Chapter 1 - How I Ended Up Here (BPOV)
So, here we go... This will be a relatively slow burn, but sweet and low angst. Chapters will alternate between Bella and Edward's point of view.
Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight. I wish I owned a B&B, but this fanfic is probably the closest I'll get.
I'd never given much thought to how I was going to die- but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.
The Volturi was definitely trying to kill me. And it was probably only a matter of time before this beat-up building succeeded.
I gingerly picked myself up from the hard floor to stare at the Volturi's latest weapon of choice: a loose step between its kitchen and dining area. Of course, most people would have been able to manage the step quite easily. But that jiggle beneath my feet was more than a match for my equilibrium - especially since my mind had been elsewhere.
My mind, had, in fact, been on the septic system. Sigh. A few months ago I didn't even know what a septic system was, much less what it costs to replace one to meet the codes of the hotel industry.
Those were the carefree days before I bought a run down Bed and Breakfast in the middle of nowhere Vermont. I don't have any hotel or restaurant experience. I've never even had my own apartment. And, oh yeah, I just graduated from college a week ago.
My dad, Charlie, loved the Green Mountain State; it was his favorite place to fish. There was nothing he loved to do more than sit with a line out at the edge of a lake or stream, hours away from the troubles of his job as the police chief in a small town in upstate New York.
After my Mom remarried and I had come to live with Charlie for my junior year of high school, I noticed the fishing gear near our front door that was going untouched week after week. It took a month or two for me to get over my own shyness to ask him about it. He confessed that he had given up his trips so that I wouldn't be left alone.
I'd felt guilty, but knew he had a point. Yes, I was a bookworm who was highly unlikely to throw a party. But what kind of dad would he be if he left me unsupervised to go to another state; even one only a few hours drive away? I managed to make a trip to the Emergency Room a fairly common occurrence thanks to my clumsiness.
Going fishing with him was not appealing, since I had failed to inherit Charlie's love of nature. Actually, nature I could appreciate. It was the outdoors I didn't get along with- probably because it was so full of dangerous things like loose gravel, slippery leaves, and exposed roots to trip over.
So he stayed home and I felt guilty. To make matters worse, I had little interest in doing much besides staying home by myself. As the 'new girl' and the chief of police's daughter I already had two social strikes against me. When you factored in that I had no interest in cheer-leading or sports, there was very little chance of me breaking into the tight-knit social circles of the kids in town.
The months at the beginning of my second to last year of high school were probably the longest of my life. I did get a lot of good reading done. But, I worried about disappointing Charlie, and I know he was also worried about disappointing me.
Then, just before our first Christmas together, Charlie had to attend a weekend training event for emergency responders in Montpelier. Many of the cops were bringing spouses and had booked rooms at a local B&B. I had reluctantly agreed to go along, figuring a weekend in a country hotel would be no worse than a weekend cooped up in our house.
What I discovered was my own personal heaven. It was nothing like what I had expected. I had only ever stayed at chain hotels with sterile hallways filled only with high gloss end tables and chairs that no one ever sat in. The B&B had a great-room with a real fireplace and plenty of couches. The hallways were lined with bookcases full of old paperbacks and well-worn classics. Practically every sunny window had a built-in bench seat or arm chair in front of it. There is nowhere more inviting to a reader than a small bed and breakfast.
In the mornings, Charlie and I sat together in the dining room sipping fresh coffee and being knocked out by the scents of farm-fresh eggs and local bacon frying on the stove's gigantic flattop, homemade beans warming in an electric crock, and cinnamon rolls baking in the oven.
While the cops did their training and the wives skied or shopped, I wandered from spot to spot as the sun streamed through the easterly windows in the morning, and then faded from the west side of the building. The Innkeepers kept an eye on me, but they never hovered or made me feel I was in their way. Other guests came and went about their business with a wave. I alternated between homework and getting lost in some of my favorite fictional universes in perfect bliss.
Saturday night Charlie and I played cards with an elderly couple visiting their daughter who lived nearby. By the time his meetings were over early Sunday afternoon, I had made myself at home there. So much so, that Charlie and I both decided it was okay for him to go out to a nearby fishing hole before we headed home, with one of the locals he had met.
I was miserable in our town, and Charlie loved to get away to fish. The solution to both of these challenges now presented itself. Cheap B&B's were as plentiful as good lakes and rivers in northern New England. Why not plan trips to bed and breakfasts that were close to good fishing areas?
