I do not own Twilight.
Welcome. Welcome. Welcome.
It's been a really long time since I've written anything by myself, so let's see if I can still do this.
Thank you for the constant support, and for the tweets, DMs, PMs, and emails asking for me to write. If you've noticed the name change, I am formerly TeamBella, but I've decided to just be myself … so this is me.
The reaction to the Intro alone has blown me away!
Vampshavelaws is my beta, and Gianasspanda is my pre-reader. So excited and honored to be working with both.
Huge thanks to PTB, who led me to my permanent betas. Catherine and Jenny, you're awesome.
Six weeks later
I hate the sand.
I love the water. I love the sun. I love the boys on the boards.
I do not love sand.
The only thing worse than sand in my sheets is sand on the hardwood floors; and the only thing worse than sand on the hardwood floors is sand on the bottom of the shower. The only thing worse than sand on the bottom of the shower is sand in the loaf of bread; and the only thing worse than sand in the bread is sand in my mouth.
I tried to talk Charlie into moving closer to Forks and away from the water's edge, but he never listens. He's either too high, or he's too busy at Charlie's, his surf and ride shop. When he does pay attention to my rants, his reaction is normally like, "Bella, Forks is too dangerous," or "Bella, just blow on the bread. The sand comes right out."
Which is ridiculous. No amount of blowing will ever get all of the sand out of each crevice in the bread. I've tried. And while Forks may have the highest crime rate in the state of Washington, it's hardly dangerous. Remington, my on-again, off-again ex, lives there and he's fine.
It would be comfortable in La Push if there weren't so much damn sand, or if my dad would tie the bread up after he made his sandwich. I mean, I don't know what my deal has been the last couple of weeks, but I've been kind of edgy … and there seems to be fucking sand everywhere.
Perhaps has something to do with the boy who lives three houses down.
"Step away from the broom," my dad says as he walks into the kitchen through the back door. He's in his normal attire of beach bum: Birkenstocks, cut-off Levi's, unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, with a pipe between his lips.
He isn't foolin' anyone. The entire town knows it isn't tobacco he's smoking.
He's too tanned, and his beard is twelve inches too long. His hair, more frizzy than curly and more salt than pepper, is thinning at the base of his head, and is entirely unbrushed on the sides where it still lingers well over his ears.
Charlie Swan, the male behind my existence, has the reputation of being stuck in the 60s. He grew up here. First Beach was—and still is—his stomping grounds. When he was younger, he surfed these waters, and if he wasn't catching waves, he was pushing his Zephyr down sidewalks and through parking lots. Always moving, always rollin', always ridin'. La Push isn't exactly Dog Town and he's not a Z-Boy, but nobody told Dad that. He and his crew treated it as such.
He still does. He hasn't changed at all.
I blow my dark blonde bangs out of my face and smile. It's fake. I'm boiling. There's fucking sand stuck to the bottom of my feet and no matter how much I sweep, there's always more. Our little home on the water isn't exactly well kept. It's old and ocean-beaten, but it's ours. I like to keep it clean, but the sand makes it impossible.
"Take off your shoes before you walk through the kitchen, Dad!" I stomp my foot. My bangs fall back in my eyes.
Dad holds his hands up in surrender. If there's one thing Charlie has learned about me in the seventeen years of my life, it's that when I stomp, I'm not messing around. He said my mom used to do the same thing. Except she used to throw things, too. According to my dad, my mother was so passionate and overdramatic that she used to turn the whole house upside down when they would fight. She would cry loud enough for the entire shoreline to hear. She would pull her own hair and kick and scream and demand the attention of the world.
He remembers it as being romantic, but Esme Cullen, Edward's mom, tells me it was scary. Her exact words were, "Your mother was batshit crazy, and it was scary."
There are still a few pictures of her around the house, so I have daily reminders of what she looked like. I resemble the departed more than I do Charlie, and sometimes I think I might remember her when certain smells or a story about her call on buried memories, but nothing is ever concrete.
Charlie misses her, and from what I can tell, so does everyone else. I find it hard to grieve something I never had, though. I don't mind living in her memory, and it doesn't bother me when people tell me how much I remind them of Renee. I even like hearing tales about my ma's theatrical craziness. But for me, she's nothing more than a myth.
