Disclaimer: We don’t own Twilight... If we did, we’d be on vacation on our own version of Isle Esme!
“Lean on Me” Bill Withers
“That’s What Friends Are For” Dionne Warwick
“Love Like This” Natasha Bedingfield
“Survivor” Destiny’s Child
“Bella Swan, It’s been a long time. I don’t know if you remember me or not, I’m Jacob Black.”
“We used to play together when we were 5. We were in Junior High together for a little while, too,” he added.
As I look this handsome stranger in the eyes, I suddenly remember a little long haired boy, playing in the mud. He had such an infectious smile, you couldn’t help but be in a happy mood. Any time we were playing together as children and I had one of my many accidents, all it took was the sweet look in his kind, dark eyes and that smile and I instantly forgot about the new injury to my overly clumsy body.
“Jacob, yeah, I remember. How have you been?” He still had the nicest smile I’d ever seen. Jacob’s cute dimples don’t hurt much either.
“I’ve been good. So, my dad tells me you’re going to be with us for the rest of the school year. If you want, I can show you around and introduce you to people.”
“Thanks, Jacob. That would be great.” It was nice to at least know someone here. Maybe things were finally starting to look up for me. I still missed him with every breath I took, but maybe Jacob would help distract me from my self-imposed torture.
I started looking around the student area and noticed that there were people walking by us, pointing and smiling.
“Uh, Jacob... Why are they looking at me like that?” I always hated to be the center of attention and it was like there was a spot light straight on me shouting “Look at me! Look at me!” I wanted to crawl in a cold dark hole and be by myself.
“Really, do you have to ask, Bella. Everyone around here thinks you shooting Edward, is badass!”
“What?” I inwardly cringed. How could people think that horrible accident that caused my heart to shatter into a million pieces was a good thing. “That’s just... I have no words, Jacob. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to shoot him. I loved him.” I could feel the tears threatening to fall. I wished once again that I was a much stronger person who could control her emotions so everybody wouldn’t be able to read me like I was an open book or something.
“We know it was an accident, Bella. Everyone knows how Edward treats people, and they all think he got what was coming to him. Karma can be a bitch and I’m pretty sure that your ex has found that out first hand.” Jacob gently rubbed his large hands down my arms trying to comfort me. “I’m sorry if I’m making you uncomfortable, Bella. I just wanted you to know the truth of what’s up with everyone around here. Keep smiling, Bella. I swear to you that you can always count on me because that is what friends are for.” I couldn’t have stopped myself from returning the smile that he gave me.
A student I didn’t know smiled and waved as he walked by. “Hi, Bella. Welcome!” he said.
“Jacob, I don’t even know him.”
“I told you, Bella. Around here you’re famous. Let me show you more of campus. I know that you are going to love it here.” He reached out his hand for mine. I eyed him wearily and those damn dimples of his drew me in. His dark hand was so warm, almost comforting against my small, pale palm. He looked over at Emily who had been leaning against the wall talking with some friends while occasionally glancing over at me to make sure that I was doing OK. “Hey, Em, come on. Let’s show Bella here all the ins and outs of the best high school in Washington State.” She walked over, her eyes brimming with excitement and eagerness.
“Oh, Bella, wait until you see our yearbook room. The things you are going to be able to do with our equipment is out of this world!”
“Sure, I’m ready to see everything. I can’t wait to get started.”
“Great, let’s go,” Jake said. Our first stop was the state of the art journalism room where I met our adviser Erica Williams. She was super cool and thrilled that I had so much experience. The rest of the campus was as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside. It was so hard for me to believe that this was a high school campus. I had never even seen a college campus that was this incredible, even on the many journalism field trips that I had gone on with Alice.
Jake looked at his watch and gently squeeze and released my hand. “I hate to cut things short, Bella, but I’ve got basketball practice in 30 minutes and I need to get changed. Right now we are ranked first in the state in our division.”
“Bella, the team is so great. Just wait until you see all the guys in action. They are undefeated so far,” Emily said. “With that kick ass camera of yours, I am beyond sure that this year’s basketball pages will be so incredible that it will feel like the players are literally jumping off the pages.”
“It will be fun. I haven’t used this camera for action shots yet, it will be interesting to see what pictures I can get,” I told them. Jacob gave me a huge bear hug and grinned at Emily.
“See you both later. Have fun, Bella. If you need me for anything, anything at all, don’t hesitate to call. Em has my phone number.” He winked and began to jog back to the dorms.
“Bella, I am so glad that you are here. The rest of this year is going to be absolutely amazing,” Emily told me.
“I’m glad that I’m here too. Let’s head back to the yearbook room. I’ve got some really cool ideas that I would love to share with you.” Emily was almost bouncing up and down with excitement as I finally began to face the fact that my life as I had known it was officially over. I guess it was time for me to find out who Isabella Marie Swan was … without Edward Cullen.
