Sunday, February 16, 2014 | By: Drotuno

Masen Manor Chapter 2 & Pics

Chapter 2
August 2001
“Bella,” Chelsea called from the other side of my bedroom door.
I got up from my bed, tossing my journal aside, and opened the door that I always kept locked.
Chelsea smiled sweetly, taking in my appearance. She was in her mid-forties and had lived with us for as long as I could remember. She was the only one in the house that didn’t force me to talk if I didn’t want to.
“You look very pretty, sweetheart,” she crooned, straightening the collar of my shirt before tucking my hair behind my ear. “I was just wondering if you wanted something to eat before this interview thing you’ve got going on today.”
Nodding, I followed her downstairs, but I pulled her to a stop, pointing to the library.
“Oh, okay. Go ahead. I’ll bring it in there,” she said cheerfully.
Walking into my favorite room in the house, I smiled that no one was in there. I was in no mood for my mother and stepfather today. My mother was fine, barely acknowledging my existence, but my stepfather acknowledged it too much. I sat down to my piano and lifted the cover over the keys. My fingers grazed over the ivories, my eyes closing, and I started to play. Songs usually represented my mood, and today was no different. I wasn’t sure how I wanted things to play out with this interview.
Masen Academy wasn’t something I’d even known about, but my English teacher last year, Mrs. Cope, had sent an application in for me, stating that I’d do very well there, especially since I was coming up on my junior year. A part of me was worried that a new school meant new kids to pick on me, but another part saw it as an escape from my house, a chance to get away and start new.
Beethoven morphed into Chopin, and I looked up when Chelsea came into the room with a tray, setting it on the bench next to me.
“Bella,” she said softly, cupping my face. “I know my opinion counts for very little around here, but I think…maybe? You should give this school a shot.” She handed me a glass of orange juice, tapping the tip of my nose. “Not that I won’t miss this gorgeous face, but I think…getting out of here would do everyone some good.”
My nose wrinkled and I nodded, taking a drink from the glass. My eyes raked over the library. It was the only place that still had pictures of my father – my real dad. They were high up on the bookshelves, but still, from where I was sitting, I could see him holding me the day I was born, the first time he tried to teach me how to throw a baseball, and my first piano recital.
“I know you miss him, sweetie,” Chelsea whispered, kneeling next to me. “And I know you’re not happy here. I’ve been with you a long time. I can see it, even if your mother can’t.”
I picked at my breakfast, but didn’t look her in the eye.
“What happened to you that night was…tragic,” she went on, and when I glanced over at her, her eyes were on my neck.
Shaking my head, I pushed her, covering up my throat. I didn’t want to talk about that night. Talking about it led to thinking, and thinking led to nightmares. I hated the nightmares.
“Shh, shh, shh,” she hushed me, kissing my forehead. “I didn’t mean to upset you, Bella. I’m just…worried, you know?”
“I know, Chelsea,” I whispered, smiling a little when she beamed at me. I so rarely spoke aloud, and hardly ever to my parents, not that they were around much.
“This interview is for you, too, you know. They’re gonna want to talk to you, sweetie.”
Swallowing nervously, I nodded. I was aware that this meeting today was with a woman named Esme Cullen. She was an instructor and the headmaster of Masen Academy. Mrs. Cope had explained to me that Mrs. Cullen was aware of my…problem, that the interview would be three parts: a talk with me and my parents, a talk with me alone, and then finally a decision with Mom and Phil.
The thought of Phil made me look back at the pictures of my father. I wasn’t really welcome in my own home for the first few years Phil been with us, but now…he’d started to watch me, which was why my bedroom stayed locked. For the most part, though, they ignored me, too selfish in their own lives to pay attention to me, and it wasn’t like I demanded it.
My mother had tried for years to get me to speak on some sort of regular basis. I’d gone through therapists, counselors, and even hypnotists, but they’d all told her the same thing. I could speak; I simply chose not to. They also told my mother that it stemmed from my father’s death, that since I’d had to be quiet throughout my healing process, I’d merely stopped talking altogether. Others told them it was the one thing that I had control over, since I’d had no control when it happened, and it would change in time. At that point, my mother stopped dealing with it, and Phil on more than one occasion told me he was glad I wasn’t one of those loud, obnoxious teenagers.
