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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:


18. Chapter 18, The Proposal

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5069   Review this Chapter

Chapter 18, The Proposal

They say when you go through a life-altering experience with a group of people that you are bonded forever. After what I had just gone through I did feel closer to the Cullens. Maybe this is what it is like for soldiers after they serve together, the thought simmered in my mind while getting dressed. I had to admit there was a connection between us, a new respect for one another.

One difference was Rosalie didn't glare at me anymore, her features were softer more compassionate. I no longer felt the awkwardness between Edward’s sister and I. She was one of my saviors that day, like my own personal heroine. All the beautiful needed was a custom made costume, maybe a red suit and cape. The thought made me laugh, Rosalie to the rescue the next superwoman.

It had been three days since the attack, three long days of my parents worrying about my sprained wrist. Edward was no better than Renee and Charlie, he was filled with guilt helping me at every turn. We had spent the last few nights talking, my boyfriend blaming himself going over all the different scenarios of what if.

I didn't have the heart to ask him to turn me anymore. After my humanity was threatened, I realized how much I meant to him. He seemed more delicate than me after everything was said and done, watching over me with awe as I fell asleep every night.

When I descended the stairs on Monday morning, I took a deep breath of the aroma emanating from the kitchen. It was the first day back to school from winter vacation, Renee looked to my air-cast with worry when I approached her.

"It's fine mom, doesn't even hurt anymore." I assured her before she could ask about my wrist.

My Mom sighed flipping a pancake for me as she turned taking a deep breath.

"I know, you're seventeen now but still my baby don't forget. Do you want some fruit on your pancakes, there's some left from your father’s breakfast." She offered.

I sat down at the kitchen-counter pouring myself some herbal tea.

"I'm good with just plain ones, is there any orange juice?" I asked looking in the refrigerator.

"With your pancakes honey? You just poured some tea." Renee asked, turning to watch me stare at the orange juice container.

"Can we get fresh squeezed orange juice next time?" I inquired, staring back at Renee, she shook her head incredulous.

"Fresh squeezed Bella?" She shrugged scooping the flapjack onto my plate.

"Esme makes fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast." I commented offhandedly, sitting back down next to my cup of tea.

"Well then, you can ask Edward to bring some over whenever you like. That boy would do anything for you." She laughed, spooning some batter onto the griddle.

"Thanks Mom, I'll just eat this. Edward will be here any minute." I commented cutting a piece of pancake before shoveling it into my mouth.

"Chew Bella." Renee joked as I sipped my tea, washing it down.

"Mom I love you." I kissed her cheek, swallowing the last bit of my breakfast.

"Love you too Bells, and don't hesitate to call me if your wrist hurts or anything okay sweetie?" I waved closing the door as the cold air greeted me.

I didn't even wait five minutes when Edward's Volvo screeched to a halt next to the curb before he jumped out of the car to greet me. I could tell he was upset, Alice's wide smile from the back seat, could only mean they argued on the way. Besides Edward was never late, unless he was detained for some reason.

"I'm sorry Alice insisted on coming so that is why we are late." Edward explained before kissed my cheek, taking my bag as we walked towards the car.

"And he argued for fifteen extra minutes, instead of just relenting Bells." Alice chimed laughing as she watched me get into the car.

"That's because you're incorrigible Alice." Edward groaned, closing my door carefully before rushing to the driver’s side.

"Fresh squeezed orange juice for you." Alice sang handing me a thermos. "Thought you might like some."

"Thanks." I smirked, taking a sip of the juice as Edward pulled out of my drive.

"So Bella do you have to work tonight?" Alice asked, ignoring Edward's gaze.

"No, why?" I inquired as my friend shrugged, while her brother played with the heat annoyed.

"I thought we could head to Seattle and pick up those books we ordered last time." She commented offhand. I had no idea what Alice meant but shrugged anyway smiling, playing along.

"Sure sounds good." I replied as Alice beamed.

Edward looked to both of us slowly, before shaking his head.

"How is your wrist, does it hurt any?" My boyfriend asked, genuinely concerned as he parked the car next to his brother's jeep.