I was shocked to find that six weeks had gone by and that I was more than enjoying my time here. Emily and Jake were helping to fill the huge hole that had been left in my chest. There were even some days where I actually forgot about him. There were even days when I didn’t have one single, solitary thought about him or us at all.
Usually, when I least expected it, those green eyes would taunt me and tempt me in my dreams. Well, some were incredible dreams that I still wished I could find a way to come true. Edward and I together years from now with a beautiful brown-eyed daughter with her version of Edward’s uncontrollable bronze hair. Other times they were nightmares that I wish I could find a way to erase from my memory forever. I can’t even think about what happened in those nightmares without shaking or crying. They were so real, so painful. I could always lean on Emily and Jacob. For some reason, it always seemed easier for Emily to cope with me on my bad days. She was always there with a shoulder for me to lean on if I needed it. She told me that sometimes she could see the sorrow in my eyes. On those days she did anything and everything to make that sorrow disappear. She was absolutely one of the most incredible people I ever met. Jacob was always there for me, but if I mentioned Edward’s name, his eyes sometimes glazed over in what appeared to be anger. He always told me that I was imagining things. Honestly, Jake and Emily saved me. They also were the only ones who really knew me. I wasn’t my own person before I met them. I was part of Edward and Bella. Or the version of me that Edward wanted me to be. It’s been incredible for me to find out who I really was and who I was capable of being on my own.
Jacob was right to be cocky about how great our school’s basketball team was. The first game it took me a bit to get the settings on the camera figured out so the action photos were crisp and in focus. Once I got everything set up perfectly and into the groove, my pictures were unbelievably good.
I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined how many people would eventually see one of my photographs.
At the final round of the state championship game, we went into overtime against the reigning state champions. There were only ten seconds remaining on the clock when Jacob made it to the basket. My finger was able to capture the moment as Jacob slam dunked the ball for the winning shot into the basket, breaking the backboard into hundreds of pieces. His face was full of determination that this shot was the shot.
While I was flipping through the photos and saw the best picture that I knew I had ever taken a man tapped me gently on the shoulder.
“Excuse me, Miss. I’m Everette Lexington from the Seattle Times. You attend QIS, right?”
“Yes, I do. I’m Bella Swan.” I reached out to shake his hand and he handed me his business card.
“Would you mind letting me look at that picture you were just grinning so widely yet. From a distance it looked a lot better than mine.”
“Sure.” I pulled the review menu up on my camera and I knew that my face was full of pride. Not only because my friend had done something amazing and won the game, but because I, Bella Swan, was very proud of something that I had accomplished on my own. I glanced over at his face and his eyes were alight with astonishment.
“This is one of the most incredible pictures that I have seen. Absolutely incredible how you were able to get every detail of that moment perfectly captured.” I could feel myself blushing at his kind words. “Your picture is definitely better than mine. I would love to use this in the paper and we will pay you for using it. If you’re interested, that is.”
“Really? I mean, yes! I would love for you to use this in the newspaper!”
“Fantastic, Bella. My email address is at the bottom of the card. We can’t pay you much for the photo, only $25, but you will get your byline listed too.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I didn’t care about the money at all, but my photo going into a professional newspaper had me beyond excited.
“No, that’s totally fine, Mr. Lexington. I will head to the dorm and email this to you as soon as I can.” We shook hands again and I saw Emily running towards me.
“Thank you, Bella. Be on the lookout for your photo in the paper tomorrow morning.”
“We won! We won! We won,” Emily screamed as she threw her arms around me.
“I know! I am so proud of Jake! I can’t wait to see him to congratulate him,” I told her.
“We should all go out to dinner and celebrate before we head back to campus,” Emily said.
“That would be... Crap, I can’t. I’ve got some amazing news of my own. Check out this picture that I took of Jake.” As Emily looked at the photo, her eyes were almost bugging out of her head.
“Oh. My. God. Bella! That picture! I have no words. It’s … It’s... WOW!” She giggle and hugged me again. “That is definitely going to be the dominant on our boys basketball page layout. Damn, our boy Jake looks really fine in that photo doesn’t he?” She winked at me.
“You know Jake and I are just friends.”
“Sure. You keep telling yourself that! God, do I love a fine muscled up man covered in a sheen of sweat,” Emily sighed dreamily and I smacked her in the arm. “OK. OK. So you said you have news. What’s up?”
“The reporter from the Seattle Times saw my photo and asked if they could use it in tomorrow’s paper!” I was bursting with excitement.
“Bella, I am so proud of you. Your picture is going to be in the sports section of the Times tomorrow! Oh, wait until Jake finds out!” She snort giggled which caused me to laugh until I was almost crying.
“How right you are, Emily. He’s already got a big enough head as it is. Once he finds out he’s going to be in the newspaper it’s going to get even bigger. I’m going to text Jake and let him know that we are headed back and will see him later tonight. Let’s get me professionally published.” I packed up all the equipment and Emily and I headed back to my beautiful car. Dad had let me drive it to Seattle for the game and I knew that he and Sam would come by to take my beautiful baby back to its sheltered home at Charlie’s house.