Chelsea sat with me as I finished my breakfast. When I was done, she picked up my tray and kissed my forehead again. I was pretty sure she knew more than she ever said, things she felt about my stepfather, but she was their employee first and my friend second, so she kept her opinions to herself. She needed this job more than anything because she had a son she was putting through college. She talked about Tim endlessly; he was going to be a doctor, which made her very proud.
Turning back to the piano, I lost myself in music – both my own and someone else’s compositions. I played to relax myself, but when the sound of the doorbell echoed through the house, my hands started to shake.
Peeking out through the window, I saw a woman standing at the front door, speaking with Chelsea. She was younger than I’d anticipated, with hair that was the shade of a dark honey, and it looked like her eyes matched. Her smile was kind, polite, and she was dressed in a really pretty navy blue suit. I spun around when my mom entered the room, with Phil right behind her. He was sipping a cup of coffee, carrying the newspaper.
My mother took a seat on the sofa, my stepfather in the chair next to her.
“Bella, I know how you feel about new people and new environments, so if you don’t want this, then you can just go back Chamberlain High with your friends,” my mother stated, though she hardly looked at me.
I wanted to tell her I didn’t have friends, but Phil eyed me from across the room, standing up when Chelsea led Mrs. Cullen into the library.
“Phil and Renee Dwyer, this is Esme Cullen from Masen Academy.” Chelsea walked to me, placing a hand on my shoulder. “And this is Isabella Swan, but she’d rather you call her Bella.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet all of you,” Mrs. Cullen said, smiling and shaking my parents’ hands, and then she walked to me. “Bella,” she greeted, and I smiled back.
I couldn’t help it. There was something calming and sweet about her. Her eyes did match her hair, and they were warm. I shook her hand, noting that the rainy day outside had made her hands cold, but followed her to the loveseat and sat next to her as she pulled out a few file folders and set them down on the coffee table.
“Technically, Bella,” she started, speaking directly to me, “you’re already accepted into Masen, but it’s just a matter of going over some of the details with you and your parents. The application and examples of your work were excellent, your test scores at Chamberlain are outstanding, and if I’m understanding correctly, you play piano at an advanced level, yes?”
I nodded, giving her a small smile.
“Good, good,” she praised, patting my arm. “Now, let’s get started, shall we?”
She spent about thirty minutes going over the basics of the school, some of the rules, and what I was allowed to take with me. She answered a few questions from my mother, but then turned to face me.
“I’d like to speak with Bella alone, if that’s all right with all of you.”
“Bella doesn’t really…speak,” my mother countered.
My stepfather opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but he snapped it closed when Mrs. Cullen eyed him for a second.
“That’s perfectly fine,” Mrs. Cullen replied in light tone and a soft smile. “I’m sure we’ll manage, won’t we, Bella?”
I nodded at her and then at my mother, waiting until she and Phil left the room to face Mrs. Cullen again.
She opened a different file, studying it a bit before looking to me. Her eyes drifted down to my throat, and I swallowed nervously. It happened all the time, people staring. It was jagged and ugly, and I used to cover it up, but it wasn’t always feasible.
“Bella,” she said, sitting forward and folding her hands on her lap. “I know what your file says, but I’d like to ask you some simple things, okay?” When I nodded, she smiled warmly. “As I see it, you can speak, yes?”
I nodded again.
“Does it hurt when you talk?”
I swallowed thickly, shaking my head no, but something about this woman made me at ease, so I opened my mouth, quickly shutting it and leaving my answer a silent one.
Her eyes widened just a little, but she nodded. “Okay, that’s good. All your teachers have nothing but flattering things to say about you. They say that despite your lack of verbal participation, you’re a bright student and easily taught.” She tapped the folder. “A Mrs. Cope seems to think that you’d do very well at Masen. In fact, she was the one that contacted us. She seems to think that your last two years could be better than in public school.”
Smiling, I nodded.
“You like her,” she stated with a chuckle and grinned when I nodded again. “Well, you should know she likes you, too. Very much. I had an in-depth conversation with her yesterday. She’s a very nice woman.” Mrs. Cullen sighed, folding and unfolding her hands. “She did explain to me what happened to you four, almost five, years ago. She told me about your father.”
