Okay, this is the first chapter, guys. I'm begging you to please give it a chance.
This story is already complete. A new chapter will be posted once a week.
Disclaimer – I don't own the Twilight Saga. All rights go to Stephanie Meyer.
Chapter One of Twenty-Nine
Bella's Point of View
"Excuse me, is Isabella Swan in here?" He was a tall man, with a long mustache and a piece of paper in his hand. His uniform was that of a police officer – one I had seen my father wear when he came home from work.
My second grade teacher nodded and pointed me out. "She's right back there . . . Bella? Would you come here, please, sweetie?"
I was confused. The man was so tall, and I was frightened to get closer to him than I already was. But I did as my teacher said – I always did – and I stood up and walked to the front of the room.
"Come with me, honey," the man said. "Let's go see your daddy, okay?"
"But what about school?" I asked innocently.
The man chuckled, tilted his head to the side, and offered me a lopsided grin. But it didn't seem to be a genuine smile. He appeared sad. There was something wrong. Even as a little girl, I could feel it. "Don't worry about your lessons, honey. Let's just get you to your dad, okay?"
I nodded, and as my teacher – Mrs. Hutchinson – nudged me to take the stranger's hand, I did, and we walked out of the room.
I wouldn't learn until later that my mother was gone.
And my father was ruined.
"Look, Bells," my father sighed. He placed his paper down on the kitchen table. "You don't have to go to school today. We can wait a day or two . . . or a week, if that's what you want."
I sat my orange juice down on the counter I was leaning against. "I want to go today, Dad. I'm already behind because of the move, and it's halfway through the school year. I don't know anyone and I've never seen the school before. But I'm not going to make new friends until I get into the halls and classrooms. I can do this, Dad. We can do this." We needed to. Getting out of Phoenix was the best thing for us – leaving those awful memories of my mother behind. This was a clean start for both of us.
"Are you sure, Bella?" Charlie pressed, eyes wide and worried. "I keep thinking that maybe it's too soon."
"Too soon for what?" I asked. "Moving on? Moving forward? It's been eight years, Dad. Eight years since . . ." I closed my eyes, fighting the memories. Behind my closed eyelids, I saw my mother's face. But she wasn't smiling; she wasn't happy. She was dead, gone, lifeless. The black hole that had been in my heart for a little less than a decade began to threaten to suck my entire being inside as I stared the mental picture. I shuddered, flinging my eyes open to fight the panic that I knew was coming. I hadn't been able to think of my mother since her death. My eyes welled up with tears and I turned around to face the sink for a moment, pretending to rise my glass out. I didn't want my dad to see my sadness. I needed to go to school, get myself out there. I needed to get over this. It had been far too long for my grieving to be this intense.
"Maybe you need to see a therapist again," he suggested gently. The newspaper on the table crinkled and I pictured him folding it up and placing it on his growing pile. We'd been in our new house for about three days now, and he'd yet to throw one away.
I thought back to the three therapists I'd been taken to earlier in my childhood, around the age of ten, and shook my head. "Not a chance. They never helped me."
Charlie frowned at me. "Will you at least promise to talk to the guidance counselor at Forks High if you need to?"
No, I thought. Not going to happen. "Okay," I agreed anyway to comfort him. He was also starting work at the Forks Police Station today and I didn't want him to be stressed out while worrying about me. I glanced at the clock above the doorway and sighed. "I'd better get going." I pecked him on the cheek, grabbing my bag off of the chair next to him. "I'll have dinner ready when you get home."
He grinned at me. "You're the best, Bells."
I shrugged. "Bye, Dad."
"Love you, Bells," he called as I opened the front door.
"I love you, too."
Orange and yellow flames lapped at the air just outside the window. I felt my eyes burning as I stared blankly at them, wondering if this was the time I would burn. Was this the fire that would end my life? I felt the heat against my skin, even through the glass of the window in the office I was in. A woman appeared in my line of view and opened said window, and I thought can't you see the fire? Do you want to die? I knew I needed to get out of there, but I couldn't move. My mother's face was in my mind again.
The flames reached up and caught the ugly white curtains on fire along with the grass. Suddenly, the entire room around me was on fire. The metal chair I was sitting in threatened to melt under me. The skirt that I'd bought for this day that I never planned to wear again was the next object to catch fire and I looked down to watch the singed pathway it left behind as it climbed up my leg. I wondered why I didn't feel the pain of the fire. Why wasn't my leg burning?
I sucked in a breath, but the smell of the smoke that was surrounding me didn't intrude in my lungs.
A voice spoke over the crackling of the raging flames. "Miss Swan? Honey? Excuse me, are you alright?"
