What if the Cullens had not been in Forks when Bella went to live with her father. What if she had the life she was supposed to have with Jacob on the reservation in La Push. What if after several extremely happy years of marriage the Cullens did return to the area and Bella had to interact with them every day. Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
21. Chapter 21 - Return
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I had made up my mind. I didn’t have a choice really. As a married woman with kids I couldn’t very well up and leave with a beautiful immortal. It’s not like I could take my kids with me. Even if I could we would never be able to come back. Besides, Edward never said he wanted me to be with him anyway so imagining that as an option was nothing more that conceit. Except for when the boys were lost, I hadn’t seen him in over a month. I should just move on with my life. So why was I so eager for Friday to come when my visit to David would bring me into Forks?
The sharp blast startled me out of my reverie and I nearly fell into the soil in the raised bed I was perched on.
“David,” I called out. It was good to have this distraction. My plan was to keep busy cleaning up after the potlatch until I saw him on Friday but here it was Tuesday afternoon and everything was done.
“I have to ask you a favor, Bella.”
“Can I have the job that it is waiting for you at the reservation school in the fall? I know you want to go back to Forks high and I really want it. Since your party on Saturday it’s been all I could think about.”
How could David ask this of me? He of all people knew why I couldn’t return to Forks high. Saturday’s events made it all the more clear that I had to stay in La Push for the next three years.
“I can’t. You know that.”
“I… I thought you knew.”
“Knew what, David?”
“The Cullens left. The doctor got a job offer in San Diego. It was a lot of money and he couldn’t pass it up. His wife and kids left Sunday and he took care of all the paperwork at the school Monday morning.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The Cullens had left without even saying goodbye. All I knew was that they didn’t move to San Diego. Jacob had told me that vampires reflected the sun and the Cullens had always stayed home from school on sunny days. There was no way they were moving south of Sacramento. The only reason to lie was if they didn’t want me to know where they were.
My emotions must have been obvious on my face because David was suddenly apologizing and making excuses to leave.
“Will I see you on Friday,” he called out as he eased his car onto the road.
“Yes,” I said.
All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball on my bed and cry. Sure I was getting exactly what I planned for. I just didn’t expect my plans to take effect so quickly, without any input from me. The kids would be getting up from their nap soon so I lay down on the floor of their bedroom and went to sleep. If I was lucky they would just play around me until Jacob came home.
The rest of the week went by in a bit of a blur. David and I spoke with the administration at the reservation school about him taking the teaching position. They didn’t even try to hide their enthusiasm at getting him instead of me. They felt the students would relate to his background in world folk tales more than my English literature degree. After the meeting we got a big laugh out of the fact that I was not Quileute enough for the school. They didn’t know that I had made it my mission to preserve the old legends. They didn’t even know the old legends were true.
Now everything hinged on me getting my job back at Forks High. My cover story was that my father-in-law and his doctor had found a treatment that better controlled his diabetes and he was more self-sufficient. I knew Mr. Greene wanted me back but he might be concerned that I would leave again if another family emergency arose.
Driving to Forks High on Friday I was a bundle of nerves. I was painfully aware that Edward wouldn’t be there, that I would never see him again. That was compounded by the fact that I wasn’t certain that Mr. Greene would take me back. David had done an admirable job as a first year teacher and the district might offer incentives to keep him.
Part of me almost wanted to stay in La Push forever, to minimize the reminders of Edward’s existence. How could I be so attached to someone who I just met months ago, someone who I still hardly know? I feel like Quil, inexorably drawn to someone I cannot have. But what could I do? Edward was like a salve that healed all the aches of my soul. Around him I could breathe more easily and the troubles and cares of the world slipped from my shoulders. I felt more alive and freer in his presence.
I sighed heavily as I pulled into the school lot. I guess it is best that Edward just left. I could never actually have him and knowing he was always in the next town would have been more than I could bear for another three years.
“Are you ready?” David arrived at the door of my car just as I pulled in and opened it for me. He was glowing like a kid who was about to get away with something.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I replied.
David put his arm around me and guided me to the main office, a twinkle playing in his eye.
“What’s going on?”
When I got to the office Mr. Greene, Ms. Cope and a guy I didn’t know were all standing around expectantly.
“Mr. Fauver, this is Mrs. Black.” David introduced me to the gentleman.
“Mrs. Black, I am from the International Baccalaureate regional office. We identified your school as a candidate to expand our program into based on your past five years performance results on national tests. The administration tells me that you are responsible for much of that change.”
I wasn’t sure what they were saying. I wasn’t even a teacher at the school right now.
“Bella,” Mr. Greene said. “If you are interested in returning to Forks High as David says you are, we would not only have you back, we would like to give you a promotion. We are asking you if you would be the liaison between our school and the IB office. You would have a reduced class load and there would be a raise. Some travel would be involved.”