"It's fine, everything is fine." I answered him, annoyed and appreciative.

I was apprehensive about this day and it showed in my sour mood. It took all morning but I was ready for the unrelenting questions from my friends and classmates. You would think they were used to seeing me in some form of cast or bandage by now. However, like everything else in Forks, news is news no matter how small. The upside was this semester I had three classes with Edward, two with Alice and the rest with Angela. There was always going to be a buffer with me if I needed one.

"Bella." Angela called from Ben's car as Edward held my bag for me. My friend eyed my cast concerned. "Hey guys." She waved before turning fully towards me.

"Are you okay?" She inquired, wincing at my wrist.

"It's just a sprain." Alice answered, smiling as Angela gave a quick nod.

"Oh, good. Look we'll catch up in homeroom okay?" She assured, waving goodbye as Ben called her back over.

"She's a good friend." Jasper commented, smiling at me warmly.

"Yeah, she is." I admitted as we walked towards the front of the school.

I hated the stares from all my peers, as people came up to me wondering what happened. Luckily, by homeroom everyone knew the story; so I just got pitiful looks minus the annoying questions.

"Bells." Angela cried, as I dropped my bag next to the desk, plopping down annoyed on my seat.

"Yeah, hey." I answered tired already.

"So scoop, what really happened?" She questioned leaning closer towards me. I loved Angela to death but the fact that she knew me so well was obnoxious today.

"We were camping in the woods last week, and I slipped on some tree roots, hit a hard patch of ice." I explained sticking as close to the truth as possible.

Angela made a face as she eyed my weak wrist lying on the desk.

"So other than the injury anything else new?" She probed raising an eyebrow for inflection, before I shook my head.

"Nope, Christmas was good; New Years of course was eventful." I raised my cast for emphasis.

"But what about you and Ben, you two seemed cozy." After months of using Ben to change the subject, Angela still fell for it every time.

"Oh, Ben he's so amazing. He came over for dinner last weekend and my Dad actually liked him so I think this is for real." She exclaimed pure excitement emanating from her smile.

It was easy to get through the first two periods with Angela gushing about her vacation. Edward seemed to be avoiding the gossip, letting Angela guide me to our classes. When it was finally time for American History, my boyfriend was at my side, my bag quickly transferred to his hands.

"Angela seems chipper." He commented, giving me a loving gaze as we meandered down the hall.

I smiled nodding. "Is that such a bad thing Edward? You should try it from time to time; focus on the positives instead of lingering on the negatives."

Edward stopped in the middle of the hall thinking about my words for a moment, before a sly grin lit up his face.

"You want me to let go a little?" He teased, the anxiety lifting from his shoulders as I shrugged leading him into the classroom. “Are you sure you are ready for that?”

"It couldn't hurt Edward, who knows you may actually like it." He grinned, the crooked gorgeous grin that I dreamed about, as we sat down next to each other at the back of the class.

Tyler and Mike had the same History class with us, they joked around in the center aisle waiting for the final bell to ring. Jasper flew into the room before the teacher stood up to the bell ringing. He looked pale; the emotions must have been too much today. His brother gave him a stern nod, as the two silently communicated. We had History with Mr. Weaver; he was a balding thirty something who moved to Forks three years ago. He had a Korean wife whom he met in College overseas. Mrs. Weaver must have dressed her husband; his ties always matched his socks. I laughed leaning over the side of my desk to see what color they were today.

”So many of you know what they want you to know. But I’ve created a real American History Curriculum. We’re not using the standard text books; can anyone take a guess as to why?” Mr. Weaver asked as I groaned inwardly, he was known to be a bit eccentric.

Tyler raised his hand a mischievous grin on his face.

“Yes Tyler.” Mr. Weaver called.

“Because the books are a lie, they tell us what they want us to believe. The truth isn’t in just one book.” Tyler leaned back in his seat as Mr. Weaver nodded happily.

“Exactly Tyler, you won’t find in those history books that South Korea fought with the Americans against the Russians and North Koreans in Vietnam. You won’t learn what happened in Nanking during World war two. Oh no, those are times where history was rewritten.” He mused as Jasper raised his hand.

