A/N: Jen: Surprise! Don't worry, we're still posting In Pursuit, but this one's written specifically for our friend Bethany (Beffers87). Today is her birthday!
Deb: Happy birthday, Bethany! We took one of your own beautiful manipulations and wrote something just for you. It's in appreciation for all that you've done for us. This short fic will post sporadically over today and tomorrow. It's written with lots of love and smiles. Mooches, sweetie. :D
Jen: The chapters will be short, and we're looking at around six of them. As with our other two stories, I'm wrote Bella's POV, while Deb wrote Edward's. And after this, there won't be any author's notes until the end. So enjoy!
Beffy? We love you, sweetie! Thank you for all the manips and support you've given us both! We hope you enjoy! – Jen & Deb
June 17, 2011
"Really? They have to come with me even to Jessica's house?" I argued.
My mom hummed, barely listening as she flitted around the room getting ready. She and my dad were headed to some political something or other—they'd attended so many in the last year that it was hard to keep track.
"Mom, come on!" I whined. "You know Jess! You know her parents. I'll be fine there without my prison guards."
She stopped in front of me and cupped my face. "Isabella, they're not your prison guards. They are your Secret Service detail, and they are there to keep you safe. I know you don't like it, but that's the way it has to be. It's either go to Jessica's party with them, or don't go at all."
"But they're all so...old," I huffed. I knew that wasn't true, not in a technical sense, but that's what it felt like. "They don't even try to blend in. No, they don't wear their suits at school, but they still stick out. They don't smile. Like...ever. And it's not like it's Halloween yet, so I can't poke fun at them like they're wearing costumes to look so...cardboard-ish."
I'd resorted to sounding like a bratty teenager—something I really wasn't—and I hated it, but I was tired of the campaigning, tired of politics, tired of the Secret Service and having them constantly underfoot, and tired of my parents being too busy for me. And I knew it was all only going to get worse. My dad was less than six months away from being elected Vice President of the United States, and I was so proud of him. He was going to be great in the position—he'd have made a great President, too, but whenever I told him that, he just smiled with a faraway look in his eyes and said, "Maybe when Jason's second term is over."
My mom sighed and stepped away, reaching over to grab her sweater from where she'd laid it across the back of the chair in the corner of the room. "Try not to make a pest of yourself with them, sweetheart." Before she left the room, she turned back. "Your father and I will be out late. Have fun at Jessica's. Be good. Remember, the eyes of the nation our on our family."
"Yes, Mother," I repeated after hearing those same words again for the thousandth time.
As if I could forget.
September 13, 2011
"Cygnet is on the move," one of my least favorite guards muttered into her hidden mic as I stepped out the back door.
I hated that nickname. Baby swan. That was what they'd coined me when the Secret Service had begun their protection over my family. Today was my sixteenth birthday, and I was spending the evening home alone—again. With only a month and half until the election, it seemed like I spent most of my nights with just myself, a few of my security detail, and our cook, Mrs. Cope.
Leah was joined by Eric, a senior agent, and they followed me down the porch steps and out across the yard. Leah was a Class A bitch. She was beautiful, her skin the naturally darker tone of a Native American. She'd grown up on a small reservation a few hours from Seattle, so she'd been an easy choice to put on my Secret Service detail when it had come time for them to assign one. Unfortunately, she hadn't liked me from the start. I'd heard her whispering to some of the other agents about me being a rich, spoiled brat, but as far as I knew, I'd never done anything that should've made her feel that way.
Eric was boring. He was older—I'd never asked, but maybe mid-forties?—and just...there. He did his job okay, and he wasn't a bitch like Leah, but he never went out of his way to be friendly. He was putting in his time, punching the clock for his paycheck. I could tell he didn't really like teenagers—how he'd gotten stuck with my detail, I'd never been able to guess. I was just glad it was him, not Mike, on my daily detail.
Mike was the quintessential All-American male: blond hair, blue eyes, winning smile complete with straight white teeth. I was sure that in high school and college, he'd been part of the popular crowd, the big man on campus. Of course, he was a pervert, too. He'd been with me from the beginning, almost a year and a half already, when I was fourteen and he was somewhere in his mid-thirties. I'd caught him staring at me a little too long one too many times. He creeped me out, but he didn't scare me.
Shaking off thoughts of my guards, I tried to enjoy the scenery. It was a warm day, nearly eighty—which, for Seattle in mid-September, was a heat wave—and beautiful outside with the late summer, early fall setting. I was walking to my favorite place in the world: a pond surrounded by trees and rocks at the back of my family's property. It butted up against our neighbor's fields, so there were no other houses anywhere near it. I had complete privacy when I went there, aside from the Secret Service detail, although they usually were able to stay far enough away that I was out of sight. They could hear me and reach me if I needed them, but it was the one place I could truly feel like a normal girl, like I didn't have someone looking over my shoulder—whether it be the press, the Secret Service, or the nation, waiting to see if Charlie Swan's teenage daughter would screw up.
And it was the perfect place to wallow when I had to spend my sixteenth birthday alone because my parents were too busy campaigning and my friends were too busy with school work and jobs and boyfriends to celebrate.
May 5, 2012
"Hey, Ms. Cygnet," Jess said in answer.
I laughed. She was my oldest friend and the only one I didn't hate calling me that. She'd thought it was funny when I'd told her that was what the Secret Service had nicknamed me, and she'd been calling me that ever since.
