At the Cliffs

My take on New Moon / Eclipse - written from Bella's perspective

← Chapter 18: Decision      Chapter 20: Ride →

Chapter 19: Graduation

I wish I could say that my graduation from high school was memorable. But it wasn’t. It was just a blur of hugs and warm wishes from kids that I barely knew. The only distinct thing that I remembered from that day was the bright blue tassel that hung off my graduation cap, which swung back and forth no matter how I placed it, impairing my peripheral vision and giving me a headache. The other thing that I remembered was the crushing sense of defeat. I didn’t quite realize how much I had been banking on the Cullens to come and save the day, until the possibility was snatched cruelly away from me.

My only hope had been to track down Carlisle. He was the one who was the most findable via the sources available to me – namely Google. The others were impossible. I had searched for them frantically all morning, but found no trace of them on the web. Not that I even had an email or a screenname or anything to go on for any of them.

And so I had to resign myself back to Plan A. With just the pack. A pack of 10. Against a newborn army of 20 or more. Luckily, half the girls around me were crying from joy at graduation, so the tears that stung my eyes didn’t look so out of place.

I almost broke down completely when they called my name and I walked across stage, as if in a dreamlike trance, to get my diploma, and I looked out to see that Jake had crept in late and was now seated next to Charlie in his sharply tailored charcoal suit. His eyes met mine and he smiled tentatively, unsure of where we stood given our recent fight, but he clapped his hands broadly and hooped and hollered for me as if he were just another normal boyfriend cheering on his girlfriend at graduation. I swallowed deeply, unsure if I’d be able to keep it together.

But I did manage to hold it together, even through my celebratory dinner at the Lodge, where Charlie and I were surrounded by just about every other family in Forks that had a graduating senior. Thankfully, Jake had made his excuses about not wanting to intrude. He would be back later that evening to accompany me to all the graduation parties. At least that’s what Charlie thought we would be doing. In reality, we’d be scoping out the old quarry field trying to strategically place my scent in a way that would help the pack ambush the newborns.

Dinner was fine. It was all that I could do to try to keep up a normal conversation with Charlie with all the other stuff running through my head. He looked a little relieved too when we got home. Formal fancy dinners weren’t his thing. I would have been happier if we had just grabbed something at the town diner, but Renee wouldn’t hear anything of it. She had made the reservation at the Lodge back when she thought she’d be in town and we felt obligated to keep it since we knew she’d ask about it. I could at least report that the food was good, if a bit too rich for me, and the view over the lake was beautiful.

Charlie plopped himself down in front of the TV when we got home, but he didn’t turn it on. He was like me – an introvert at heart – and he needed some alone time to recharge after a long day of mingling and small-talking with all the other parents. He smiled at me and gently patted my hand as I reached over to grab the tie and jacket that he had discarded immediately upon returning home.

“Good day, Bells?” he asked with a wistful smile.

“Yeah, not bad,” I said softly as I sat down on the footrest in front of him, folding the tie and jacket neatly in my lap. I’d hang them back in his closet where they would stay for another decade before he wore them again. “You?”

“Not bad. Hard to believe you’re grown up already,” he said with a frown as he examined my face, as if he were seeing me for the first time in a long time.

“Hardly,” I teased as I reached over to grab his hand and hold it in mine. “I still feel like I’m ten most days.”

“I feel like you should be five most days,” he retorted with a low chuckle. “That’s how old you’ll always be to me.” He paused then, his eyes suddenly sad and empty, “I’m going to miss you, Bells. It won’t be the same here without you.”

“I won’t be far – just in Seattle for college,” I said with a brave smile. It was a braver front than I actually felt deep down. Who knew what this summer would bring? Who knew if I would even make it to college? “And I’ll come back for vacation and weekends and stuff. You haven’t lost me yet.”

Charlie chuckled then as he patted my hand, which he still held in his warm ones. “I guess you’re right. Your old man is just feeling nostalgic, that’s all.”

“That’s okay. As long as you don’t get too down about it,” I replied as I got up from the footrest and scooted it over so that he could prop his feet up. “Jake will be here soon. Don’t forget that I’m staying over at Leah’s tonight?”

“Oh right,” Charlie replied, wrinkling his forehead with a bit of skepticism. “I didn’t know you girls had gotten to be such good friends.”

We weren’t. But I needed a cover story for why I wouldn’t be coming home tonight. Jake wasn’t sure how long we’d be out at the quarry fields, so we figured this was a better story for Charlie.

“Well after Harry died …” my voice trailed off. I knew I didn’t need to elaborate further. Charlie’s face tightened at the sound of Harry’s name and he just nodded quickly. “Plus, Leah’s interested in Mike Newton” – a total lie but part of the cover story of why she would be hanging out here in Forks so much in the next week – “so I promised she could come with me to his graduation party.”

“Gotcha,” Charlie nodded with a grin. “Well have fun. I’ll probably be at the station by the time you wake up so just give me a call when you get back from Leah’s tomorrow morning.” I nodded as I leaned in to kiss him lightly on the forehead. “Be safe,” Charlie admonished as I turned to head up the stairs.

I smiled sadly at him. If only he knew.

*******

Jake and Leah showed up about an hour later. Leah had tagged along to keep up the pretense with Charlie, but she definitely didn’t look too thrilled about it.

“I thought we were pretending to go to a party,” she asked as soon as I opened the door.

