Bella and Edward take a completely different path from the start. Bella's first day of school in Forks doesn't end at all well and things go downhill from there.
I wrote this quite a while ago and finaly got around to finishing it. I wanted to explore some alternatives but found myself coming around to the same conclusion every time. There are 4 Chapters in the finished story and I will get them posted as soon as they are approved.
2. Chapter 2
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Edward looked miserable. He had his head in his hands and his hair was a mess. His clothes were still rumpled and dirty from scuffling in the woods with Emmett. His hands were clenched into fists and his knuckles would noticeably tighten at each scream that could be faintly heard coming from the bedroom upstairs where Bella was suffering. He flinched at a particularly harsh cry and hunched a little farther into himself.
Alice had returned from retrieving the Volvo and Rosalie's car. She was explaining what she had done so far and had expressed confidence in her plan working out as far as she could see.
Alice had parked Bella's truck in front of the Swan house and left a note for Charlie. The note explained how Bella had changed her mind about Forks. The note and a few other pieces of evidence would convince Charlie that Bella had gotten in contact with some friends in Phoenix and they had agreed to let her stay with them until graduation. She apologized for the abrupt departure but she knew neither of them wanted a drawn out goodbye scene and she had already missed a couple of days of school so she didn't want to wait longer. Bella was taking a taxi to the airport to catch the next flight. She would call him in a couple of days.
Alice had explored a couple of options and this one was the best for Bella and her family. Charlie would be upset but would allow Bella her decision because it would make her happy. Renee would continue to believe Bella was living in Forks and unless something drastic changed her visions, Alice could see her accepting the e-mail version of Bella's life with only a few concerns. It would give Bella a year before any serious difficulties would arise. Thanksgiving and Christmas would be tricky but Alice knew she could think of something when the time came.
Bella listened to Carlisle's explanation of what had happened to her with very little outward reaction. The pain was gone but not the anguish. She had voluntarily given up her life in Arizona as a sacrifice to her mother's happiness, but this wasn't a price she had been willing to pay. This decision had been made for her and now she felt the loss of everything very keenly but she wasn't about to show it in front of him. Edward Cullen, he had done this to her. She sat and glared at him silently screaming her rage and frustration. He looked guilty and uncomfortable sitting there across the room, but Bella wanted him to writhe with the shame and the horror of what he had done. She hated him for this; hate wasn't even a strong enough word, she absolutely loathed Edward Cullen and she wanted to make him pay for what he had done. He had taken away her family, her peace of mind, her future and her past. Who did he think he was to exercise that kind of power over another human being and expect them to just 'get used to it'?
Carlisle was doing his best to put a positive light on Bella's new life. She would be given access to many privileges and opportunities she would not have been able to dream of as the daughter of a police chief from Forks. She could have the best education and a multitude of professional options. She could travel and see the world. She would never get tired, cold, sick, or injured. She would however get hungry, or at least thirsty.
She could feel it now; she was very thirsty, and the only thing keeping her in check was anger and sheer stubbornness. Edward would never see her lose control the way he had. Never.
Part of Bella was conscious of how fast she was able to assimilate the information Carlisle was giving her. He had earnestly explained the seriousness of her situation, that there were rules to follow and that beyond those rules was a higher code of conduct that the Cullen family strove to live by. The entire family made it clear that Bella would be accepted as a "sister" should she chose to live their life. If she chose not to abide by their standards then they would help her get a start on her own. It took minutes to deliver a speech that would probably have taken an hour for the old Bella to hear. It was a good thing too because after those few minutes Bella could feel herself beginning to lose focus, all she could think about was the thirst and she began to notice a slight trembling as her body reacted to the instinctive need to go out and hunt.
The others had noticed as well.
"Perhaps we had best save further discussion for another time." Carlisle glanced significantly at Edward as he spoke.
Edward stood and crossed the room to drop to his knees in front of Bella. "Bella, there aren't words to express how very deeply sorry..."
"Don't." Bella hissed the word between her teeth putting as much of her anger behind the single command as she could funnel out from her soul.
Edward sat silently looking slightly stunned. His mouth worked for an instant as if to finish speaking but no sound emerged.
Rosalie stood and extended a hand to Bella, "Come on, Emmett and I will take you hunting, you'll feel a little better once you've fed."
