Prelude Chapter 1

A/N: Creative consultant Bonzie

 

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She’d had enough.

While they were in the kitchen, Jacob attempted to kiss her again. She planted one hand against his chin and the other against his extremely wide, bare chest and shoved. Bella even tried to growl at him, but she had another coughing fit. Slapping her hand over her mouth, she spun toward the sink and hacked up more of the sea water she’d inhaled when she had stupidly jumped from the cliff in La Push.

It was water. How could it burn?

Well, that’s what she got for being so stupid. It was a wonder she hadn’t drowned.

If it hadn’t been for Jacob, she would have. He had pulled her from the ocean, but saving her life didn’t give him the right to grope her. He’d been pawing her since he’d pulled her from the stormy waves, and she had had enough.

She flipped on the cold water into the left stainless steel bowl, splashed her face, and then scrubbed away the water and briny grime with a worn dish towel.

She braced her hands on the edge of the sink and tried to speak, but couldn’t because another glob of mucousy salt water was trying to choke her. She coughed it up, spit into the sink, and rinsed it down the drain.

Ironically, it seemed the perfect metaphor for her life at the time.

She tried to speak again, clearing her throat loudly. “Jacob, I need a shower really bad.” She straightened, thumped her hands on the sink and turned around to face him, leaning back against the cabinets, studying his dark eyes and watching to see if she’d have to block his advances again. “You can wait here in the kitchen if you like. I won’t be long. Help yourself to the fridge.”

Bella flicked her hand dismissively at the old refrigerator, squared her shoulders and marched purposefully past her handsy, six-and-a-half-foot friend. The way Jake and the other wolves ate, digging through the refrigerator should distract him for a while. She didn’t even care that he would probably eat through a week’s worth of groceries.

She stomped angrily up the stairs, making sure to hold on to the bannister because she was still shaky from her watery near-death experience. Halfway up, she stopped. She could just leave. She didn’t know where she would go, but it didn’t really matter. It would be someplace sunny and warm. She’d been a moron for months, woefully mooning and blubbering over that stupid jerk who didn’t want her, and she couldn’t seem to make Jacob understand she didn’t want him.

She’d been a fool. Edward had used her as a little plaything to liven up his hum-drum eternity, and she had used Jacob in her bid to break her promise to Edward to not do anything dangerous or reckless. She was nearly as big a jerk as Edward. Taking off wouldn’t solve anything, but it would give her space to just breathe, think, and extract her head from her own ass. Without having to fight off Jacob’s wolfy paws or his persistent puckering lips.

Having come to a definite decision, she continued her childish stomping into her room and dove for the secret sock of money she had under her mattress. Rummaging through her closet, she dumped the contents of her backpack on the floor and snatched up a small duffel bag. She had tossed it into her closet when she had first moved in with Charlie the year before. She glared at the pole full of stupidly expensive clothes her alleged best friend Alice had forced on her. She wouldn’t be taking any of those. She had never really liked any of them anyway.

Bella spun away from the hateful closet and promptly caught her toe on a loose floorboard. She lurched across the room, but managed to catch herself before she crashed into her little desk and stone-age computer. Turning back, she saw the board was sticking up and went to step on it to push it back down when she spotted a glint of something shiny underneath it.

From the bottom of the stairs, she heard Jacob’s voice. “Are you okay, Bells?”

“Uh, yeah. Just, uh … I can’t find anything to wear.” It was a lame excuse, but she couldn’t think of anything else to say. “I’m fine. I’ll be down in a while. You go ahead and eat something.”

“Sure, sure,” Jacob replied with a chuckle. “I’ve been eating.”

She knelt down to pry up the board. “Well, eat something else. I’m fine.”

Then her words dried up. Under the worn floorboard were the things Edward had taken when he had dumped her. The photos from her album, the gift plane tickets from Carlisle and Esme, and the CD of music Edward had recorded for her last birthday.

She expected it. She waited for it. But curiously, the aching rip in her heart she had been feeling for months didn’t return. Instead, the slowly beating muscle burst into flames of rage. She had thought he had taken every reminder she’d had of him, but it was there, in her room, the whole damn time!