Grimacing, I looked down and away from her, feeling my cheeks heat. I wasn’t mad, but it was a touchy subject.
“I don’t mean to upset you, but as I’m responsible for the school, I have to ask these questions,” she explained gently. “Bella, I need to know if you’re ready to leave home. I realize that you’re sixteen, almost seventeen, but you’ve been through some rough things. I need to know if you’re capable of handling a tougher school schedule, having a roommate, and leaving your parents. And I really wish I could hear from you about it.”
Grimacing, I nodded, taking a deep breath and letting it out. I swallowed nervously, licking my lips, when I finally spoke, she gave me her undivided attention.
“I can…handle the work,” I told her, running my fingertips across my scar. “They were going to skip me a grade, but Phil told them not to.”
She frowned at that, but I got up and grabbed a book off the shelf, handing it to her. She opened it up to the first page, and I pointed to the first newspaper clipping.
“My dad,” I whispered. “He was a judge. He was home with me that last night. We were robbed…I woke up and…he tried, but there wasn’t…” I shook my head, pleading with her silently that I didn’t have to say any more.
Mrs. Cullen nodded, taking my hand in hers to guide me to the cushion next to her. “Okay, but I have a couple more questions. Please, sit.” She closed my photo album and set it aside. “As a part of the requirement, I have your medical records, too. I’ve had a doctor look them over. There are a few… How do I put this? There are a few injuries that need explaining.”
“Nightmares,” I whispered. “I don’t always…know where I am when I wake up, so I’ve fallen out of bed or been restrained.”
“You know this? Or is this something someone explained to you?”
“No, they tell me what happened. I never remember,” I barely said aloud, my brow wrinkling at the stern expression on her face.
“Okay, my last question is this… Do you want to come to Masen Academy? I’m aware that ultimately, your parents make the decision, but when I talk to them one more time, I’d like to know where you stand.”
I thought about it, gazing around the room. The thought of starting over somewhere new was scary, but enticing. The idea of leaving my mother and stepfather had good and bad points. I’d miss my mother and Chelsea, but lately, Phil had started to make me uncomfortable, more than once telling me that I was prettier than my mother, that I should wear more revealing clothing, and asking me about boys as school. I felt his eyes on me more often than he used to.
“I…” I swallowed nervously, nodding a little. “I want to come.”
She grinned, clapping her hands once. “Excellent. Now, could you do me a favor and send your parents back in one more time? We’ll see if I can’t steal you away.” She winked, causing me to giggle, but I got up from the loveseat and left the room.
I stepped into the kitchen where Chelsea and my parents were. I pointed toward the library, and my mother nodded, tugging Phil out of the room. Chelsea, though, grinned, put a finger to her lips, and pushed the button on the wall, allowing the speaker to turn on.
My mouth fell open, and I couldn’t help but laugh, covering my mouth with my hands. Chelsea shot me a wink, but continued to clean the counters as we listened in.
“Mr. and Mrs. Dwyer, I think Bella would be a fantastic addition to Masen Academy,” Mrs. Cullen proclaimed once the door closed to the library. “I think with her academic record and her musical background, she’d fit in nicely. In fact, I have in mind the perfect roommate for her. And I’m considering bringing in a special music teacher for her, as well. I asked Bella if she wanted to come, and she told me yes. I’m aware that her inheritance from her father’s passing is open for education, though she’s not due to receive all of it until she’s eighteen, so I assume that the partial scholarship I’m offering would be helpful.”
“Bella told you she wanted to go?” my mother asked her incredulously.
“Yes, she did speak to me. It wasn’t a lot, but I’m happy to say that she answered a few of my questions out loud.”
Phil scoffed. “Unbelievable. You’re here…what? An hour?”
“Well, perhaps this is a sign of good things to come,” Mrs. Cullen countered, though her voice sounded a little rough. “Maybe Masen Academy can pull her out of her shell.” She paused for a moment, and there was a shuffling of papers before she finally spoke again. “Here’s the thing. I think Bella deserves this chance. I think she’ll grow and blossom in Hunter’s Lake. I will tell you that I have a doctor on staff that may be able to help her.”
