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Being Mrs. Black

Summary:
BMBEdward/Bella, Implied Jacob/Bella. Imagine that the Cullens were late in returning to Forks. Bella arrived on schedule, but her life proceeded normally. She and Jacob become the best of friends and with no vampires to awaken them, the wolves don't mature. When he turns 18, Jake and his friends enlist, going to look for adventure in Iraq. He proposes, and Bella can't imagine ever loving someone more than she does her best friend. They quickly marry and he leaves for war. Two months later she gets some news that will turn her life upside down. And on that same day, a beautiful, dangerous stranger appears. From the moment their eyes meet, Bella begins to question those solemn vows she made. Will Bella Black do the right thing? Banner art and banner by Seisei


Notes:


3. Tea for Three

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2083   Review this Chapter

PART THREE: Tea for Three

[Bella POV]

My thoughts were not on the road ahead as I drove. I wasn't the same person that had gotten out of bed this morning and driven to Forks. That person had a smaller worldview, a greater certainty of who she was and what she should do. The person that put the aged truck in park and rested her head against the steering wheel didn't have that luxury. I pressed my hands to my stomach, taking slow breaths, in and out. My life wasn't my own anymore.

I'd thought it was. Even after getting married the illusion of having a say in my destiny lingered. It was my choice to go to school locally. My choice to marry Jake. My choice to stay behind and be the good military wife and live on the reservation and endure the stares of people I barely knew. I made my bed, I would sleep in it. There was a sense of control in that kind of thought. So why were things so completely out of control?

Well, for starters, I was having a baby. I'm no fool. I knew there was no 'we' involved in this. Jake may have been around for the conception, but there were months, maybe even years, before he'd be anything but a bystander. It was all on me. Oh, I'm sure Charlie and Billy would have their opinions and their version of 'help', but otherwise? All me. By myself. No safety net, no practice runs. This was mine to succeed or fail with. Beautiful.

Another deep breath, and I put the truck in drive, continuing on the way to La Push. Seven months to get used to the idea. Surely I could find some peace with the thought of motherhood between now and December. That seemed like a lifetime from now anyway. I needed to talk to Jake, I needed his reassurances that everything would be okay, that even from a distance I had his support.

Jake was my husband. The father of the tiny life in my belly. We'd made promises, made sacred vows, things I'd been firmly convinced I'd never do before I was thirty. He'd changed all that. So why did I see Edward Cullen's face in my mind every time I closed my eyes?

I slammed on the brakes. The truck skidded to a stop and I clenched my fists on the wheel, shaking like a leaf. He hadn't even spoken to me. Hadn't done more than stare at me like I'd made some bizarre faux pas just by breathing. Why was I thinking about him? There wasn't room in my brain for thoughts of Edward Cullen. I didn't have the energy in me to analyze every moment of our brief meeting, as though I'd forget even a single detail.

"Okay Bella, this is ridiculous." I'd resorted to talking to myself. Wonderful. "That guy was seriously creepy. Seriously. Probably has mental problems galore, the pretty ones always do." See, there you go, he was too pretty anyway. Besides, I was married. M-a-r-r-i-e-d. And my husband was pretty. Just not that pretty.

Dammit.

"Alright, as soon as I get home, I'm looking up prenatal vitamins. Clearly this is some kind of hormonal crap." There, a wise decision, go me. Now, it was near-dark, so I'd best be getting myself home. Pleased with my sudden wisdom, I got the truck going again.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, and it was a relief to pull up in front of the little house that I'd only recently begun thinking of as home. Sighing, I slid to the ground and closed the door without locking it. Who was going to steal a truck that Jake called 'the family heirloom'? I turned to head into the house when a shadowy figure moved in the twilight gloom of the front porch. I froze, my mind immediately going to the strange, beautiful young man I'd met earlier that day. Holy crap, had he followed me home?

"Bella?" The voice was a woman's, and I almost sagged with relief, refusing to acknowledge the tiny part of me that was disappointed.

"Yeah Leah, it's me." I silently berated myself for not leaving the porch light on as I climbed the steps, joining Leah Uley at my front door.

"I'm glad you're home." She sounded upset, and I frowned slightly as I unlocked the door, waving her inside.

"Is everything alright?" I switched the lamp on, illuminating the cozy living room. "Where's the baby?"

"My mom's watching him." Leah sat down on the couch, once I got a good look at her face I could tell she'd been crying. "I'm sorry Bella, I... just need someone to talk to. Everyone else looks at me like I'm crazy, or like they're keeping secrets from me."

"Come into the kitchen with me, I'll put some water on for tea." I headed that way, leaving her to trail after me. Sam and Leah Uley had been good friends to me since Jake had turned my life upside down. On the one hand, they were just good people, on the other, I think Sam felt slightly guilty for being the reason Jake, Embry and Quil had enlisted. It had been almost a year since he'd come back from Iraq himself, shrapnel from an IED embedded in his leg, leaving him with a permanent limp. As far as I was concerned, he was lucky to still have his life, much less his leg, and it wasn't his fault those hot-headed dumbasses had decided they needed to go avenge him. Yes, I had said that much, and yes Charlie had nearly had a heart attack when he heard me. Stupid men and their stupid testosterone poisoning.