"Fine." Bella couldn't quite bring herself to say thank you, knowing what was coming.
Bella ran with Rosalie out of the house and into the forest with Emmett trailing behind them.
As they left the house Bella felt like she could breathe again. There was no taint of his presence out here in the forest among the trees. She promised herself she would spend as little time as possible inside the Cullen home. She would make her feelings clear on having to be in any kind of proximity with Edward Cullen.
It was close to three months later before Bella returned to enter the Cullen house for the first time. For the first few weeks of her extended hunting trip, Bella had been joined by Esme during the day while the student Cullens kept up their pretense at normalcy. Outside of school hours different members of the family had traded off being her companion or "keeper" as Bella thought of them. It had been a full week before Edward had appeared.
When Bella recognized who was assigned to keep tabs on her for the evening she had felt her head clear as fury swept through her.
"Go away!" she had snarled at his approaching form. She had been surprised when he actually did as she had commanded him.
Esme had explained to her how seriously they were taking the responsibility of keeping her from dangerous situations. Not dangerous to her, but because of her. Carlisle had been with her but had been called to the hospital and had phoned to have someone come out to finish his shift. As the faint sounds of Edward's passage faded completely Bella realized she was alone for the first time since she had been changed.
Bella sat down abruptly and stopped breathing. With no pulse pounding in her ears the silence was strangely engulfing. She wanted to feel sad, to mourn her life. She knew she couldn't cry but she wanted to at least mourn in private while she had any privacy. She couldn't even manage to feel melancholy; all she could find inside herself was the thirst, and the hatred and anger she felt towards Edward.
In frustration Bella sucked in a deep breath and roared out her anger. That was when she found her first raccoon. Her cry had startled it coming out of its den for a night of activity. Always thirsty, Bella had gone after the animal. After that she found she had a taste for the clever animals. She adopted some of their traits and began moving with more secrecy, she covered her trail and took to climbing trees to sit and meditate for hours at a time.
Over the following weeks she had been given more time to herself during the days. Alice was always keeping an eye out for her but more often it was from a distance. Esme continued to search Bella out regularly and often brought thoughtful items like books and newspapers or a change of clothes. One of the items was an i-pod full of music selections ranging from classical to modern. Bella listened to the music for hours with her eyes closed sprawled under a massive pine tree where the lower branches swept out to meet the ground and beneath them was a quiet enclosure cut off from the outside. A haunting melody began to play through the earpieces and after a few measures Bella felt a kind of peace settle over her that she hadn't felt since being changed. It felt so different than the constant drive of thirst and anger that Bella felt just a tiny bit of herself flowing back into the space that she had thought had been drained dry; leaving only the thirst in its wake. She let the song play through, absorbing it into her memory. At the last bars she casually flipped the screen towards herself and pressed the button to see the song info.
With a shriek Bella was on her feet and running. She covered most of the distance to the Cullen house in moments. Just out of sight of the house she stopped and found a large tree. She drove her fist into the trunk at eye level leaving an indentation then she smashed the player into the hole. Moving to a tree a few feet away she repeated the action, this time wedging a book from her backpack into the hole she made. She did the same with shoes, backpack, extra clothing, hairbrush, and everything else they had given her. It had all been coming from him. Edward, trying to make himself feel better by buying her off and sending things to her. The song had proven it, Bella's Song Artist/Composer - Edward Cullen. It wasn't fair; he wasn't allowed to feel better about any of this. She wanted him to suffer and to know how angry she still was. Barefoot, in a t-shirt and jeans, Bella stalked away from the choking proximity of his home and back into the range to the north.
The only damper to her perfect wrath was the sound of Edward's composition playing over and over in her head.
Bella's perfect memory had kept her from losing track of time. Each day passed distinctly, each night passed completely in her awareness. She had taken to meditating during the hours she wasn't hunting; as long as the song continued to play in her head she would use it to find that little bit of herself she had begun to regain. It had been three weeks since the i-pod incident and almost four months since she had been changed. None of the Cullens had come to visit her since she had left the marks of her displeasure near their home.
It was afternoon and a storm was rolling in. Rain was falling in a drenching downpour that didn't really bother Bella except for making her clothes cling to her and rub against her stone hard skin. It caused a lot of wear on the clothes which were already ragged from hard use in the wilderness. When the thunder began to roll against the mountains Bella caught the sounds of a strange echo reverberating like thunder but sharper and higher under the roll of the natural sound. Curious and bored, Bella ran towards the source of the noise.