Charlie would know I was nearby and safe, so he could enjoy the hours with his line out. I'd be somewhere I actually want to be. I always had my cell phone on me and he made sure he never ventured somewhere without a signal. We avoided the busier weekends and hunted for bargains. Between planning well ahead for the best rates and the occasional last-minute too-good-too-pass Internet deal, it was easy to fit overnight stays into our budget.
Charlie later admitted he felt guilty that the frequent time away kept me from marking more friends in high school. Even in retrospect, I was happy to leave town so often. I looked forward to the time away, and the time I got to spend with Charlie.
The drives to and from our stays were the only time we ever really talked. Even though we didn't really ever into anything that was too deep, keeping to topics of the scenery, the news, my school and his work, the drive time was when we really started to connect. Very rarely, he'd share a story about Mom. On every ride home we'd compare notes about the place we had just stayed - what we had liked most about it, how it ranked among the various B&B's we'd been to, how it seemed to fit in the town, how the food was, and what kind of guests we had met around the fireplace.
Without knowing it, Charlie and I were drawing the blueprints for what the bed and breakfast I wanted to someday run would be like. He didn't even seem surprised when I decided to go to school for a business degree with a minor in hotel management. Somewhere along the way, we both realized that was what I was meant to do.
The tradition of father-daughter weekends continued during my first two years of college. Only then, instead of getting lost in my books all the time, I'd chat with the Innkeepers, trying to get tips on marketing or finding a good staff. I learned what the challenges were, how they saved during the busy seasons and stretched during the lulls.
I felt no regret about missing out on keggers and other traditional weekend activities. I occasionally wished my best friend Alice would come with me. As a design student, I know she could have charmed the innkeepers with detailed compliments on their decor choices. Alice could charm just about anybody. Where I was shy and serious, she was outgoing and funny. She had a knack for making just about anyone feel comfortable opening up about anything. I knew she could have gotten the blueberry muffin recipe from the chef at the Patch Inn, or made the owner of Maple Tree House spill the beans on how exactly they sold 'their own' syrup when they didn't have any maple trees on their property.
I'm sure going away for the weekend together would only have made the campus rumors about Alice and me worse, however. I suppose it wasn't too big of a stretch to assume there was more going on between us then there was. I never dated anyone after my one, very disappointing relationship with Mike, and Alice was not closeted during her brief fling with the female T.A.
True, Alice had been responsible for my first orgasm. But, not in the way most people assumed.
"Bella," she'd say to me in the middle of the cafeteria, "if you're not getting laid in College, you're practically throwing your tuition away." I'd hunched my shoulders and try to become invisible, which would only make her continue on in a louder voice.
"If you're not going to make anyone else happy, the least you can do is get yourself a pocket-rocket and take care of yourself." I, of course, did not know what that meant, nor was I about to admit it in public over lunch. Thank god I had allowed her to drag me into a sex shop around the corner from the book store one afternoon.
Suddenly, I had a new way of dealing with my stress. The college boys became even less appealing. I was pretty sure I was having more orgasms that the girls who were on their way to STD-town. Between that fact and the wild stories that Alice would share of her 'experimenting phase,' I had even less interest in dating girls.
Now Alice was on the fast track to a promising career with an interior design firm in Boston. I was up here by myself trying to figure out how to turn twelve, out-of-date guest rooms, a decent kitchen and dining area and an attached owner's apartment, into a successful bed and breakfast.
Maybe if I had even the slightest idea of something else I could do with my life, I'd be doing it. But, since the night I received a phone call telling me my dad had been killed on duty, I'd held onto this dream he'd helped me create like it was my last connection to him.
I'd give anything to be able to ask my dad for some advice right now. I'm sure the first piece of advice he would have given me is: don't buy a hotel just because you can. Of course, if Charlie were alive to give me that advice, I wouldn't have had the smallest chance of making such a foolish decision.
Even as the child of a cop, you never really think that you're going to have to face the reality of your parent's death. I still couldn't bring myself to think of that horrible night.
It had come as a shock that, along with becoming an orphan, I had become a woman of independent means thanks to my father's life insurance policy. As the agent, who I've come to loathe, had explained, Charlie had been serious about making sure his little girl would want for nothing if anything happened to him while I was still young. He had always paid the high premiums, so he was sure I would be able to go to college even if something happened to him. This was in addition to the savings he put aside from each paycheck. The insurance policy was there just in case he didn't have enough time to save.
