Title: Manifesting Destiny

Summary: When Bella travels West to find her father she instead finds herself befriending a man who falls in love with someone else's mail-order bride. A romantic at heart, Bella offers to help the couple and speak to the intended husband. If only he would listen.

Disclaimer: Twilight is owned by Stephanie Meyer.

Chapter Eight: Introductions

Dawn broke the next morning, bright and sunny. The storm had passed, leaving a smooth layer of new snow in its wake. The clouds were mostly cleared away. Edward woke first. He cleaned up quickly and went downstairs to procure breakfast. It was a perfunctory trip marked only by his spotting McCarty again. The man gave him a strange look and seemed almost to want to say something, but did not approach him. Edward thought on it as he returned with the tray to his room but had no explanation. He had hardly ever spoken to the man, and they were not friends.

In the room he saw that his wife had left the bed, and from the sounds he surmised she was in the washroom. He busied himself setting out the breakfast things, and then packing up his few belongings. The plan was to leave after breakfast. It might be slow going to get home, and he wanted to get home by afternoon at least.

Behind him the door opened and he heard his wife pad out. Edward turned to greet her. "Good morning."

Her gaze flickered to his briefly as she responded to his words, but it settled on the table set out with breakfast.

"I brought up some breakfast. Once we've eaten I'd like to get going. The storm is over but the roads have a couple inches snow and it will take a while to reach the house."

She nodded her head to show she heard him but otherwise did not respond.

They ate quietly.

"Mr. Cullen,"

"Edward, please."

"Right, Edward, there's something I have to tell you." She took a breath and chanced a look up to find his curious gaze on her.

"I'm not Miss Hale." She cringed as the words came out.

Edward was visibly confused. He wasn't sure what she was telling him, and settled on a simple response. "What?"

"My name is Isabella Swan." Again she cringed, and again he just looked at her and furrowed his brow.

"Yes…?" He knew her name, though to tell the truth he had peeked at it on the wedding certificate only this morning. He hadn't bothered to learn it before, but it seemed pertinent that he have something to call her.

Bella didn't understand why he was being so dense, and she was having trouble finding words to explain their predicament.

She was quiet as she contemplated a quick way to clarify her point. Perhaps there was no quick way to explain the mess she had gotten herself into.

"I came here looking for my father." She settled on explaining things from the beginning. "On the train I met a woman named Rosalie Hale who was traveling here to marry a man she had never met. But she fell in love with another man on the train, and they wanted to get married."

She chanced a look at his face now, which still showed only confusion at her story. "We talked and decided they should get married and that I would wait for her fiancée and explain what had happened. Apparently they had never met before, so we hoped he would not be too attached. But when we arrived his mistook me for her, and . . . now here we are."

It took a moment for Edward to process how her strange story applied to the pair of them, and she could see he was trying not to.

"But, you had the flower…"

"In my pocket. It must have fallen out. She gave it to me in case I couldn't find you, but Emmett described you fairly well so I didn't need it."

"Emmett?" The name was familiar. Suddenly he remembered the way McCarty had looked at him this morning, as though waiting for Edward to speak to him. "McCarty."

"Yes, Emmett McCarty. I believe he knows you?"

Edward nodded absently as he replayed their whole acquaintance. He realized now that this Rosalie Hale, his fiancée apparently, must have been that blonde woman he'd seen with McCarty at the station.

He was quiet for a long time. And Bella watched him, wondering what he must be thinking. After several minutes he drank down the rest of his coffee and stood.

"Gather your things," he reached a hand out to help her up. "It's time to go home."

Bella looked up at him, meeting his gaze, and slipped her hand into his.

THE END

Author's Note: So this is the end of the short version. Like I said in AN's at the start, I'm working on a much longer version of this plot idea, so if there is anything particular you like or don't like about what's posted please let me know!