Considering my father has been raising me alone since I was three, he's done well. I still have all of my fingers and toes, the house has never burned down, and I know how to use a broom. The shop brings in enough money to put food on the table, and the electricity has never been turned off.
I mean, I am the daughter of the town's pothead, but everyone is really supportive. Between Esme and James' mom, Riley, I've never lacked motherly advice.
"I'm just going to make a sandwich." Dad laughs, lifting his foot to take another step.
"Out!" I shriek.
I'm more like Mom than I care to believe.
With a smile on his lips and crumbs from his last sandwich still in his beard, Charlie turns around and kicks his shoes out the door he left open. It all proves to be pointless, though. He has sand stuck to his skin up to his knees.
I drop the broom.
I stomp again.
He carefully walks around me and opens the fridge, gathering everything he needs for turkey and avocado on rye.
"What's your problem?" he asks, dumping condiments on the counter. He laughs. "Did you start your period?"
I lift my foot to stomp, and I open to my mouth to speak, but then—
I'm looking at my calendar, using my fingers to count the weeks.
One, two, three, four, five—no fucking way.
I pull it from the wall, and the thumbtack holding the calendar up falls to my feet. Without looking up, I absentmindedly walk over to my bed. I sit and stare, and count, and count again. I flip between this month and the last just to make sure I didn't miss anything. I flip back two months and know I had my period on time in April. It's always on schedule.
How could I not notice?
I drop the calendar and think.
Did I have it and forget?
I remember spotting.
I definitely spotted because I put a pad on, but that was it.
No bloating. No cramps.
Wait. I had PMS.
I shake my head.
I always have PMS.
I look up. My closet doors are two large mirrors that reflect everything in my room. My walls are painted yellow, and I have posters and pictures of my friends covering almost all of the available space. In the center of my room is my four-post bed, which has clear Christmas lights wrapped around each pole. The mattress is naked—I had sand in my sheets. In the far corner of my room is a stand-up lamp that I treat more like a coat rack than an actual source of light. All of my shoes are shoved up against my dresser from when I was trying to sweep up all the sand from the age-buffed hardwood floors earlier. Through the mirror, I can see that I have a sweater and bikini bottoms and tops hidden under my bed.
In the midst of all that—right in the middle—ashen and on the verge of a freak out, is me. My hair is pulled up in a messy bun right on top of my head. Freckles, which will lighten up in the winter, are so noticeable and scattered across my nose and cheeks thanks to the summer sun. I'm wearing a turquoise bikini under gray sweat shorts and a white tank top. My feet are bare and my eyes are blue, and I'm so fucking dead.
I stand up and step right in front of my mirror, but I'm afraid to look. I'm afraid to lift my tank, because what if—
My cell phone rings.
I answer it without looking, knowing it's either James or Remington, but I'm really hoping it's James.
"Hello," I answer, keeping my eyes on the mirror.
I hang up.
He calls back.
"What?" I answer.
"Is there a problem?" he asks carefully.
I hang up again.
Turning away from the looking glass, I press James' number on speed dial and wait for her to answer while I pace my room, not giving a shit about the sand that's still under my feet.
Fuck the sand, I might be—
She answers after the third ring. "What's up, Sail?"
"Where are you?" I ask. I fall to my bottom against my dresser.
"With Edward and Felix. He said he just tried to call you. Come out. We're ridin'."
James and I were born best girls. Her dad Derek Mast and Charlie came up as close friends, and Renee, and James' mom, Riley, met in high school when Renee moved to Forks at sixteen years old. Same thing goes for Edward's parents. Carlisle Cullen is Charlie's second half, without the weed.
Maybe with the weed. Who knows?
They were a tight group of five—impenetrable. Derek and Riley have always been together, but the rumor is that before Renee came into town, Carlisle and Charlie were both in love with Esme. Who, like them, grew up in La Push. She apparently dated both boys at different times, and still, from time to time, they'll joke about how silly it was. There were never any hard feelings, although I did hear Carlisle knocked Charlie out with his skateboard once.
After Renee entered the picture, and as the generation before us got older, they all got married. Derek and Riley first at seventeen. Six months later, at eighteen, my parents got hitched, and three months after them, Carlisle and Esme tied the knot. They all swear it wasn't planned, but each couple got pregnant within months of each other. Edward was born in March, James was born in April, and I was born in May.
