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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:


19. Chapter 19, The Fallout

Rating 5/5   Word Count 5160   Review this Chapter

Chapter 19, The Fallout

Most girls dream of romantic candlelit dinners at some fancy french, or italian restaurant as a backdrop to the perfect proposal. I always laughed at them, the droll idea of getting on one knee and conforming to popular conventions always seemed like a copout. But now, when someone was actually asking me, Bella Swan to marry him I was a little hurt at the lack of grandeur.

Was I hearing this right, did Edward just propose, to me? I shook my head taking a deep breath before glancing at him. He looked so focused, there wasn’t a hint of humor in his gaze. There were about a few hundred girls at Forks High at this very moment, roaming the halls or getting ready for class who would give their right arm to be me right now.

I laughed. “You know Edward if you don’t want me to become one of you just say it. Proposals at seventeen come on.”

He frowned. “It was not a joke, I am going to be seventeen forever Bella. But we can wait, until we graduate.”

“That’s your condition?” I asked, still bewildered.

He smiled, tilting his head. “That’s my condition.”

“I don’t know Edward.” I swallowed hard, confused.

“Do you love me?” He questioned smiling evilly; he was using my own words against me.

“Yes, of course.” I answered.

“And you want to be with me, for eternity?” He persisted.

“Yes, but.” I stammered.

“Then what is so wrong with marriage? A small quick ceremony. At least Charlie and Renee can sleep better knowing we are not living in sin.” He laughed.

“Living in sin?” My mind raced for an argument. “I thought I wouldn’t have a soul.”

Edward shook his head smirking.

“How can you love without a soul?” He grinned throwing my words back at me.

“Let me think about it?” I asked, as he smiled nodding.

It was a cruel trick he was playing. He knew the way I felt about him, that I would do anything to be with him. But this was his condition and I should have said 'yes of course I will marry you.' I wanted to be with him forever, but my idea of marriage was a sure fire way to ruin a relationship. I knew my parents loved each other but I wasn’t sure if they ever regretted their decision.

I was silent as Edward parked the Volvo. Alice met us by the car jumping up and down; of course she knew what we had been discussing. She pulled me into the corner sandwiched between parked cars, despite the fact that everyone could still hear us.

“I have your whole color scheme picked out.” She sang.

I shook my head. “Alice I haven’t even said yes yet.”

“Oh you will.” She answered flicking my words away like an annoying fly.

I knew I would.

“Alice can we just talk about this later...I?”

“You’re going to be one of us, and you’re going to be married. I’m going to plan the whole thing and Rosalie will play...”

“Alice...” I stopped her as she rambled. “Can we talk about it later, I..”

“You were just proposed to.” She beamed.

“Yes.” I laughed.

“This is going to be great.” She smiled, walking away.

I bit my lip, as Edward approached me.

“She’s flamboyant, easily excitable.” He said chuckling.

“Yes, well...”

“So you’re going to say yes?” He questioned flirtatiously.

I shook my head blushing. “I haven’t said anything officially.”

Edward laughed following me easily. “No but apparently you will.”

Rosalie pulled Emmett away from us, he was itching to make a smart remark.

As I sat in homeroom while Angela went on and on about another great date with Ben, I couldn’t help but think. Married? At seventeen? What am I thinking? I wanted to say something to Angela. To use her as a sounding board, she was with her first boyfriend too. I couldn’t imagine what she would say, if Ben had popped the question.

For most girls my age, their first love was more of a stepping-stone. How many girls met their soul mates at seventeen? I knew without a doubt, that this was it for me. I had said it a thousand times and could feel it with every fiber of my being. God, what would Renee and Charlie say? I guess history really does repeat itself.

My mind was on the proposal for the rest of the day. When Edward met me for History, I was silent. I had gone back and forth on what to say to him, how to act. Everything about us, the way we walked so close how we moved in sync. I was second-guessing everything I had ever felt.

“You okay?” He asked as I grabbed our usual seat in the back.

“Yeah. Why?” I replied, still lost in thought.

He smiled comically. “You just seem different that is all."

I shrugged, My gaze went to Tyler and Mike playing paper football before the final bell rang, I shook my head at the normalcy. When Jasper joined us, late as usual he looked to his brother and his face was enough to tell me Edward's mood. But I couldn't help any of that, it's not everyday that someone asks you to marry them.