Still at a distance from the noise she heard the voices of the Cullen family. They were happy. It caught her up short for two long breaths to think of them enjoying themselves. She almost turned around and left but even her anger at Edward couldn't keep her completely from seeking companionship after her stretch of solitude.
From the edge of the clearing she watched them play baseball. She knew they knew she was there but chose to give her some space. She appreciated the gesture. She remembered the Bella she had been was one to avoid social situations and she felt the tendency still held true. When Rosalie approached her however she didn't retreat. She answered Rosalie's tentative smile with one of her own.
"Would you like to play?"
"No, but I appreciate the offer." Bella realized she meant it as she said the words. "I think I'll just sit with Esme for a while."
Bella walked onto the field crossing to where Esme was refereeing the game. Esme looked delighted to see this gesture on Bella's part. Bella carefully avoided looking in Edward's direction. Edward's voice had dropped out of the playful banter as soon as Bella had appeared at the edge of the field and it didn't rejoin the conversation.
A few minutes later Bella could feel the tension her presence was causing. She was just beginning to consider leaving when Alice announced that company would be joining them. The Cullens continued to play but even more subdued than before.
When three vampires appeared at the edge of the clearing the Cullens paused in their play to great them cautiously. Carlilse struck up a conversation with their leader. After a few minutes the baseball game got back underway. Bella volunteered to be on the team with the three newcomers and Carlisle joined them to keep things even. Bella had joined them just to try a subtle dig at being against Edward, not really for the sport, but after just a few minutes she found that her new skills and reflexes translated into athletics as well. She had always been a menace at organized sports, a danger to herself and those around her. Now she found herself to be a menace in a whole new way. Her speed and strength as a new vampire gave her a huge advantage over the other team and after a few more innings she was feeling a vicious sense of triumph at the widening gap in the scoring margin her team was winning by.
They had almost no time to talk or get into conversation but Bella found herself enjoying working with the red-haired Victoria to keep Edward's team from scoring. After a smooth double play James gave them both a friendly swat on the rear in congratulation. Bella heard Edward's growl from across the field and turned to gloat at him. The look of anger and jealousy on his face disgusted her. She didn't think it had much to do with the game. She glared at him willing him to see just how much she didn't belong to him, she didn't even want to have anything to do with him besides making him lose, suffer, and feel the kind of pain she felt.
A slow smile spread across her face as the next play quickly had Edward out at first base. Laurent's smooth fielding had been nothing particularly exceptional but Bella ran to him and picked him up to spin him around in a congratulatory hug as the game came to a close. Laurent gave her a strange speculative look but returned her grin.
Plans were made to return to the Cullen's home. Victoria had mentioned a desire to get cleaned up, and an offer to use whatever was available was extended to Victoria and her traveling companions. When Alice offered Bella the use of Alice's private bath Bella tried to hide her surprise. She hadn't really thought about her appearance for quite a while. The way Alice had phrased her offer was completely polite but Bella thought she could see just a trace of disgust beneath her polite front. Maybe it was time for a change. Bella caught Laurent watching her and her mind was made up. She was going to grind Edward under her heel from a different direction; if Edward thought he owned her because he had changed her she would show him. She would show him how much she could prefer someone, anyone, to him. She had tried to show him just how miserable and lonely he had made her but she was tired of being alone.
It took close to half an hour, even moving at vampire speed, to get Bella completely presentable. Bella avoided the mirror as much as possible. The redness in the eyes of the girl staring back at her wasn't as pronounced as that of the non-vegetarian vampires but the feeling of repulsion it created was the same. She didn't want to look at this new Bella from the outside. The exterior was deceptively lovely, all her flaws and blemishes completely invisible. Bella knew the person on the inside to be a much darker being. She had been working for months to achieve a bit of healing from the inside out, all the while picturing an image as unattractive on the outside as she felt on the inside. Seeing this false image of a complete person made Bella face a person she already knew she didn't know, but now had to put a face to.