I had been fortunate to get a full scholarship, so the savings went untouched. I had teased Dad that he should buy a boat like the old couple on that lame TV commercial and call it "College Fund."
"You never know, Bells," he had replied. "You may decide you want to go to graduate school."
So, he had continued to put off the things he wanted. I lived with him off-campus to keep my own expenses low and so I could continue to make sure he had meals more well-balanced then the Schwan's guy or Hungry Man could provide. We lived in the same tiny house he had grown up in. We ate fish he caught. Aside from our trips, we seldom splurged on anything more extravagant than a movie on half-price ticket night.
Charlie had sacrificed so that I wouldn't have to worry if anything happened to him. And, as soon as he was gone, I got myself into the kind of situation that make people worry themselves into early deaths.
There was no one to blame but myself. I had been the one to see the craigslist ad of the cute, little, Italian-inspired building recently converted to a 'resort' - all the work was done, perfect for someone starting a Bed and Breakfast in one of Vermont's most scenic villages.
I was the one who had bookmarked that page at the beginning of my senior year. I had told myself it was just a way to make my senior project more fun. Why not base the business plan I was required to write, on a real place?
I was the one who had been so taken in by my own hypothetical marketing and advertising plan that I thought this really wouldn't be such a bad idea. I was the one who had entered all the numbers - including Charlie's savings and life insurance payout - onto a balance sheet and was surprised to find that I could actually make it two years before I needed to draw a salary from the Volteri.
I had been the one who begged Alice to make the first trip up to Forks, Vermont with me. I had been the one to instantly fall in love with it. I had been the one to fill a notebook full of ideas - some mine, some Alice's - about how to refurbish the place and possible events and marketing ideas as she drove us back to campus.
Nowhere in those fantasies did I make any allowances for an outdated septic system. My two-year slush fund was now looking likely to be diminished in less than a year. And that was if nothing else drastic went wrong.
"Dad," I said, looking up at the kitchen ceiling, trying not to focus on the cracks I swear hadn't been there when I had my inspection done a month ago. "Send help - please!"
"Hello?" came a tentative male voice from the front hall.
"Oh crap," I said aloud, startled. I then bit my lip as I realized my voice echoed off the stainless appliances that surrounded me. Smooth, Bella. You were really made for the hospitality industry. You're so naturally welcoming. "I'll be with you in a second," I quickly shouted at my surprise visitor.
I then realized that it might not be wise to just run and greet a strange man who had wandered into my empty bed and breakfast. Yes, this was small town Vermont, but I had been raised by a cop after all. Where was my head - why hadn't I made sure the door was locked this morning, or last night for that matter?
I looked around the kitchen, quickly over-ruling the thought of grabbing a chef's knife. With my luck I'd trip again and stab myself. Maybe I should grab the can of aerosol cooking spray with garlic. Yeah, great idea, Bella. You could spray it in his eyes and completely debilitate him-assuming my visitor was a vampire.
Nevertheless, I had both hands wrapped around the cylinder, fiddling with the red cap as I made it to the front entrance. For probably the fifth time this morning, I tripped over the loathsome loose step and pummeled head-first into the hall.
The cooking spray flew out of my grasp as I landed on my hands and knees. I avoided a face-plant, but not before getting a nasty rug-burn on both of my palms. From this dignified position, I looked up and locked my sight on two, brilliant, green eyes, framed by messy, bronze hair and a crooked smile. The sound of the spray canister rolling down the hall seemed incredulously loud, especially since I could hear it over the blood pounding in my ears on its way to redden my face. I realized it must have hit his foot when he broke eye contact with me to bend down to pick it up. This allowed my gaze to travel down his body.
Who the hell was this Adonis? I didn't think this kind was allowed to roam free in the wild - I thought they were kept behind velvet ropes in clubs. Since I could never even think of entering such places, I had partially believed that even there the beautiful people weren't as beautiful in front of cameras as they were in magazines.
I realized my mouth was hanging open as he straightened up and met my gaze again. I tried to remember how to work my jaw to close it. I think I might have succeeded for a moment before he said, "Ummm... is your mom or dad here?"
I winced. If the Volturi didn't kill me, embarrassment surely would.
That's it for this time. Much love and unending thanks to Sunflower Fanfiction for her amazing patience, pre-reading and Beta work. Thanks to Teresa Masen for pre-reading. Also thanks to Discordia for her encouragement getting me in touch with the Cherry Pop Mentors and my ladies.
All you fanfiction writers and readers inspire me. I'd love to hear your thoughts on my fic!