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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:


23. Chapter 23: Biting the Bullet

Rating 5/5   Word Count 4890   Review this Chapter

Chapter 23: Biting the Bullet

After prom most juniors glide through the year. First you stress for finals, but then summer vacation looms on the horizon and senioritis begins to kick in. So I was just waiting to feel a part of it all and maybe I already was. The old gang had all paired up, it was nice to see them fit together into individual couples. There wasn't any animosity between us, even though now I was on the outside. Angela and I talked everyday, despite the fact that things were a little different.

Being apart from the old group and integrated into a new one was odd. I had seen it happen years before. One of our friends in the circle would venture out and migrate or integrate into a new group. But for me, I always thought that I was fated to be squished in between Tyler and Mike, while high school passed me by.

It was hard to tell when life just went on. Somehow, the world kept turning and everyone had settled into the groove of things. It was odd how just when things came together, we go on summer break. Jacob made it a habit to visit me, just like he promised. The week after prom, he was in my room grilling me about the affair.

“So you actually liked it?” Jacob asked, as he rolled over watching me put my clean clothes away in my drawer.

“It was fun Jake.” I replied shrugging as my friend laughed.

“Fun, a dance where everyone feels pressure to do stuff they were too cowardly to do all year? That doesn’t sound like fun to me.” He snarked, sitting up on my bed and grabbing a snowglobe that laid on my dresser.

“You know, next year you guys will have a prom and you might feel different about it.” I hinted, smiling at my friend as he shook the globe.

“When did you get this?” He asked as I narrowed my gaze at the object.

“In London, a present from Edward.” I answered, smirking.

“He takes you to Europe and still manages to get you a present Bells, what a guy.” He whistled before laughing dryly, as I threw a shirt at him.

“He is a great guy Jacob.” I replied sitting down next to my friend. “And you know he loves me.”

Jacob swallowed hard, a slight twitch in his left eye indicated that something was bothering him. “I’m sure he loves you Bella it’s just, how well do you know the guy really?”

I laughed standing up nervously, before placing a few more t-shirts in my dresser.

“I know him well enough to know I love him and that maybe this is it.” I finished turning to my friend who had stopped playing with the snowglobe and stared at me intently.

“This is it? Pretty hefty words coming from a seventeen year old.” Jacob replied dryly placing the object on my nightstand before sitting up fully.

I shrugged staring at my friend defiant.

“What aren’t you telling me Bells?” Jake asked, pushing himself to the edge of the bed. I played with the engagement ring under my t-shirt that hung on a plain silver chain.

“Just don’t freak out.” I warned him, as he looked to the ceiling before returning a forced smile.

“I’m cool as a cucumber, so spill.” He urged perking an eyebrow for emphasis.

“Edward asked me to marry him.” I winced closing my eyes, waiting for Jacob’s reaction. What I heard was a laugh, starting low but ending in hysterics.

“Of course he asked you to marry him. Geeze Bella, after all these years of trying to be your own person; you’re following directly in your parents’ footsteps.” He replied looking me straight in the eye.

I wasn’t sure if he was mad or in shock, but I waited as he fumed for another moment before responding.

“I know, but right now it’s just a promise, we’re not getting married right away or anything.

“Well you haven’t told Charlie yet, since I was able to leave the house this afternoon.” He chuckled, shaking his head in amusement. It was a total one eighty and I tilted my head confused.

“No, not yet but what does that have to do with anything?” I questioned narrowing my gaze at my friend.

“Bella why do you think Sam wants me to stay away from you?” He inquired, a odd smile spreading across his face.

“I don’t know, you said he’s been acting weird lately so...” I stammered, sitting down next to my friend as my head started to spin.

“It’s because of the legends, you know the enemy clan and you just so happen to be dating a Cullen. Haven’t they said anything about it?” He asked, looking into my eyes. I shook my head and then his smile fell.

Jacob sighed, running his hands through his hair. The phantom locks were cut two days ago and he was sporting a short crew cut. “I’m liking Edward more and more.” He finally admitted, shaking his head with a belly laugh.

“I am still confused what does that mean Jake?” I questioned, my heart was beating erratically, did Jacob know about Edward. And what did that have to do with La Push? I suddenly felt very clueless as Jacob stood up, a smile brightening his features.

“Don’t worry about it, let me take care of Sam. You have more things to worry about, like telling your parents.” He laughed, following me downstairs as the doorbell rang.

“Hey.” Jacob welcomed Edward; opening the door for my boyfriend as Edward turned to me, before back at my friend.

“Hello Jacob.” Edward smiled, the two boys genuinely engaging in pleasantries.

