Standing, looking out the window of my loft in the early morning, very early morning judging from the dark outside as well as the clock above the mantle on the fireplace, I wonder how the hell I got here. I go over things in my mind, flashes of people and places, some happy, most sad and I really have a hard time coming up with an answer. How does a girl, at the age of 24 almost 25 in 6 months thank you very much, from a little town in Washington that no one outside of that state has ever heard of, how does she wind up in New York City looking out of the insanely expensive loft that has been professionally decorated that she owns, in fact she owns the whole damn building, how does that even happen? It is a question I have asked myself on more than one occasion. I've asked J, LeLe and Seth, too. None of us can quite figure it out, but it is what it is.
Sighing, I decide that I am not going to get an answer this morning either so I turn from the window and grab the hair tie that is almost always on my wrist, grab my hair, and put it up in the ever present pony tail and head for my kitchen. Ah, the kitchen…my true sanctuary. When I bought this building and started the renovations, the kitchen was the part that I spent the most time on. I knew what I wanted and made sure I got it. Huge open area, a butcher block island with a sink, a double oven with a warming tray below on the far wall. A 6 burner Vulcan stove, with a griddle on the side the focal point of the kitchen. Marble counter tops in a soft brown, the biggest and I am sure one of the most expensive ever stainless steel refrigerator, a stainless steel double sink and counter space out the ass.
I love to cook! I have been cooking since I was eight years old. My mom couldn't cook to save her life, in fact it almost cost us our lives on more than one occasion. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration. However, kitchen fires were not an uncommon occurrence in our house. One day I got tired of eating the weird, burned crap my mom tried to serve my dad and I so I made dinner. I can remember it like it was yesterday, I made spaghetti with homemade sauce, not out of a jar thank you very much, salad with homemade dressing, and garlic bread. I thought my dad was going to choke to death right then and there from the way he was inhaling the food. I even made brownies, from scratch I might add, for dessert. I was so proud of myself.
I even made Seth come over and eat. I laughed when his eyes rolled back in his head after his first bite. We ate everything, and I felt all warm inside delighting in the fact that they loved something I made so much. That is, until I looked across the table at my mother. I swear the look she gave me would have melted ice. I couldn't figure it out and the food I so lovingly made and just finished eating sat like lead weight in my stomach. Dad and Seth of course didn't notice. As soon as my dad asked her what she thought, she smiled at him and said it was good. Dad made such a big deal about my dinner that from that night on, my mom refused to cook anymore.
My dad Charlie Swan was the Chief of Police in our small town of Forks, Washington. He was loved by everyone, most of all by his daughter. I made no secret of the fact that I was a daddy's girl, in fact I relished in it. I loved Charlie, I loved being Bella Swan, and I loved being his daughter, more than anything in the world. I remember with almost perfect clarity, playing in the front yard with Seth, and J and LeLe once they moved to Forks, after school and waiting for my dad to come home.
He would pull his cruiser in the driveway and I would be standing beside his door before he even had time to get his seat belt off. He would pick me up, swing me around in a circle and say "Love you Bells" before shooing me off to finish playing. J, Seth and LeLe loved my dad almost as much as I did, and he loved all of them, too. After he would go inside and change out of his uniform and grab a beer, he would sit outside and watch us play, usually soccer.
Seth's dad Harry was my dad's best friend and he would come over and sit on the porch with Charlie shooting the shit, always about fishing or sports while they watched us play. Every now and then we could convince them to play with us, but they would only play if LeLe and I promised we could play baseball or football. I was too fast for them to play soccer I think. Seth's mom Sue and my mom Renee were best friends. Charlie, Renee, Harry and Sue all grew up in Forks together and had been best friends for 30 years.
Seth and I have been best friends for our whole lives, and are almost the exact same age. He was born a whole twelve minutes ahead of me, but according to him, those twelve minutes mean everything. I was born at 12:06 am on September 13 and he was born at 11:54pm on September 12. I love him more than anyone in this world, second only to my father. We have literally grown up together, even sleeping in the same crib more times than in my own by myself, taking baths together until we were too old to do so, to the first day of school, First Communion, first kisses -mine a boy named Eric in 8th grade; his a girl who I still hate to this day named Jessica when he was in 7th grade. Our first day of high school together, first real dates, first times…just first everything's. We have shared everything together, Seth and I along with our other partners in crime Jasper and Rosalie Whitlock.
