It had been over three years since Edward had left her in the woods outside her father's home in Forks. She had been absolutely devastated by his dismissal of her and her desires. Looking back she realized she had been naïve. While she had been in love with Edward she didn't love him; he had merely been her first serious boyfriend. But while she hadn't been in love with him, she had truly been in love with his family, their family. It was them she truly missed.
So when Charlie had threatened to ship her off to Florida she had woken up with a vengeance. While Edward had dictated her life for her when he was in it, he would not dictate it for her now. She went back to being "normal", well as normal as one could be knowing there are supernatural creatures living amongst the unknowing population. She visited Jacob occasionally but with his imprinting on Angela Weber he didn't have as much time for her. It was nice to share in the supernatural secrets with a friend and it was a pleasant surprise when she found out; she wished them all the best and had left La Push on great terms, with an invitation to visit whenever she liked. Things just weren't the same.
It was in this manner that she finished out her last year of high school and applied to colleges. She discovered that while she loved Literature, she also loved History so when she looked for colleges; they had to offer both majors. She found Texas Southern University and was offered a minority scholarship as it was an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Charlie was thrilled as it was one of the best schools in the country for her majors, and he wouldn't have to worry about tuition. So she'd moved to Houston, TX and started over. Now, she couldn't believe she was headed into her junior year. She'd decided on a concentration in Military History, with a minor in literature and thought in the future she might pursue education. But for the moment she was just happy where she was, and was enjoying being her own person.
She contemplated all of this as she walked between her two after class jobs: the library and the grocery store. Both were hiring when she came to town, and she applied for both thinking only one would hire her, but when she was offered both she just couldn't say no. She enjoyed the work at both places and loved interacting with all of the people that came through, regardless of their background. She knew this year, having a new truck, as her old truck had finally died, would mean she would be delivering groceries and that things might get more interesting.
As Bella turned the final corner into the parking lot, she patted her new Chevy as she walked by. She'd parked it there after class and walked the couple of blocks to the library knowing that parking was hard to come by down the street. She really did like it. She'd never thought herself the country girl but she found she just loved the jeans, and boots, and trucks routine and fallen hard.
As she walked in greeted her coworkers and went and found the boss, Billy. She saw him heading into a storeroom in the back.
"Hey Billy" she greeted, with a half-wave.
"Oh hey Bella" he replied, turning back her way with a couple sheets of paper, "I need you to deliver these groceries to the Henley and Whitlock Farms ok?"
"Sure" she replied easily. She went and grabbed a couple of carts and walked aisle by aisle filling them with what she needed before going to the register. She rung both carts up and bagged them before taking them to her truck. She pulled out a clipboard, clipped both receipts to it and punched in the first address to Henley Farm on her GPS.
25 minutes later found her pulling into a long driveway. She went up to knock but the door was thrown open by a frazzled looking woman holding two children in her arms, while two more ran past her out the drive.
"John and Henry you better get back here!" the woman yelled "Oh thank God" she said looking at Bella with the groceries.
"If you wouldn't mind just leaving those in the kitchen?" the woman asked hopefully.
"Sure" Bella replied easily following the woman into the house, before setting them on a table, in what appeared to be the clearest area. "There's one more load, let me get that, and then you can sign" Bella said.
"Oh yes, thank you so much" the woman said, strapping one child into a highchair while she bounced the other one, and the timer went off on the stove. The woman clearly had her hands full.
Bella smiled and walked back outside to see the two boys from earlier chasing each other around the yard. She grabbed the second armload of groceries and walked back in with the clipboard. After setting the groceries down, she handed the woman the clipboard, "just sign on the line", Bella said.
The woman rubbed her hands on her jeans, grabbed the pen Bella offered, and scribbled her signature. "Thanks so much for coming out here" the woman said.
"No problem, please let the store know if you need another delivery" Bella replied exiting the house.
Getting back into her truck, she punched in the second address to Whitlock Farms, it said it would take her another 15 minutes out of town.
