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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:


2. Chapter 2, A visit with the Cullens

Rating 1.5/5   Word Count 5230   Review this Chapter

Chapter 2, A visit with the Cullens

So far this year was going better than the last. With the new additions to Forks High, the student body had their very own Teen Vogue models to emulate. Soon the freshman girls were sporting pale blues mixed with vibrant reds, an ode to Rosalie. Some girls also chopped off all their hair trying Alice’s pixie look; needless to say hats were coming into fashion. The boys were a bit more subtle, the just got out of bed look which Edward wore so well, was taking over the junior class. There was gel, pomade, and a sculpting cream shortage in Forks, Washington.

The next two weeks went by with no incident, a few days the Cullens went on another camping trip taking advantage of the good weather. These were the days that the school day seemed to drag along. There were no whispers, nothing new to report on. If it wasn’t for the lack of Alice, I would have enjoyed these days greatly. And yet, the school slowly started to ease out of the Cullen newness and life was returning to normal.

It was fish-stick Friday and the Cullens were back from another hiking trip, I tried to avoid gapping at their table; excited to talk with Alice next period. As I sat down at my usual lunch table, Tyler seemed very anxious.

“Bella...”

I knew it was too good to be true as Tyler smiled sitting down next to me. He ignored Lauren’s burning gaze, as she stuffed a celery stick into her mouth. My instincts were to run, turn my head or ignore Tyler. But he was my friend, and despite swallowing that awkward feeling, I turned towards him.

“Have you seen…?”

“Hey Bella!”

I looked up instantly happy for the distraction from Tyler.

“Alice, hey, how are you?”

She beamed, her perfectly white teeth shining as her golden eyes shimmered under the florescent lights.

“Pretty good, can I just borrow your Biology notes?”

I nodded, avoiding the gazes from my table; as Alice completely ignored them, smirking as she waited. Tyler didn’t look to happy for the interruption but Lauren caught his attention and I was grateful.

“Here.”

She grinned before I gasped with horror, realizing I had handed her the wrong book. My mind began to imagine the downfall if Alice and the rest of her table read my story.

“Wait, Alice.”

“Oh.”

Alice froze in place for a second, turning towards me with a glazed look on her face.

“Sorry, here.”

I switched the notebooks, quickly tucking my stories into my bag. Angela smiled brightly; trying to relieve some of Alice’s perceived embarrassment.

“Don’t worry about it; Bella doesn’t let anyone read her stories.”

Alice grinned, noticing my friend for the first time before nodding and waving.

“See you next period, Bella.”

She held up the notebook as I nodded, turning slightly from her. I noticed her family’s eyes on me, especially Edward’s. I figured they were close-knit and didn’t expect Alice to branch out and have many friends outside of their circle. Shrugging, I went back to my sandwich, picking pieces of it apart as my heart settled down from trying to escape my chest. All my descriptions of the Cullen’s, the characters they had become. It was embarrassing, how I depicted Emmett and Jasper. I shook my head, relieved I had rescued the book in time.

I managed to make it through the lunch period, pushing the near discovery into the back of my head. The incident was clearly on the backburner, as I sat on the stool and dropped my bag on the hard tile floor. Dreading Biology, I leaned my head on the hard table breathing in the cool air drifting in from the window.

“So you’re a writer.”

It wasn’t a question. I smiled as Alice placed my notebook on the desk in front of me; before sitting on her stool. She was always so graceful, so quiet, I was sure half the school knew where I was at all times.

“I’m trying to be, nothing serious.”

She laughed, it was light and musical, and she truly seemed amused.

“That’s cool.”

I looked up as she grinned widely at me, encouraging.

“So what do you write about?”

I knew I was blushing now, my heart racing.

“Are you an Austen or a Bronte?”

Alice must be in Woman’s Lit this year. I shook my head smirking.

“I like to think of myself as more of a Charlaine Harris meets Judy Bloom.”

I didn’t know where I was going with this and I reddened immediately. I was sure that the hybrid of the two polar opposite authors flitted through Alice’s mind thus proving my insanity. She laughed, shrugging.

As class started, Mr. Grodner was handing out thick packets making my classmates groan. Alice seemed excited, as the stack of papers reached our table she immediately took it eyes wide.

“We have a project?”