"Sam and I sort of had a fight." Leah dropped into one of the chairs at the kitchen table, putting her face in her hands.

"Sort of?" I arched an eyebrow, looking back over my shoulder where I stood at the sink, filling the tea kettle.

"I don't know, Bella." She sighed. "He's been so strange this past week. I can't even quite explain it."

I moved the kettle to the stove, lighting the burner. "Is he having problems with his leg again?" I opened the cabinet, pulling down the clay teapot. "Sometimes pain can make people do weird things. Sam might be too proud to say anything."

"No." Something in her voice made me turn around, looking into her haunted eyes. "It's not that. If anything, his leg has gotten better." There was something in the way she said it that made me feel like I was missing an important point. I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

"Well..." I paused, then went back to the cabinets for tea cups. "Women don't have the monopoly on moody." I laughed, but even to me it sounded forced. "Jake certainly has his moments."

"It's like he's becoming a different person, Bella." Her voice was soft, a haunted voice to go with the look in her eyes. "Someone I don't know."

I bit my lip, not sure what to say. "I'm sure it's not that bad, Leah. You and Sam are strong, you'll work it out." This was not my forte, and with the day I'd had, I really didn't want to linger on the subject longer than I had to. "So... peppermint green tea or Sunset Cinnamon?" I held up two tins, trying to lighten the mood a little. With the blank look she gave me, I might as well have asked her for the time. Another sigh for me, I felt like I should be keeping score, and I put the cinnamon up, going for the peppermint. My guess was we could both stand to have something to settle our stomachs.

"Oh God." Alarmed, I looked up at her. She was staring at the woodgrain tabletop in horror. "What if it's another woman?"

"No," I dismissed that immediately. "Sam's just not the type, Leah. He's devoted to you and the baby." I shook my head. "I don't buy it."

"You haven't seen the way he's been acting." Leah was working herself up into a panic, I'd seen Renee do it too many times not to recognize the signs. "First I thought he was sick. He was running a fever, but he wouldn't let me take him to the doctor. Then he started sneaking around all the time. It's awful Bella, I don't know what to do. This is not like Sam at all."

"No matter what's going on, Leah, I don't think it would even cross his mind to be unfaithful. Seriously." I was losing her, I could feel it. If she freaked out, I might just lose it, too. That wasn't something I was willing to do. I'd fought too hard to keep my house of cards steady today, if I let her knock it down for me, there was no telling how long it would take to rebuild. Well fine, I'd just have to give up some ground to keep some. "Hey Leah? Not to change the subject..." I hesitated, did I really want to let the cat out of the bag? Did I have a choice? "I was just wondering if you could make some suggestions for prenatal vitamins."

"Prenatal vitamins?" Score one for me, she was distracted.

"Yeah..." Closing my eyes, I resolved myself to my chosen course of action. "There are so many options, I'm just not sure where to start."

"Bella..." She got to her feet, coming to the counter. "Are you pregnant?"

Last chance to dodge the bullet. "Just found out today." I looked up, hoping my smile looked like an expectant mother's should.

"Oh wow! I had no idea you'd been trying!"

"Well... We weren't, really." Oh, so many things I could say, but wouldn't. "It just happened. Doctor said I was due in December." That sounded good, like the sort of things that women are supposed to say about being pregnant.

"This is wonderful!" Suddenly she was at my side, and it was all I could do not to shy away. I had the sudden, intense desire to be alone. But I couldn't say that. All I could do was smile and pretend to be just as enthusiastic as she was.

"I haven't told Jake yet, of course." The tea kettle chose that moment to whistle. I pulled it off the heat, taking the opportunity to reclaim my personal space. After all, there were already two of us sharing it, three made it kind of crowded. "So I'd appreciate it if you'd just keep this between the two of us for now."

"Of course." She leaned back against the counter, lost in thought. "I have loads of information I can give you. I'm sure as Adam gets older, I'll have baby stuff to pass along, too."

"Great!" I put the tea into the pot and added the water, letting it steep. "I'm glad I have you here to help me." And I would mean that tomorrow.

"This is going to be amazing, Bella. You have no idea." Bouncing forward, she hugged me, and after a moment, I made myself hug her back.

"It's already been... unlike anything I've ever experienced." That, at least, was the absolute truth.

"I'm so sorry for showing up with my problems when you had this kind of news!" The apology was genuine, and now I felt bad for manipulating her.

"Don't be. Men are strange creatures. I can't blame you for wanting someone to talk to." I patted her arm, then handed her to the teapot. "Here, take this to the table, I'll grab some cookies." I pulled the tea cups to me, grabbing a package of cookies from the pantry. Ultimately, I supposed it was better to be doing this than to be here by myself, obsessing. The problem was, if Leah wasn't here... what would I be obsessing over? Being pregnant? Or Edward Cullen?

I couldn't answer that. I wasn't sure I wanted to.