“She’s been seen by every specialist, Mrs. Cullen,” my mother stated. “Nothing has worked.”
“Then one more won’t hurt,” Mrs. Cullen replied firmly.
My eyes widened, and I locked gazes with Chelsea, whose mouth was hanging open as the room went silent. It seemed that Mrs. Cullen was fighting for me to go. We both held our breaths as we waited for someone to say something.
Finally, my mother’s voice came over the speaker. “Okay, we’ll give it a chance. A year.”
“Excellent,” Mrs. Cullen stated. “Now…I’ll be in town for the next two days, so I’d be happy to take Bella back with me. That will give her time to pack. I’ll leave a list of supplies she’ll need and the list of things she can and can’t take with her. These are her admission forms, so have those filled out when I come back on Friday morning to pick her up.”
Chelsea punched the button on the wall, turning to me with a squeal. “You’re in!” she cheered in a whisper. “Are you happy? Are you sure?”
I nodded fervently, grinning her way.
She cupped my chin, looking at me with the same expression she wore when she talked about Tim. “Okay, let’s get that list and get you packed.”
“Bella,” Chelsea called from behind me.
I spun around and peeked out of my closet to see her standing there, holding a stack of brand new journals. My eyes widened and I grinned.
“I thought you should have backups,” she said with a soft laugh. “That one is lookin’ a little ragged, sweet pea.”
Giggling, I walked to her and hugged her, taking the notebooks from her. There were six, all different colors, and all still wrapped in plastic. I looked at my old one. The binding was bent, there were doodles all over the cover, and I knew that some pages inside were ripped, wrinkled, or stained with coffee. However, she was right. That one was almost full.
She cupped my face. “Don’t you ever stop writing in them. That’s your voice, sweetheart. Until you find yours again, use it. That’s the one thing you took away from all those damn doctors your mother dragged you to,” she said with a derisive tone, but she tapped my temple lightly.
I looked down and away from her, but I nodded because it was true.
She tilted my face back up. “Charlie would love that you’re writing to him. You two were like…”
“Chocolate and peanut butter,” I finished in a whisper, but grinned when she laughed.
“Yes, exactly!” She chuckled, kissing my forehead. “He used to tell you that, right?”
Nodding, I smiled. My dad and I had been close, inseparable, and I’d felt empty since the day he died. Writing to him in my journal was a way to keep him close, keep him alive in my head. I usually told him everything, especially things that made me nervous or upset, but the only thing I didn’t write down was what had happened that last night four years ago. I couldn’t, simply because I blamed myself.
Shaking my head to clear it, I looked back at Chelsea, pointing to the trunk that sat open in the middle of the room.
“Ah, yes, you’re just about packed,” she praised, kneeling next to it to check through it. “You’ve got plenty of clothes, right? You’ll have a uniform there, but you’ve got enough of your own stuff to get you through, at least until Christmas?”
I tugged at her. “I’ll be okay.”
She smiled. “You’ll be better than just okay, Bella. You’re going to go on to bigger, better things. I have a good feeling about this. But I’m gonna miss you somethin’ awful.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, and I hugged her. She rocked me back and forth, running a hand flat down over my hair all the way down to the middle of my back, over and over.
“C’mon, my beautiful girl,” she said, shaking me a little. “Mrs. Cullen will be here soon.”
Mrs. Cullen was right on time when she’d said she’d be, though I never heard the doorbell. My trunk was stuffed, closed, and sitting outside the library while I sat at my piano and played. I hoped that I’d be able to play at Masen. It was relaxing for me, an outlet that was even better than writing to my dad.
I played a song I’d been working on for what seemed like forever, but couldn’t seem to finish it. My fingers stumbled over the notes, replaying, fixing, but still stalling out before the end.
“That’s beautiful, Bella,” I heard from the doorway, and I glanced up to see Mrs. Cullen standing there with my parents. “I don’t quite recognize it.”
I pointed to myself, indicating that it was mine.
“You compose?” she asked with a wide smile and touch of amusement. When I nodded, she shook her head. “Yes, I’m definitely going to have to see if I can get you an advanced instructor. I have someone perfect in mind, but I need to see if he’s…available.”