This was a big deal, I finally understood how Edward felt when I wanted him to change me. The bond that we would form meant forever. Maybe this was his way of testing me, and I was failing miserably. The class went by like a blur, I mechanically took notes but avoided Edward's gaze while he sat quietly. The atmosphere around us was heightened, like a storm cloud filled with electricity.

Someone knocked on the door about five minutes before class was over. Mr. Weaver stepped back as the wind was knocked out of him. Rosalie and Alice stood at the doorway and every pair of eyes turned to us in the back.

Rosalie had that affect on men, and it was obvious that Mr. Weaver was meeting her for the first time. She handed him a slip, his palms shaking as if he was asking her for a date.

"Oh yes, Miss Swan, you are needed at the main office." The teacher finally announced, wiping his brow as beads of sweat began to form.

Edward and Jasper talked inaudibly as I gathered my bag and walked towards the front of the class. My gaze fell on Edward as he gave me a solemn smile and nod. He looked like a puppy left at the vet, so pitiful but reassuring. I turned from him, knowing he could read both his sisters minds before walking outside of the class room.

"What's going on?" I questioned the two girls as Alice reached for my hand.

“Let’s skip the rest of the day.” Rosalie purred, looking straight at me, she had never invited me anywhere, but I was anxious and had to organize my thoughts.

“Sounds good.” I said shyly as Alice slowly led us down the hallway.

"We're going to get a lecture later." Rosalie commented offhand, tossing her blonde locks away from her face.

It was the first time I wished Edward couldn’t read minds. From the way he and Alice were acting, I was sure my indecisiveness was giving them both headaches. I followed the two girls as they gracefully led me into the front office. Alice and Rosalie both beamed, walking up to the secretary.

It took two minutes to successfully convince the Vice Principal that we desperately needed permission for the rest of the day off. The Vice Principal was no match for Rosalie. Her pout and sashay, had him before she walked into his office. We were free and it was the first time I had skipped.

As Rosalie started her car, she turned to me, smirking.

“I’m going to take you somewhere I like to go.” She sang as Alice folded her arms annoyed. I sat back giving her a quick nod with a smile as her car sped out of the parking lot.

When we arrived at our destination, I was confused. Rosalie simply pulled into a parking spot and cut off the engine. We were in full view of a local park. Little kids were running ramped chased by their parents. Rosalie smiled, full and bright, it was the happiest I had ever seen her without Emmett.

“This is where I come sometimes, when I skip.” Rosalie admitted. “Or when it’s too bright out to go to school.” She turned to Alice whose arms were still folded across her chest, she looked anxious. It was the first time my friend seemed ill at ease.

“I know you’re conflicted right now, about what to choose.” Rosalie began. She sounded sincere.

“You do?” Rosalie laughed light and lyrical.

“I know you asked me a while ago what I would do in your place, and I said I didn’t know.” I nodded encouraging her to go on.

Rosalie sighed, turning back to the children running up and down the playscape.

“I still don’t know, but I would have wanted a choice, and would have wanted to know what I was giving up.”

“She knows Rose.” Alice interjected, her sister turned to her fierce.

“Does she? Alice I know you want her to be one of us I understand that, but you don’t know anything else. It’s sweet and endearing but I remember still, I have a shred of my humanity left.”

Alice looked away, chided.

“And I know that if I was in Bella’s place I would want to understand everything, know all my options before...” She stopped taking a deep breath.

We had driven to a town fifteen miles south of Forks, just in case an adult had recognized us skipping school. I wondered if all the Cullens had a spot where they went to reflect. I eyed the two girls in front of me, perfect examples of beauty and winced. It was the first time Alice and Rosalie had disagreed in my presence. I imagined years of this same discussion, all-hypothetical until now.

“It’s getting late, I’ll take you home.” Rosalie announced, to my nod before I leaned back lost in thought.

Rosalie was an enigma; she was watching me today, observing silently. I knew Alice was aware but for her sister to care, for her to take me to this spot to help surprised me. As we drove back to Forks in silence, the urge to talk with Edward grew stronger and stronger with every passing mile. There was no plan, but Edward deserved to know what was on my mind even if it hurt him.