I was speechless. Since I began teaching I had wanted to bring the IB program to Forks. It would open the students up to a world of possibilities after graduation. Universities in Europe and Asia accepted IB diplomas.
“Yes,” I finally got out. “Yes, yes, yes!”
There was an impromptu celebration in the office. Paperwork was started and hands were shook. I would have to come back to school right after the Fourth of July in order to get things up and running before school started but I needed a new project to throw myself into.
David and I left the building together. As we headed back to our classroom a small graceful figure with dark spiky hair danced over to us.
“Hello, Mr. Sweeny. Can I borrow Mrs. Black for a minute?”
“Sure, sure,” he said. All that time he spent with the pack was rubbing off on him.
David continued to his classroom and Alice walked me to some benches near the parking lot.
“I didn’t think I would ever see you again,” I said as we sat down.
“You’re my friend, Bella. I would never just leave you like that.”
Alice took my trembling hand into her cool one and we sat and talked for nearly an hour. She told me that her family had moved to New Orleans where they could have an active life after dark. Carlisle was working at a free clinic, Esme was working on the restoration of the historic ninth ward, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie had enrolled at Tulane.
“What about you, Alice?”
“I am studying genealogy. I have no idea where I come from but there is some indication that my family is from the south so I figured I could unravel the mysteries of my past. Now tell me all about this International Baccalaureate thing.”
I would have been more shocked if she didn’t know. I was beginning to think that Alice might be clairvoyant.
“Did you have something to do with that?”
“Jasper may have encouraged their computer to randomly select your school out of the thousands they monitor. But the selection is done by real people.”
“Thanks, Alice. I’m really going to miss you.”
“I’ll miss you to. But we’ll keep in touch. I’ll write when I discover who I used to be.”
I would have to go home soon but there was one thing I needed to know before she left.
“Edward’s doing okay. He is working on entering the New Orleans music scene. He’s an accomplished pianist but he has never studied jazz. He asked me to give this to you.”
She handed me a small envelope with my name in his perfect script on the front, kissed my cheek and disappeared.
In a daze I wandered to my car to read the letter where there would be no witnesses.
My Dearest Bella,
I am sorry I am writing you this letter and not speaking to you in person. Leaving you is the hardest thing I have done in my entire existence. I was afraid that if I came to see you one last time I wouldn’t have the strength to leave. I should have known sooner the trouble I was causing for you and your family. I cannot expect your forgiveness but I hope that my leaving allows you to return to the life you deserve.
There is a phrase in Italian, la mia cantante, my singer, which describes the hold you have on me. Amongst my kind it means that your blood is so sweet to me that it is impossible to resist. In truth, I have no idea how I resisted taking you on that first day of school. But you are my singer in countless other ways. So many people love you because of your compassion, your generosity, your bravery and your beauty. I love the pink that blushes your cheeks when you are self-conscious. I love the sound of your heart and how it announces your presence telling me you are alive. I love the way the sun creates red highlights in your hair on those days that I have to hide from view in order to see you. I love that you surprise me in ways that no one else has done in nearly one hundred years.
Going just one day without seeing you left me with a yearning so great it was painful. But I earned the suffering that came when you left teaching. I had cost you peace in your home and the job that was your calling. I never should have loved you, the wife of my natural enemy. I should have left you to live your life. But after your accident it was impossible. How could I live in a world without you once I knew of your existence? I had no choice but to follow you each day when you were away from La Push.
My only consolation in leaving now is that your husband is strong enough to protect you when I cannot. Though he feared that you might leave him for me, I know that never would have happened. You have a life and family with the Quileutes and are not the kind of person to turn your back on that. I never would have loved you so much if you could have left.
Be safe Bella Black. Don't be bothered by vampires anymore. The one that went after your boys only came to your part of the world because he was drawn to our family. Our presence will never attract danger to you again.
Edward Anthony Mason Cullen
I knew I would spend the night crying into Jacob's strong arms. I also knew how unfair that was. But he loved me more than his own life and he would get me through this and in the end we would be together.
- Chapter 2 - The Cottage
- Chapter 3 - Dr. Cullen
- Chapter 4 - Council Meeting
- Chapter 5 - Message
- Chapter 6 - First Day of School
- Chapter 7 - Birthday Present
- Chapter 8 - Please Help Me Name This Chapter
- Chapter 9 - Accident
- Chapter 10 - Forbidden
- Chapter 11 - Cold
- Chapter 12 - Walk in the Woods
- Chapter 13 - Consequences
- Chapter 14 - Goodbyes
- Chapter 15 - Stolen Moments
- Chapter 16 - Party
- Chapter 17 - Lost
- Chapter 18 - Stranger
- Chapter 19 - Saved
- Chapter 20 - Decision
- Chapter 21 - Return
- Epilogue - Bella Turns 30
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- 06 Feb 09
- 12 Jun 09
- In Progress