“So I hear congratulations are in order.” Jacob chuckled, patting Edward on the shoulder before waving goodbye.

“I’ll see you around.” He laughed, walking out of the front door as Edward shook his head before turning towards me.

“So you told him.” He purred looking towards the kitchen and living room before back at me.

“I did, now that just leaves my parents.” I sighed, sitting at the kitchen table as Edward followed me.

“Where are your parents?” Edward inquired, as I laughed shaking my head.

“Renee is at the store, and Charlie is where else at the station.” I replied comically as Edward pulled out a stack of papers.

“Good, I brought some applications we can look through then.” He commented, I looked down at the college applications in front of me.

“I have all summer to fill these out, can’t we wait?” I questioned, as Edward shook his head; his crooked grin melting my reserve.

“You have too much talent to waste; besides you can go to college just like the rest of us. There are night classes, or some crafty underground tunnels.” He smirked, pointing to a few college brochures. “Or we can wait a little longer.”

I shrugged staring at a few applications. “How long after the change will I have to wait, until I can be trusted?” I inquired wincing at the idea of being a bloodthirsty monster.

“It all depends, a year for some maybe longer.” He replied taking my hand.

“A year, without seeing my parents and friends?” I sighed, as Edward rubbed my hand comforting me.

“Maybe, I told you Bella there is no rush we have time.” He smirked, kissing my hand gently as I lowered my gaze.

“Time isn’t exactly on my side here Edward, and I don’t want to be older than you. Can you just imagine the looks we will get? No, if I’m not turned before my nineteenth birthday it will be too late.” I sighed exasperated, as Edward laughed.

After a few minutes of filling out some applications Renee walked in the door, greeted by Edward who gave her a helping hand.

“Thank you Edward.” My mother smiled, turning towards me with a perked eyebrow.

“You are very welcome Mrs. Swan.” My boyfriend purred, helping her put away the groceries.

“So what are you two up to?” Renee asked, opening the refrigerator while Edward handed her the perishables.

“I’m filling out some applications.” I chuckled dryly, but my mother’s face brightened.

“Oh that’s great sweetie. How about you Edward, have any ideas where you want to go?” She inquired, closing the door before opening some cabinets.

“Well I am keeping my options open.” He replied, smirking at me as he put the recycled bags back in their drawer.

Renee looked between the two of us, with a sly smile on her face as she narrowed her gaze.

“What's going on you two?” She questioned. Edward laughed shrugging, before taking a seat next to me.

I bit my lip nervously, as Edward took my hand giving me the go ahead with a nod.

“Well, Edward asked me to marry him.” I responded, wincing as I heard my mother’s breath hitch.

“I see.” Renee whispered, sitting down at the counter before looking up at us. “You two have to tell your father, soon.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but Edward stopped me.

“Of course we are going to wait, and with both you and Mr. Swan’s permission that is.” He smiled, while Renee sighed heavily shaking her head.

“Well that might make things go smoother. I’m guessing you have told your parents already of your plans?” Renee asked, turning from Edward to me.

"Yes, we did it sort of happened that way." Edward explained smirking to me, before turning back to my mother.

"So is there any way you can get Dad ready for this news at all? Maybe warm him up to the idea?" I begged, pleading with my mother.

"Maybe it is better if you talk to him first Bella." Edward offered, squeezing my hand slightly for emphasis.

"Edward's right, I think you need to talk to your father one on one about this. He will be home within the hour, so it's not like you have to wait long." She added smiling half heartedly. I winced as Edward turned to me before standing up from the table.

"I have a few things to do anyway, but I will stop by later tonight after dinner? Maybe then I can talk with Charlie?" He asked turning to Renee, who gave my boyfriend a encouraging nod. When he turned away she frowned for a minute, while I walked Edward towards the door.

"Are you sure?" I whispered, as Edward fingered his car keys walking onto the front steps.

"You are going to be fine, I am sure of it." He kissed me softly on the forehead, before walking away.

"Go for the, you and Mom were engaged at eighteen angle sweetie that's your best bet." Renee whispered, sneaking up on me as I watched Edward walk away.

It was the first time in years that I can remember being nervous for Charlie to come home. Not since I broke Grandma's old Gone with the Wind oil lamp and was grounded for a week, for rough housing with Jacob have I been this anxious. Charlie wasn't menacing so much as a force to be reckoned with. He always had a strong personality but never was he the strict disciplinarian. My biggest fear, was one day I would let my father down.