I winced, already three weeks into the first semester and we had a project. If this was any other class, I would have been shaking with anticipation like Alice was. However, this was science and my track record was abysmal. I had struggled to get an A minus last year in general Biology; Microbiology was not proving to be any easier.

“We could do it at my house? My Dad has a whole bunch of medical books, its better than a library.”

A couple of our fellow classmates had looked our way at the excitement emanating from Alice’s voice. Everyone was wondering what the Cullen’s house looked like. It was far into the woods, a house hidden by a vast forest on the side of the river. I had to admit I was excited to go too, but the invasion of her family’s privacy made me hesitant.

“Are you sure it wouldn’t be a problem? I mean, I don’t want to be a nuisance or anything.”

Alice froze for a minute lost in thought as she shook her head, the life returning to her golden eyes.

“Nope, it’ll be fine.”

I laughed as she practically buzzed with excitement.

“Well, I’m glad you’re so excited about this project.”

She grinned shrugging.

“You’re my first friend I’ve made here in Forks.”

I looked up stunned. Were we friends? Sure, I guess we were, but she was breaking the friends at school rule that I had with Angela. I wondered if I cared at this point. Alice was the type of person you couldn’t help but have fun with, she was so kind and full of excitement.

“Really? You must have left a lot in Alaska.”

She shrugged complacent. I couldn’t imagine such a fun and beautiful creature not being surrounded by friends. She was unique, happy and looked straight out of YM, in any teen soap she’d be the star and the popular girl. Instead, I found myself wondering why she picked me as a friend.

“Not really.”

“Well, you have to suffer through my parent’s too then, Sunday after lunch we’ll finish the project.”

This seemed to excite her even more, as Mr. Grodner began explaining what we had to do over the weekend. For the rest of the class, I was preoccupied with the fact that I was going to see the actual Cullen house. Guilt swept over me as I tried to push back the curiosity. Alice was so trusting, so nice, and I was eager to see what everything looked like. How did a doctor live?

I was completely oblivious that class was over until Alice nudged me, handing my backpack over as we walked out of the class together. My legs were slow to follow her out of the classroom, guilt and excitement tore at my insides as I weighed my options.

“Pick you up at twelve then!”

I nodded as Alice greeted Jasper before turning from me, heading to her next class down the hall. ‘Well, there’s no going back now,' I thought as I turned away from the couple, sighing on my way to gym.

Managing to not hit a ball that is coming at your head is a pretty hard task for most, but my teammates were pros at playing keep away from Bella. I tried to keep my distance from the game, and my eyes off Edward. He went through gym, as one would stand in line to pay for groceries. His nonchalant attitude and ease at sports sparked my curiosity. He even looked beautiful in his gym clothes, as I watched from the corner mystified. How could a pair of sweats and an Adidas shirt look so good? He wasn’t even breaking a sweat like the other boys. In fact, if he were to yawn with boredom I wouldn’t be surprised.

Every day was like a dance with Edward and I, he’d race past me to study hall and I’d write more details of my day for my story. The Cullens had taken center stage of my imagination. I was still hesitant to make the bronze beauty that sat in the corner of the cafeteria, a central figure in my writings.

By the time, I reached Angela chatting with Ben by her car, the news of our Biology project reverberated through the junior class. No doubt, a product of a small town and nosy neighbors; my trip to the Cullen’s household was on everyone’s mind. I avoided the topic, it was Angela; idling outside of my house who was the first to mention it.

“So, you get to see the infamous Cullens’ residence?”

I shrugged, hoping to avoid a binding agreement to share my observations.

“Well..” Angela sighed, she was partners with Ben and I knew this was a topic that could throw her off.

“Well, here’s your chance to ask Ben out then.”

She shook her head, the new thought pushing the old ones aside. A blush crawled up her face and I knew my tactic worked.

“You think?”

I gave her a quick nod hopping out of the sedan, before she changed topics.

“Definitely, I’ll see you on Monday?”

She gave a quick wave, lost in thought.

When morning finally came, I dragged my feet out of bed. I could hear my parents arguing about my visit to the Cullens. My Mother was worrying, as she normally did about everything. My father didn’t like to smother me, he was the polar opposite of my Mother. They bickered for a few more minutes before I joined them at the kitchen table. By lunchtime, the argument had regained some steam, but it was already settled according to Charlie.