I shrugged and stood up. I was pretty sure I could work with whoever they had.
“Well, we’ll see,” she chirped happily. “Are you set to go?”
Nodding, I pointed to my trunk.
Chelsea stepped into the door. “Bella, I’ll load the trunk into the car. You can say goodbye to your parents.”
I’d forgotten that they were even home for my leaving. In fact, I’d have almost bet they wouldn’t be, but they stood in the entryway, waiting for me.
I hugged my mother, kissing her cheek.
She pulled me close, whispering, “Are you sure about this?” When I nodded, she said, “Okay, then call us if you need anything – or text, rather…”
I placed a hand over my heart in a vow that I would, knowing it was a lie. When I went to look for Phil, he was looking at me almost angrily.
“I don’t like it, Bells,” he stated, and I grimaced at the nickname he used. Only my dad called me that. “I don’t think you’re ready to be on your own.”
I shrugged at him, because in all reality, I really wanted to go. I needed to get out of the house that had once belonged to my father. I’d been trapped in my own head and that house filled with memories that Phil was slowly erasing for far too long.
With one more hug to Chelsea and a glance back at my house, I sat down in the taxi next to Mrs. Cullen. With a touch of guilt as we pulled away, I realized I’d not said a word to my mother.
The car was quiet as we drove through Boston, though we weren’t going in the direction of the airport.
Almost as if she could read my mind, Mrs. Cullen spoke up. “I hope you don’t mind, but I much prefer the train to flying.” When I shook my head no, she smiled. “Terrible things, planes. You’re trapped in a tube, surrounded by smelly people and loud engines. The train is much better. Besides, there’s a train station right in Hunter’s Lake, rather than having to drive from Manhattan.”
Laughing softly, I sat back until we arrived at the train station, and it didn’t take long to unload our bags, check in, and find our train. Though, Mrs. Cullen seemed to be very comfortable doing so, like she’d done it a million times.
I was allowed to keep my backpack, but my trunk was toted away, along with her two pieces of luggage – very expensive luggage, I noted. We found our seats quickly, and I was happy that we’d have our own table, which meant I could write in my journal along the way. I pulled out a pen and my beat-up journal, setting it down in front of me while Mrs. Cullen pulled out a laptop.
Flipping through my old journal, I had to smile. Chelsea was right; it was time for a new one, though this one wasn’t quite full yet. I didn’t write in it every day, so the first few pages were about a year old.
Hey, Dad. I know it’s been too long, but I didn’t have much to say since last time. I’m 16 today. Somehow, it seems wrong to have Phil take me for my driver’s license instead of you. But I got it anyway. Not that it’ll change much around here. It’s not like I have tons of friends to take to the mall or movies, and Phil says I can’t have a car yet, so I don’t feel like it’s all that big of deal.
I turned a few more pages, frowning at my scrawling penmanship across the page.
I sometimes feel like a freak. It’s bad enough that my scar is the first thing that everyone sees, it’s even worse when I truly have nothing to say. Nothing. Mom gets so mad and Phil barely looks my way, but I don’t want to talk to them. The last doctor told Mom that I do it on purpose, and now she looks at me like I’ve done something wrong. I can’t even talk to her, Dad. How do I tell her that talking doesn’t change anything, that talking was what took you away? And how do I tell her it’s all my fault? That it was me that made her a widow? I can’t. Hell, I can’t even answer the boy at school who asked me to homecoming.
I flipped a few more pages, snorting a little at my entry.
There’s a new rumor at school about me. I thought you’d like to hear it, though I have no idea whether you can see me or not. I’m not sure what I believe when it comes to heaven, hell, or nothing at all. There’s a part of me that hopes you’re watching over me, that you’re the one that stops my nightmares, not Phil. I hope that you see that I miss you every day. Anyway, the rumor is that I tried to kill myself. Funny, right? The kids at school see my scars, they know I don’t speak, so they assume I’m this emo, suicidal cutter. I’m not any of those things. I’m just…lost.
I skipped over Christmas, because that holiday wasn’t a good one. I’d had a horrendous nightmare that had almost put me in a state of shock, all because I’d heard a man’s voice that reminded me of that last night with my dad.
