A/N: Nope, you aren't seeing things, I have re-posted chapter 1. I submitted my original chapter 1 to Twilighted, and they rejected it. So wandb_ff offered to help! She's amazing! *Check out her stories A Word Away (completed) and Surviving the Rain (in progress). Both are beautifully written, and AWA has MARINEward! YUMMY!* She really helped me punch this chapter up for you, and i really hope you enjoy the revision! The second to last sentence is entirely hers. She suggested it and i used it! Thanks, bb! I may be revising the other chapters as well, so keep your eyes pealed!
I do now own Twilight, Stephenie Meyer does. My sister's name is Alice, though!
I couldn't believe school was finally over! Graduation…I never thought I'd see the day. But it was here, and now I could finally move on with my life. I could finally move on from the embarrassment and shame that comes from being the laughing stock of a small town. I have my stepfather, Phil, to thank for that. Had he not done that, I could have continued to live a normal life and wouldn't have been suspended a month right before graduation for punching Tyler Crowley's little brother, who was teasing my little sister.
My sister, or rather half-sister, Bree, is five years younger than me. She is, I believe, the reason my mother married Phil to begin with. It was Renee's M.O.; date a guy, get pregnant, marry him. Only this time, she didn't divorce him right away, although she should have. Even after he completely ran our name into the ground and shoved Bree and I into pariah status with his obscenely disgusting secret, which was now public knowledge, she stood by his side. Even after both Bree and I begged her to leave him and move out of this small town hell, she remained. It made me angry when I allowed myself to think about it. Even though Phil was one fucked up individual, at least Bree got to grow up with both parents in the house.
Bree and I are night and day. Phil used to joke that we were Daria and Quin; the old cartoon from MTV about two sisters in high school. Daria was the oldest and had long dark hair and eyes and wore glasses. She was the smart, sarcastic, dowdy, and unpopular one. Quin was the younger sister who was pretty, popular, perky, and as dense as London Fog. So, I was Daria because I was smart, kept to myself, and had a wickedly sarcastic tongue. I also had the long dark hair and eyes. Bree was Quin because she was bubbly, popular, and while also smart, she was beautiful and used her looks to get what she wanted. Even at the tender age of 13, her long sandy-brown hair and hazel eyes was a killer for any boy who came her way. I was Book Club President and junior editor of our school newspaper. Bree was a cheerleader, on the junior high debate team, and had been in two school sponsored plays – as the lead. She was sun, and I was shade. But I loved Bree, and I knew she felt the same way about me. When Phil did what he did, we only had each other to fall back on. She was more devastated than me because it was her father, and because she cared what people thought. Me? I didn't really give a shit.
My father, Charlie, lived in Washington State and was the Chief of Police in Forks, an even smaller town than the one I lived in. When my mother and father were first dating, Charlie was just a rookie officer in Phoenix, Arizona and still wet behind the ears. Renee had thought it was pretty damn sexy dating a cop. She claimed it was the uniform, but she didn't anticipate the worry that came along with being with an officer. Every night he went to work, she worried that he wouldn't come home.
Shortly after I was born, Charlie was promoted from patrol officer to crisis management. It turned out that he was good at talking people down when things got tense. Renee had hoped that it meant less danger for Charlie, but when I was a two years old, Charlie got shot by some punk who had taken the clerk of a small grocery store hostage. The guy came out shooting, and Charlie took a shot to the shoulder. After that, my mother decided that she'd had enough and packed herself and me up and relocated here, to Indiana.
I asked her once why in God's name would she move us to Indiana and not somewhere else warm and sunny. She said that she'd "had enough of bullshit and needed to get to the Midwest where people were more real and the seasons actually changed." Shortly after moving here, she found a job teaching in a small elementary school in Delphi, Indiana and that's where we stayed. That was also where she met Phil.
Phil was a jack of all trades in the school corporation. He taught elementary school gym classes, as well as being the head coach for the varsity wrestling and baseball teams, and assistant coach for several areas of the track team. He was physically fit, sweet, and loving to Renee and me. That's all she needed to know at the time. They managed to date for almost two years before they married, and three months after that, Bree was born. I was nearly five at the time.
