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The Ripple Effect

Summary:
What if Bella’s parents never divorced & she was a normal girl. Best friends with Jacob Black for all her life & suddenly the Cullen’s moved to Forks. Everything is Alternate Universe, Romance, drama and friendships galore.


Notes:


14. Chapter 14, Birthdays and Reunions

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Chapter 14, Birthdays and Reunions

I hate my own birthday that is given. Everyone who knows me knows I would rather let the day pass without any fanfare. What is a birthday anyway, but a celebration for making it alive yet another year? Thankfully, my pessimism is geared only towards my own celebration, I squeal with delight when wrapping presents for others. My mother can’t get to the bathroom without a celebratory happy birthday hug at 6am. Regardless of my own flaws, I was excited to celebrate Jacob’s birthday.

The week had gone by with little to report on; we were no closer to catching the killers than my father was. But Alice and the others were hopeful and I wasn’t sure if it was for my sake or theirs. My usual vices no longer had any affect. I had reread the first chapter of Persuasion more times that one can fathom; continuing to return to the beginning when I forgot my last place. I was hoping this weekend at La Push would keep my mind off things for a little while longer.

My Mother returned from her seminars immersed in Yoga culture and if I had to listen to another CD of the rainforest when she meditated, I was going to throw something. She had been working with Charlie all week to help him relax and despite my father’s protests, he did listen to her cds all the way , no amount of aromatherapy or the sounds of the Amazonian rainforests were going to keep me calm.

When I awoke Saturday Morning, a note was on my bed. It was from Edward, in his perfect script it read, ‘The gift is in the truck.’ I shook my head excited as I peered out into my driveway. There it was, covered under a tarp the carburetor. I couldn’t’ believe Rosalie had come through. Alice said she would, but I was more impressed that Rosalie even cared enough to go through any trouble. I wondered if she had taken my request as a way to keep her mind off the danger as well. Maybe Rosalie and I weren’t so different after all. However, in the end she would make Jacob someone she considered part of an enemy clan, happy.

Despite the irony of it all, I was excited, enthralled to jump back into my old life even for a few hours. I had a bounce in my step, birthday’s at the Black house were always fun. This weekend it was going to snow, light and steady said the forecaster. Charlie had fixed the snow chains on my tires last week and I was ready to go. I hadn’t missed Jacob’s birthday ever. My parents brought me to the hospital the day Jake was born. I of course had no memory of it, but my best friend and I thought it was a good tradition to keep.

As I grabbed a quick breakfast, Renee let me know that Charlie was already at work. I pushed past my fears for my father to the side, before taking a steady and even breath. There was nothing like a celebration La Push style. The way the Blacks and the rest of the Quileute reservation surrounded him. Quil and Embry always pulling practical jokes, the gorgeous cake Sarah would make. I enjoyed the sense of community there and despite wherever they were in their lives the twins, Jacob’s sisters always managed to show up. Jacob seemed to love it too, and that only made the experience that much better.

While purring the engine to the Chevy, I smiled eyeing the present in my rearview mirror. It was tucked nicely in the truck so it wouldn't go anywhere. I couldn't wait to see Jake's reaction that I actually pulled through with his request.

As I pulled onto the highway, I noticed a silver Volvo following me. I wasn’t surprised by his presence, it was undoubtedly Edward behind me. He was getting more protective day by day; he was probably making sure I got there in one piece. When I finally got to the imaginary line where the treaty was signed, he stopped. I smiled in the mirror before seeing him disappear in the distance.

The last three miles alone in my Chevy helped me gather my thoughts and push the ones I wanted to avoid deep down into the recesses of my mind. When I finally parked on the side of the road the gravel drive that was overflowing with cars was a nice welcome. I could already smell lunch simmering in the kitchen, when opening the screen door and was welcomed into the home. Jake’s Mom ushered me into the living room where family and friends were deposited in any open seat they could find. As I sat down across from my best-friend while he opened more presents, I couldn't help but enjoy myself.