“You write often?” Mrs. Cullen asked me from over the laptop screen.
I shook my head no, tearing out a sheet of clean paper from the back of the notebook. It was easier to write her the answer.
One of the therapists my mother took me to said that writing to my father would help me voice my mind.
She smiled. “Was he right?”
A little. I was closer to my dad than my mother.
“So I noticed,” she stated. “You’re quieter today than when I interviewed you. Are you nervous? Are you sure this is what you want?”
I cleared my throat and nodded. “I’m sure, but I am nervous. New…people don’t always…”
“Understand,” she finished for me, closing her laptop and resting her arms on the table in front of her. She smiled warmly my way when I nodded. “I won’t lie to you. Some of the students are a touch…spoiled, though we have some good ones. I will be having a staff meeting before classes start, so you won’t have to worry about your instructors.”
I sighed in relief over that one.
“From what I’ve gathered from Mrs. Cope, your mother, and that wonderful Chelsea, you’ve had some…I don’t want to use the word bullying, but I’m thinking things weren’t easy for you in public school.”
I pulled the paper closer, writing out my answer.
Some of my classmates, I’d known since before my dad died. So they didn’t understand why in seventh grade I was okay, but in eighth, I couldn’t talk. I actually couldn’t speak then.
I touched my throat, my scar, and she nodded.
“In all fairness, Bella, they probably just didn’t understand,” she stated. “At that age, kids are…easily distracted. And I could imagine that you were still grieving.” I wrinkled my nose, but she went on. “The classes at Masen are small. We have about eighty students making up the entire student body, and that’s ninth through twelfth grade. I think you’ll find that it’s helpful in some ways, because you have more one-on-one time with your teachers, but it can also mean that your classmates all know one another. You can’t just sink into the background.”
I nodded, eager to hear more, so I asked, “What’s it like?”
She laughed softly, a beautiful sound. “Oh, to hear the students describe it, it’s an old haunted castle. It used to belong to a lawyer around the turn of the last century. He was married and had a son, who decided to turn his own home into the school in his father’s honor after he died tragically.” She glanced out the window and then back to me. “It is a castle, though some parts have been changed to accommodate the classrooms, dorms, and students. The staff lives on another part of the property.”
I pointed at her in question.
“Me? No, I live in the castle. My husband is the doctor on staff, though he occasionally will get called into the hospitals in Manhattan for certain cases. Which reminds me,” she said, leaning closer. “I’d like you to see him. I told your parents about him. No pressure, no tests, just let him look you over.”
Shrugging and nodding at the same time, I agreed. I was used to doctors.
“Good,” she sighed with relief. “Anyway, there aren’t a lot of rules at Masen. No cell phones in class, no being out of bed past curfew, and stay within the fenced grounds. Oh, and no going in the east wing.”
My eyebrows shot up.
“It’s…under construction,” she stated, but my eyes narrowed on her, because that didn’t sound quite like she was telling the truth. She smirked my way. “They say that end of the house is the haunted side, anyway. You’ll learn your way around quickly, Bella. Don’t worry.”
Giggling, I shook my head, but opened my notebook to the last page, picking up my pen.
Hey, Daddy… Well, I’m on my way to Masen Academy. I’m sure if you were still here, I wouldn’t be going, but you aren’t. It was time, Daddy. I needed to leave Mom. She’s not the same since you’ve been gone. She used to be so fun, burning dinners, baking cookies, and going to all my piano recitals, but all that has changed. She’s…different, but happy. Or happier, calmer. She wasn’t that way before, when it was the three of us. I felt…in the way, like I was a nuisance, and it doesn’t help that I’m not normal, that I’m a freak. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know what to do for me sometimes, so she just…stays away. It’s better this way, I think. I hope that this gives Mom and Phil a chance to not worry about me, a chance to be normal without me around. And I hope that I can fit in, though I usually don’t. You’d like Mrs. Cullen, Dad. She’s nice, and she makes me feel like I can talk to her, though I can’t always find the words. And I hope my roommate is nice.
I closed the notebook, folded my arms on top of it, and set my chin down. I stared out the window, watching Boston slowly fade away. I must’ve fallen asleep at some point, because I woke with a start and a deep gasp.