“Bella wants to see Edward.” Alice said for me, before I could open my mouth.

Rosalie looked at me through the rearview mirror, awaiting a confirmation. From the way the two sisters were acting, it seemed they both had opposite agendas for skipping school today.

“Please.” I added, as she made the turn for home.

When we pulled into their garage, I had a sick uneasy feeling. Rosalie gave me a long hard look, before leaving Alice to walk me in.

“Don’t” Alice whispered. “Don’t do it, not now.” I bit my lip. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say, but Alice seemed convinced.

“You’re confused, and that’s perfectly normal.”

“Alice, I just need to talk with him, nothing’s definite.” Alice sighed nodding, as we both walked into the house.

The piano tinkered, lightly playing a familiar tune, it sounded like the piece Edward had written for me. But then it changed into something else. A faster piece, filled with anxiety it was the last movement of Beethoven’s 14th piano sonata. I walked towards the sound, as Alice gave my hand a squeeze before disappearing. My gaze was locked on Edward playing, his hands moving quickly across the keys. Did he know how confused I was? Could he sense how I felt? Did I prove to him how fickle humans are?

He modulated back to the first movement, Moonlight Sonata now permeated the air. I couldn’t hold back the tears as I watched, amazed and overtaken. The music was filling me up, urging me to confront all my demons. 'Now or never,' I thought.

“Edward?” He didn’t look up but continued to play, his fingers painfully reflecting the longing in Ludwig’s piece.

“This sonata was written for one of his loves, did you know that? Her name was Countess Giulietta Guicciardi; she was one of his pupils.”

He smiled halfheartedly as he moved to the second movement a lighter more playful tune, it danced as I eased closer to him.

“She was only seventeen when he wrote this for her. Quasi una fantasia he called it. Almost a fantasy, I think that’s how he viewed love.”

His head bent down as he continued into the third movement that he had played earlier. Now it was more frustrated, more passionate, tears began to roll down my eyes as his hands flew from one octave to another.

“Presto agitato, for obvious reasons of course.” He finished, a strange smile darkened his face. As he played I couldn’t help but sit next to him watching in awe as he continued the piece.

“I learned this when I was fifteen. I never truly understood the piece, just played it. The Romantic period was simply a frame of time then. Beethoven, a composer who happened to be in the middle of it. I don’t think I ever truly comprehended his music, until I met you.”

The piece slowed for a moment before picking up speed again, the agitated runs, his fingers forcing the keys to keep up. It astounded me, my arms itching to hold him. But right now he was something else, another being and I could only watch. The bench hitched slightly every time he tapped the damper pedal, but my eyes were on him. My feelings were causing this torment; I had thought he only asked me to marry him to delay my death, or new life.

As he played the final chord, he eased back, his foot gently lifting from the pedal before turning to me.

“I should take you home.” He commented lightly.

Edward beckoned to me, holding his hand out as he led the way to his car. Everyone was gone, out of sight. I wondered if they knew as well, if the conflict within me was altering everyone’s mood. I hoped they didn’t feel rejected, for the last few months all I had wanted was to be one of them. But the doubt was like a virus, multiplying and clouding my judgments. It had taken form this morning and now my heart felt twisted in knots. I was unsure of everything just twenty-four hours ago, that seemed so concrete.

We drove to my house in silence, I wasn’t sure if he was waiting for me to speak or upset with me.

“I’m sorry Edward.” I finally said. He looked up, his eyes tight, so intense.

“Why?” He questioned.

I shrugged taking a deep settling breath. “Because I’m confused, because I haven’t answered you when you were just waiting for a yes.”

He laughed lightly, turning towards me.

“I never expected you to answer right away. It’s true I was hoping to make you think harder about what it meant to become like me. But maybe this is good for you, to have doubts.”

He turned as he finished and I shook my head wondering what my doubts were.

“It’s not...” He stopped me, getting out of the car and opening the door.

“We can talk about it later.” He smiled, taking my hand gently, before walking me to my front steps.

“I made a decision long ago; and I have never wanted to force you one way or another. I told you this was not a simple yes or no.”

He kissed my forehead lightly; it felt like a goodbye, his lips lingering on my face, resting his cheek to mine before pulling away.