Bella clenched her teeth so hard she thought she might crack the enamel. Just a distraction, he had said. She was no good for him. Her tiny, human mind was just a sieve. A sieve? She remembered every cruel thing he had said when he left her in the woods. The only thing that had leaked from her sieve-like mind was her common sense and her self-respect.

She viciously tore the photos and plane tickets into pieces and snapped the CD in half. She lunged for her little desk, grabbing a Sharpie and the sticky notes.

She took a deep breath to help calm her shaking hands and then wrote: It will be as if I’d never existed, dickwad.

At least hanging out with Jacob had taught her some colorful language.

She made sure all the tattered pieces of tickets and pictures, and CD shards, were back in the floor. She dug her passport from the dresser, and her license, student ID, and library card from her wallet, and dropped them in the hole.

The black credit card. Edward had hidden it in her wallet months and months before. He had to realize she would find it eventually. She was about to grab a pair of scissors and cut it into tiny pieces, but then she stopped. She didn’t know if it would work or not, but she was going to find out.

The least the asshole could do was pay for her trip. If it hadn’t been canceled.

She took the shiny card and shoved it in her pocket. She kissed her little note, placed it gently on the pile of trash, and quietly eased the board back into place.

She then whirled through her room, cramming underwear, socks, T-shirts, and jeans into her backpack and the small duffel, and paused to listen.

She could have sworn she heard Jake noisily chomping away and the scrape of a fork on a plate.

It was probably stupid to leave behind her IDs, but she didn’t have millions to buy a new identity like the Cullens did, but she was going to disappear. She’d find a way to make it work.

Grinning, she moved as silently as she could to her bedroom door and peeked out. She could hear Jacob pilfering the cupboards in the kitchen. She stomped to the bathroom and slammed the door shut. Bella turned on the shower, snagged her bag of toiletries, and cautiously opened the door to listen again.

Just in time to hear the phone ringing.

At least Jacob set his plate down before answering it. As she tiptoed back to her room, she heard Jake growl out, “He’s not here right now. He’s arranging a funeral.”

Hearing a deep, feral snarl that chilled her to her bones, she almost went downstairs to check on Jake when she heard him shout, “Always in the way!” and then the back door slammed so hard the walls vibrated.

“Huh. Looks like Jacob has left the building.” Bella grinned again, gathered up her bags and hummed tunelessly as she practically skipped down the stairs and out the front door to her truck. She had no idea who Jacob had been talking to or what funeral he had been talking about, but she found she didn’t really care.

On her way out of town, she spotted an ATM and decided to see if that shiny credit card worked. Edward hadn’t bothered to try and steal it back from her. So what if Alice saw her decision? They obviously didn’t care or they would have shown up when Laurent tried to eat her.

She drove up to the ATM, smiled brightly as she held the card up in front of the camera and then slipped it into the slot. On a whim, when it asked for a four-digit PIN, she pressed 0-9-1-3 on the key pad and nearly crowed when it next asked whether she wanted to make a withdrawal or a deposit.

Of course, using her birthday was a little obvious, but she assumed Edward wanted to make it easy for the brainless human.

Feeling adventurous, she tapped out the numbers for ten thousand dollars and almost peed her pants when it started spitting out bills. She leaned out the window of the old truck, gathered the bills and dropped them on the seat next to her. She finished that transaction, gave the one-finger salute to the camera, and drove away.

At the fourth ATM, it occurred to her to wonder why there seemed to be no limit to how much she could withdraw from the machines, but she figured shiny black credit cards had their perks.

Before driving away, she grabbed a marker out of the little pocket on the front of her backpack, wrote the four special numbers on the front and back of the card, held it up in front of the camera again, and released it. She blew a kiss at the camera, wiggled that one finger in farewell, and laughed out loud as she eyed the Welcome to Forks sign in her rearview mirror.

 

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Credits:

“It will be as if I’d never existed.” ~ Edward Cullen to Bella Swan in New Moon.

“He’s not here right now. He’s arranging a funeral.” ~ on the phone, Jacob Black speaking unknowingly to Edward Cullen in New Moon.

“Always in the way!” ~ Jacob Black in New Moon.

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