FAGE 12: Never Too Late To Start Anew
Title: To Love Again
Written for: brierlynn03
Written By: mama4dukes
Thank you to Lizzie Paige for the fabulous banner! I am in awe of your talent.
Genre: NC (non-canon); Angst; Romance; AU (alternate universe
Prompt used: Love story with Bella / Edward or Wolf of your choice.
Summary: After a devastating tragedy leaves Bella Swan alone in the world, will she be able to open her heart to love again?
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Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author—mama4dukes. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
"I now pronounce you husband and wife. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Swan," Reverend Weber announced. "You may kiss the bride."
My father kissed his new wife dutifully on the lips and the guests all broke out into applause. I was happy for him. He wouldn't have to spend the rest of his days alone. He was still a fairly young guy, having just turned forty-four years old, and I knew for a fact that this was the first woman he had been with since mom and he got divorced. Unlike Renee, Charlie was very guarded and didn't give his heart away too easily. Mom had hurt him when she left and it took him a long time to get over the feeling of rejection. But I understood why Mom left; life with my father couldn't have been easy for a free spirit like her.
I had arrived just in time for the wedding due to a problem with my flight. I was supposed to arrive last night, but my flight was cancelled due to severe weather in Seattle and I had to scramble to find a seat on a flight from San Diego to Seattle this morning, rent a car, and make my way to Forks.
"Bells! I'm so happy you could make it!" my father greeted.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world, Dad. Congratulations, by the way."
"Let me take a look at you, I haven't seen you in almost seven years. You look beautiful!"
He was right, it had been almost seven years since I last saw him.
I moved in with my father in January of my junior year of high school after my mother married Phil Dwyer, who was a minor league baseball player at the time. She expressed an interest to travel with him, and I wanted her to be able to do that so I moved to Forks, Washington so I could have a bit of stability.
It was in Forks, Washington during my junior year of high school that I met Edward Cullen and his family. They were vampires. Yes, unbelievable, I know, but vampires exist. They weren't the blood-sucking, soul-destroying monsters we read about in books or saw in movies rather, they were humane vampires who fed on animal blood, rather than human blood. They attempted to live as human a life as possible by working and attending school, but it wasn't an easy façade for them to maintain. For one thing, they couldn't be seen in sunlight because their skin would sparkle—as if they had millions of diamonds fused onto them. Second, they didn't age. Edward, for example, would forever look as if he were seventeen years old. The third reason, and perhaps the most significant reason why they were unable to fully immerse amongst humans was the fact that they constantly craved blood.
While I was dating Edward, the family invited me to join them while they played baseball in a clearing up in the mountains. Vampires are so physically strong that they can't play sports in front of humans. It was then that a group of three nomadic vampires crossed paths with us. These vampires were different from the Cullens. They roamed the world on foot without a permanent home base and fed off of humans instead of animals. They immediately spotted me—the lone human—and began a game of cat and mouse. I was the mouse. The Cullens took me to Phoenix to escape from them, but I was quickly found by one of the nomads—James. He beat me to the point where I had significant injuries, and then bit me on my wrist in an attempt to drain me. The Cullens showed up just then, interrupting his feed, and were able to kill him but the venom from James had begun to spread throughout my body, initiating my transformation into a vampire. Fortunately, under advisement from Carlisle, Edward was able to suck the venom out of me so I wouldn't be transformed into a vampire. As I was lying in the hospital bed, I started thinking seriously about my relationship with him and realized I should have heeded his warnings to stay away from him. I wasn't cut out for this kind of life and vampires were just too dangerous for me. So, I broke up with him while I was still in the hospital. Though he was sad, he understood my decision, and we parted ways amicably. I never returned to Forks, opting to return home with my mother instead.
Although I never saw the Cullens again, I did hear from them from time to time during major turning points in my life and each year on my birthday. On my eighteenth birthday, I received a FedEx package from Alice Cullen. It contained a letter, which stated I could live freely. The Cullens had successfully disposed of James's mate, Victoria, who apparently had been after my blood. She also wrote that she loved me, missed me, and would remember me for all of eternity. She saw that I would have a long and fulfilling life. 'You'll experience great joy, heartrending tragedy, then infinite bliss, Bella. But you're strong and if you keep your heart open to love and new possibilities, you'll swim through life. You're destined to love and be loved like no other." Her 'P.S.' was funny, it read, 'For the love of God, Bella, please go to the beauty salon, get your hair cut, and buy some new clothes. Oh, and join a gym. You look like crap!' She enclosed a five thousand dollar Visa gift card along with her letter and, for once, I accepted her gift and did exactly what she told me to do.
My father roused me out of my thoughts by saying, "Come and meet Sue, Bella."
"Oh, sure." My father led me to his wife. I knew her deceased husband, Harry, but I had never met his wife.
"Bella, this is Sue. Sue, this is Bella."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," I greeted. Sue Clearwater was a pretty Quileute woman. She was tall with long, jet black hair and a beautiful smile.
"Oh, it's nice to meet you, too. I've heard so much about you," she replied.