“Oh, I don’t know.”

My father, Charlie, was rolling his eyes, as Renee turned towards the refrigerator placing the bottle of soda back inside.

“For God’s sake Renee, they’re good people. I met the father he’s a good man. He saved my deputy; I thought Don was a goner.”

Renee winced; she had been in denial that my Father’s job put his life on the line every day. I think she imagined he pushed papers and sat at a desk. Even though the injury was serious, I could not help but crack a smile at Deputy Don’s predicament. He had been caught in a bear trap chasing out of season hunters a mile south of the Quileute Reservation.

“Oh I know it’s just, all those teen boys in the house.”

I rolled my eyes, my mother saw every teen boy as a predator out to get me.

“Mom, I told you both Emmett and Jasper have girlfriends.”

I hid the fact that they were Rosalie and Alice. She would have freaked out if I didn’t keep that information to myself.

“Well, at least I sent you with something in your stomach. There’s nothing I hate more than hungry company.”

I laughed, as a horn beeped outside my house.

“That must be Alice; I’ll call you if I’ll be late, okay?”

Charlie gave a quick nod, waving me away as Renee smiled, looking like she did my first day of kindergarten.

When I stepped out into the cool air, the silver Volvo didn’t surprise me. I was, however, shocked that there was just one bronze haired driver and no Alice. I paused and took a deep breath, trying not to be rude as Edward’s eyes flickered to mine before looking forward again.

“Hey,” I said as I peered into the car standing outside the Volvo while it idled.

“Uh, Alice asked me to get you, she’s running late.”

It was the first time I had heard his voice; he barely gave me a fleeting look as he tensed his hands strangling the steering wheel. I tried to steady my breathing, tucking my book bag close to me while sliding into his car. The heat was up; I tensed as I closed the door and got a whiff of the interior. It was a sweet scent, a mixture of cold and a gentle cologne. It smelled of the first snow in winter, mixed with the first bloom of spring. I laughed at my over run imagination as Edward looked to me expectantly.

I blushed, pulling the seatbelt across my torso and letting it click, before dropping my bag to the floor.

“So, Alice is running late, huh?”

Edward nodded, his jaw clenching, and he seemed to be holding his breath.

I laughed shaking my head as he put the car into drive and took off down my street.

I could feel his gaze on me. It made me nervous for two reasons; one, we were driving and two, I felt very self-conscious. I instantly wondered if I had marinara sauce left over from lunch on my cheek, or something in my nose. I looked out the window checking my reflection, there was nothing. I sighed smirking, before turning to fill the void with incessant chatter.

“Well, my Dad is already enamored with your father.”

Edward tilted his head as I saw his nostrils flare; he was smelling the air like Alice had. But, the look of confusion was mixed with annoyance as he turned back to the road.

“Oh.”

I nodded, happy he was reciprocating and actually engaging in the conversation.

“Yeah, seemed he saved one of our deputies’ legs.”

“That’s Carlisle.”

I nodded, smiling to myself, as I noticed the trees around us blurring by. I took a side-glance at the speedometer before gasping.

“Are you looking to get us killed?”

He tensed, his foot lifting from the gas as we eased down to eighty. I was still nervous but Edward’s façade seemed to break, as a smile escaped his lips.

“Sorry, habit.”

I looked at him, confused and a little annoyed.

“You habitually drive one hundred miles per hour? Do you have a death wish?”

He didn’t answer as I laughed to myself. He leaned over the dash heading for the radio and turned the power on. Classical music filled the car. I could not help but laugh to myself again. He looked embarrassed as I tried to remedy the situation.

“Beethoven’s eighth, I like it. The Ninth gets so much attention but no-one seems to realize that his best works were early pieces.”

He frowned, shrugging.

“You like music?”

I shrugged trying to match his nonchalant attitude, as he turned into a hidden driveway down a rocky path. I was sure it was their drive, and sighed with relief before answering his question.

“Like, would be putting it mildly. Jacob says I’m a music geek, but really, I think appreciating all music, in all forms, gives us a broader sense of life.”

I laughed, shaking my head. I did sound like a dork.

“Jacob?”

He turned to me slightly intrigued.