I'd like to think we're all as close as our parents remain.
We're not as opposed to "outsiders" as our mothers and fathers are. They strictly believe you have to be born and bred in La Push to hang with them. But the town has grown since they were young. A lot of families moved here through the years, so there are more kids our age. Like Felix, who moved here when we were nine. Remington arrived when we were twelve, and Dani settled in when we were fifteen. Rosalie and Jasper just moved in last year, and Alice a few months back.
A year and a half ago, when Remington and I started dating, Charlie mourned. He had this sick idea that Edward and I were going to get married and have lots of—never mind.
Smirks has been with Dani for a little over nine months, and like Charlie, Esme and Carlisle hate the idea. Our parents have this whole "date your own kind" way of thinking. Which is totally bizarre and way fucking stupid, because their idea of "your own kind" consists solely of me, James, and Edward.
We can't marry each other!
Besides, Smirks is the only male in that equation. He's cute, white boy crazy, surfer boy crazy, and I love him, but I don't love him. I remember when he used to pick his nose in kindergarten, and in the fifth grade, I was taller than him for like, the whole year. When he went through puberty, his voice used to squeak and he got all these pimples on his forehead. He smelled like sweat all of the time, and his arms and legs were awkwardly long.
He changed a lot after that summer, though. His skin cleared up and his voice deepened. Edward grew into his limbs, leaving him well over six feet tall. He allowed his hair to grow out a little and he let his shorts hang low. He started to work out, forming muscle where there was none before. I used to sit with him while he would lift weights in his garage, and after he was done, he'd make me touch his arms. He would always have something really lame to say like, "Welcome to the gun show."
Growing up, we all called him Smirks because he had the most charming grin, but after he turned evil, Edward realized his nickname magically caused panties to drop. Now we call him Smirks for a whole new reason.
He's a jerk.
Besides, if I had to marry within "our kind," I'd marry James. She's the love of my life. We were taught to skate, swim, and surf together. When we were six, she and I stuck oranges in our bathing suits to pretend we had boobs; when we turned fourteen, we didn't have to pretend anymore. At fifteen, we pricked the tips of our pointer fingers with a safety pin and became blood sisters. We've been through it all together—twice and three times.
She's the mast that supports my sail.
But something tells me shit is about to get real.
"Come over," I say. "Please."
Twelve minutes later, James strolls through my bedroom door with her board under her arm and pink Ray-Bans on her face. Her platinum blonde, pixie cut hair is pushed up into a faux hawk, and she smells like banana-carrot tanning spray.
"Your dad totally tracked sand into the kitchen, and he left the mayonnaise out," she says as she shuts the door behind her. She drops her board and jumps on the bed.
I've returned to the mirrors, still too afraid to really look at my stomach. I'm not stupid, though. Even if I am, it would be too early to see anything. It's just the idea.
"Bella," James says, pushing her glasses to the top of her head. "I cannot believe you had sex with Edward on your birthday." She laughs, scooting to the end of the bed until her legs hang over. "He's such a douchebag."
If it were not for her reminding me every day since it happened, I might have forgotten.
I turn and look at her. "He isn't so bad."
She's secretly, not-so-secretly in love with Felix, which makes no sense because he would love her back in a minute if she ever told him how she really felt. They hook up sometimes, and they hang out always. Everyone assumes they're a couple, but they're just not. I think James likes the notion of love, but she doesn't want the obligation. Her spirit is too free for all the drama being someone's girlfriend involves. She wants to be able to still do her, while she does Felix.
James being James, she makes no excuses for herself or anyone else. My girl is exactly who she is: unconventional, upbeat, and provoking. When I told her about what happened with Edward in my truck, she laughed for an hour. It was ridiculous. It was hilarious.
"Dani is going to kick your ass," she said. "I bet Edward has the smallest dick, right?" she asked. "Oh my, God! You had sex with Smirks!"
And then she asked the most important question: "Do you even like him?"
The answer was no. It was just something that occurred.
I'm almost positive Felix knows, so other than myself, Edward, Felix and James, it's our secret—the first real scandal in the "our kind" circle of three. James doesn't allow us any of us to forget it happened, but in front of other people, we play like nothing is different. Which isn't too hard to do; Edward is one of my closest friends. Only now we've seen each other naked, sweaty, and undone.