I blinked, and all traces of the fire disappeared. Poof, like a cartoon for six-year-olds. The images were so devastatingly real these days. More frequently, I was blacking out, flashing back to the most horrible memories of my childhood. I didn't understand it. They happened at the oddest times – in line at the department store in the mall with my dad, vacuuming my bedroom floor, and – most recently – in the office of my new school, talking with the receptionist about my new schedule in my new school, in my new town.
In my new everything.
"Miss Swan, perhaps you should see the nurse," Mrs. Cope suggested.
Doctors. Medication. Treatment. Vulnerability.
"No, no," I rushed out as pictures of hospital beds covered in blood with ripped sheets flashed before my eyes. "No, I'm fine. Just . . . it's been a long morning, ya now? My dad was hesitant to send me here today, and that had be second guessing myself, and then I got lost on my way here, and –"
"A trip to the nurse would really do you good then, don't you agree, honey? It would let you clear your head."
Needles. Pills. Germs. Death.
"No," I whispered, feeling the panic set in. She wouldn't force me to go, would she? She couldn't. Did she have that power? She was just the school secretary . . .
"Miss Swan, is there something you need to talk about?" Mrs. Cope asked. "The school guidance counselor is very fit to discuss problems that teenagers are having."
"Miss Swan, do you need to talk?"
Mrs. Cope's voice was replaced with that of my therapist back in Arizona, before my dad decided that we needed to get away from the bad memories of Phoenix and move to Forks, Washington. I had hated that man – he was pushy, always wanting to know my business. I wanted to punch him. He didn't know what I was feeling – he didn't care. He just stared at my chest the whole hour while throwing random questions at me.
"Miss Swan, I'm here to listen," he had said once, his eyes trained to my camisole. I'd pulled at my top, my gaze shifting from the wall, to the floor, to the ceiling. His hand on my knee had sent me running for the door.
Talking about my feelings just wasn't worth dealing with that pervert.
"She's been sitting like that for about five minutes," a woman was saying to my right. "We were discussing her classes, and her gaze went blank, and then she started to sweat, and she wouldn't go to the nurse, she just flat out refused – oh, what's happening? What do we do?"
"Have you tried shaking her out of it? Tapping her shoulder?" A new, higher pitched female's voice cut in.
"I've tried everything, Claire!" Mrs. Cope said frantically. "I know she didn't want to go to the nurse, but I called Shelly anyways. Oh, but they're blood typing in the sophomore biology classes today, and you know how some kids get, so she's busy and can't make it for a little while. Should I call an ambulance?"
"I don't know," the woman named Claire said. She sounded as if she was close, but I didn't see her. I couldn't see anything. Everything was black. I tried to open my mouth to speak, to say that I was fine, that I didn't need to go see a doctor by any means –
Blood. Sadness. Grief.
Just when I thought I was going to pull out of it, the blackness sucked me back in. With each flashback, the engulfment and sadness took me under even further. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't speak, I couldn't move. I was tied down to the chair that I had been seated on as the two women worried about around me.
"Perhaps we should ask one of the Cullens to call their father?" Claire suggested.
"You want me to ask a student for help?" Mrs. Cope made a sound of disgust. "I don't think so. That's highly frowned upon by Darrel."
Darrel . . . Darrel . . . I knew that name. Mr. Darrel Greene – the principal at my new high school. Was that were I was? At school? What was happening?
"That's it," Mrs. Cope said. "I'm calling an ambulance. This is ridiculous."
"Wait, wait," a third voice, another belonging to a female, cut in. "Edward says he knows a little about blackouts like these."
"Margie, I told you not to – hello, Edward, dear," she said, giggling like a loon.
I heard all of this through a haze as my mind, struggled with what was real and what was a memory. My brain fought to bring me back to reality, but never succeeded until –
Until I heard his voice.
The adults in the room sighed a huge sigh of relief.
I'm surprised I noticed that, because I was trained on his eyes.
"Isabella," he repeated, his velvet voice wrapping around my name like a blanket. His lips curled up in a smile as his topaz eyes trapped me in his own world.
I couldn't breathe all of a sudden. I couldn't speak. I couldn't feel anything else in the room. But this time, it wasn't a blackout. It was him.
"Isabella?" a woman's voice asked to me, right next to my ear. Perhaps she was leaning over the back of the couch. "Sweetie, you must go to the nurse."
"Isabella Swan," the nagging voice repeated. "Can you hear me? Are you listening to me?"
"Miss Swan!" the woman – Mrs. Cope, my mind remembered – snapped at me. "Let's go, Edward, dear, let's get her to Mrs. Deon."