'Maybe that was just me; maybe I enjoyed giving more than receiving.' I shrugged at the thought.

When Jacob had finally finished opening all his gifts from his family, we sat down for lunch. I was glad I had woken up at the last minute only managing to grab a piece of toast, because a Jacob birthday lunch could last forever. After everyone was settled and had their fill, Quil and Embry dragged us away.

"So I got you something Jake, but I can't carry it." I motioned towards my car grinning.

He smiled, his hands rubbing against each other in excitement. I don't think he thought I would come through with the present, even though he always knew I tried to make his birthday special. When we got back to the truck, I nodded to the bundle. As he peeled the cloth away, his eyes popped.

"No, way." He exclaimed.

"Is it the right kind? I asked. "I got some help from a friend who is somewhat of an enthusiast."

"It's better then the right kind, Bella." He gushed; I didn't understand but was happy that he seemed so elated. "It's perfectly fitted, the perfect size, cleaned and completely ready to operate."

"And you know all this by looking at it?" He glanced at me laughing.

"Yeah, pretty much." He picked up the part with ease. "This is awesome."

Seth Clearwater ran to us from across the lawn and Jacob shook his head defeated. There was no way he'd lose his shadow today. The boy was in a old pair of jeans and a t-shirt under his unbuttoned flannel shirt. It was hard not to notice whom Seth was emulating.

"Hey guys." Seth said excitedly.

"Hey Seth." I waved.

"Guess who's back." The young teen exclaimed looking into everyone’s faces waiting for a guess to be thrown his way. Jacob looked up his back stiffened like an alert dog.

"Sam's back?" Jake asked, in a low growl.

"Yeah, and he's not talking." Seth replied looking at us anxious to be the first to reveal the news.

Jacob shook his head annoyed. "Figures, on my birthday."

“I know that just figures Jake.” The boy added his head lowered mirroring my best friend’s mood.

"Come on, let's get this fitted in." I smiled waving to Jacob.

"Yeah, yeah let's do that." Jacob slightly encouraged walked us to the garage, while Seth followed.

"I'm just glad to be out of there." He said shaking his head. "They're having a meeting of the elders tonight, after Jake's birthday. Sam's going to be there, like he's one of the elders now."

"Whatever." Jacob shrugged feigning nonchalance.

Jake didn't like change that much, so I couldn't figure out if he was upset about Leah and Sam, or about Sam's new position with the tribe.

As Jacob disappeared under his car, I tried to get Seth's attention.

"So have you seen him yet?"

"Who Sam?" Seth exclaimed, as I nodded. "No, they won't let anyone see him, not even Leah." He looked over to see if Jacob was listening, he was. "She's going out of her mind, figures though she’s been freaking out for months might as well..."

'Poor Leah,' I thought. 'Poor Jake, just what he needed on his birthday a big spectacle.' Jake worked quietly for a while as we waited helping him when he grunted for a tool or some light. When he finally settled down with a warm soda in hand, I could tell his temper was about to boil over.

“Where the hell has he been all this time?” It was a rhetorical question and we all knew better not to answer, Jacob rarely got angry so when he blew up we knew to stand far away.

“And now what? He’s found himself or something and that’s fine?” He took a swig of his soda calming down already after his sudden outburst.

“He’s probably going to ignore us now that he’s part of the elders and in on those secret meetings.” Jake gave Embry a stare, it was half a warning but also there was something stirring in his eyes.

“They treat us like we’re kids...” Seth chimed in as the rest of us chuckled.

“You are a kid.” Jake teased messing up Seth’s hair as he blushed.

“You know what we need?” The all looked my way as I smiled at their attention.

“We all need some cake, this is your day Jake let’s try to remember that. And I can’t think of what could make moment better than some frosting and extra calories.” The boys began to laugh; the infectious noise took hold of us all as we made our way back into the kitchen.