“Yes, Mr. Hale.” The teacher called.

It was strange, Tyler was Tyler but Jasper was Mr. Hale. It was obvious the blonde vampire intimidated Mr. Weaver.

“Yeah, I’m sorry but I thought this was called American History.” Jasper drawled, his accent taking on a lazy tone. A few girls sighed gazing at the two brothers before throwing their attention back to the front. “We had our own wars, right here on American soil, I hope at least we can get to that.”

He was annoyed, it was the first time I had seen Jasper flustered. Mr. Weaver adjusted his tie, swallowing hard before answering.

“Of course we will delve into that as well Mr. Hale, I just want to get to the nitty gritty of History. So now let’s look at your syllabus.” He finished, opening the packet.

Edward gave his brother a nod as the two shook their heads amused.

When the teacher was finished reading the new syllabus, he let us have some free reading time before next period.

"What's going on tonight with you and Alice, Bella?" Edward finally whispered, Jasper looking at us just as invested in my answer.

"What do you mean? We're going to Seattle to the bookstore." It was good that Alice hadn't told me what we were really up to tonight. The two teenage vampires that stared at me intently couldn't detect the truth from my lie. Flabbergasted, Edward leaned back in his chair exchanging an annoyed shrug with his brother.

"She's acting weird; Jasper thinks something's going on." He whispered again, searching my eyes but coming up empty. "I just wish she wouldn't keep us in the dark that's all."

This must have been the reason for Jasper’s bad mood; Alice was keeping secrets from him. I sighed, Alice was complicated but when and if she wanted her family to know what she was doing, then they would know.

"Just trust us okay?" I asked looking at both boys before turning back to my open book.

Alice and I had fifth period science again, but this time it was a split lunch. We were the only ones in the cafeteria at our table as Alice beamed lost in thought.

"So can you tell me what's going on today?" I asked my friend, as she shook her head pointing to her left ear. Edward was listening in on our conversation; she was doing her best to keep him out.

"Your boyfriend doesn't like country music much." She laughed, continuing to hum some tune to herself.

"Mind if we join you?" Angela asked, while Ben stood behind her.

"Sure." I nodded, letting the two sit across from Alice and I.

"This split lunch is so bizarre." Angela commented, unfolding her sandwich. "I don't know how they're going to stop people from cramming for a test in-between periods."

Ben shrugged cracking open his soda. "They could split the test in half, twenty minute limit for one part and twenty for the other." He added smirking, as Angela gazed at him enamored.

"You are good." She giggled as I shook my head at the couple, while they flirted.

“So are we going to the same place again Alice?” I asked my friend as she gave me a smile and a nod.

“Yup, the exact same place.” She added, raising one eyebrow for emphasis.

“So have you two thought about Prom at all?” Angela questioned looking from me to Alice.

I shrugged while Alice nodded excited. “Yeah, I already have the dressed picked out, now if we can only convince Bella to go.” She prodded throwing her gaze at me.

“Bella doesn’t go to dances.” Ben quipped, laughing dryly. “She’s refused every offer since I can remember.”

Angela looked to Alice the two conspiring against me.

“But that was before she said yes to Edward; things are different now right Bells?” Angela asked.

“Can we not talk about prom right now, with my luck I’ll break my leg and have another cast to deal with.”

Ben snorted at my comment ,as I massaged my numbing fingers. Lunch went quicker than I had expected, it felt like one of the shorter periods as I followed Alice into the lab.

”Jasper’s worried about you Alice.” I commented, my friend’s eyes softened to the thought of her love.

“I know, but it’s nothing.” She answered, turning from me for an instant before plastering a smile on her face. “Can you come home with us and we’ll go straight from my house?”

“Sure.” I shrugged, giving up. “I’ll just call home on the way, Renee will understand.”

Science went the same as the other classes, extremely slow. When it was time to transition to the next class, I staid behind waiting for Alice to walk out together.

“Doesn’t this feel weird at all to you?” I questioned as Alice shrugged.

