All credit for the Twilight story and characters belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I just enjoy playing with the characters. My thanks to my wonderful beta, EdwardsMate4Ever, and to Jaspersdoll for suggesting the title.
Chapter 1 – Leaving Los Angeles.
It was past twilight, and even the shadows were disappearing into the starkness of night.
Leaning her head against the window of the train, Bella watched the hills of Los Angeles flash by as she was alternately lulled and jostled by the moving train. Paradoxically, it seemed lately that the darker it got, the easier it was for her to see the animals in the surrounding hills. Their small movements and glowing eyes constantly caught her attention without the distractions of daytime.
She smiled as the eyes of a deer shone out of the darkness. The train's passing lights revealed that the doe was feeding on grass in a small meadow near the tracks. However tired Bella was, seeing animals always relaxed her. She was more comfortable with them than with people.
Suddenly, the deer turned and started to leap, but was caught by what appeared to be a man's arms. She shook her head, as that couldn't be. She stood up, pressing against the window to get a better look. There had been a flash of yellow, but it must have been a cougar.
As she squinted into the darkness, she saw the deer fall to the ground as if dropped. She was shocked to find someone was staring back at her, standing over its prone form. A man with shaggy blond hair.
Spooked, she ducked below the window in an automatic reaction. She peered over the bottom of the window frame, but the train had rounded a corner, and the view of the hill was gone.
She settled back into her seat as they were almost to Union Station, where her car was parked.
At the next stop, though, someone got on. He was tall, wearing a hooded sweatshirt under his denim jacket. The hood was up, partially obscuring his face. The impression she got was of eyes that appeared black in a face that was handsome, with a well-defined jaw and shaggy blond hair that peeked out from under the sweatshirt's hood. Bella felt he was studying her. There was no way it was the guy she saw with the deer, as it would not have been humanly possible to get from the wooded area to that train platform in those few minutes.
Still, he was watching her, and the blond mane that was visible from under that hood looked like the deer hunter from the hillside.
At that moment, a Los Angeles County Sheriff entered the car, checking tickets. She was relieved, especially since she had actually bought one that day. Money was tight, and she and her roommate Angela occasionally played the Russian roulette game of spending $5 for the round-trip ticket versus the $251 fine for not having one. Today was a spend $5 day, fortunately.
She followed the sheriff to the next car instead of staying alone with the stranger. When they arrived at Union Station, she walked next to the sheriff as they entered the station. She noticed the hooded stranger left the train as well. He stayed a little ways back, but appeared to be following her, so she asked for an escort to her car, saying she felt uneasy because of the late hour. The sheriff offered to take her to the lot.
When they reached the borrowed, rusted orange Taurus in the parking lot, she almost felt apologetic. "It drives good," she said.
The sheriff looked at it appraisingly, and said, "If you take care of these, they'll last forever." He stood by the car window after she was settled into her seat, and she realized he was waiting to make sure the engine came on.
She was kind of wondering, too. One of the red warning lights had come on two days ago, but neither she nor Angela had money to get it fixed. Between the two of them, they had just enough money for gas.
Bella put the key in the ignition and bit her lip, waiting and hoping. Grudgingly, the motor came on after a few grumbles.
She waved to the sheriff as he stepped back from the car and said, "Thank you," then drove off.
She was still creeped out by the man from the train. He could have had nothing to do with the deer, but she could swear he was the one who caught it mid-leap.
As she pulled out of the parking lot, she tried to decide what to do. She had been feeling awful lately. For the first time in her life, she had run out of medication. She had gone to an Emergency Room for a refill, but they seemed to be eying her funny, so she left. She didn't need questions, as the bottles her parents gave her didn't have the standard prescription label.
And now she began to wonder if she was hallucinating as part of withdrawal. She definitely felt funny. Lights and sounds were brighter. She felt sharper, more focused, while at the same time distracted by all this new sensory input.
Finally, she decided to head north to rejoin the circus she had left months earlier. Even though she had split one night, jumping off the trailer at a gas station and thumbing her way to Los Angeles, she knew that the Katy Circus was supposed to be in Port Angeles, Washington this coming weekend.
Bella realized maybe she shouldn't have left. At least not without a better understanding of what this medication was she had been taking. Mrs. Cope had always told her, as long as she could remember, to "Take this every day, dear." Just before she split, Mrs. Cope began to add, with a sigh, that "Your Mother died when she stopped taking her pills."
Yet Bella wasn't so sure that taking them was the best idea.
She headed for the freeway, following signs for the 5 north. After driving the rest of the night and most of the next day, she got to the Oregon border. Just as she reached Portland, a second red warning light came on. She kept driving, only stopping for gas in well-lit, highly trafficked places, pulling in to the island closest to the store. She couldn't shake the feeling she was being followed. She also noticed she could see surprisingly well in the dark. Movements from deep in the forest, deer and fox, caught her eye.
The more tired she got, the harder it was to push back the memories of the events she had fled to Los Angeles to escape. The sounds of the scream and the gunshot the night her father died echoed through her memory, as well as the horror of watching her mother step off the platform to her death, spreading her arms as though she expected to fly instead of grabbing at the trapeze swinging toward her. Punching the dial on the radio station, scanning for songs couldn't push the memories far enough away.
She finally got onto the 101 north and began seeing signs for Port Angeles. Granted, they showed the city was still a long way away, but at least she was seeing signs. About 150 miles from the city, the car started rattling. She started looking for an open gas station, some place that if the car died, she could leave it and then either catch a bus or thumb a ride the rest of the way to Port Angeles.
As she pulled into a tiny town called Forks, population 3,175, the car just quit. She managed to roll into a large parking lot for a store called Forks Outfitters, on the edge of town, after the motor died.
She was exhausted after having driven over twenty-one hours straight, only stopping for gas and bathroom breaks.
Bella sat in the now-dead car for a while, fighting the urge to fall asleep behind the wheel. She must have given in, because she was startled awake by someone knocking on the window. The woman was wearing a green vest with a name tag on it. Must be an employee of the store, she thought. She rolled down the window.
"Dear, are you OK?" the woman asked. "I was just on my way to my car to go home, and I saw you."
"I was just driving to Port Angeles. I got so tired that I pulled over," Bella told her.
"Well, you look a little tired. Are you feeling OK? We have a clinic down the street…"
That got Bella's attention. Maybe she could get the pills she needed there. This was a small town, maybe they wouldn't be so strict. Perhaps someone would give her a sample. One of Angela's friends had told her he was given free samples by a clinic when he couldn't afford to pay.
Bella told the friendly employee she would go there, and the woman gave her directions. It wasn't far, so she decided to walk.
When she got there, she found a one-story, blue and white building. It looked promising.
She walked in the Urgent Care's electronic door and signed in, putting down Jane Smith on the forms. Then she took a seat and waited for her name to be called.
She must have fallen asleep the second she sat down, because she woke up with a start when someone touched her. His hands were cold.
Looking up, she saw a blond man with odd, yellow eyes looking at her with a concerned expression on his handsome face.
"Are you OK, Miss? I understand you are looking for a medication refill. My name is Dr. Cullen," he said.
PLEASE REVIEW. I WILL SEND A PREVEW OF THE NEXT CHAPTER TO ALL REVIEWERS.
I'm excited about this one. Hope you will like it.
I plan to update on Fridays.
Cvaboda has a new story, Cockroach. She just put up the first chapter. Intense stuff. Jasper/Bella. Don't know where she's going yet, but I am on pins and needles, waiting to find out.