Jasper and Rosalie moved to Forks when Seth and I were five. We met them on the very first day of kindergarten. Renee couldn't be bothered to take me to school so Seth's mom Sue was bringing us both. I remember holding Seth's hand walking up the sidewalk to the school when I saw a little boy and a little girl standing with the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I swear I thought she was an angel or something. She had shoulder length blond hair and the bluest eyes I had ever seen. The little boy and girl looked almost just like her. The little girl's blond hair shining in the sun, up in a pony tail with a huge pink bow. The boy standing beside her in jeans and a t-shirt. The angel lady as I was calling her in my head leaning down to talk to them both. I remember seeing tears on their faces and it hurt my heart to see such pretty people sad. I pulled Seth along with me and walked right up to them and told them that Seth and I would be their best friends forever and they needed to stop making the pretty angel lady sad because it was making me sad. Their mom, who was definitely not an angel, thanked me and sent us on our way. After a quick wave to Sue we were off to Forks Elementary School together and the four of us have been pretty much inseparable since then.
Harry and Sue Clearwater lived in the house directly behind our house. We didn't even have a fence in between the yards; it was just one huge space. Jasper and Rose's parents lived right down the street. When Seth and I became best friends with J and LeLe as we called them, our parents all became best friends, too. We all did everything together, all birthdays were celebrated, every holiday, picnics and barbeques in the summer , sleep over's on the weekends, football games in the fall. Everything. It was the best, honestly and truly. I know people look back on their childhood's and wish things were different, but I really didn't. Well, there is one thing I wish I could have changed and that would be Renee. But other than that minor thing, it was perfect. I was loved and cherished by the greatest dad ever, I had two other pseudo dad's in Harry and Peter Whitlock, and two almost mom's in Sue and Charlotte Whitlock. Those four almost parents as we all liked to call them, loved me almost as much as Charlie did and they sure loved me a hell of a lot more than Renee Swan.
I can remember almost to the exact second when Renee went from being mom to just being Renee. I was eight years old and it was summer vacation. Seth, Jasper and Rose were at the house and we were playing in the back yard. My parents were having a barbeque and the Clearwater's and Whitlock's were at the house as usual. We also had some other people there, some of dad's co-workers as well as Billy Black, his son Jake and some of the other Quiletes from the near by reservation. My dad was in his element, grilling, a beer in one hand, friends all around and kids running everywhere. Sue and Charlotte were watching over us kids in the yard talking with some of the other women that were there. Us kids had decided to play soccer since the space was so big between the houses, my dad had even set up goals for Seth and I. We made teams and started to play. I loved playing soccer, it was one of the few things that I could do well. I wasn't the most coordinated of people but running with a soccer ball just did something to me. I couldn't explain it then, I just knew I loved it. So we were playing, and I'm not bragging or anything, but I smoked them all. Every last one of them. I was so fast even the older boys from the Res couldn't keep up with me. By this time, the parents had started to watch us play. I remember after one goal I scored, looking up to see my father with the biggest smile I had ever seen on his face.
"Good job schooling those boys there Bells" he said, laughing.
That made all the dad's laugh and the mom's clap. All except mine. I remember looking at her and the look on her face was nothing but disgust.
"Charlie, stop encouraging her" she said. "Bella will never be the boy you wanted so there is no sense trying to turn her into one now. Just get used to the fact that all we will ever have is her" she spat.
And at that, she turned and walked into the house and didn't come back out. I started to cry almost immediately, not really understanding what I did that was so wrong. My dad rushed to me and told me not to pay any attention to mom that she wasn't feeling good and she didn't mean what she said. Sue and Charlotte came over to give me a hug and told me what a good job I had done and Seth, Jasper and Rose all ran up to me giving me a slap on the back as well. I heard one of dad's deputy's, Sam Uley, telling him that he should get me into soccer in the fall when sign ups started. He was one of the coaches and he said he would love to have me.
