A chance encounter in her local coffee shop brings Bella's life to a grinding halt. Who is this stranger that knows things about her, she had only dreamed of ever finding out? How do they cope when they face a common enemy?
2. Chapter 1: Reality or Fantasy
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“Reality or Fantasy”
The loud exclamation filled the otherwise dark room. She had been sleeping peacefully until the nightmare had snuck up on her, scaring the living daylights out of her. She thought she’d seen the last of that nightmare in her early teens. Why had she had it now?
She took a deep breath, trying to calm her galloping heart from jumping out of her chest.
Her feet met the cold hardwood floor of her bedroom. She had initially considered installing a rug, but the hardwoods were originally why she’d fallen in love with the apartment. It was a small, but cosy home. It was like her.
She moved away from home early. Her parents had split when she was just a baby. Every day with her father felt like a constant reminder of her mother’s disappearance. He wasn’t unpleasant to live with, in fact, they were probably the two best-fit companions to share living quarters, but frankly she had been fed up with his constant moping. So she had left, decided to start her own life early and not be limited by her father’s small-mindedness.
Standing from the bed, she stretched removing all the kinks from her back. Her feet shuffled across the floor in the memorized route they used to take every morning. She ended up at the toilet where she looked at the reflection staring back at her.
Her brown eyes stared lifelessly at her. She was a professional at keeping a cool and collected front when it involved others. But all alone, in her small home, the missing life from her dull brown eyes haunted the image spitting back at her. She really had to keep herself better collected whenever they surprised her with the utter lack of spark in them such as they did now. She was not suicidal, in fact she had a very low tolerance of pain, but she was missing something. She’d always felt partly empty, like something essential had been missing from her person.
It took one banana, a granola bar and splashing her face with water twice before she felt the last discomfort leave her body. She dressed before picking up her keys, nearly forgetting her mother’s locket while stepping through the door of her apartment.
The busy streets of Seattle usually made her smile. She loved the rustle and commotion of the city. Growing up in Forks had been smothering. Everybody knew everybody’s business; there were practically no secrets in that town anymore. She’d been going crazy growing up in a small town where the whisperings of her mother’s abandonment filled her every day.
The bell above the door chimed when she entered the small café.
“Morning Bella,” her overeager friend behind the counter smiled hugely at her as soon as she had stepped over the threshold.
She gave a small smile in return, saying “Hello Jake.”
“The usual?” Jacob, which was his given name, asked. Normally she would get a small black coffee with two teaspoons of sugar and a pint of almond flavoured milk, but today felt different. The nightmare must have had a bigger effect on her than she had initially thought, because for the first time since leaving Forks she asked for an extra large hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. She felt adventurous for the first time in a long time.
Another chime of the bell was heard in the small coffee shop. She had been studying the display of cupcakes, wondering if she could spear 4 dollars and 25 cents on a single treat this month, when she was distracted by the musical chimes announcing another patron’s entrance to the shop.
“Morning sir,” Jacobs chipper voice carried through the café.
“Good morning.” She stopped breathing. That voice was like liquid honey slowly sliding down her throat, warming her belly and sending her heart racing.
She froze, scared shitless by her own reaction. How could such a simple voice affect her so?
Slowly, she straightened herself standing to her full height, anticipating a minor heart attack when the newcomer stepped up next to her at the counter, so she could catch a look at him.
He had this wicked smirk plastered on his face. Somehow she got the feeling the smirk was a hidden joke about her. She felt ridiculous as she tried to sneak a peak at him.
She drew a deep breath through her lips, squaring her shoulders and turning head on towards the stranger. He quirked a brow at her funny behaviour, the cheeky smirk turning into silent laughter.
He was laughing at her! ‘How dare he!’ she thought, blushing furiously as the annoyance towards this stranger bubbled in her stomach.
“Hello.” Another smirk.
She sealed her lips shut. Staring straight into his eyes, she was blown away by their green colour. The closest thing she could think of to compare the colour with were a bright green emerald she recalled once seeing, in one of her history books in high school.
He laughed quietly; obviously realizing the girl wasn’t about to give him a response. “Do you not speak?” He was egging her on. He found it rather amusing and intriguing as her skin turned pink and her eyes came alight with a fire he had yet to understand.
“Oh, I speak.”
“And would you look at that, so she does.” The response came instantaneously.
She breathed through her nose, fully intending on ignoring him. “You know that’s a lovely colour on you,” he gestured towards her.
“Excuse me?” she asked, generally confused as to what he meant.
“Your blush. It suits you very beautifully.” He smiled.
She was dumbstruck. That is until the smirk reappeared on his otherwise handsome face. Then she was once again boiling on the inside. “Do I know you?” she stressed through her teeth, her tone clearly stating just how badly he was grating on her nerves.