"Hey, space cadet! Are you listening or what?" Bree shouted, pulling me from my thoughts, as she pushed her way through the mass of students and parents taking pictures.
"Sorry, sis, what did you say," I asked.
"Where were you? You looked like you were a million miles away?"
"Just thinking about all the bullshit of the last few years. I'm glad to be getting out of here soon." As I said this, I noticed a frown forming on my sister's normally perky face.
"Yea, Bells, I'm really gonna miss you. Make sure to at least text me once in a while, okay?" She walked over and slid her slender arms around my waist. I may have been five years older, but she was only an inch or two shorter than my 5'5".
I slid my arms around her shoulders, "You know I will. We're two halves of a pretty funky whole," I said with a chuckle. "So, what were you asking me?"
"Oh!" She looked up at me, releasing me from our hug, "Mom wants to know where you're going from here."
"I was planning on going to Jessica's grad party. Want to come with?" Jessica Stanley and I were friends in elementary school. When we entered sixth grade and boys started noticing her…charms…she decided that plain, boring Bella was no longer cool enough to be seen with. Now that I was smack dab in the middle of gossip constantly, she had decided I was cool enough to be seen at her party. After all, Jess would come out looking like a saint for inviting the school outcast and her little sister to her graduation party. Not to mention that she was always interested in the latest gossip and I knew that she hoped to glean information out of me.
Bree pondered the situation for a moment before asking, "Will Crowley's little brother be there? Cause if he is…"
"No," I quickly interrupted her, "after he went home with a black eye and had to explain to his mother how he got it, Mrs. Crowley promptly grounded him. Tyler said that she said something about knowing what it's like to be talked about and spreading rumors and all that. He won't bother you anymore." The Crowley's were the only black family in our small hick town. They knew what it was like to have people suddenly shut up when you walked in a room.
"Good. Then I guess we can go find Mom and be on our way!" She grabbed my hand and pulled me through the masses until we got to Renee's car.
"Oh sweetie, you looked so grown up out there! My Bella, salutatorian! I'm so proud of you, sweetheart!" my mother gushed, while wiping tears from her eyes and crushing me in a tight hug.
"Thanks Mom, but I need to breathe."
Renee let me go, but held my hand. She wasn't at all pleased that I was leaving and moving so far away. But I turned eighteen last September, and there wasn't really anything she could do to stop me.
"I was going to go to Jessica Stanley's graduation party. Mind if Bree comes too?"
Renee looked surprised. She knew I'd had a falling out with Jessica, but decided not to question it."Uh…sure honey. But you two be careful. No drinking, drugs, or sex. Hear me, Bella?" Renee shot me a pointed look.
"Sure sure, Mom. I'll behave. Scout's honor." I held up two fingers like the Girl Scouts do. "I'll be on my best behavior."
"Well, keep an eye on Bree, too. I know you are good girls, but I also know what goes on at parties like that. Watch yourselves, okay?"
"Yes Mom," Bree and I said in bored unison, then started giggling like goofballs.
Jessica's party was well underway by the time Bree and I got there. When we walked in, I could feel the stares of my classmates upon us. Every now and then I'd hear my, Bree, or Phil's name whispered on the lips of the already inebriated party goers. I had a small circle of friends who knew the truth about Phil's situation, the rest were off feeding the rumor mill. Some said that I had walked in on him doing drugs. Others said that he was in the Witness Protection Program and that I had found out. Some even said that he had hit me, Bree, or my mother. The rumors that pissed me off the most were the ones implying he had done something inappropriate with either Bree or me. What Phil did was undeniably embarrassing, but he wasn't like that. The more logical rumors floating around were that I had caught him having an affair with another woman, or that I had caught him with a man.
That one was almost true.
Bree heard the whispering and shuddered a bit. Her reputation had been almost completely obliterated in this whole mess, and most of her so-called friends had deserted her, not wanting to be swept up in all the gossip that now surrounded us both. She'd had a harder time than I had adjusting to life as a teenage outcast because she had always been popular and well loved, no questions asked. I had always been on the fringe of all the ridiculous teenage cliques and was used to things being said about my quiet, slightly introverted demeanor. I only let my true self show to the people I was closest to.
Shaking off the sudden tension in her small frame, Bree squared her shoulders and held her head high as she walked by my side into the kitchen. Once we got a good look around, it was obvious this was a stereotypical high school party.