“I will not bother you tonight.” He said quietly, leaving me there while I watched him drive away.

I was so angry with myself, as I slammed the door shut. Renee looked up smiling, unsure of my mood.

“Your father and I have decided you can go to Italy with your friends sweetie.” She answered the long drawn out question, as Charlie looked up smirking with a quick nod. I shrugged sighing.

’Great.’ I thought as Renee set her book down following me up the stairs. Charlie watched us with an eyebrow perked; no doubt, glad Renee was handling me.

“What is it?” She asked when I collapsed on my bed face down.

“Nothing.” I lied, as she rubbed my back.

“Doesn’t look like nothing.” She said soothingly, the way only mothers can.

I turned on my side looking at her, wondering how Renee could make it all better.

“Did you have a boyfriend before Dad?” I questioned, this was the first time ever asking my Mother about her romantic life, Renee blushed remembering.

“One, Rodney Marks he was Dad’s good friend actually.”

I sat up. “You dated one of Dad’s friends?”

She nodded blushing. “I had a problem with saying no.” My Mother laughed at herself.

“So what happened?” Renee shrugged thinking back.

“Rodney took me to a dance and your father cut in. I didn’t dance with Rodney again until our wedding.” She smiled lost in the past.

“Yeah, but how did you know Charlie was the one?” I inquired hoping for some insight.

“Is this about your Dad and I or...?” I shrugged, hoping she would answer the question.

“I just knew, and it was all worth it because we have you.” She beamed.

Renee couldn’t have anymore children, not that my parents didn’t try; the doctors had deemed it impossible and her uterus had to be removed. It was why sometimes Renee regarded me as her miracle baby.

“But, what if you had made a mistake? Didn’t you ever doubt yourself?”

Renee took a deep breath, thinking hard on how to approach an answer to my question.

“Life is going to be filled with doubts Bella, of course. But you can’t live life looking back thinking what if, you have to live in the moment.” She smiled, kissing me gently on the chin.

“You feeling okay?” Renee inquired. I wanted to crawl under the covers and sleep. “You seem warm baby.” My Mother felt my forehead before pulling the covers over me.

“Sleep, I’m going to get some Tylenol.” She whispered, before disappearing down the hall.

That was the last thing I heard, before my eyes closed tightly and I fell into a deep sleep my head burning with fever. I was sick, the queasiness and soreness told me as much. When I awoke the next day, the sun was already on its way back down to set. My head was pounding and the covers were holding me down. I was damp with sweat in a pair of pajamas.

“Hey baby.” Renee called, as I looked up, my vision slightly blurry from the fever.

“Alice is here from school, she has been taking notes for you and she brought some vegetable soup with chicken broth. She’s going to help me get you cleaned up.”

I gave a quick nod before prying my eyes open. Alice was behind my mother; she looked worried but excited to play nurse. I laughed dryly as Renee tried to pry me out of bed.

“Alice could you help get her into the bath, while I strip her sheets” Alice gave a quick nod as my Mother turned to get new sheets. In one fell swoop, my friend had me in her arms. I wanted to laugh but was sure I sounded delirious. Alice, who was at least five inches shorter than me, was lifting my body like a doll and into the bathroom.

“Wow Alice thanks.” I heard Renee say politely, before drifting in and out of consciousness.

The water massaged my feverish body, while the two women bathed me quickly. My mother kept feeling my forehead sighing with worry as Alice smiled, enjoying every moment.

When I awoke again Alice’s hand was over my forehead. It felt nice and cold.

“I learned if I keep this here, you don’t break out in a sweat. And it’s keeping your fever down.” She sang with a smile.

“Edward?” I asked with a dry throat, as Alice helped me sit up before placing a bowl of soup next to me.

“He brought the soup, and Esme sent some flowers.” She smiled, turning to the vase that sat on my dresser. The gorgeous new blooms that filled once Esme’s garden sat perfectly arranged on the antique.

“Carlisle thinks it’s just a twenty-four hour bug.” She smiled tilting her head. “Do you feel better?” I gave a quick nod as she brightened.

“What day is it?” I asked as Alice shook her head amused.

“It’s Thursday, but I don’t know if you’ll make it tomorrow.” She thought for a moment.