She was amazed. She’d never had such a strong reaction to a stranger. She prided herself on being a quite mellow, peaceful person, who almost never let her temper run wild. Well that was one award of the year she should not anticipate receiving any time soon apparently.
“No, you don’t.” He smiled sweetly down at her, “but I know you.”
“I have to admit, I’m fairly disappointed. I had imagined you to have a bigger vocabulary than that Miss Swan.”
She stopped dead in her tracks. She had followed him out of the coffee shop, barely receiving her cup of adventure, before he stormed through the shop’s narrow door.
“How do you know my name?”
He stopped walking, turning slightly towards her and gave her the smirk, while saying “I told you Miss Swan… I know you.”
“I don’t understand… Who are you?”
“Right now you don’t have to understand.” The smirk turned into a genuine smile this time, temporarily placating her nerves. “Understand, that you will, eventually. Right now you only have to follow me, alright?” He asked her.
She nodded, her voice suddenly lost.
She didn’t know why she chose to follow him. It was like he had a string attached at her hips pulling her forward, making her take 2 rapid steps whenever he took one stride. She felt absolutely compelled to follow this mysterious man who claimed to know her.
‘Maybe that was it,’ she thought. ‘He says he knows me, and I honestly have no idea who that is.’
She finally took the time to study her stranger. He was tall and well built. His hair resembled a failed bird’s nest. Its auburn streaks glinted in the sunlight, making the brown hair appear slightly more copper-ish in colour. It was quite attractive on him.
Turning the ninth hundred corner she ran a few feet to catch up to him. He had at least 2 feet and a couple of inches on her measly height. She was certain most of it was by simple leg length. He had long, toned legs, which was encased in a pair of semi-tight dark jeans. She wanted to peel those pants slowly down his legs, revealing the well-defined skin she could sense lay beneath the fabric.
‘What?!’ she stopped abruptly. ‘Fuck, that was one unwelcome thought right there,’ she thought continuing in pursuit of her stranger.
Leaving the vision of his legs in her fantasy, she continued her perusal of him. He wore a fitted black leather jacket, with a checkered shirt underneath. Paired with his black Doc Martens boots, he came across as a badass Zorro-y type. ‘My dark, mysterious stranger’ she thought, and a smile slowly formed on her lips.
Her heart skipped a beat every time he glanced back to check on her. At this point he and her reactions fascinated her beyond belief.
“Um.. Sorry, sir, but you’ve yet to tell me exactly where we’re going?” She spoke softly, tapping his shoulder.
He looked down at her with laughter in his eyes and said, “Sir? Seriously?”
“Yeah well, you didn’t exactly introduce yourself, and since you already know who I am, I feel a bit at a disadvantage here.” She replied with annoyance. He was seriously getting on her nerves.
He smiled. “Well we can’t have that, now can we?” He laughed, reaching out to collect a stray piece of hair that had escaped her bun from power walking to keep up with him.
She drew in a sharp breath as soon as his fingers connected with the bare skin of her cheek. She could feel her blood rushing to the surface where he touched, trying to get as close to him as possible. “Are you gonna tell me your name or what?” she asked exasperated and frankly embarrassed by her own obvious attraction to this stranger.
He laughed. This time a full-blown belly laugh. The sound took her completely by surprise and she stepped back, retreating from the bubble they had seemed to be encased in when she asked the first question.
“Hey! Would you cut that out? It’s seriously getting on my nerves and you really don’t want that!” she yelled at him, now furious with his obvious amusement with her.
“Sorry sweetheart.” He kept chuckling softly, trying to soften his smile to placate the obvious frustrated petite woman staring furiously at him. She was utterly entertaining. Such quick responses from her added to her charm, and he was becoming slightly addicted to her sweet blush when she got riled.
He had taken to long to tell her his name. She had had enough of this game he seemed to be playing. She turned on her heels and with rapid strides tried to get away from him and this crazy situation as quickly as possible.
She made it 6 feet before he grabbed her at the top of her shoulders, efficiently stopping her retrieval.
“Really, I am,” he breathed, almost desperately “sorry.”
“That’s nice and all but it doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t know your name.” She squared her shoulders and continued: “And while you’re at it, please do enlighten me on why exactly you want me to follow you.”
“My name’s Edward Masen,” he looked intently into her brown eyes, willing her to believe him when he told her what he was about to tell her. “And I’m here to bring you back.”
“Back? Back where?”
He exhaled through his nose, “I’d rather share that bit of information somewhere slightly more private.”
She looked at him, waiting for the smile to grace his facial features and he’d tell her April’s Fool or something else similarly idiotic. He didn’t. He stared back at her, not swaying from the seriousness she’d seen in his eyes ever since she started bickering. She felt slightly lightheaded, her heart hammering in her chest, trying to break free from its confines and run down the street, screaming bloody murder. “Are you going to kill me?” she asked him.
“God no! Why on earth would you think that?” he exclaimed.