Edward. He was all I could think about. All I could see. All I could hear. I heard nothing of her words, none of it made sense, until she said his name.
"Edward," I whispered.
I hadn't noticed before, but his arm had lain down on the couch next to mine, and my fingers were tightly wrapped around his bicep. I swallowed and took a deep breath, inhaling his scent – honey and dryer sheets.
"Isabella," he responded, blinking down at me. He was so tall . . . "Isabella, do you need help?"
"Bella," I corrected. "I like Bella."
"Bella," he tested, pondering over it a bit. "Yes, that's nice."
"Miss Swan, I do think that you should see the nurse," Mrs. Cope interrupted.
The word hit me again, a blow to my stomach. Nurse. I closed my eyes for a second, waiting for the panic that I knew was coming, but my hand was still wrapped around Edward's arm, and his scent was surrounding my senses. The images and phrases that usually flashed through my mind didn't come.
Seeing as I was watching Edward's eyes, I noticed that they grew very dark and angry at her input. "Bella doesn't want to visit the nurse, Mrs. Cope," he said calmly, politely. His eyes slid from my gaze to above my head, his eyebrows rising in a friendly gesture. "I think that we should trust her judgment when she says that she doesn't need to go. Don't you, ma'am?"
Mrs. Cope's eyes blinked – once, twice, three times, and she gasped. "Oh . . . um . . . y-yes, that's . . . yes, I'm sure she knows what's good for her." Her hands clasped themselves in front of her and she offered me an almost-genuine smile. "Shall we continue with your registration, dear?"
My eyes flashed to Edward. He was looking at me, too, his arm remaining where it had been for however-many minutes. The thought of him leaving literally brought pain to my chest. I pressed the hand not clutching onto him to my heart and gasped.
He seemed to understand. "Mrs. Cope, I don't think I should leave quite yet. Maybe I should stay and make sure that Bella is really okay, just in case something else happens."
"You must go back to class, Edward, I cannot keep you here any longer," she insisted, side-stepping the woman named Margie and opening the door that led to the office lobby. "Back to class for you. Mrs. Leonetti will sign your pass."
Edward didn't move, even as my fingers slipped from his wrist and fisted in my shirt. "I don't think that's a good idea."
"Are you missing an exam that you don't want to take?" Mrs. Cope asked. Her hand slipped from the door as she fought hard not to make eye contact with Edward. Perhaps it had something to do with the way he had convinced her that the nurse wasn't a good idea. She had budged quite easily after he had gazed at her, though it was not in a flirtatious way. "Or maybe an oral presentation?" she added, crossing her arms over her chest and finally turning her head to meet his eyes. She blushed a bright red a moment later and looked at the carpet beneath her feet.
"Of course not, Mrs. Cope," he responded calmly. "You can't possibly think that I would use Bella as an excuse to miss class. I'm simply thinking about what is best for her health. I won't be a bother. I'll simply sit next to her until the registration is complete and I will show her to her second period class. Perhaps it is the same one that I am in."
"Oh, Edward, she's a sophomore," Mrs. Cope breathed, and was that a hint of jealousy that I detected in her voice? "You are a senior. She wouldn't be in any of your classes."
"Then maybe her class is in the general direction that mine is in," he snapped. His face was completely passive but the quiver in his throat as he swallowed told me that he was quickly losing his patience. "I can stand here all day and argue, Mrs. Cope, or we can get this over with and Bella and I can be on our way to education."
When he said my name, my heart leaped, and his gaze snapped down to me as if he had heard it. My mouth gapped open. In Phoenix, the students wouldn't dare to talk to a teacher the way he was. It made me nervous, but even though I had just met him, I already knew that he wasn't afraid to speak his mind. He radiated a calm yet powerful personality.
"This argument is unnecessary," he continued when the woman remained silent. "I've seen cases like Bella's before – she doesn't need any more stress or agitation. I suggest that we both just allow her to complete her registration into this school and be on her way."
Mrs. Cope swallowed loudly. "I suppose – since your father is the best doctor in the town – that I shall have to agree with you."
Doctor. His father was the town's doctor.
I looked into his bright, topaz eyes and willed the terrible images and thoughts to stay away.
I like to do this thing at the end of my chapters where I give my favorite line from the chapter and ask for yours. So, here's my favorite line. When you write it in a review, please use the format that I've used in the chapter so that I don't get confused. :) I call it a 'Quote Me'.
My favorite line from this chapter is when Edward says:
"You can't possibly think that I would use Bella as an excuse to miss class. I'm simply thinking about what is best for her health."
What's your favorite line? Quote me!
Thanks for reading, tune in next week.