“Mom we’re ready for cake.” Jake exclaimed as all eyes were on him and the large confection sitting in the middle of the kitchen table.

The birthday hit its high points as we all sat in the living room fighting off a sugar high.

"I should just go over there right now and ask him what the hell he was thinking."

Everyone looked to Jake as his fists balled up enraged.

"Don't do that man, just give him some time."

"Some time?" Jake sat up looking at Embry as his friend backed down avoiding eye contact.

"Embry's right Jake, I know you’re mad and that might be the very reason you should stay here right now."

"Bella he had this entire tribe looking for him, his mother was worried sick with a killer or killers on the loose. They thought something had happened to him..."

Jacob looked towards the ceiling annoyed.

"And he just walks right back, on my birthday and all of a sudden he's not in trouble, no but invited to one of the elder meetings. As if he's been out on a quest or something."

"The elders have been acting weird Jacob, maybe it was a quest." Quil chimed in, as my best friend growled a warning.

My cell phone rang, it made the boys jump as I apologized silencing the ringer before checking out the caller id.

"Just one second." I excused myself, walking into the empty hallway to answer the call.

"Edward?"

"Bella are you okay?" The panic in his voice made my heart pound as I stammered to answer.

"Yeah, I'm fine I'm still at Jakes why?" I looked over in the living room, the boys were waiting for me patiently, the way Jacob’s leg was moving it was obvious he was annoyed.

"Are you in his house?" He was scaring me with his line of questioning.

"Yeah, why?" I heard him sigh with relief, before I could make out Alice apologizing on the other end.

"You disappeared in one of Alice's visions. You were there one moment and then she couldn't see you so...you are okay." My heart began to slow with relief, it was me he was worried about and it was for nothing.

"I'm fine." I answered with a laugh. "We just had cake, I'll be here for a while longer so don't worry okay?"

I could feel the tension in his voice as he let me go and hung up the phone. I couldn’t help but shake my head with a quiet laugh. It had taken some getting used to, to be so overly protected like this.

"Everything okay?” Jacob asked, when I found my place back in the living room. I couldn’t be sure, but the amused look on his face told me he knew who had called.

"Yeah, no problem." He eyed me for a moment, before shaking his head as his annoyance rushed back.

"We should go to that meeting tonight and find out what's going on." Jacob finally announced breaking the silence that had permeated the room.

"Crash an elder meeting, that's one of the worst ideas ever Jake." Quil added as Seth leaned forward excited by the idea. Jacob’s eyes narrowed as he planned the intrusion in his mind.

"I'm in." The boy added as Jacob gave him a nod looking to Embry.

"If we get caught..." His friend mused, unable to say no.

"You will get caught." Quil added. "So we'll need a lookout."

I laughed, watching the boys plotting. It felt like we were twelve again and planning our escape to go fishing or swimming like we used to.

"Well it seems to me this is a boys’ thing, so maybe I should get going after all."

I chuckled, as my best friend looked up at me slightly disappointed.

"Your not coming?" He asked an eyebrow perking as I shook my head sliding my arms through my jacket.

"Nope, and if you don't want to get caught by my slipping or tripping on something I wouldn't try to extend an invitation my way."

”She does have a point Jake, who can forget last summer?” Quil added as I gave him a dead stare.

“I have never said I was coordinated and you insisted that I go with you guys to the lake, so that is not my fault.” The boys couldn’t help but laugh at my expense, while I play punched Jacob on the arm.

“Come on walk me out, at least you could have stuck up for me Jake.” He laughed shrugging.

“Hey I was the one who carried you over the rocks after you fell in, at least we can laugh about it now Bells.”

Jacob followed me out to my truck.

“It’s always funny telling Bella fell stories isn’t it?”

After I said my goodbyes to the boys I looked back at my best friend, the sun was setting and his white teeth shined brightly reflecting off the moons glow.