“No, but you’ll be good as new by Saturday.” She smirked, happy to have someone to joke with.

"Carlisle was hear?" I asked, remembering she mentioned his name.

"Oh yes, everyone has come. Esme and your Mother really hit it off." The pixie-like girl laughed.

I could just imagine Renee nervous with the beautiful Esme in the house.

"And Edward?" I added, embarrassed.

"Yes." She replied.

I glanced at my hands pulling lint from the blanket; I couldn't imagine what Edward was going through right now. What I was putting him through, an unnecessary complication.

"Do you want me to read to you?" She inquired, excited.

"Read to me?" I croaked, shaking the fever from clouding my thoughts.

"Yes, you like Austen right?" She was up before I could reply, grabbing my compilation of Austen works.

"Which one is your favorite?" She asked me, already opening to the page.

"Persuasion." I answered absentmindedly.

Now more than ever I could identify with the main character Anne. As Alice started to read the first chapter, my mind wondered about the main character. How I always tried to be just like her, Ann had a strong silent strength that I wanted to emulate. My eyes became heavy, Alice's sweet voice reciting the words. I slipped into a dream just as Anne was heading to Mary's.

When I awoke again, Alice was gone. In her place was Edward.

"Did I startle you?" He asked.

"No." I whispered. He was holding the Jane Austen book.

"Alice just left, she asked me to continue for you." He laughed. "Persuasion." Edward shook his head smiling.

"It makes sense that you would identify with Anne." He looked down examining the pages. I wasn't sure if there was malice in his voice or pain.

"Edward, I..."

"You do not have to go." He sighed.

"Go where?" I furrowed my brow, confused.

"To Italy, you should not go, this is my problem and I will not drag you into it." He put the book down. "I should let you get some sleep."

My lips opened but he slipped out the window so quickly, before I could protest. I was frustrated, annoyed with myself. Why was he bringing Italy up now, it was still a month away and this was just a bump, a falter. That didn't mean anything, let alone a change of plans.

I was still groggy from the medicine but managed to sit up, determined. It was Friday late afternoon, the clock on my nightstand confirmed as much reading 5pm.

I dragged my feet walking to the bathroom.

"Mom!" I called down the stairs, voice drifting to my mother. "I'm feeling better, taking a shower and going to La Push."

I didn't know why, but the one person I could talk to right now was Jacob. He was the only person I could talk to. I had that uneasy feeling that you get after getting over the flu or a bad cold. It was that heavy feeling and the cold fresh air felt good against my skin as I drove to the Reservation.

When I pulled into the Black's driveway Jacob met me with a worried smile.

"Heard you were sick?" He asked taking my hand and helping me down.

"I was, I just needed someone to talk to Jake." I replied as he gave a quick nod walking me into the house.

When we sat down on the old worn couch, he smiled.

"Step into my office." He joked laughing. "So, what's going on?"

"It's..." I paused, unsure how to start the conversation.

"Is it Edward?" My friend inquired, tilting his head in triumph to my quick nod. "Do you like him?"

I sighed. "I think it's more than that."

He smirked. "So you love him?" He said it so simply.

"It's not that easy." I argued, as Jacob laughed dryly.

"Bella you've never paid attention to any guy; so I knew when you met someone they had to be special and you would fall hard. This doesn't surprise me."

"I'm just so unsure of myself." I argued as he shrugged.

"It seems like you love him, and I saw the way you two are when you're together."

"I was so sure and then..." He leaned towards me taking my hand and smiling.

"You know, as corny as this may sound and people say it all the time; you should follow your heart. You may make a mistake or get hurt, but you'll never regret it. It's like this rule, or something."

I laughed shaking my head. "It's hard to believe you're just fifteen Jake."

"I know right." He snarked, before I punched him on the shoulder. "I'm going to charge you by the hour if this keeps up." He commented, pulling away before I could punch him again.

"So what do you think?" He asked getting up quickly; I hadn't noticed how big Jacob had become. I shook my head to the observation, before following my ever-growing best friend into the kitchen.

"Well that all depends what are we talking about here?" I replied playfully.

"Well, chocolate chip or frosted sugar cookies." He laughed opening a Christmas tin that Sarah had packed during the holidays.

"One of each" I beamed, grabbing two large glasses from the cupboard. "I'll get the milk."