“We’re used to it Bella, we went through a tough couple of weeks.” She smirked taking my bag for me when Edward approached handing the bag to her brother. “I will see you in an hour and thirty two minutes.” She finished taking Jasper’s hand before they began to walk down the hall.

We watched them go before I turned to Edward with a smile.

“Thanks.” I said warmly, as he shifted both our bags on one shoulder.

“For what?” He questioned, leading me to our next class.

“For everything.” I finally admitted bumping into him a little bit flirting.

“Well I thought you would be in a more anxious mood Bella.” He teased as we walked into the classroom.

“Why?” I asked as he smirked, sitting down next to me.

“Because this semester we’re starting Drug and Alcohol Ed.” He answered, while I shrugged.

“It couldn’t get any worse than last semester.” I added playfully, hoping I wasn’t blushing.

Last semester’s sex Ed debacle went by in a blur with all the James and Victoria hype. Imagine trying to make it through a course about the repercussions of sex, with the one you love. It was hard enough suppressing those thoughts, when you are a single teenager. The pheromones that ransacked the high-school on a daily basis could drive you insane. But every-time I sat in that class ,it was only a reminder of how limited we were.

I didn't know if Edward felt the same, if he had these thoughts. Sometimes my boyfriend seemed like the epitome of selfrestraint. A perfect gentleman who wouldn't think of making any advances on a girl. Other times I felt like the aggressor, until I met Edward there was only the hormones but nothing behind them. Now I felt my mind wandering during the most inopportune times, sex ed was one of them. Of course I wanted to go further with Edward, to hold him longer and be with him like everyone else. The reminder that he wasn’t human, that there were more obstacles in our way than STDs or pregnancies' made me feel like we were worlds apart. Not that any of those would be possible, not at the rate our relationship was evolving.

Edward was more afraid of losing himself and hurting me, now more than ever. I was lucky to be able to kiss him for more than a minute. The thought made the heat creep up my neck and to my face. I turned towards the window, hoping Edward didn’t see me turn crimson.

“Bella.” Edward whispered, I shook off my thoughts turning towards him. He motioned towards the from of the classroom as the teacher was looking at me expectantly.

“Well Ms. Swan?” He asked as I looked to Edward lost, he gave me a nod mouthing the word yes.

“Yes, sure.” I replied with a smile to the teacher.

“Great, so if you could ask your father to call me that would be fantastic.” He finished as the bell rang. I had zoned out during most of the class, my thoughts full of doubts and questions.

“You okay, you checked out there for a while.” Edward asked while we walked towards our next class.

“Yeah I’m fine, just thinking.” I smiled taking his free hand.

"About?" He pestered, stopping with me at my locker.

"About this town, everyone around us who have no idea that we saved them." I answered wrinkling my nose at the thought when Edward smiled brightly.

"And that is what keeps them safe." He finally replied following me towards our seventh period class. "Not knowing."

I let Edward pick out my schedule last semester; it was easier than figuring out the logistics with everything that was happening. When he suggested we take Music Appreciation for an elective it was a perfect fit. Today the class flew by, and before I knew it, we were sitting in his Volvo outside of his house.

"So you won't tell me what's really going on will you?" Edward inquired, before I smiled shrugging.

"Two girls are going to Seattle to the bookstore, other than that I have no idea." I finished, leaning towards Edward slowly while he let me approach him.

His lips parted slightly as he let me lean in closer, we touched so gently. It was always different kissing Edward, from the first time to this very moment. One kiss was different from the next. Today his lips were pleading, just as hungry as mine were for the connection to linger another moment longer. But soon the hunger transformed and Edward's resolve broke down. I could feel it, a coldness flowing from his touch, when he felt his walls crumbling. I pulled away gently as he kept his eyes closed. It was the same every time, Edward was afraid to look at me; afraid that what I would see in his eyes were that of a predator and not a boyfriend.

"Alice is waiting for you." He finally managed to whisper painfully, as I bit my lip nodding quickly.

"Tomorrow after work, pick me up?" I asked, trying to alleviate the awkwardness from this moment while my friend watched us waiting.