"Let me know what happened later okay? You have to call me."

Jacob nodded. "I will."

I couldn't help but laugh.

"Jacob Black turning fifteen and defying his father in one day, I'm glad I'm getting out of dodge."

He shrugged as I hugged him goodnight.

"Full report as soon as you can." I reminded him again as he waved me away and I took off down the dirt road.

As I drove absentmindedly down the road, a pair of lights caught my attention. As I passed Edward’s Volvo he turned around sharply following me home from the imaginary treaty line. I could see Alice was in the car with him and after a few worried miles I pulled into my driveway to meet them.

“What’s up?” I asked as Edward pulled me towards him, smelling every inch of me as Alice shook her head.

“She’s fine Edward, maybe it was some kind of fluke?” She added as I looked at them both annoyed and in the dark.

“What is with you two?”

Alice smiled, grabbing for my hand for a moment.

“I couldn’t see you Bella.” She finally admitted as I shook my head confused.

“Couldn’t see me?” She gave a quick nod as Edward eased slightly.

“One minute you were laughing over cake and the next minute you were gone, we had no idea what happened to you.”

"Maybe it was like static, a blimp in your radar?" I joked, leaning on my truck as the two vampires in front of me exchanged worried glances.

"Was there anything out of the ordinary going on in La Push?" Edward asked, his eyes narrowing on me. I looked to Alice who seemed just as eager for an answer.

"Sam came back today, he's okay so..."

"Sam?" Edward said his name cautiously, looking up into the night sky to hide his reaction from me.

"He was in the house, you saw him?" His voice seemed nervous maybe even a little angry.

"That's the last place he would go, Jake wants to rip his head off right now."

Alice smiled as she leaned forward on her toes.

"That's weird." She finally commented looking away from me, Edward gave her a glance of annoyance.

I was tired of the secretive stares they kept giving one another and finally blurted out my annoyance.

"What's going on? Is anyone going to share?"

Edward gave me a hug as Alice moved back towards the Volvo.

"We're not sure, it could be nothing we just wanted to make sure."

"Make sure what?" Edward sighed before forcing a grin for my sake.

"Usually when people disappear like that for Alice that means they're gone..." He narrowed his gaze on me a pained look flooded his beautiful features.

"When you say gone you mean, gone."

He gave a slow solemn nod.

"So you can see why we were so worried about you." I couldn't help but pout as I touched Edward's face to prove I was still here.

"I'm fine." He smiled taking my hand and sandwiching it in his.

"I know you are." He stared at me for a moment before something called him and he turned towards Alice in the Volvo.

"We just have to talk to Carlisle; I'll see you in the morning." He leaned towards me, our lips grazing for a moment, the cold electricity pulsed through me.

"I'll be here." I smiled raising my eyebrows trying to make light of the situation. Maybe I could get Alice to give me the whole story on Monday, although if I knew Edward he'd have a gag order on his sister.

When I opened the door to my house, I didn’t expect to be welcomed by an argument between my parents. It looks like news traveled far. I tried to ignore them as my father purged my mother’s fears about Sam’s unusual return to La Push. She had every right to worry, it was odd and didn’t add up. I closed the door with a thud as the fight stopped and my father exited the bedroom in a huff.

“Hey Bells.” He called as he washed his hands before descending the stairs.

“Sam’s back.” I announced trying to feign ignorance.

My father nodded gruffly before clearing his throat and opening a bottle of water.

“Has Billy said anything about it?” I asked as Charlie swallowed a mouthful before shaking his head.

“No baby, nothing other than he’s back and safe.” He ruffled my hair like he used to do when he was in the middle of a big case and I was five. I watched him retreat into the living room before I taking to the stairs and knocked on my Mother’s door.

“Mom?” I called as I heard her blow her nose before calling me in.

She was in her closet pulling out old shoeboxes full of receipts.

“I’m sorry honey I didn’t hear you come in how was the party?”