“You’re okay,” Mrs. Cullen soothed from across the table between us. “We just left Penn Station in Manhattan. We’ll be pulling into Hunter’s Lake in about an hour or so.”
Nodding, I rubbed my face, smiling her way.
“Would you like something to drink? Coffee? Soda? Hot chocolate, maybe?”
“Coffee,” I whispered, and she held up a hand to order it.
By the time the city had fallen away completely and had been replaced by beautiful woods, I was much more awake. My hands wrapped around my mug, relishing the warmth. Mrs. Cullen was doing the very same thing, though I noticed she didn’t drink as much as just hold her cup in her hands. It seemed like we’d just gotten up to speed when we were slowing back down again, and I smiled when I saw the small train station. It looked like something out of an old photo or a novel.
It was a wooden platform that extended off of a small building. There were a few people milling about, but really, it was quite empty. I noticed the station employee waiting patiently for the train to come to a full stop, a boy and a girl about my age, and a very tall, dark-haired man with tanned skin standing off to the side.
“This is us, Bella,” Mrs. Cullen said, placing her laptop back into her briefcase and gathering her things. “I see Jacob is already here to pick us up.”
I wasn’t sure which person on the platform was this Jacob, but I followed her down the aisle, to the door, and down the steps.
“Hey, Mrs. C,” a deep voice said from behind us as we waited for our bags. I turned around to see it was the very tall dark man I’d noticed before. “Good trip, I’m assuming?” he asked, wearing a crooked smile.
“Yes, Jacob,” she said back to him. “This is Isabella Swan. She’ll be starting her junior year with us. You can call her Bella,” she introduced me. “Bella, this is Jacob Black. He’s head of security at Masen.”
My eyebrows raised up, but I shook his hand and smiled.
“Bella, huh? Bella Swan,” he sang with a chuckle. And I could’ve sworn he muttered, “Well, ain’t that some shit for you.”
Mrs. Cullen seemed to give him a warning glare, but only said, “That’ll be enough, son.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He chuckled again.
Jacob gave off the most laidback, happiest vibe I’d ever felt around someone. He seemed to smile the entire time he was loading our bags onto a cart, placing them into the trunk of a limo, and opening the doors for us.
“Oh, we’ve got one more ridin’ with us, Mrs. C,” he stated, holding up a finger. “Alice Brandon must’ve been on your same train.”
“Well, that’s good news,” Mrs. Cullen said with a grin, turning to me. “It’s good that she’s riding with us. I wanted you to meet her. I think you two will make good roommates.”
Just then, the door opened to the back seat. A tiny thing slipped into the back with us, smiling at Mrs. Cullen.
“I knew I’d get to ride with you, Mrs. C,” she squealed, hugging the woman next to me.
“Of course you did, Alice,” Mrs. Cullen said with a chuckle. “I’m sure you saw this, too.” She pointed my way.
“Absolutely!” Alice chirped, holding out her hand. “You and I are gonna be roommates…and…” Her face went blank for a moment. “And good friends. You can relax, ’cause I know you don’t talk…much. But you will.”
Mrs. Cullen was laughing her ass off over that little speech, but she leaned down to my ear. “Alice here has a bit of a psychic in her blood. She’s been pretty accurate since she started here last year. You two are both juniors.”
I glanced over to the girl in question, my brow furrowing. She was an adorable thing, with chin-length black hair and bright bluish-green eyes, and she seemed full of energy...until Mrs. Cullen asked her a question.
“How was your summer, Alice?”
She frowned, shaking her head. “Don’t ask. Miserable. My sister hates me, my father wasn’t home most of the time, and my mother blames me because I told her it would happen. I should’ve gone to my grandmother’s…or stayed here. I’m glad to be back home.” She turned to me, her face sincere. “You’ll love it here. I do. I’ll show you everything.”
I jumped when the trunk of the limo slammed shut, but Jacob folded himself behind the wheel of the car, giving us a glance over his large shoulder. “Okay, ladies…the castle awaits.”


aelita48 said...

I liked this second chapter!
Bella met Alice, it is very good.
Thank you

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