He laughed as we sat around the kitchen, falling into our old ways.

When I finally got home Renee was smiling, Alice's car sat parked on the side of the road leering at me.

"Hey sweetie." Renee welcomed me. "Alice is upstairs, you didn’t tell me you were sleeping over tonight?" I nodded taking a deep breath.

”Sorry Mom, is it okay?” I asked as Renee grinned giving me a nod.

Edward had been so adamant about going to Volterra alone, or at least without me. My talk with Jacob had cleared some cobwebs but now I wondered if my delay, my hesitation was going to cost me.

"Thanks Mom." Renee nodded while Charlie watched us from the living room.

"Hey Bells, can I talk to you for a minute?" I sighed as Renee smiled urging me to go talk to my father.

"Alice is waiting upstairs Dad." I mentioned standing expectantly next to the couch. He turned the TV off, tilting his head motioning towards the seat next to him.

I sat down in a huff as he studied my face, before wrapping his arm around me. I felt like a kid again, on the verge of tears. My father's embrace almost broke my steely reserve; I took a deep steadying breath.

"What's up Dad?" I squeaked before he smiled, narrowing his gaze at me.

"You okay Bells? How you feeling?" I pouted for a minute, I felt better, the affects of the medicine had waned and my stomach was filled with milk and cookies right now but still healthy.

"I feel good, almost one hundred percent, tip top shape." He smiled his eyes flowing from side to side, taking all my inflections and expressions in.

"Yeah?" He questioned again.

I swallowed, slowly nodding with him. "Yeah, I'm good."

He laughed kissing me on the head. "You know your Mother and I will always be here for you, right?" I sighed smiling.

"I know, thanks Dad." He chuckled shaking his head.

Charlie had good instincts; it is what made him a good father and a good cop.

Charlie nodded motioning upstairs. "Go to your friend, have fun tonight."

I sucked in my breath slowly before grinning and heading for the stairwell.

My heart thudded as I ascended the stairs, fear was boiling over. Why was Alice lying to my parents about a sleepover? My heart skipped a beat as I walked into my room. My friend had a handful of my clothes and she was throwing them into an overnight bag with ease.

“My brother won’t listen to any of us Bella, he’s leaving tonight.” She looked to me, a mixture of annoyance and anger tainting her features. “And you are the only one who can stop him from going.” She finished turning back to my bag, as I stood there dumbfounded.

“Edward’s going to Italy tonight? Alone?” I asked, suddenly what he has said to me hours ago, made sense.

"Read this." She thrust a letter into my hands as my legs became like jello. It was from Edward, and it read:

'Even now as I am writing this, you are leaving for La Push. Your truck idling in the drive, as I hide in the shadows, only able to watch you go. It was like this for a while, do you remember; before you let me into your life, into your heart? I cannot help but wonder what would have become of us, if my family had never come to Forks Washington. Would you and I have still found one another if we had taken to a different city and let this quiet Washington town stay sleeping? Even now, after everything we have been through that very thought pains me. I hope to be a better man, worthy of your love and affections Bella. Right now, I can see why your mind cannot come to a conclusion. If there is hope, if there is a slight shred of doubt I yearn to hear it from your lips. I am going to Italy alone; it is what I have to do to make things right between us. I realize now the mistake I made, dragging you too deep into our world too soon. You must realize how precious you are to me; my desire is to return to you one day, with the faintest wish that I am not too late. My dearest Bella, please tell me when that day comes that we still have a chance. Moreover, when the day comes be the glimmer of light, in my world of darkness. Love with utmost devotion, Edward'

I wiped the tears that were falling, before closing the letter clutching it to my chest.

“If anyone can stop him it’s you Bella, and we’ll just make it to the airport on time to stop him.” Alice commented taking my hand as we left my room heading down the stairs.

I was still numb; Edward's letter was grasped tightly, my thoughts only on him. Alice plastered a smile on her face for my parents, as I kissed them goodnight. When we were out in the cold, she took on a more serious tone.

“Carlisle is going to meet us there, whatever you say it has to be definitive Bella. He’s going to turn himself in, one way or another.” She sounded anxious. “Nothing is staying the same; I’m not sure what will happen.” For the first time since I had met Alice her voice broke.