“Jacob Black, best friend. But really if a man who was slowly loosing his hearing can compose such beautiful pieces and be the father of what we know now as the Romantic period…”

I paused, blushing. I could talk about music for hours on end, and the boy’s simple question didn’t open him up to my babble.

“Sorry, it’s just… Beethoven’s great.”

He laughed while nodding. His laugh was sweet, invigorating, and I fought a blush creeping up to my cheeks.

“Well I thought I was the only one our age to appreciate the classics.”

I shook my head swallowing my embarrassment.

“Guess not. I’m just glad I’m not the only music geek.” I winced at my words. “Not that you’re a geek... uh.”

He shrugged, smirking; I bit my bottom lip trying to stop myself from looking like a bigger fool.

“I’m going to take that as a compliment,” He purred, as I sighed, nodding.

We pulled up to a large house set in the middle of an acre of land. Washington’s weather provided an excellent setting for greenery. But the Cullen’s house was perfectly groomed and manicured. I took in a deep breath, letting all the scents in, my senses were overloaded. A garden off the side of the house was in late bloom as rust colored flowers and early buds of roses pushed through the dense assortment. I gasped slightly, unable to peel my eyes from the bouquet, Edward noticed my gaze, as he walked my way ushering me up the walkway.

“Yeah, my Mother, Esme, loves to garden.”

I nodded, smiling, as I followed him into the house. I realized I was so taken with Edward the whole drive down that I wasn’t nervous to see the Cullen house. I had even forgotten about Dr. Cullen, whom all the mothers of Forks were gushing about. If Edward was what their daughters wrote about in their diaries, Carlisle Cullen was the Edward of the earlier generation. Even Renee asked me to pay close attention, I groaned when she whispered that in my ear this morning.

“Bella!”

I grinned as Alice raced down the stairs, a perfect picture as she looked to Edward before hugging me.

“I’m so sorry I couldn’t come to get you. Thank you, Edward.”

Her brother had bolted from the foyer, glad to be rid of his sister’s friend I surmised; as I shrugged off my coat to Alice’s expectant arms.

“My parent’s are in the kitchen, you only eat fish, right?”

I nodded following Alice up the stairwell and into a well-lit room that opened up into a full kitchen. A beautiful couple were staring at one another before Alice’s voice broke the spell. They looked like a picture, standing perfectly still, and enamored while lost in a gaze.

“Esmee, Carlisle this is Bella.”

Both looked slightly startled as if we had snuck up on them, but smiled nonetheless. Carlisle, a beautiful blonde portrait of what men should look like; wiped his hands dry on the towel. I could see why my Mother and her PTA counterparts all lusted after this man. He seemed right out of ‘Desperate Housewives,’ and I laughed as he approached me.

“Welcome, Bella.”

He looked briefly to Alice who was smirking with anticipation, as I took her father’s hand. It was slightly cold, but I attributed it to the water he had just washed his hands with. Esme, another beautiful sight, followed her husband as she pulled me into a hug.

“Nice to meet you, Bella.”

She exchanged a knowing look with both Alice and her husband, a silent conversation that I wasn’t privy to, before smiling widely.

“And you know Jasper and Emmett as well as my other daughter, Rosalie.”

I turned as the two boys I had seen briefly in school nodded to me. Rosalie slightly behind Emmett's large frame also nodded a greeting.

“Well, we can use your study right, Carlisle?” Alice asked.

Her father gave a quick nod, as both her parents glided behind the kitchen continuing to fuss. I tried to imagine my parents acting that way. Charlie was a disaster in the kitchen, but Esme seemed to enjoy Carlisle beside her.

“You don’t eat meat right, Bella?”

I heard a snicker come from Emmett and then a quick ‘Omf’ as Rosalie elbowed him in the stomach.

“Right, just veggies for me, but please don’t go through any trouble.”

Carlisle and Esme beamed as Alice took my hand, leading me up another set of stairs.

"Oh it's no trouble, we're vegetarians too."

I heard another smack, as I looked behind me; Emmett was rubbing the back of his head as Rosalie eyed him cautiously.

"Edward's room is right across the hall."

I smiled as she gave a slight nod towards a closed door, Beethoven's third Symphony ‘Eroica’ emanating from the room. I blushed remembering our conversation.

"Is Edward always like that?"