“Well, normally when a total stranger lures you into a more private setting to ‘tell all kinds of secrets’, it means he or she is going to kill you.” She explained, trying to calm her racing heart. She realised she sounded rather ridiculous, and was quite embarrassed when her inner voice of reason shouted at her: ‘Which self-respecting serial-murderer would seriously tell his victim he planned on luring them away to kill them when they still had the chance to scream bloody murder, and be saved?’ She caved, realising she’d been overreacting.
“And what do you suppose I should answer to that? I mean, do you seriously think I’d tell you if I planned on murdering you?” He was laughing at her and her crazy antics. He’d never encountered anyone quite as peculiar as her.
Oh how she wanted to dig a hole and hide in there forever when he laughed at her like that. She felt so ridiculous. “I don’t appreciate your patronizing me.” She murmured. “So if I have to follow you, can you at least tell me where we’re going?”
The smell of dust and paper filled her nostrils as soon as she stepped foot into the old part of the library. He had instructed her to meet him in this section of the library. She was an avid reader, in fact she thought she’d read pretty much every work of fiction you could imagine, but when she walked past shelves filled with books from times she’d never imagined, she doubted how avid a reader she really was.
“It’s something, isn’t it?” he was standing five feet behind her, observing her perusal of the shelves and the treasures they held.
“It’s amazing,” she breathed. “I never knew this place was here…” now she was mumbling to her self, slightly berating her obvious lack of exploration whenever she frequented the library in town.
He stepped next to her, efficiently blocking her movement down the aisle, getting her attention. “So, Isabella… I’m assuming you’re assuming I brought you here for a reason.” He smiled.
She laughed looking into his forest green eyes, “Figured that much, did’ya?”
“Yeah well, I do. You want to know why or not?”
She remained silent for a while, pondering his tone. He sounded as if she should say: ‘No, I don’t’ but really wanted her to say: ‘Hell yeah!’
He observed her silent behaviour, for the first time in a long time nervous of the outcome her response would bring with it. She got this little crease between her brows and she was biting on her bottom lip. He could almost see the gears turning in the crazy, little head of hers. She was adorable.
He turned his focus to the racks of books in front of them, trying to appear patient in waiting for her answer. He couldn’t say he succeeded. But how could he stand here patiently, waiting for this petite woman to make a decision that had already been made for her? He should have just let Jay collect her. That would have made this whole scenario so much easier on any future explaining. They were supposed to be back by now, but thanks to one little, brown-haired, brown doe-eyed beauty, he was still in the beginning faze of her acceptance. That was unacceptable.
He did a double take, “Sorry, yes what?”
“You’re not that bright are you?” she questioned with a glint in her eyes. “Yes, I’d like you to tell my why you brought me here.”
“Oh…” ‘Yeah no shit Sherlock. You really aren’t that bright’ he thought. “Follow me.”
“This shit again – can’t you just tell me?” she whined. She’d had enough of his skirting around the problem.
“I need to show you to tell you.”
She paused, “show me what exactly?”
“You’ll see.” The smirk was back.
As were her anger.
“Oy! You -my friend- is not going to cut any more corners! You tell me, and you tell me right now, what this is about! How do you know me?” She took deliberate steps towards him, “what’s your game?” She was poking him in his chest trying to emphasize her annoyance with his constant dismissal and avoidance of admitting how he knew her.
He grabbed her probing finger, frankly annoyed and slightly amused by this small girl’s behaviour. “Relax princess. I’m trying to tell you, but as I stated before: I have to show you!” he stressed the ‘show’ part of his speech trying and hoping to get her to shut up long enough for him to find it.
She pulled her hand away from his grasp disturbed by the tingling sensation his touch had elicited in her. “Don’t call me that.”
Oh he had to tease her now. “No can do princess. I rather like that endearment for you sweetheart.”
She sighed, admitting defeat.
He was staring into her eyes as if she was the greatest mystery on earth. She was getting fed up by him, but for some reason she couldn’t seem to leave. The string on her hip was once again back keeping her firmly planted by his sided as he strode down the aisle they’d stopped in when they started arguing.
He made a turn going down a separate isle. A light above flickered when they passed a small desk with a pile of old, worn books on it. Initially she was a bit freaked out by the scary-movie theme going on in the library, and the fact that nobody knew she was here with him alone. ‘Let’s face it, you don’t know that many people to inform of your whereabouts in the first place, but still…’ she thought.
Suddenly he stopped, pulling a book from the shelf in front of them. Unlike any of the other books in the old part of the library, this one was in pristine condition. ‘Either it didn’t belong in the library or someone had made sure this one book was taken well care of.’ She thought, trying to sneak a peak at the cover of the book.
It didn’t have a title, just the number 0 embedded in the leather of the cover. He fingered the small indentation of the material, wondering if it would work.
“Isabella,” he started, keeping his focus solely on the book in front of them. “You have your mother’s locket?”
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