The next morning Emily and I were awakened by a very loud pounding on our dorm door. I moaned as I looked at the clock. It was only 7 in the morning. Emily and I had been up giggling and talking until 4AM, so I was praying whoever it was at the door had a damn good reason to be there. I threw on my robe while grumbling and I saw that Emily had finally wandered from her room as she was wiping the sleep from her eyes.
“Who is it, Bella?”
“Obviously someone with a death wish. You better have a...” I started as I opened the door to find Jacob with the most incredible look I’ve ever seen on his face. He’d had something in his hands and it fell to the ground as he picked me up and enveloped me in an embrace and began spinning us in circles.
“Bella!” His smile was so big it could probably have been seen from outer space.
“Jake! Put me down you big lug!” I hit at his chest. “You’re making me dizzy! You’re like a dog trying to chase its own tail for crying out loud.” He and Emily both laughed at me.
“Sorry, Bella.” He released me but his smiled never wavered. “Oh, shit! Where is it? Wait until you see this. It is the most incredible thing EVER!”
He looked into the hallway and came back with the newspaper and held up the front page of the Seattle Times. “It’s me!”
My mouth hit the floor with a resounding thud as I took in the front page of the paper. Almost the entire front page was my photo. I gently took the paper from Jake and collapsed onto the couch. I rubbed my fingers across my name under the photo and felt tears forming in my eyes.
Jacob knelt in front of me and Emily came to sit beside me on the couch. Both of their faces were filled with concern.
“Bella, are you OK?” Emily asked while soothingly patting my arm.
“I’m sorry, Bella.” Jake mumbled as he tried to take the paper away from me. I slapped his hand away.
“Give me a minute,” I told them. “Guys, these are not sad tears. I can’t believe that...” My crying picked up. God, I am such a fucking girl. Getting emotional just because my picture was in the paper I chided myself. “My picture is on the front page of the paper. My picture...” My voice trailed off. “This is the happiest that I have been in a long time. Thanks so much for being my friends and sharing this unbelievable moment with me.” I leaned my head on Emily’s shoulder and Jake came to sit on the other side of me wrapping his arms around me.
“This is your moment, Bella. You were meant to shine brightly for all to see,” Jake said as he kissed me gently on the forehead.
“I am finally seeing that. God, I’ve got to call Charlie and tell him.” I jumped off the couch to Jake’s howling laughter and called my parents to share my wonderful news with them.
Just when I thought that things couldn’t get any better, I got a phone call that left me totally speechless. Sports Illustrated had seen my photo and they wanted to use it. Hot Damn! I was going to be published in the best sports magazine in the country. They even paid me for the photo, even though just having my picture and my name in their magazine would be more than I could have ever hoped for.
I continued work with Emily on the yearbook and as we submitted the last deadline, we felt a huge relief.
“Emily and Bella, I am so proud of the work you’ve done on this yearbook. It’s definitely going to be the best yet,” Ms. Williams, our adviser, told us. “I am definitely going to submit our book to the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for a critique and Crown judging. It wouldn’t surprise me if you ladies helped us nail down a Gold Crown.”
“Do you really think so?” Emily asked with awe in her voice. Crown awards were the most sought after yearbook awards by the best high school and college publications throughout the U.S. Only a handful out of hundreds of yearbooks received a Gold Crown each year.
“Honestly, the two of you are definitely a force to be reckoned with.” Ms. Williams hugged us both.
“Bella, I was waiting until the last deadline was finished to not put more stress on you, but I’ve got some messages for you.”
“Really, from whom?” I was really confused. There wasn’t anyone that I could think of that would leave me a message through my adviser.
“This almost never happens for students in the field of journalism to be recruited when they are in high school. Two schools have contacted me and have offered you a full scholarship for you to attend.” I couldn’t find my voice. I was going to get to do what I loved and I was going to be able to do this on my own without any help from Charlie or Reneé.
“Which schools?” Emily asked before I could even form a more coherent thought.
“The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Both schools are interested for you to work on either their newspaper or yearbook in graphic design and photography. They are very impressed by your work.”
“Isn’t the only way they’ve seen my work was the one photo of Jake that was published?” I asked Ms. Williams.
“Well, I kind of sent them other samples of your work when they asked for them.” Ms. Williams was beaming with pride over all the accomplishments that I had been able to make over a short time. “So, Bella, what do you think? Are you going to be a Sun Devil or a Sooner?”
My mind was spinning. I knew both of these schools and the education that they could offer me would be the absolute best. Now I just needed to decide whether or not I wanted to go to school with my family nearby or if I was ready to go out on my own.
I couldn’t believe how much my life had changed in just a few months. I couldn’t believe how I had changed as a person. I was finally Bella. I was myself. Finally, I knew who I really and truly was.