"You have?" I asked, a bit taken aback. I didn't realize that my father had spoken of me. He's always been pretty short tempered with me ever since I left Forks.
"Of course, I have. You're Charlie's daughter, Bella."
"Oh," I said. I was a little surprised because my father had missed all of the big events in my life—for example, my high school and college graduations. I'd heard from him, of course, but he never really came to see me. Maybe he didn't think those events were a big deal. Ah, well, every person thinks differently.
"Bella, this is my son Seth," she said, introducing me to a tall, Quileute man who looked to be about college age.
"Oh, a pleasure to meet you," I said, extending my hand. He shook my hand. I think he was coming down with something because his hands were really hot. We exchanged a few standard pleasantries after that. After meeting her son, I followed the caravan of cars to a wedding reception on the Quileute reservation in La Push.
When I arrived at the tribal lodge, where the reception was being held, I couldn't help but feel a bit out of place. For one thing, there was a group of men and women who glared at me for some reason. I had no idea why since I'd never met them before in my entire life. I shrugged my shoulders and decided to pay no mind to them. I stood in the buffet line, put some food on my plate, and ate silently and alone at a table, praying to God that this shindig would soon be over.
A few minutes later, Billy Black was wheeled over to me by a woman. "Hi, Bella," he greeted.
"Oh, hello, Billy." I gave him a hug. "How has life been treating you?"
"As fit as a fiddle," he said, proudly. He motioned to the woman standing behind his wheelchair, "Bella, this is my wife, Tiffany."
"I didn't know you got married, congratulations!" I turned to Tiffany. "My name is Bella Swan, I'm Charlie's daughter."
"Oh, hello. I've heard so much about you from your father and from Billy, too."
"So, how is Jacob?" I asked, Billy. "I haven't seen him at all."
"Oh, he's here. He's standing over in the corner with his friends." He pointed towards the group of young people who were still scowling at me.
"Oh. I had no idea. I don't recognize him, in fact."
"Well, he had a bit of a growth spurt."
My father and Sue joined Billy and Tiffany at my table.
"So, Bella, what do you do?" Billy asked.
"I'm a special education teacher."
"Yes, I teach at the tribal school at the Mission Indian Reservation. I actually live there, too." I was careful not to mention my fiancé or his family because, for some reason, my father blew his top whenever I mentioned him or them. He didn't even know that I was engaged.
"You do?" they all asked. "But your address says Lakeside, California."
"Well, yes, that's where the reservation is located."
"But you're not Native American. They allow you to live on the reservation?"
"And you don't feel uncomfortable living there?" Sue asked.
"No, I've made many friends and everyone is warm and welcoming there." Unlike the people here, I added mentally. Aside from these four people, no one dared approach me. It was almost as if I were Hester Prynne from the Scarlett Letter and wearing a big 'A' on my chest. I couldn't understand the animosity. I'd never met these people and was only in Forks for a few months before I left permanently. Oh, well, I can't be bothered with whatever petty resentment they had against me. I was only here to see my father anyway.
"My son is a teacher at the tribal school here," Tiffany informed me. "He teaches third and forth graders."
"Very nice. I'd like to meet him sometime. Maybe he can take me on a tour of the tribal school. I'm always interested in seeing other schools."
"I'll have to introduce you to him while you're here."
I noticed Billy motioning towards the group of kids with an angry scowl on his face. Two of them approached the table. "What is it, Dad?"
"Jacob, you remember Bella, don't you?"
"Yeah, sure. Hi, Bella." Gee, I wonder what his problem is? Why the salty attitude?
"Hello, Jacob. You cut your hair and you've grown at least a foot since I last saw you."
"Yeah, well, things happened," he spat acidly. Maybe he's on drugs or something because he used to be a very sweet kid, but now his attitude is downright hostile.
"Bella, this is my son, Embry," Tiffany introduced me to a man about my age with a deep tan and big brown, soulful eyes.
"Very nice to meet you. I'm Bella Swan," I said, extending my hand out to him.
Embry seemed to be very shy. He gulped as he took my hand, never taking his eyes off of me, and shook it. His breathing seemed to become a little labored.
"Do you have asthma?" I asked.
"Yes, you seem to be having trouble breathing. I have a friend with asthma and his breathing tends to become erratic when he needs his inhaler."
"I... I... Um... No, I don't have asthma. I'm just coming down with a cold."
"I think you might have a fever, too. When I shook your hand, it was extremely warm, hot even."
Everyone around me had shocked expressions on their faces. When I glanced at Jacob, he was staring at me with his jaw hanging open. In fact, the entire group was. Honestly speaking, I felt like I was on display. They were a strange group.
"Uh... yeah... maybe. I should... um... I should go and get some rest."
"It was very nice to meet you, Embry."
"It was great meeting you, too... Bella," my name seemed to fall almost imperceptibly off of his lips, almost in a whisper. He kept glancing back at me as he left the reception. As soon as he left, Jacob made his excuses and left along with the strange group of people they were hanging out with. It was like they traveled in a pack.