What did Jess do? Watch every teenage-themed movie from 1980 on up and try to recreate it? Spare me!
On the island in the kitchen were several alcohol bottles of various shapes, sizes, and colors. A beer keg sat next to the island, and there was another by the patio doors leading out into her back yard. I assumed that if I cared to go look, there would probably be another keg outside as well. Red plastic cups littered the island, counter top, and there were even some on the floor. Pizza boxes, both full and empty, were littered around the counter tops. Bags of snacks were everywhere, as well.
I grabbed a couple cups and opened the refrigerator door. Thankfully, there was diet coke in there, as I had no desire to drink and then attempt to drive Bree and myself home. Pouring a glass for me, I turned around and asked Bree if she wanted any as well. Nodding in the affirmative, I poured hers too, and she took it and disappeared out into the back yard. I took mine and headed into Jessica's living room.
I walked in to find loud music, couples either dancing or making out in various places, and the occasional smell of marijuana floating through the air. I circulated through the crowd. I'd known most of these kids my whole life, but really wasn't too sad about leaving them. The one person in school I considered a close friend was Angela, and she never came to these things. I guess that was why she was valedictorian, and I was one step behind.
"Beeellllaaaaa," a slurred voice said behind me. The smell of cheap, stale beer wafted past my nostrils and I had to fight not to gag.
"What the hell do you want, Newton?" I asked tersely.
I really couldn't stand Mike Newton. So I made out with him a few times, but ever since then he followed me around like a lost puppy. Even after I was labeled "unfit" to hang out with, Newton was still barking up my tree. I was about to house break this dog if he didn't chill.
"C-c-can't I jussst come and s-s-see my best girrrrl?"
God, I was really going to slug him if he didn't get away.
"Newton, I'm going to give you three seconds to get as far away from me as possible. And if you aren't at least an arm's length away in that time, I will drop kick your ass right out of this room. Got it?"
A look of shock, then fear, then amusement crossed his drunken face.
"Bellla, you couldn't kick my ass with your ssssister's help."
I let out a long frustrated sigh. "One…Newton, you better go," I warned dejectedly. The asshole just stood there, swaying, grinning at me.
"Two…Mike, I'm serious, I will kick your ass!"I warned again, my voice slightly raised. Now I was really getting pissed. It didn't look like he was going to move.
"Three! That's it, fucker! You're dead!"
Mike stood there looking at me like he was about to enjoy this, but he would soon find out he was in for a world of pain. Did he forget that my father was a cop and my step-father was a wrestling coach? After yelling at him, I reached up and put him in a headlock under my right arm.
"C'mon Belly Bell, is that all you've got?" he choked out.
I wasn't amused with him testing me, so I tightened my right arm while swinging my right leg under his, knocking him to the ground. I sat my knees on his chest and held his arms down with my own, while he wheezed, begging me to let him up.
"Bella! Let me up, damnit! I can't breathe!" Mike choked out.
"Are you going to fucking leave me alone, Newton?"
"YES! Now please, let me up!" Pitying the poor slob and realizing we had drawn a crowd and that his embarrassment was enough payback, I climbed off his chest. When I stood, I extended my hand to help him up.
"Whoa, Bells, you really kicked Newton's ass!" Bree exclaimed, while reaching up for a high-five. Slapping my sister's hand, I told her it was probably time to go. I had to leave in three days and still had packing to do.
As Bree and I climbed into my old Chevy pick-up truck, a wave of sadness hit me. This was probably the last time she and I would be able to hang out at a party like this for quite some time. On Tuesday, I was set to leave for UCLA, where I would study in Literature with a minor in Education. Yeah, I was planning on being a teacher when I grew up.
I spent the rest of my weekend packing and hanging out with Bree, careful to dodge Phil whenever he was home. Things between us were still strained, and I didn't want my last few days at home to be filled with angry fighting.
Tuesday finally came, and Renee and Bree were loading up my truck with what I would take on the plane. The rest was being shipped to the apartment I found on the internet. Thankfully, I was able to find someone who was in need of a sub-let, and after several phone calls and emails with the woman, Rosalie, I decided to rent with her. She had a place not too far from campus, in Santa Monica, and said she might even be able to help me get a job. She sounded really nice. Or maybe she was just desperate for a roommate. I wasn't sure. But I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth, either.