He does not have the smallest dick.
The night we had sex—which just so happened to be my birthday—we went back inside the house and told everyone we were looking for seashells when our absence was questioned. No one mistrusted our alibi—they were all too drunk. Thankfully, Dani and Remington weren't there at all.
Remi and I broke up three or four months ago, so we aren't together. He'll flip if he finds out, though. We go back and forth—we're that couple. We're maddening and deep in lust, and I'm crazy like my mother was; he loves it. Normally, when we split, we don't mess around with other people. Remington and I know we'll eventually get back together, even if it's only out of habit. Before Edward, he was the only boy I'd ever been with.
And James is right: if Dani finds out, she'll kick my ass.
Or she'll try.
Actually, that girl is crazy. She might.
James looks amused. "Remington is on the beach."
I turn back toward the mirror. "Did you talk to him?"
She shakes her head. "No, but Edward did."
I meet her eyes through the reflection and feel my cheeks warm. I bring my thumb between my lips and nibble on my nail. James slips from the bed onto her bare feet and smiles.
"He didn't say anything, Bella." She pulls my hair from its pony. Waist-length, dark blonde wavy hair falls down my back. "He wouldn't do that," she says, running her fingers through my still-damp tresses. "He likes Remi, and he loves Dani, and what happened, well"—she smirks—"blame it on the alcohol."
I smile and roll my eyes. "Okay, Jaime Foxx."
She reaches over to my nightstand and grabs a pink bobby pin to hold my bangs back. After they're secure, she opens my closet and pulls out my Girl. She drops my skateboard beside hers and says, "Let's go."
I don't move, even though she already has my bedroom door open. With her sunglasses back over her eyes, she waits with her board in her hand.
"What the shit, Sail?" she questions, motioning for me to walk out ahead of her.
I'm not crying, even though I feel like I should be. There's pressure behind my eyes and an ache in my jaw, and anxiety is pushing hard against my heart. I'm completely still and my face is unexpressive. I've seen this shit on TV and in the movies before: this is the part where the teenage girl acts all melodramatic and ugly cries while she stares at her stomach in the mirror. Maybe I'm in shock, because the only thing I say while James still waits for me is:
"I think I'm pregnant."
Jamie takes over the role as over-the-top ugly crier and shrieks, "What?"
My best friend is back on the bed, counting the days on the calendar using her fingers, over and over like I was before she showed up.
"Do you have another calendar?" she asks, still staring at the weeks.
I kind of pace. "Does it make a difference?" I ask.
She holds the calendar up. "This one might be broken, Bella."
I rub my eyes. "It's not, James."
"Let me see you," she orders, closing the month of May. "Can you tell? Are you showing? Does it hurt?"
I smack her hand away when she tries to reach for me. I'm chewing all of my fingernails off, still keeping my eyes away from my stomach area. Like the baby that may or may not be inside of me will wave and say, "Hey Mom."
Oh, fuck no.
I can't think.
I can't breathe.
Charlie is going to kill me. And Edward.
Then he won't have a wife or a daughter. He'll have a grandchild all to himself, though. If Edward and I are dead, someone has to raise the baby.
Shock is wearing off and reality is settling in, and this is so fucked up. I'm going to freak out. I can feel it sizzling beneath my skin, trickling through pores and tear ducts, and I'm going to lose my fucking mind. I can't be anyone's mother. I can't have a baby.
"I'm only sixteen," I half-cry, meeting James' blue eyes.
She shakes her head. "You're seventeen."
I scoff. "Yeah, I've been seventeen for like, two minutes."
"Six weeks," she corrects. Then she laughs. "You and Smirks conceived your baby on your birthday!"
"Shut up," I groan.
She gasps. "I mean, it's Edward's right?"
I nod. I almost throw up. "Yeah. I haven't been with Remi since before we broke up."
I fan my face with my hands, suddenly feeling hot and overwhelmed. I'm walking back and forth in front of my closet mirrors, burning a hole in the oak floors.
"Maybe I'm not," I say, feigning hope. "We used a condom, and we only did it once."
James stands to her feet. "Have you taken a test?"
My eyes are starting to burn. "No, but I never miss my period."
She grabs my wrist, stopping my feet. "We need to get you tested. Do you have any money?"