When Charlie walked through the door, I offered him a beer and steak sandwich for dinner. It was obvious to my father, that something was up. He eyed me throughout his dinner, enjoying every bite of his sandwich; as I worked through what to say to him in my head. Finally, I took a deep breath, hoping the air would give me some bravado before breaking the news.

"I was just wondering, how you would feel about me getting married." I asked, looking at the kitchen cabinets. Charlie took a swig of his beer, stopping mid sip to eye me.

"You mean like after college and you have a nice job and are settled?" He inferred, staring me down like I was one of his suspects.

"Sure, eventually but what if I found that guy in high-school." Charlie let the beer bottle clank on the counter, before rubbing his forehead for a moment.

"Are you trying to tell me something Bells?" He asked, hoping for a clarification.

"Well I think that guy might be Edward." I blurted out staring into Charlie's eyes, they widened before he narrowed his gaze at me.

"You think, or has he done something to make you feel this way?" He finally inquired, getting to the bottom of everything.

"He asked me to marry him and I think..." I stammered, Charlie picked up his beer again.

"No, you're too young Bella, so no." He walked away from me, as Renee watched us from the corner of the kitchen.

"Charles we were not that much older than they are when we got married." My dad put his hand up, annoyed already.

"Bella and Edward are not us. Bella has aspirations she wants to be a writer and get out of Forks Renee, can't you see that?" He argued, and I suddenly felt the pride my father had for me.

"I do, but I also see how much she has changed this last year. And I know that I trust Edward and the Cullens, so why don't you hear them out?" Renee reiterated for me ,as Charlie gave my Mother a look the doorbell rang.

"That's probably Edward, he said he would be back after dinner." I smiled, trying to lighten the mood as Charlie grunted taking a sip of his beer.

The next ten minutes were incredibly awkward, Charlie sat in front of the television while Edward sat across from him. It was a test of wills, I just hoped Edward was listening in on my father. We needed every advantage we could get. My boyfriend sat silently, as Charlie finally finished his drink before speaking up.

"I want Bella to go to school." He started as Edward gave a stern nod.

"So do I sir, I just know that Bella is it for me. I do not mean to take her away from her dreams or a career." Charlie grunted again, sarcastically looking at Renee and I as we sat on kitchen stools, spectators in the competition going on in our living room.

"What about what I want." I interjected, as both men looked my way.

"I am not one hundred percent sold on school." I shook my head, standing up from the stool as Edward opened his mouth to speak.

"Bella you have to go to college, it is only right. There is plenty of time to get married, we don't have to rush into things." He began, looking to Charlie as he gave a stern approving nod.

"He's right Bells, like I've always said go to college and then we'll talk about everything else." He turned from me quickly looking back at Edward, a new found respect in his eyes.

I sat back down, feeling dejected from a conversation that was supposed to be about me as well as Edward. This was my boyfriend's test, everything that happened afterwords would be up to me. Today, Edward had to pass with flying colors.

"You have any means to take care of my daughter, after all is said and done?" Charlie asked as Edward smiled, sitting forward in his chair.

"Yes, my parents left me a sizable sum and I was thinking of going into medicine, or possibly teaching. But we would be comfortable, I can assure you Sheriff."

I wasn't sure how Edward managed to talk to Charlie, for the half and hour that he did. Although I knew Edward had a way about him, I had never seen it work on my father. But by the end of it, they shook hands and I walked Edward to the door. Charlie seemed content with everything and after I said goodbye to Edward, Charlie surprised me with a grin on his face.

"He's a nice kid Bells, but I think he wants what's best for you. So that makes him okay in my book. But, if he steps out of line you tell me. Otherwise, I trust you'll make the right decision." He laughed, placing the empty beer bottle in the recycle bin, as Renee and I watched in awe.

I couldn't sleep that night. Dreams that were once so sweet, had turned darker since returning from Italy. I was having the same nightmares lately, but I couldn't remember them in the morning. Edward never said anything, so I wasn't sure if I cried out or mumbled a clue in my sleep. The bits and pieces that did stick in my mind, only made my heart race. There was darkness, and blood red eyes, a sense of loss and death. My chest felt heavy and I tried to think happy thoughts, before falling back asleep.

Things were looking perfect, too perfect and I was waiting for the next shoe to drop. The situation in La Push still made me feel uneasy; but Jacob made it his mission to overcompensate coming over my house whenever he could. With the weekend looming and school winding down; I wasn't shocked when I found Jacob on my front step, as I pulled into my driveway.

"That thing still running?" Jacob joked, when I put the car in park and hopped out of the truck.

"Yes, actually it is. Why, you want to take a look at it sometime?" I joked, as Jacob shook his head leading me into the house.