I sank to the bed before answering.

“It was good, you know.” Renee blew her nose again.

“This darn dust.” She commented trying to make me think the tears were allergies.

“Can’t you do that tomorrow? It’s not even spring yet so we can’t open the windows Mom.”

She laughed giving a quick nod before releasing the boxes.

“You’re right Bells.” I could tell she was nervous as my mother shook her head shoving the boxes back in the dark.

I waited as my Mother sat next to me fixing my hair as she studied my state.

“So the party wasn’t ruined by this Sam thing was it?” She asked suddenly and I couldn’t help but smirk. My mother was full of surprises especially when it came to reading people of late.

“You know Jacob, he’s having a hard time adjusting to getting older and what that means.” Renee smiled as if something was weighing heavily on her shoulders but she wrinkled her nose hiding her anxiety.

“Well your father is just happy that he’s safe and back in La Push.” She heaved a sigh, her shoulders slumping as her gaze meandered around the room.

“You’re not hungry are you?” I shook my head, as we got up together leaving her bedroom heading into the hallway.

“No, I’m good Mom I’m just going to study for a bit.” Renee smiled absentmindedly, descending down the stairs.

When I finally was alone and in my room I rushed for my phone. First I sent a text message to Alice and then to Jacob. I had no missed calls so I was left to my own devices.

After sorting through my cds and cleaning my room, I finally settled down with my laptop. It felt as if I hadn’t been alone like this in forever, the privacy wasn’t unwelcomed but it was unusual. As I woke up my desktop, I laughed as I opened up my latest chapter that Edward was reading the other day. A few months ago I wouldn’t let a soul read my work let alone Edward. I had been sure he would want me to delete all records of the story, it hit too close to home. But he treated it like a any other story and never asked me to do anything about it.

When my phone finally vibrated, it was a text back from Jacob.

Nothing 2 report, boring meeting & we didn’t get caught, talk 2 u l8er Bells. Thanks for the b-day present.

I shook my head amazed before turning back to my computer. My back was to my window, but I could feel the cold air as it filtered into the room before the window closed again.

“I didn’t think you’d come back so soon.” I joked waiting for Edward to reply.

“You okay Edward?” I turned as he stood their silent, his face was as hard as stone while he contemplated what to say.

“We have a problem Bella.” He finally said as I closed my computer and the smiled fell off my face. He came so close to me, taking my hands in his as he searched my face for fear.

“We had to talk to Carlisle, things are... not going as well as we had once planned”

All I could muster was a slow nod as Edward shook his head annoyed.

“The Volturi, they’re not happy with the killings and how much attention this is bringing.”

“The Vultori, what can they do?” My heart picked up speed as Edward clenched his jaw. It made me anxious how much fear and anxiety the Volturi could cause him.

“The Vultori are made up of vampires like us with quirks, if they found out about you, that a human knows we exist.” Edward paused shaking his head in disgust as I leaned closer, urging for him to continue.

“So we stop these rogue vampires before they can come, we can do that.”

Edward gave a quick nod, letting his shoulders slump for a moment as I took his hand.

“Alice just knows they’re coming, she’s not absolute on when, but as of right now; if things continue as they are...” He didn’t have to finish his thought as he pulled me closer his lips so close to mine.

“Does this have anything to do with Sam, with La Push?” Edward stiffened before pulling away with a heavy sigh.

“No, we haven’t had time to discuss it.” He looked out the window as he answered, his body pulling further away from me, I laughed dryly to myself.

“Okay.” I bit my lip trying to put all the foreseeable urgencies in their rightful order.

“We have to be more careful than ever Bells; if we’re tracking them they can track us just as easily. I don’t want them coming here, finding you. My scent is all over, so is Alice’s.”

“What are you saying?” Edward looked to me his face brightening as a humorous thought flickered, bringing that wonderful crooked smile to the surface.