The ride to Seattle was quiet; Alice didn't talk until we were far enough away from Edward's watchful eyes. It was hard for my friend to keep up the charade, her fingers tapped to the music playing in the background. Her yellow sports car hummed with enjoyment of the ride as it peeled down the highway. The electricity in the air finally abated as we approached Seattle, merging onto the bigger highway towards the city.

"They called me Bella, last night." My friend beamed breaking the silence, thrilled with excitement. "He said they found something, something worth this trip tonight."

"About your past, who you are?" I asked, not waiting for the confirmation. "So you still couldn't tell the others, not even Jasper?"

Alice sighed, turning off the highway and onto an exit.

"What if it's nothing, I can't hurt him like that. You're the only one I can turn to right now Bells." She sang, briefly turning from the road to smile at me. "I just want to make sure that before I bring this up, that it is worth it. Then I promise no more secrets."

She laughed as we sped down another highway.

I knew after today Alice wouldn’t be the same. She was either going to be disappointed or enlightened. My hope for her was that whatever the outcome, she was happy. I didn’t like to see her family struggle under the weight of her secrets. It was in everyone’s best interest that Alice be open with the Cullens, before she had gone too far.

The sun was setting by the time we reached Seattle; Alice idled outside of the detective's office for a minute before taking a deep breath.

"This is it, you ready?" She asked me turning the engine off and opening her door.

I took a deep breath before following after her. If this trip did prove to yield some actual results, it would be well worth it. I couldn’t imagine how Alice felt, not knowing who she was, where she came from. My only fear was that when she did find out everything, that it wouldn’t be what she had hoped for.

The large bodyguard that blocked the office door flinched when he saw Alice coming. My friend smiled, enjoying the power she held as the man stepped aside automatically.

“He’s waiting for you Miss.” He announced, almost apologetically.

The office had the same smell as before, but this time the balding man behind the desk stood up startled upon our entrance. His hand shook with a file as Alice approached him cautiously.

“This is it Miss. Cullen, everything I could find in the allotted time.” He stuttered.

My friend took the file slowly, cautiously staring at the brown envelope before cracking it open to read its contents. After few seconds, Alice looked up a smile spread across her face, it was dangerous and seductive. I had never seen her look like that before, she was completely foreign to me.

“Thank you Stuart, now I’m sure you’re wondering about payment, check your account.” She cooed, smiling as the man looked at his computer clicking here and there before staring back up.

“Th-thank you Miss. Cullen, will that be all?” He asked, wringing his hands.

Alice sighed before tilting her head.

“No, I may call upon you at a later time, please keep me in mind.” She replied and with that my friend turned leading me out of the office building and down the rickety elevator.

We didn’t speak until Alice parked outside of the bookstore, her eyes were glazed in a vision before she turned to me.

“This is it Bella, this is what I’ve been looking for.” She was her old self again, excited and bouncing with the thrill of it all.

“I thought your records were sealed from the hospital?” I inquired, staring at the old aged brown file that now was lying on the dashboard.

“It was, that is why I needed Stuart. Did you see how nervous he was, I can be pretty intimidating when I need to be don’t you think?” Alice asked impressed with herself, handing me the file.

I opened the folder, while Alice climbed out of the car.

“Come on Bella, what better place to read this then in the bookstore?” She giggled, skipping towards the front doors.

We finally settled down on the soft couches in a corner, as Alice handed me a frozen starbucks coffee.

“Here, so what do you think?” She asked as I sat the drink down staring at the file.

“Well, this is so sad Alice.” I finally answered as she sat next to me, reading over my shoulder.

“Yeah, of course they thought I was mentally ill, who knew in the 20th century visions were delusions.” She rolled her eyes, pointing towards her birth date and birthplace.

“I’m from Baltimore, and I was sixteen when I was turned.” My friend seemed enthralled, learning about herself for the first time. “They thought I was dead, suffering from paranoid delusions about one of the orderlies trying to kill me. Did you read that?”

I gave a solemn nod, it must have been hard, to wake up alone and abandoned as Alice had been.

“He must have sired me.” She finished lost in thought.

