in breath-taking oil paintings. I carried Eli back up the walkway, carefully balancing him on my hip so I could unlock my door. Once inside Casa Swan I set Eli down on the floor in the kitchen and gave him a set of chop sticks to bang on the floor.
"Can you guess who is coming over for dinner tonight Eli?" He looked up at me interested.
"Toopy?" He asked referencing one of his favorite shows, I had to laugh.
"You're close, Jake is coming over." The moment I finished my best friend's name Eli let out a sharp squeal. Jacob Black may seem like a cold rapper to the media but I knew him as the big softy who turned into a two year old whenever around my son. Jacob and I have been friends since we were in diapers. Billy his father lived on the LaPush reservation a short distance from my house and would watch me while my father was at work. Space came between us when I was dating Eli's father but when my heart was broken and I found out I was pregnant, Jacob came to my side. During my last trimester he tried to do everything for me, insisting it was the least he could do to make me comfortable.
"Anybody home?" Jake's deep rich voice filled the air as he entered the house with his key.
" Jaybob!" Eli screeched until Jake came into view.
"Well it's nice to know one of you loves me." Jacob's basically a giant at 6'8 and I've always been surprised that Eli has never been startled by him. Today he's decided to show off his muscular tan form with a white tank and a pair of torn jeans. His cropped raven hair that I love to run my fingers through is covered by a Seahawks cap. I can't help but throw a slice of zucchini at him.
"Get out of here, you know the rules; only Patriots fans are allowed in my house." Before Jacob could come up with a clever retort Eli chimed in.
"Mama, be nice." He narrowed his eyes, probably mimicking all the times he has seen me do the same causing Jacob and I to lose it.
"Superman, you're definitely my favorite Swan now." Jacob, still laughing, tossed my squealing bundle of joy into the air.
"Fine then, Eli can make you ratatouille and I'll go out to Mickey Dee's." I wasn't even able to turn towards the exit without Jake's huge figure blocking my way.
"Awe Bells, don't leave us hungry. We're both growing boys you know." Jacob put on his best little kid voice and looked at me with poorly attempted puppy dog eyes.
"Oh jeeze, you know I can't stay mad when you talk to me like a five year old. Now get your butts out of the kitchen or there'll be no dessert." I was rewarded with two childish grins and a kiss on the forehead from Jacob.
"You're the bestest." He called as he left the room, most likely heading towards the train set I had set out in the living room for Eli.
I continued to prep dinner, only stepping away from the kitchen when the food was cooking. I walked over to the living room and watched Jake and Eli goof around together. I sometimes wonder what would've happened if I had dated Jacob instead of Eli's father; I know for sure that Eli would have a dad and I wouldn't be plagued with nightmares. Life would probably simpler, something I find myself longing for more and more these days.
After dinner the three of us watched Ratatouille (the inspiration for the meal) until Eli was sleeping soundly in Jacob's arms. Once I had tucked Superman into bed I flopped back down on the couch next to Jake.
"You're still going to the Music Video Awards with me right?" Shit! I had forgotten about that and generally I don't like to be in the public eye for the length of an award show.
"Jake, do I have to?"
"Yes you do Bella, you promised over a month ago."
"I thought you would've found an actual date by now." He looked shocked.
"Isabella Swan, there is no one I'd rather take to the show then my best friend." I grumbled knowing there was no way I could get out of going to the show.
"Fine, fine! Stop using that cheesy crap against me." He smiled in victory, pulling me into his lap and angling me so my head was resting on his chest.
"How are you these days Bells?" He asked, I'm pretty sure if I were to look into his eyes I would see nothing but concern.
"I'm great Jacob." I hoped that answer would satisfy him. It didn't.
"That's 100% bullshit Isabella and you know that. "Great" is something you tell Eli when he asks you how you are, not something you tell me. How are you really?" If he really wanted the truth I was going to give him the entire unfiltered version, I could only hope it wouldn't scare him away.
"Some days I feel fine until I go out in public, they just won't fucking give up when it comes to trying to figure out who Eli's dad is. I'm scared shitless about even taking him on a car ride because the moment the paps catch his emerald green eyes and bronze tinged hair they'll know. At home you think it would be better right? Wrong! I'm fine until I try to sleep and then the nightmares won't stop. I'm so desperate to get a full night's sleep that I got Sal to tattoo a dream catcher on me. I'm at my fucking wits end Jacob."
He was silent for a while and the thought of the fact that I potentially scared him off was the final straw. I couldn't stop myself as the tears started to pour out.
"I'm sorry." I told him through my tears.
"Bells I'm not upset at you." He finally said. "You know me; I'm a little slow so I need a few moments to let things sink in." He gingerly maneuvered me so he could pick me up, carrying me like an infant to my room where he placed me on my bed.
"You put on some pajamas." Jacob childishly covered his eyes before continuing on "Then we can both settle into bed, I can be your giant dream catcher tonight." I couldn't help but laugh at how ridiculous his words sounded but I took comfort in them. Once I had put on a pair of flannel pajamas that I use to pretend camp with Eli in our living room I sat back down on the bed.
"You can uncover your eyes now Jake, I'm decent." He removed his hands from his eyes and tucked me into the bed snuggly before turning off the lights.
"I don't trust that you'll keep your eyes covered." He explained as he changed before he lay down beside me, wrapping his arms tightly around me.
"Sweet dreams." He whispered before we both settled into a deep sleep.
I woke up ten hours later to realize I had slept through the entire night for the first time in three years.