I bit my lip instantly, annoyed with myself. 'Don't get too involved Bella,' I thought. Alice didn't seem to mind, but brightened with my interest.

"Yes, I was surprised he came to get you for me. Usually, he's very flippant with girls."

The door to Edward's room opened suddenly as Edward surprised-eyed his sister. They exchanged a look with one another, before Edward smiled crookedly.

"Can I work on this with you two? I don't have a partner."

Alice nodded as Edward looked to me. His eyes had never met mine fully before, it looked hard for him to keep eye contact. Afraid I had lost the ability to speak, I followed Alice with a nod as she led the way into the study. Her step had a slight bounce, as if working on a project was comparable to going to a theme park.

"I'm glad you changed your mind and joined us Edward."

Her voice had a tinge of teasing, as Edward shrugged sitting down at the large mahogany table in the center of the study.

"Yes, Alice, well you were right."

It seemed like Alice won a bet, she beamed at his words before giving me an encouraging smile.

We sat there for a few minutes. Alice and I tried to figure out the best way to divide sections of our project. I couldn’t stop the heat from brightening my cheeks as I watched Edward with my peripheral vision.

"I'll be right back," Alice announced after a half an hour of work.

She smiled as she flitted out of the room gracefully. I watched her go shaking my head. It was the second time tonight I was left alone with Edward. He was so intent on his third of the report, that I wondered if he noticed she was gone.

"So how do you like Grodner's class?" he asked. I laughed, I never thought of Edward making awkward conversation.

"Oh, fine I guess. I'm not really into science."

He grinned looking up, as if noticing me for the first time.

"No?"

I shook my head, smirking nervously.

"No, it's not really my subject."

He smiled crookedly, for the second time today.

"So what is your subject?"

"English I guess, History, music." I laughed at the last one, remembering the ride over only an hour ago.

"Oh yes, Beethoven."

I sighed nervously; I couldn’t imagine why he was interested.

"Alice did mention you were a writer."

I reddened, wondering how long I would spend at the Cullens crimson.

"Oh no, just, I write, I'm not really a writer. I try." He smiled looking back down at his paper, before back up with another question.

"Do you ever let anyone read, your work?" There was a playful smile on his face, despite my embarrassment.

"Oh no, not really, I submit something’s anonymously online." I thought for the words, "It's sort of; I don't think anyone in Forks would get it."

I regretted the words as soon as they came out. I hoped he didn’t think he was included, I barely knew him well enough to make such an assessment.

"No offense it's just..."

He looked down, shrugging.

"No, I understand."

I sighed, nodding.

"Well, what about you, do you like Grodner's class?" I was stretching, hoping to keep the conversation going, hoping to see those eyes again.

”Sure, it's Biology," he answered, keeping his gaze down on his book.

"Right." I rolled my eyes.

"So you don't mind us doing the project together, do you?" I shook my head before he could even finish. His eyes met mine, full of wonderment.

"No, no of course not. You should come over tomorrow too with Alice, so we can finish."

He smiled that half-crooked smile again, that set my heart beating erratically.

"Thanks." I grinned biting my lip. "Sure, of course, the Swan house is nothing like this it's..."

"Cozy?" he finished lifting one eyebrow almost playfully.

"Oh, no it's just... home."

I laughed to myself. Was Edward teasing me?

"Mom made snacks," Alice sang as she opened the door to the study.

I wasn't sure I was glad or depressed for the interruption. Edward leaned back towards his chair.

"They're mini quiches, I've already eaten four." She smiled; I thought I heard a light laugh coming from her brother.

"Want one Edward?" she asked as he snorted at her. He shook his head.

"No, I'm fine, Alice, thank you."

"Bella?" She offered me the plate as I took two of the small snacks, thanking her with a smile.

"It's delicious." I grinned after my first bite.

"Esme thought you would like it. Well how far have the two of you gotten?" She brightly beamed, as Edward gave her an embarrassed scowl; looking back down to avoid my gaze as his sister giggled.

The rest of the hour, I tried to concentrate on my third of the project. I couldn’t help but steal glances at the beautiful boy sitting across from me. He was so different from what I expected. He seemed genuinely interested in me; I had imagined he would be too involved to ask me any questions. He seemed the type of boy who was waiting for something else, always waiting for a better time. I pictured Edward in a Renoir painting. A gorgeous boy at a party, looking off into the distance while a beautiful woman tried to get his attention; he would be a perfect subject.