My eyes move beyond her toward my dresser where I pile all my cash. During the summer, we all have to work. Not only because our parents own different businesses along the shoreline, but because it's our obligation as residents of La Push to keep the town up and running during the summer. It's dead around here in the winter, so in the off season, if we want to keep our surfboards waxed and our skateboards taped, we work our asses off while we're out of school, and we save.
To keep things interesting, Edward works at Charlie's and I work at Munchies, Carlisle and Esme's candy shop. James teaches people how to surf, and Felix works at the store where they rent out beach cruisers, jet skis, and snorkeling gear.
I have a shift tonight, but I'm calling in on the grounds that I might be their son's baby mama.
"In my drawer," I say.
James turns and steps toward my dresser. She opens the top drawer and digs through all my socks and underwear until she finds the envelope filled with money. I'm still stuck in place, afraid to move, like making any sudden movements might cause me to be more pregnant than I may be.
James starts counting twenties. "How much is a pregnancy test?" she asks. "Is sixty enough?"
"I don't know," I answer, remaining very still. "Take a hundred just in case."
She looks over at me, shoving bills into her pocket. "What are you doing?" she asks, slipping the envelope back into the drawer and sliding it shut. "This isn't the time to strike a pose, Sail. Get your fucking shoes on. We can Vogue after we find out if you're knocked up or not."
I stay in place. James rolls her eyes and grabs my green Chucks from the corner of the room. She turns each one over and empties the sand onto the floor. It's a habit, I know. Our shoes are always sand-filled—but holy shit! I watch hundreds of tiny beach granules hit the wood like missiles, destroying my fragile calm, and I finally lose it.
"I just swept!" I cry, pointing my finger at James.
I stomp my foot and I jump up and down and I fucking cry. My hands are in my hair and my knees are giving out. I fall on my butt and hide my face between my knees, but then my face is too close to my stomach, so I fall flat on my back. I kick and scream like a two-year-old. I roll over onto my stomach and cry harder when sand gets stuck to my cheek.
"The baby! Be careful!" James shouts as she stands over me. She tries to roll me back over.
"My life is done!" I wail. "I'm going to be fat," I whine. "I'll have to drop out of school," I say. "I'm going to be fat!"
I attempt to sit up and James helps me to my feet. When we lean too far forward, though, we smash skulls—hard. It's enough to knock me back down, and my best friend falls beside me. Palming our foreheads, side by side on the sandy floors, James and I look over at each other. We're crying, but shouts and shrieks have turned into laughter.
Once our laughter softens and truth insists, James says, "We can do this ourselves, or I can call my mom, B. Your choice."
I sit up and reach for my shoes, dumping the rest of the sand out before slipping them on. "Let's just go." I leave my laces untied as I stand to my feet and walk to the door. "But you're driving."
It's mid-afternoon and the sun is out, breathing fire over La Push. My truck doesn't have air-conditioning, but since we live at the beach, we usually don't need it. Today is one of those exceptions. There are usually a couple of weeks a year when it gets too hot to do anything other than swim in the ocean, but never in June. With that in consideration, my mind starts playing tricks on me.
I once heard that pregnant women are thirty degrees warmer than normal women because they're carrying another person inside of them. So, am I this hot because we're having an unseasonably early heat wave, or is it because I'm carrying Edward Cullen's child?
James buckles her seatbelt and looks over at me before she starts the truck. "Are you okay?"
My stomach starts to roll and everything smells disgusting. Is this morning sickness, or nerves?
Am I faking?
I am my mother's daughter. I am a huge fucking faker.
Do I really want to eat pickles and whipped cream right now, or is that just something I feel like women do when they're pregnant?
Should I turn on classical music so my kid is smart? Should I sign up for Lamaze classes? Should Edward and I get married? Should I have another kid right away so this kid isn't lonely? Edward, James, and I are only children and we weren't lonely, but we had each other. This baby won't have anyone. Maybe I can talk James and Felix into having a baby, too. It's only fair.
Should I call MTV and ask them if I can be on the next season of 16 and Pregnant?
No, those bitches are crazy.
But MTV pays for their diapers.
How much are diapers?
How do you even work a diaper?
How old before a baby can change their own diaper?
"James," I say as she backs out of the driveway. "Do you know how to change a diaper?"
She makes a face of disgust and changes her attention from the rearview mirror to me. Her sunglasses slip down her nose and my best friend's green eyes focus on my blue ones.