From that day on, I practiced every chance I got, from the time I woke up until my dad made me come in at night. Running, shooting, dribbling, everything I could do. I made Jasper play with me; he was the only one that was even close to being as fast as I was. We played all summer long, sometimes alone while Seth was at football practice and Rose was with her mom, sometimes we all played together. My friends loved me, truly loved me for me. They wanted to help me because they knew this was important, that I wanted to be good at something.
After the scene at the barbeque during the summer, I tended to avoid Renee as much as I could. She sure didn't go out of her way to spend time with me either. The parents still spent time together, but you could tell from watching them that everyone kind of tip toed around Renee, not really knowing what to say to her. I would hear them when they were sitting outside together in the yard or on the front porch while we all played. She cut down everyone, all the time. My dad, me, the other mom's that we knew; just everyone. Constantly. I watched my dad try to take up for her, or change the subject whenever she would start, but it never worked.
I would overhear my parents at night arguing about me. Dad would ask her why she acted the way she did to me. She never answered him, always told him that he was imagining things. But we both knew better. Sue and Charlotte would stop by to try to visit with Renee. She would have them over for drinks while the dad's were off fishing. After the wine would start flowing Renee would loosen up. And of course when that happened, out came the claws. She compared herself to everyone. She tried to make Sue feel bad for being a stay at home mom while she was out working as a successful real estate agent.
She would tell Charlotte that her looks would fade as she got older and to be careful because it was likely Peter would leave her and the kids when they did. She would tell them over and over and over how disappointed she was in me, how I would never amount to anything and most often just how much she wished that I was a boy instead. Seth and J and LeLe all tried to talk to me about it, but I didn't want to. Renee and I existed together, that was all. No comforting words from her, no hugs or good night kisses, no shopping trips or walks to the park or for ice cream. Nothing. All that I did with Sue or Charlotte or most often, Charlie.
In the fall, Charlie took Jasper and I to soccer sign ups. Sam was there like he promised and helped us fill out all the paperwork. Since he had seen me play at our house, he let me play on a team that was boys and girls together. We would have practice one night a week and games every Saturday. Sam would be our coach. I remember being so excited to start; I couldn't stop talking about it. Charlie, Peter, and Charlotte took us four kids to Port Angeles the next weekend for Jasper and I to get our soccer gear. I remember walking into the sporting goods store and making my way up to the shoes to find my cleats. I picked out a white pair of Adidas shoes, with black stripes. Jasper and I got the rest of our things and left the store to go eat, I begged Charlie to let me wear my shoes to the restaurant but he wouldn't let me.
I couldn't wait to get started. I even forgot about how Renee acted towards me, and in my excitement tore into the house to tell her all about Sam and my team and to show her my shoes. She was sitting on the couch, watching TV as usual, drinking wine which was even more normal for her and I ran up to her.
"Look mom," I told her, "look what Daddy let me get!"
I remember standing there in front of her, bouncing on the soles of my feet.
She looked up at me, not even bothering to try to fake a smile and told me "Those are the ugliest shoes I have ever seen and I hope you don't plan on me watching any of your stupid games. I have much better things to do with my time than watch a bunch of kids run up and down a field chasing a ball!"
Then, she got up off the sofa and went into her room, slamming her door. I of course burst into tears, what eight year old little girl wouldn't? I turned to my dad, who was just standing there, staring at the spot where my mother was just sitting, his mouth hanging open.
"Bells, I don't know what is the matter with your mom, but I promise you that I will be at every single game cheering for you."
"Thanks Daddy," I whispered.
I couldn't believe my mom. Sue never talked to Seth that way and Charlotte certainly never talked to Jasper or Rose like that either. In fact, I couldn't think of a single time I had ever heard a mom talk to their kid that way. I wondered what I did to make her hate me so much, it's like it appeared out of nowhere one day.
I looked up at the clock in the kitchen, and realized the muffins I put in the oven for Seth were burning. Damn it! I never burn anything.