"Renee is at Yogalates and of course.." He began as I finished.

"Charlie is at the station. Yeah I know the drill, I get four days off a week from work, and out of three of them I have to make dinner." I moaned as Jacob opened a new bag of chips, pouring them into a bowl.

It was good to talk with Jacob like this, I was getting used to our times alone and hanging out like the old days. Jacob didn't mention home much and I followed his lead, avoiding the subject as much as possible. Edward didn't seem to mind the intrusion either. With a knowing smile, he would tell me when Jacob was coming and give us time to catch up. But what I wasn't expecting, was the camaraderie between the two boys when I dished to Jacob about Charlie and Edward.

"So he took it well? Edward wasn't sure he would."Jacob commented offhandedly as I took the bowl of doritos from him, staring my best friend down.

"Since when have you talked with Edward?" I asked, as my friend's eyebrows perked up; caught now by his own admission.

"He called me the other day, after I left your place. We had a good talk, he's a nice guy all things aside." He added under his breath. I was too excited that my favorite guys were bonding to notice the slight dig.

"So you and Edward are possibly and maybe friends?" I added, taking a bite of a chip as Jacob stole the bowl back; stuffing his mouth before shrugging.

"I just said he's decent, you know wants what is best for you. A best friend has to make sure the guy she is going to marry is a good guy, right?" He asked, powdered cheese lined the corners of his mouth.

"Wipe your mouth Macho man." I laughed, tossing a napkin at Jacob.

He smirked wiping his mouth, before continuing.

"Look, do I think you're too young to think about marriage and spending the rest of your life with a guy you've known for a year? Yes, but do I trust him enough to know he loves you, yeah maybe I do." He shrugged, smiling at his own maturity.

"So what brought this on?" I inquired when Jacob shrugged, taking a swig of his soda before answering.

"Let's just say I know what it's like to feel stuck, ya know. And all those legends and stuff hasn't exactly made The Cullens feel welcomed by my people." Jacob's fists balled up annoyed. I could tell he wanted to share something important, before he stuffed his mouth with chips again.

The moment was lost, but I had kept a few clues stowed away for the right time. Little things, small nuances that came from Jacob were starting to stick in my mind. Everyday I was getting closer to the truth of the happenings at La Push. Something bigger than just an argument between Jake and his father was going on. I wasn't seeing the forest just a few trees here and there. But for now, I would take what I could get and try to be a supportive friend.

Lately Alice was winning all the awards for best supporting friend, in fact she was ruling the category. Wedding bells were constantly ringing in her ears; as she flipped through Wedding magazines, while our lab teacher droned on and on for days. It wasn't until lunch one afternoon, that Alice's excitement spilled over.

"Well what do you think about this one then?" Alice asked, pushing a picture of a beautiful spring bridal gown my way. The brunette and happy bride, was standing by a lake she looked ecstatic and Angela thought so too.

"Looking at dresses?" Angela asked, oohing and ahing at every page turn.

"Bella it is never too late you know. We have to pick out the dress so we can plan the rest accordingly." I winced at my friend's excitement, as Angela and Ben's smile's dropped looking from Alice to me.

"Wait, Edward asked you to marry him?" Angela asked, she too was overtaken with excitement. A few tables turned our way, as the heat rose into my face.

"Could you two take it down a notch, the last thing we need is for this to get all over school." I whispered, frantically.

The news spread like wildfire and by the time Edward and I were exiting the building, everyone was whispering and staring at us. It was like the first time we held hands at school. Except this time, everyone was speculating whether I was pregnant or if it was a shot gun wedding. Edward had no problem laughing on the way to the parking lot, telling me all the funny speculations. He was amused, while I was slightly humiliated.

"This isn't funny Edward." I sighed, tossing my bag in the front seat of the Volvo as his family gathered around watching.

"It could be worse." Emmet offered, as I looked at him waiting for a snarky punch-line. "I mean, what they're thinking could be true." He shrugged, as Rosalie smiled at him; I had to smile too.

"Yeah, well I just wish we could have kept it between us a little while longer."

"Why?" Alice asked, excited to share her energy with the rest of the school. I just gave my friend a look, but she was too happy to care.

"Another good way of looking at this is you can wear that gorgeous ring." Rosalie purred, holding up her diamond that she wore.

I smiled, easing a bit with all the encouragement. I looked to Jasper ,wondering if he would add his two cents. He of course was trying to contain a giggle as Alice bounced clinging to him.

"Well why don't we hang out a bit over at the house? Maybe have a few cajun shrimp quesadillas Esme makes? That will cheer you up Bella." Edward mused, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear.