“I am dressed for a party,” I responded with a blank look. I had changed out of the sundress that I wore to graduation (for the pictures that we would send to Renee) into my favorite jeans and t-shirt, but I suddenly felt underdressed next to Leah, who was full-out rocker chick with her skinny jeans, tight black sequined t-shirt, and dramatic make-up.

“Right,” Leah said with a smirk as she pushed me aside to enter the house and greet Charlie.

Jake was left standing uncomfortably at the front door. We hadn’t talked since our fight, beyond a few uncomfortable polite exchanges in front of Charlie that morning at graduation.

“Hey,” he said softly as he raised his hand to wave at me, before catching himself doing it and lowering his hand clumsily. Somehow his awkward gesture made me melt a little on the inside. Suddenly, I couldn’t be mad at him anymore.

“Hey yourself,” I replied with a soft smile as I motioned for him to come in.

He stepped in politely, but then we bumped into each other as we both reached to close the door at the same time. “You okay?” he asked with a smile as he reached out to touch my arm that had gotten caught between him and the door.

I nodded, but didn’t respond, aside from shivering at his touch. We stood there staring at each other in the foyer for a few minutes before Leah’s voice interrupted us.

“Where are you guys?” she called, her voice coming from the living room where she had been chatting with Charlie.

“Right here,” I called back as Jake and I broke away suddenly and made our way into the living room. Jake had to duck his head to enter the room and I noticed that his face was flushed red.

“I was just saying,” Leah said, turning over to gesture to me, “That my mom was thinking of doing a girl’s trip to celebrate our graduations.” Leah had graduated from La Push HS only a few weeks ago herself. She was also bound for University of Washington in Seattle, but as she told me snottily a few weeks ago, it was a big school and we probably wouldn’t have to see each other at all.

“What’s wrong with hanging out with the guys?” Charlie teased Leah with a twinkle in his eyes. He always had a soft spot for Leah, especially now that Harry had passed away. He told Sue that she had raised a little spitfire who was the spitting image of Sue at her age, which Sue took as a compliment.

“Nothing,” Leah rolled her eyes dramatically, “I just don’t think you guys would be up for getting mani-pedis, going shopping, and watching chick-flicks, that’s all.”

“I’ll pass, thanks,” Jake replied with a smile. “My cuticles look pretty good.”

Charlie chuckled, but I looked up at Jake with slightly raised eyebrows. They hadn’t mentioned any of this to me before, but I assumed this was all part of the elaborate scheme to prevent Charlie from finding out the truth.

“Exactly …” Leah drawled out with a wink at Charlie. “Anyways, mom was thinking of maybe a day or two in Seattle. Take us shopping. Get acquainted with the stores around the university. Just something to help us look forward to college.”

Charlie smiled and nodded. I knew we were golden. There was no way he’d turn down Leah and Sue. Especially Sue. She and Charlie had grown much closer in the months since Harry passed away and I wondered sometimes how he really felt about Sue. But I knew better than to bring it up. Charlie would have sputtered in outrage at the thought of anyone thinking that he might harbor something other than friendship for his best friend’s wife. Even if his best friend had passed away months ago.

“Good!” Leah said with a cheeky grin, “I’ll tell my mom you agreed. We’re not sure exactly when we’ll go. Mom’s still checking into the hotel and stuff, but sometime in the next few days. You’re free, right Bells?”

“Yes, yes, I am” I stammered, startled me to hear Leah using Jake and Charlie’s nickname for me.

“Perfect,” Leah continued. “Well we better take off. We don’t want to be late to the party.”

“You kids have fun,” Charlie said with a smile. Then he winked at Leah, “As for you, take it easy on the boy. Don’t break his heart too much if you can help it.”

“What boy?” Leah asked with a surprised look.

“Oh you know, Mike Newton,” I replied quickly. “I might have let it slip to my dad that’s why you were interested in tagging along tonight.”

“Is that so?” Leah said with a forced smile at me. “I guess my secret is out then.”

“Alrighty, girls,” Jake interrupted as he made the move to herd us out the door. “We better head out now and leave Charlie to his game.”

Charlie grinned at Jake in appreciation as he flipped on the TV to the Mariners game that had just started. We scampered out the front door and pulled away in the Rabbit, me in the back seat since Leah had left her backpack with her change of clothes in the front seat.

“Blech! I can’t believe you told him I was into Mike Newton,” Leah scowled as she pulled a box of face wipes from her bag to begin toweling off her makeup.

“What’s wrong with Mike?” I asked with an innocent expression as I caught Jake’s amused glance in the rearview mirror. I almost cracked up.

“Please. I’m not into puppy dogs. I like them a bit tougher,” she scoffed.

Jake and I burst out into laughter, but Leah just rolled her eyes.

“Thanks for doing all of this, Leah,” I said when I could finally speak again. “Seriously, I’m really grateful for your …”

Leah waved me off. “It’s fine. Show me your gratitude by helping us kick some vampire butt. I want to survive this summer and get to experience college.”

Her voice was flippant, as was her expression, but her words weren’t. And just like that, the mood in the car sobered up. A few minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot just south of the hiking trails that would lead us to the quarry fields. It was time.

← Chapter 18: Decision      Chapter 20: Ride →

About Me

I'm a Twilight fan who believes that Jacob Black is better for Bella than Edward, so I wrote these Team Jacob fanfiction stories to try to convert as many people to my side as possible. :)

I've tried to stay as faithful to the original books as possible up through At the Cliffs, which is when I break off from canon and write out Eclipse the way I wish it had happened!

So ... what do you think? Good? Bad? Ideas for other stories?

Please let me know!

Jane

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