"How ya doin'?" I asked, pulling my knees up to my chest and wrapping my free around them before wedging the phone between my shoulder and ear. "Happy birthday!"
I could almost hear her grin over the phone. Jess loved birthdays. She loved being the center of attention—although she was nice and sweet, not conceited about it—so having people celebrating her day of birth was one of her favorite things.
"Thanks! I'm good. Had lunch and a party with the family earlier since I'm going out with the gang tonight."
A flash of longing and jealousy rushed through me, but I squashed it down and planted a smile on my face. "Oh yeah? Didja get anything good?"
"Remember that purse I was telling you about?" At my hum of acknowledgment, she continued, "My parents got me that. So that was cool. I got a bunch of gift cards, too—Starbucks, Abercrombie, Forever 21, and of course, your Amazon. Thanks! I already spent some of it on a couple of books for my Kindle and stuff."
Grinning, I said, "Oh good. I'm glad it came in handy. So you're going out tonight?"
"Yeah, Tyler and I are going to dinner and then meeting everyone at the movies, and then we're all going out for ice cream after."
Tyler was the guy we'd both crushed on for what seemed like forever, and it was only after I'd left that she'd finally had the guts to ask him out. They'd been together since January, and I was happy—and again, a little jealous.
"That's cool. Tell everyone hi and I miss them."
"I will," Jess promised. She paused, and then asked, "So, how are things there? When we talked last, things were...only okay."
I shrugged, even though she couldn't see me. "They're better. I mean, I've made some friends at school. It's kind of nice because everyone at school is used to the whole Secret Service detail and stuff. We've got some diplomats' kids, some congressmen's kids...so everyone's pretty used to the whole political thing and all the stuff that comes with it."
"Awesome." Jess laughed. "Much better than having everyone gawking at you like they were here, huh?"
"Definitely. But I miss Seattle. D.C. is...busy. There's always something going on. I don't know if I've sat down and had dinner with both my parents together more than two or three times since we moved. So yeah, there's that."
"And how are things with Pervy and Bitchtastic?"
Snorting into a laugh, I said, "Still pervy and bitchy. He tries to engage me in conversations about inane things, like Jersey Shore and stuff like that. I dunno if he thinks all teenagers are the same or whatever, but he brought up the Biebs! As if I'd ever like him!"
Jess laughed so hard I heard the phone drop, and when she picked it up, she was still laughing. "He thinks he's gonna get in your pants with talk about Justin Bieber? Oh my God, that's just sad."
I giggled. "I know, right? Yuck—about both of them."
Rolling my eyes, I sighed. "She still acts like her shit don't stink, but she mainly ignores me now, so that's good, I suppose. I did hear her and Eric talking the other day. Looks like he's gonna be leaving in a few months. His wife's looking into a job change or promotion or something. I dunno. But if it happens, he'll have to move."
"Oh my God, what if they move Mike to days? Then you'd have Pervy and Bitchtastic to deal with, together, every day!" Jess laughed when I groaned.
"Thaaaaanks," I said, drawing out the word so my sarcasm was more than evident. "As if I hadn't already thought of that." I sighed. "I'm hoping they'll bring someone new in, maybe someone a little bit younger. Someone I have something in common with and that will actually speak to me and not sound like a douche or be creepy about it."
"Oooh, maybe it'll be a cute young guy! Then you can fall in love, and he'll protect you from Pervy and Bitchtastic, you'll get married and have lots of pretty babies!"
I couldn't help but laugh. "Only you, Jess," I told her with a sigh. "Anyway, enough about that. Tell me about the latest gossip from school."
September 13, 2012
Another birthday, another year celebrated without my parents, I thought as I slammed my books into my backpack. Dad was at some all-day meeting with some government muckety-mucks that he thought would keep him out of the house until well after midnight. My mom was in Louisiana, touring the area that had been flooded a couple of weeks before by Hurricane Isaac. My dad hadn't called—I hadn't expected him to, so it was no surprise—but Mom had called just after my alarm had gone off, wishing me a happy birthday. She'd sounded sorry that she couldn't be in town to celebrate with me, but sorry didn't make up for the fact that I was turning seventeen, and just like sixteen, I had no family to celebrate with.
A pounding on my door made me jump.
"C'mon, Isabella," Leah barked. "The new agent just got here, and we need to introduce you before we leave for school."
Rolling my eyes, I said, "One minute. Just getting my books."
I waited to see if she'd say anything else, but I heard her heavy footsteps recede down the hall, so I continued gathering my things.
Less than a minute later, I smoothed the dark jacket over the rest of my school uniform—a white button-down shirt, gray, red, and white plaid skirt, and matching tie—grabbed my backpack, and left the room.
When I got to the living room, Leah, dressed in the same khakis and dark polo shirt that she always wore to accompany me to school, was standing beside Eric, who was dressed more casually than I could ever remember seeing him, in faded jeans and a dark T-shirt. They were talking to a tall man who had his back to me. I realized he must've been the new member of my Secret Service detail.
"Ah, good, you're here," Eric muttered, looking over the man's shoulder. "Bella, this is Edward. He's your new..."
I assumed Eric continued speaking, but I lost track of everything as the new guy—Edward—turned around, a casual, friendly smile on his face. Yowza, he was hot!
Easily under twenty-five, he was easily nearly a foot taller than I was, with reddish-brown hair cut short with just enough length left on top to look like it needed a brush. His eyes were a pretty green, and when he flashed a smile, I saw two rows of perfectly white, almost perfectly straight teeth.
Good God, wait'll I tell Jess!