Bella descended the stairs with deliberate slowness. The dark blue dress she had borrowed from Alice was a pretty good fit and the light material was very flattering to her shape. She watched Edward's reaction surreptitiously. She knew she had his full attention and she wanted to use it. Edward moved towards the base of the staircase. Bella deliberately refused to look at him and brushed past him to go to Laurent's side. She put her hand through his arm and smiled up at him in what she hoped was a charming manner. Laurent had been speaking with Carlisle and Esme. Carlisle gave Bella a resigned look while a look of sadness briefly flashed across Esme's features. Bella did feel a touch of remorse at Esme's reaction to her showing favor to one of the other vampires but her efforts were rewarded when a few minutes later Edward abruptly left the room.
Carlisle and Laurent continued to discuss the differences in the style of living adopted by Carlisle's family as opposed to other covens Laurent had experienced. Bella continued to make friendly advances towards Laurent. After Carlisle moved away to speak with James and Victoria, Laurent offered to take Bella for a walk outside so they could talk.
Bella was surprised her attempts at flirting were working so well. She accepted his offer and they left the house. Bella still couldn't get comfortable inside the place she connected with so much suffering; walking outside was a relief.
Laurent made small talk as they walked down to the river and along the bank. Places he had been and interesting people he had known. When they were some distance from the house he stopped and changed the tone of the conversation.
"Bella, you seem like a very charming woman. You have remarkable control for one so young. You are lovely and fascinating. That being said, I have the distinct impression that the novelty of my company would wear off very shortly and leave you in the awkward position of trying to maintain a lifestyle you would resent."
Laurent's fatherly tone left Bella feeling rather chastened as if he had caught her with one hand fishing around in the cookie jar. Maybe he thought she was too young, maybe he had seen through what she was trying to do by using him.
"James and Victoria and I are planning to visit the others Carlisle mentioned in Alaska. If all goes well I will probably visit with you again. Possibly, in a few years we could renew our acquaintance on a more equal footing and see where things stand." Laurent gave Bella a friendly smile but his eyes traced quickly down the lines of her dress.
Suddenly the pieces fell together. Men didn't turn down women who were practically throwing themselves in their path without a good reason.
"They warned you away from me didn't they?" Bella's voice stayed calm, almost detached as she turned away from Laurent.
"Aaah, well, the Cullens are very concerned about your adjustment to your new life. They asked that we allow you more time with them and that we discourage you from joining us. They couldn't and wouldn't stop you from leaving with us tonight but it would be better if you didn't. Vampires tend to be slow to forgive a perceived insult and we wouldn't want to have your family set against us."
"They're not my family." Bella said softly as she crossed her arms over her chest and stared out across the river.
"I'm not sure you appreciate the uniqueness of the Cullens and what they offer you. I may be too set in my ways to accept the way they live but I am not so far gone from humanity as to be unaware of the possibilities. You may wish to reconsider. I wouldn't have believed that there existed Vampires who genuinely cared for one another without ulterior motives. It goes against our basic nature. From what I have seen in the last few hours however, I would have to believe that the Cullens consider you to be family and have deep concern for your welfare. They love you Bella and I wouldn't take you away from them."
Bella listened to Laurent's retreating footsteps as she continued to watch the river flow past. A few minutes later Rosalie came to join her. They stood in silence for a time before Bella turned to answer the unspoken question.
"I'm glad. You know, we were all very happy to see you this afternoon. When Alice told us you were coming... Well, we've been worried about you. Edward only came because you were going to be there."
Bella gave Rosalie a hard look.
"We all know how terrible this has been for you Bella. We have all experienced something like what you are going through. We want to help, but for the first time we're feeling our way half-blind through the process of knowing what to do to best help you adjust."
"Because he can't get into my head... He wouldn't like what he found in there anyway." Bella felt only calm detachment as she spoke.
"It would probably be closer to a glimpse of the familiar than you think Bella. You're both very angry at him and what he did; the only difference is that he can take his anger out at a much closer range." Rosalie stood quietly for a minute and when Bella didn't respond she continued, "Talk to us Bella, let us know what you need, we're here for you."
Rosalie turned and walked back to join Emmett and the others. Bella remained where she was as she considered the things she had learned. She stood there by the river thinking and rethinking until the sky in the east began to brighten above the trees. Then she turned back to the house to ask for her first requests; a few changes of clothes, books, a computer, and use of one of the outbuildings as her private residence.