Bella turned on the radio and started humming along to whatever country tune was on the radio. Loving the windows down, hair blown around aspect of her truck for the ride.
After 18 miles she saw a sign for Whitlock Ranch and made a turn onto a long winding drive, finally arriving in front of what could only be described as a beautiful old house. It had a wraparound porch and was made entirely of wood. It was three stories and clearly over a century old. She realized that for it to have stood the test of time it would have to have been very well made. It was truly classic and Bella loved it instantly.
Pulling to a stop near the front door, she once again gathered her groceries and headed to the door. She lifted the heavy brass knocker and listened as the sound reverberated through the halls. After a couple of minutes of waiting, she tried again, again no answer. At this point, she put the groceries down, and tried the doorknob. Amazingly it was unlocked.
She opened the door and yelled, "Hello? Anyone home? I have your groceries from Houston. Hello, Anyone?" Bella cautiously took a step in to the house. It was brightly light and painted in faint colors, it had clearly seen better days but it was obviously still well cared for. Still no answer though. "Hello? Anyone home? Whitlock Ranch?"
Bella then figured that maybe she should check to see what the directions were from the store. She stepped back out on the porch to make a phone call and discovered she had no reception. Classic. So she went to the truck to see if there were any instructions on the order. The order read: Marybelle Whitlock, elderly, check on resident and drop groceries.
Bella shrugged and realized she should probably look for the owner, as the directions had said the woman, Marybelle, was elderly. She went back into the house and started room, by room. There was no one on the first floor, although the rooms were gorgeous, straight out of the pages of one of her history books. She headed for the second floor and went room by room, again no one was found. She kept announcing her presence every few minutes but no one answered. Finally she headed to the third floor and it was in the last room that she found an elderly woman collapsed on the floor.
Bella raced to her side and immediately checked her pulse. It was high but she was breathing. She tried to rouse the woman to no avail. Pulling out her phone, to again realize there was no reception she raced back to the kitchen where she'd seen a landline to call 911. After nearly falling down the stairs, and talking to the operator, who assured her they'd be there in under 30 minutes, Bella sprinted back up the stairs to the woman's side.
Bella again took her pulse, as Carlisle had taught her all those years ago, and checked for any other visible injuries, finding none, she again tried to rouse her. This time the woman groaned a little but did not open her eyes.
"Mrs. Whitlock, can you hear me? My name is Bella and I brought you your groceries" she spoke hoping to bring the woman around. Again nothing.
Bella got up and found a basin with water in it, wetting the rag next to it, she came back to the woman and started wiping her face, hoping that might bring her around a little, or at least offer a little comfort.
The woman began to stir, and Bella repeated her words from earlier. The woman's eyes fluttered and she reached for Bella's hand. "Water" she gasped out.
"Of course" Bella said, jumping up. She glanced around the room, to spot a teacup on the nightstand. She walked over, and realizing it was empty, used the water basin to fill it before coming back to the woman.
"Here Mrs. Whitlock, drink" Bella said.
The woman gave her a reproachful look before accepting the water. After a couple of long sips she looked at Bella with a closer eye, "Ms. Whitlock" she said, "I never married".
"Oh yes of course" Bella hurried to agree. Bella could hear the paramedics downstairs and stepped out in the hallway to shout down that they were on the third floor before returning to the woman.
The paramedics came in and put her on a stretcher. They looked at Bella, "We're taking her to Houston Methodist, Miss, you can follow" before Bella could protest the woman reached out her hand, "I'll see you later Bella, dear. Thank you for bringing my groceries".
The woman was taken carefully downstairs, placed on a rolling bed out front and then the ambulance sped away. Bella looked down at the groceries, sighed, picked them up and started back into the house to put them away in the kitchen. She couldn't quite shake the feeling that she needed to find out what happened to the woman.
Bella glanced at her watch and realized she'd be done for the day. So looking around once more, she walked down the hallway and out of the house, pulling the door behind her and hopping into her truck. She turned her truck back towards Houston knowing she'd be stopping by the hospital on her way back.