“I’m saying no more touching, they can not smell you but they can smell us.” I shook my head, it was not everyday that I was able to kiss Edward; but to not be able to touch him that sounded like torture.

He laughed as I grimaced imagining our predicament.

“It won’t be for long Bella.” I gave a quick nod as he stopped himself from touching my cheek.

“You will find them in time, I know you will...you have to.” Edward stood up avoiding his chair as he turned to me licking his bottom lip.

“You have so much confidence in us Bella, when the truth is we’re more worried about keeping them from finding us. There’s something about the tracking marks that don’t make much sense.” He narrowed his eyes, before turning towards me.

“What are you thinking?” He finally asked, his eyes searching for some clue on my face.

“I’m just thinking that when this is all over we should go somewhere, have a vacation all of us.”

His smile reached his eyes as Edward sat in his favorite chair eyeing my computer.

“Have you been working on your story? Two people separated by years and by species; it can’t end well can it?” He looked playful and smiled devilishly as I wrinkled my nose annoyed.

“You never know, things aren’t always what they seem.”

“Read some of it to me, I wanna know if she ever tells him what she really is.” I knew he was referring to my story and laughed, sitting across from him on my bed.

“Are you sure” I mean won’t being in the same room as I am leave too much of a scent?’

He shook his head as I opened my laptop.

“I’ll be careful; and you’ll take a shower in the morning besides we go to the same school Bella. We are bound to cross paths here and there, that’s not what I am worried about.”

“So where do we draw the line, no more rides to school together?” He frowned as I looked up.

“We can’t drive together anymore?” I knew from his look that was the case.

“Fine, I’m sure I’ll manage.”

“Of course you will, I’ll be watching you the entire time, just because we have to be more careful doesn’t mean we have to alter our lives completely.”

I gave a somber nod, clicking open the newest chapter I was working on.

“You can’t laugh at this one.” I warned him as Edward sat forward in his chair eager to hear what I came up with.

“I feel like the only time I can see what’s going on in your mind is when I read what you write.” I pretended to close the laptop as he held out his hand to stop me.

“Please Bella.” I smiled before starting the beginning of the chapter.

I eyed Edward every other sentence but tried not to read into his reactions. A quirk of an eyebrow or smirk could mean just about anything for Edward. As I finished reading the rough draft, he sighed rubbing his bottom lip for emphasis before commenting.

“You have to tell me what happens next Bella.” He finally admitted as I tilted my head closing the computer.

“I don’t know yet myself, when they’re ready to tell me they will.”

He focused his gaze on me confused.

“They talk to you?”

I fought back a giggle, nodding slowly.

"It's not like I actually hear voices, I'm not crazy nor do I have a gift or anything. Sometimes I just think of them and a conversation pops up, or they start telling me what happened." Edward made a face teasingly.

"I've never tried writing before, nothing but music." He laughed shaking his head.

"But it is the same; I can hear the chords and the melody so I do understand." He searched my eyes before pulling away from me, the stern humorous wall building up in his expression.

"So what really happens next in your story?"

I took a deep breath trying to catch the last whiff of his scent, as he moved further away from me to the love seat.

"I have no idea; I'm not sure how it ends yet."

The shadows lingered on his face as his eyes focused on me.

"Are you tired Bella?" I shook my head, pulling the covers over me anyway.

"Is this your way of telling me to go to sleep?" I asked, slightly annoyed.

He tilted his head intently, analyzing my every move. I couldn't help but yawn my eyes still on him before they fell closed.

I felt spoiled, warm and content. My dreams were the only freedom I had from the worries and stress. I knew Edward was there, so I focused on him it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep when he watched me so closely. There was no doubt he made me feel at ease, even during such times he had this affect on me. When the whole world seemed to be closing in around me, Edward was the only clear thing I could see. Even with my eyes closed he was there right in front of me, supporting me. I guess it's true what they say, when you're in love, truly in love you become blinded.