As the hour drew to a close, we had made some progress. The project was just about done and I was glad Edward was helping us. I wondered what the bet between brother and sister was that had sparked Edward to join us. I groaned inwardly, I was due to work in a half an hour. I hated that I had to work tonight and cleared my throat looking to Alice.

"I can work on this, if you can finish the tables for that," Alice instructed. "And, Edward can do the graphs."

"Well I should get going; I have to get to work."

"Oh we can take you," Alice offered. I blushed envisioning Edward seething as he had to drive two giggly girls.

"Oh no, I don't want to be a bother."

Edward squirmed in the chair, as he looked up to Alice. He probably didn’t want to drive me again. I wondered how far Alice could push her brother.

"Can we take the Volvo, Edward?"

He tossed the keys into her hand as she caught them with ease. She winked, fingering the metal bundle smirking.

"Let's go, Bella."

I was amazed at all the cars in the garage as Alice backed the Volvo out. I wondered when Edward had moved his car. Alice shrugged as I looked around in awe; this is what I expected from a movie star, or basketball player. But, the Cullens seemed really humble despite each owning an amazing vehicle.

As we drove to Newton's, Alice was oddly silent. It was almost as if she was watching me. She didn't sing along to the radio and only spoke when we approached the parking lot.

"So, what did you think?" she asked.

I smiled, happy for the conversation.

"Oh, your house is great."

She laughed, tilting her head.

"No, I mean about Edward?"

I winced at her question, wondering what her motives were. Her questions seemed like strategic moves, all coming to some conclusion in her mind. But Alice wasn’t manipulating more like figuring out some answer in a roundabout way.

"Oh, he's nice, Alice." I replied, hoping I was misreading.

"He likes you, I think," she said mischievously.

"Oh, Alice I don't think so." I shook my head; there was no way Edward Cullen saw me as more than his sister’s annoying and easily embarrassed lab partner.

"No, he does," she said matter of factly. "My whole family does."

I smiled nodding, my heart doing summersaults. "Well thank you, Alice."

She stopped outside of the front doors to the store and I wondered how fast she had been going to get us here so quickly. It seemed the Cullens were speed demons. I was sad that I had to leave; spending time with Alice was fun. Time went by so quickly when we were together and I found my cheeks hurt from smiling afterwards.

"No problem. See you tomorrow?"

"Sure I answered, one o'clock."

I watched her go speeding out of the parking lot and into the road like a silver bullet. Mike met me by the doors.

"Cullen drop you off?" He asked, slightly annoyed, too annoyed for my taste.

"Yeah, Alice. We were working on the Bio project."

"Oh," he replied and somewhat relieved.

I ignored Mike through most of the workday and subtly asked for a ride home, which he was more than willing to give. I couldn’t help but compare him to Edward, the way he listened to odd radio stations. How his car smelled more of fast food and his cologne. It was nothing like the sweet aromatic scent of Edward’s Volvo. Even with Mike, I had Edward Cullen on the brain. And I was silent for most of the ride home.

“So see you tomorrow then?”

I gave Mike a quick nod getting out of his old Jeep as quickly as possible. I felt an awkward moment coming. Ever since puberty the friendships that were so easy, so natural with boys, turned into awkward silences and my fears being heightened. A smile was an invitation; an invite to the movies was a date. Everyone, now scrutinized what was once considered harmless, and I wanted nothing to do with it.

“Thanks for the ride.”

I waved turning, trying to keep my smile friendly but not inviting. Being friends with boys was a hard line to walk. You had to be, A, sexual while still friendly. I was beginning to think the more we grew older that it was near impossible to continue inter-sexual friendships. Of course, maybe that was just me. I wondered if something was wrong with me, how I acted. I stubbed my toe on the front step before swearing under my breath and opening my front door.

The day had been long, but I kept the image of Edward with me as I went to sleep. There was definitely something drawing me to the Cullens. Alice and I seemed to ease into a friendship, and Edward was slowly crawling into my life, despite my trepidations. I could hear Charlie’s Cruiser roll over the gravel drive as I slipped in the shower. The water could wash away some of my tension but it had no affect on my thoughts. I sighed, wondering what tomorrow would bring.