"Don't you remember when we had those mechanical babies in Child Development?"
I half-laugh. "Yeah, you tried to take your baby surfing and lost it in the waves."
She nods. "Exactly."
I decide never to ask James another question about babies again. Although, she did remind me of those machine infants we had last year and my worries start all over again. That baby wasn't even real and we killed it. I couldn't handle the crying and the fake feeding. After the first night, I shoved it in the closet and tried to forget about it. I managed to get some sleep; Charlie on the other hand—closet or no closet—was up all night. The next morning, while I was still in bed, my sleepy father took the robot darling out to the garage and threw it in the trunk of his car. It stayed there until I went back to school.
It was a boy.
I got an F on the fake baby assignment.
James got a bill.
Just when my worries can't get any more annoying, right as James is about to put the Chevy in drive and speed away, Remington rolls in front of the truck. Shirtless, shoeless, sun kissed and hot-tossed-gorgeous, he kicks his board up before he walks over to my side of the road. We're in the middle of the lane, and once he's out of the way, but not yet at my window, I tell James to hurry up and go.
I pull on her arm. "Just drive, Jamie!"
But it's too late, and Remi is already opening my door.
"Sorry," James mumbles.
I backhand her in the chest and smile at my ex. Remington has his sweaty-wet hair pulled back. A few stray, curly pieces hang in his eyes. He smells like dog days. Like sea and salt and sunblock. I love the freckles on his shoulders. I dig the cuts on his knuckles. They're results of doing what we love most: being young, wild, and free. His dark eyes are dark, and his long eyelashes are so long. It's impossible not to smile and swoon when he's around. It's impossible not to be affected.
"Where you have been, Sail?" he asks, nodding over at James.
I feel sweat pool between my breasts. My hairline is damp and my sunglasses slide down my nose. I push them up. I can't look at him. It's killing me.
I try to smile, but it's a sad substitute for what he deserves. "I just saw you," I answer, looking forward.
I'm burning up.
I'm so fucking hot.
"Two days ago," he replies.
I shift in my seat and give Remington my consideration. But instead of looking at him in the eyes, I look at his forehead. If he can judge where my attention is through my sunglasses, he doesn't say. He only leans into me. His nose touches mine and his lips sweep across my own.
I feel guilty.
"Miss you, you know?" he asks loud enough for my ears only.
I nod and try not to cry.
I turn straight in my seat. "I'll call you later."
He stands upright, holding his board at his hip. "Going somewhere?"
I open my mouth to answer, but James does it for me. "We're meeting up with our boyfriends. Step the fuck away from the truck, Remington."
She sticks her tongue out at him.
He flips her off and steps back, shutting the passenger side door. Before he rides off, he says, "Love ya, babe."
I feel two feet tall.
Way fucking hot.
If I were driving, I would have burned rubber and took off down the road like Ricky Bobby, because if you're not first you're last, but James is behind the wheel. She likes to cruise—window down, music loud, elbow out. She's so fucking cool. Which is great because I'm … hot.
"Drive faster," I complain, fanning my face. I hold my hair up from my neck and melt into cracked leather.
"Oh!" James sits up. "Act normal."
I smile. She's sitting straight up with both hands on the steering wheel—so far from ordinary. But then my smile falls. Three houses down, sitting on the bumper of his 1964 Volkswagen Bus, is Smirks.
It's his pride—his baby.
Carlisle and Esme bought it for his fifteenth birthday, and he's spent every day since working on it. He's always restoring or replacing something, and it's come a long way in the last two years. Forest green and white, with eleven windows and a wood slat roof rack, we've stacked his van with our surfboards and driven down the coast more times than I can count. On the nights we don't want to come home, we make beds out of our damp towels and sleep on the oversized bench seats. We'll leave all the windows open and sing along with Talib Kweli or Lauryn Hill until the sun comes up or our voices die out, whichever comes first. On those days, the sand doesn't matter.
That bus is the soundtrack to our lives.
As we roll by Edward's house, James and I act "normal" by sitting up too straight, smiling too big, and waving too much. He winks as we pass, because that's what Smirks does. When we turn left at the end of the street, my girl and I sit back and take a deep breath. James wonders if Edward noticed anything was off.
I only wonder what a car seat will look like in his van.