“Alice.” I interrupted staring at my friend, but she smiled shrugging before I could finish my thought.

“It’s fine, I’ve always known it was something like this. Look I’m an Aquarius.” She gasped, changing the mood with her infectious excitement.

When I had finished my coffee, and read Alice’s file from front to back we finally made our way to the front counter. I had a couple of books I was interested in reading, at Alice’s insistence she purchased the books for me.

“I invited you Bella.” She sang, pulling her black no limit credit card out.

After spending so much time with the Cullens I knew I shouldn't have noticed the cashier eyeing Alice oddly, but I did. She was a good friend to me, if I had some secret mission she would be the first one out the door to support me. Trusting my friend was the right thing to do, it was my first instinct and that made sense.

The next few weeks Alice was herself again, Jasper seemed calmed and the tension eased between Edward and his sister. I never asked my friend if she told her family, and it never came up. My boyfriend was trying to relax more, it was hard for him as I'm sure it is for any telepath in high school. But he was a real trooper, the angst filled Edward was at a minimum and I loved every moment. He smiled brilliantly every morning when he picked me up from school; and despite the reminder that we had a trip to Italy to plan, the incident was behind us.

Soon January turned to February and March was at our door knocking. I was getting used to a spontaneous and romantic Edward. This particular morning he was picking me up earlier than usual and I had no idea why. Some mornings he would take me for a long walk, or we would visit his special place in the middle of the woods. It was carefree Edward and he was growing on me, he gave me a glimmer of his human self and it was beautiful.

The promise of spring was finally in the air and it felt like a new beginning. It was Rosalie and Emmett’s senior year and they would be going off to college, again. I shook my head wondering what they would do? If they would really go to College. Alice seemed chipper about everything. The flowers coming in, the snow melting, Prom, watching everyone graduate. There was something about making it through alive, with everyone’s lives in tact that made you really enjoy spring.

It had been two months since the attack, the ashes of James and Victoria still lingered in the wind. I had made it through my first vampire attack, and the last month was spent in preparation for perhaps another. The more I learned about the Vultori from the Cullens the more I understood them. It wasn’t a pleasant history, but it was wise to know your enemy.

We still had three weeks before our trip to Italy; at least that is what my parents thought it was. It was supposed to be a weeklong adventure with my best friend and her family; to one of the most beautiful countries in the world. If I was successful in getting permission to go on the trip, everything would be in place.

It had taken Carlisle the entire month of January just to get in contact with the council. Communication wasn’t exactly as easy as picking up the phone, apparently these century old vampires were old school. Every process had a certain protocol and it would take a month before we were granted an appointment. The only upside was if it was this difficult for us, it was the same for Laurent.

‘Spring break.’ I thought zipping up my jacket, stepping out onto my front steps. ‘Not exactly what I pictured my first plane ride to be, but a free trip to Italy had to have its drawbacks.’

I smirked at the silver Volvo that stopped in my driveway, walking calmly towards the awaiting car. As Edward picked me up, he smiled shyly.

“I could drive you know.” I teased, as he shrugged. It was moments like this that I felt Edward and I were normal. If it weren't for his otherworldly beauty and lack of a flush to the morning chill, I would have been fooled.

“You could, but the melting snow looks too threatening. You don't have to work after school right?” He remarked, tilting his head as I played with the radio.

“Yes.” I answered, looking out the window. It was going to be a beautiful cloudy day with the temperature threatening to peak at sixty. I was glad for it. "So where are we going today?"

Edward shook his head, returning his gaze back to the road he smirked devilishly.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about your choice, your decision.” He started and I looked at him surprised.

“You have?” He nodded.

“Yes, well Alice has reminded me of it.”

“Oh.” I smiled, thank God for Alice. I hadn't spoken a word of Edward changing me for months, afraid of breaking the spell he was in. But I wonder how his sister had approached it with her brother, and why he had brought it up.

“I’ve come up with a few conditions of my own.” He smirked perking an eyebrow as I shook my head.

“Conditions?” I questioned, confused as he smiled.

“Marry me Bella.” He sighed, his signature crooked smile brightening the cloudy day.