He completed my smile, as I shook off school and welcomed the weekend. Next week was finals and then summer; my favorite part of school was the break. I would spend it with my new friends and I was in love, two aspects that had been missing last year.

Alice was right, spending time at the Cullens was a perfect opportunity to relax and be with others. Even if I was the only living being with a beating heart, this was better than spending the night waiting for my parents. After a while, I found myself sitting in Edward’s room waiting for him to return. With a wayward gaze, I stood up examining his extensive cd collection. After a few glances I smirked at a Starship album.

Edward didn’t seem like an 1980’s fan; but I inserted the disc into the player, as the music began with a jolt. ‘We built this City’ began to drum, vibrating the floors. It was a perfect tune. I started to sway to the beat, as the drums picked up and my toe tapping turned into a full on dance. I was lost in the music, turning to and fro, when a stifled laugh made me stop and look up. Edward’s eyebrows were perked, a satisfied grin plastered on his face.

“Please continue, I will wait.” He joked, motioning for me to continue to dance; as I shook the embarrassment away and took his hands in mine.

“Or you dance with me.” I laughed, trying to make him dance while he stood still.

“The eighties were good for music and wall street, but really the fashion and dancing was not the highlight Bella.” He replied, stoically watching as I circled around him not caring.

“This is the perfect kind of music to listen to when you want to let loose Edward. So let loose.” I laughed as the song died down, and he took me in his arms.

The only good thing that came out of the eighties was you Bella.” He grinned, his hands holding me so close to him.

A slower song began to play as Edward kept me in his grasp, swaying with the music. ‘Sara’ slowly engulfed the room, as I laughed looking into Edward’s eyes.

“They don’t name many songs after Bella do they?” I joked, as Edward shook his head leaning down and kissing me.

It was a beautiful kiss, there was no pretense, no calculation as Edward let himself go ever so slightly. In a matter of seconds, I found myself with him on his fainting couch; our hands frantically grasping to get closer to one another. His shirt lifted from his body as I pulled it away and he followed, peeling the cotton from my torso. His beautiful cold hands clung to me, like any other teenage boy would; his kisses became more urgent. His lips moved to my jaw and down to my neck, my pulse quickened. I immediately imagined this was how he would change me, in some beautiful way while in a loving embrace. But Edward just kissed; his teeth never grazed my skin.

“Bella.” He sighed as the song changed and the spell was broken.

He laid his face in the nape of my neck. His breathing was becoming erratic, even though his body no longer craved oxygen like mine. This was a different need, one mixed with a sexual longing and one to feed. Even though I didn’t want to stop, I had to be the one to make the change. In that moment, Edward was at a precipice and he could go either way.

I froze, pulling away from him, as I sighed pushing my hair from my face.

“It’s desperate isn’t it, but every touch ever moment we spend together like this; I just find myself trying for more and..” I looked at Edward now; his eyes seemed as desperate as mine were.

He smiled, caressing my cheek so gently before sighing with anticipation.

"Some day very soon Bella, but not today." He finished, kissing me gently on the nose before sitting up with me in his arms.

"One day I'm not going to stop you Edward, and then what?" He smiled sighing with contentment.

"Bella I loose myself with you everyday, predator loving his prey. Please do not tempt me." He kissed my neck softly, his cold lips sent shivers up and down my spine.

I could never imagine feeling this way last year. All of the mushy love stories and daytime soaps that I watched, were no comparison to feeling of being loved. Just being with Edward, pushing our relationship into the unknown; was like riding in a roller-coaster with no restraints. My body wanted more, but my mind was still scared of the places that it would take us. There was never any real alone time in the Cullen house either, so when we descended the stairs it was cute how his family avoided our glances. Alice seemed to be the only one brave enough to say goodbye instead of waving me away.

When I finally was lying in my own bed, there was time to sort out my thoughts. Edward would be back in an hour or so, lately he snuck in after I fell asleep. His new routine made me wonder what he was doing. I still hadn't asked him about his talk with Jacob. I wondered if it was only one conversation, or if the two were keeping in contact. The situation in La Push and the new budding friendship between the two boys, had to be connected. If Jacob had realized that the legends were real, then maybe he needed Edward for something.

My mind raced as I closed my eyes, imagining that right at this moment Edward and Jacob were talking. If Jacob did know the truth about the Cullens, if he had figured out the legends were based on truth, would the Volturi go after my best friend? I was resigned to talk to Jacob tomorrow, even if that meant going to La Push and standing up to Sam. It was too much now, I had never felt out of place at the Reservation before and I won't start now.