I stood in front of the house that I had called home for as long as I could remember for the last time. With a shaky voice, Renee told me it was time to go. The airport in Indianapolis was a little over an hour away, and she didn't want to risk getting stuck in traffic and making me miss my flight. On the way down to Indy, Bree, Renee and I chit chatted about my plans for the future, reminisced on things of the past, and just generally had a nice time. Before I knew it, Renee was pulling up to the arrivals dock at the airport.
"Do you need help pulling these bags in? I could do a lap around the parking lot and Bree could give you a hand," Renee asked, her voice thick with unshed tears
"Nah, I got them, Mom. Thanks, though."
Renee and Bree got out of the truck and gave me tight hugs. I felt a lump growing in my throat, but I wouldn't cry in front of them. While this was my choice, it didn't mean I wasn't going to miss my mother and sister.
"Please make sure to call us when you land so we know you're okay. Don't forget!" Bree demanded, while wiping tears from her cheeks.
"I will, sis. I love you. And if you need anything, no matter what time, call me, alright? I might be three-thousand miles away, but I'm still your big sister."
Bree sniffled and smiled. "Don't worry, Bells; I'll always call you first."
With that, Renee got into my old truck and drove away. They were keeping my truck for Bree to drive in a couple years. I sighed and looked at the line at the check-in desk. It looked like I would have to wait for a little bit. I put my ear buds in and pressed shuffle on my iPod.
I got through five songs before it was finally my turn. Handing the airline agent my ID and flight information, she checked me in, gathered my luggage, and sent me through security. After waiting about forty-five minutes, I boarded my plane and settled into my first-class seat. I decided that if I had a four-and-a-half hour flight, I was going to be comfortable. And due to the money Phil's parents sent me for graduation, I was able to afford it. I settled in to my seat and prepared to doze off.
I awoke to the flight attendant telling me we were on final approach, and that I needed to set my seat up and put my seat belt back on. I looked out the window to see Los Angeles sprawling out below us. I was here, finally! I was nervous about whether or not I would recognize Rosalie, but I didn't want to think about that right now.
As I disembarked from the plane and rode the escalator down to the baggage claim, I noticed a striking, slender blonde holding a sign that said "Swan." I walked over to the statuesque blonde and asked if she was Rosalie.
"Yes! Are you Bella? Oh, I'm so excited you're here! Was your flight good? Let's go over and get your bags," Rosalie rambled, while leading me over to the baggage claim carousels.
I was a bit surprised by her enthusiasm, but mustered a smile and tried to remember all the questions she asked me.
"Yes, I'm Bella. The flight was nice. I slept the whole time," I told her.
"Wow, you slept the whole way?" Rosalie asked, "I can never sleep on flights. The constant hum gets on my nerves. It's not too far of a drive home. Want to stop and get something to eat now, or wait until we get there?"
"Um, how long is the drive?" I asked warily. I hadn't thought to check before I left.
"It's not long, about an hour or so with traffic," Rosalie said.
"That's not too far, but I am kinda hungry," I admitted. As I said this, my stomach decided to make itself known, loudly.
Rosalie just chuckled. "Once we get out of airport traffic, we'll stop somewhere."
We grabbed my bags and walked to Rosalie's car, which was parked in the garage. We loaded them into the trunk and back seat of her bright red Chrysler Sebring convertible. Rosalie turned to me. "Top up or down?" she asked with a smile.
"Oh God, down, please!" I replied excitedly.
"Okay, girl, you might want to put that hair in a pony tail, though. It's about to get windy."
With a chuckle, I put my hair up and settled into my seat. Rosalie turned the radio on and we cruised out of LAX. Looking around like new tourist, I took in all the sights that were stereotypical California; palm trees, sunshine, and lots of traffic. I leaned back in the seat, worn out from my trip and smiled.
With each exhale of my breath, I let Indiana leave my body, filling my lungs instead with the warm, California air. Out with the old, stale life, and in with the new. This was a beginning, a new chance to live the life I wanted, and I wasn't going to waste a single second.
Yeah, I was definitely going to love California.