At the Cliffs

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

← Chapter 4: Confusion      Chapter 6: Danger →

Chapter 5: Disappearance

The last week of classes passed by quickly. I could hardly believe that I was this close to being done. I had turned in all my final papers and now I only had two final exams to take next week - calculus and physics - and then I would be done with my high school career. I studied hard all week and was ready for a break when the weekend rolled around. Angela and her mom – who insisted that I call her Janet- came by to pick me up bright and early on Saturday morning.

They had stopped by the bakery on the way over and the inside of car smelled like my favorite cafe back in Phoenix, with the smell of warm roasted coffee beans mixed in with the cinnamony goodness of fresh-baked donuts. The three hour ride passed by quickly as I listened to Angela and her mom chat away. I couldn't help but think that Renee would have loved to come along. I resolved to take some pictures to send her. I had never gotten around to filling that scrapbook that she had gotten me for my birthday. I figured now was as good of a time as any.

When we arrived, we hit Nordstrom first, which was way out of our price range – or at least my price range – but Angela’s mom said it was good to check out what was stylish before we officially started our search. After a nice lunch at their cafe, one of the few things I could afford in the entire store, we made our way to an outlet mall that was located in the middle of nowhere down by the ship docks. It was an odd location, but Janet vouched that it was the best place to find good deals, so we went with it.

We struck out at the first two stores. I was beginning to lose steam. I was never much of a shopper to begin with, but I agreed to hit one more store before calling it a day. The last store, which was located at the far end of the mall, was surprisingly empty when we arrived given that it was Saturday afternoon during prime prom dress shopping season. There was just one other girl – who looked to be about 15 or so – browsing the racks when we showed up. The cashier desk was empty and there was no salesperson in sight.

“Hmph!” Janet frowned as she took in the deserted store. “They're not working too hard for our business, are they?”

“It's alright, Mom. Let's just look around. They have some nice stuff,” Angela said as she wandered off to the 'tall girl' section. At five foot eleven, which she had clearly inherited from her mother, Angela towered over me as well as almost everyone else at school, including her boyfriend, Ben. But she didn't slouch or hunch. She wore her height proudly, her shoulders back, her head held high – a reflection, no doubt, of the confidence that Ben had fostered in her over the past year. I saw her make her way over to some pretty pink Grecian-style dresses that I knew would be perfect on her.

I, on the other hand, wandered over to the petite section. Surrounded by giants, I was rapidly beginning to feel inadequate about my perfectly respectable five foot four. I flipped through the racks half-heartedly, dismissing most of the dresses as too frilly and too girly for me. To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for. I still couldn’t really believe that I was actually going to prom. That I had actually asked Jake to go with me. That whole sequence felt like an out-of-body experience for me.

There was a dress that I almost wanted to get as a joke. It was made out of a bright pepto-bismol pink shiny fabric with a heart-shaped necklace that was liberally trimmed with matching lace. The skirt had tiers of more frilly fabric – which must be fashionable right now since I saw the style on a number of other dresses – and it was topped off by a bow right at the waist. It was the perfect dress to match our prom invite, and Jake would crack up at the sight of me in it.

My eyes widened when I realized what I had been doing. I had been thinking about dressing up for prom and what Jake’s reaction would be. That seemed very unfriend-like behavior to me. Did this mean that I was interested in being more than just friends? Is that what I wanted? My mind began to swirl. I didn’t know. I really didn’t know. I had no idea what I wanted to do with him. Suddenly, I wished desperately that things didn’t have to change. I wished that we could stay as we were – best friends – forever. I wished that I didn’t have to be forced to make a decision that would change things forever.

Because that was really what I was afraid of. What if we changed things and then … it didn’t work out? Who would help me pick up the pieces this time? How would I be able to survive that again without the one person I had counted on to always be there for me? With Edward, there was always a part of me that had never quite believed that he was really meant to be a part of my life. I didn’t see how he – who had everything and could choose anyone – could be interested in me. It had never made sense to me. And so when he left, there was always a part of me that said “I told you so! How could you have thought this was meant to be?”

But Jake was different. He was as much a part of my life as I was his. Our families were connected. Our lives were connected. And if things … didn’t work out, he would still be a part of my life through Charlie. And then, what? With Edward, I had to go to extreme lengths to try to keep some part of him in my life – to still see him, to still hear him, to still know that he existed. With Jake, I would have to go to extreme lengths to keep him out of my life. I just didn’t know if I could deal with that.

I turned the aisle quickly, lost in my thoughts, and walked smack into the only other girl who was shopping in the store with us.

“Oh, I'm sorry!” she exclaimed as she reached out with her right hand to steady herself against the rack. Her left hand was weighted down by about twenty dresses in a variety of shades and styles including the pink monstrosity that I had just mentally mocked. She noticed me looking at all of them in awe and she flushed slightly, “I'm just really excited about prom. I want to get the perfect dress.”

“Oh no, no, I wasn't saying anything,” I apologized immediately, hoping that my face hadn't betrayed my thoughts just then.

The girl smiled prettily in response and I couldn't help but smile back. She was clearly so excited about prom that it was almost contagious.

“What do you think about this?” she asked as she nudged a navy blue dress hanging off the end of the rack. She frowned slightly as she examined it, “It doesn't seem dressy enough.”

“It's the cut and the fit that matter,” I said as if I knew what the hell I was talking about. “But all that matters is that you like it,” I added anxiously before she thought I was criticizing her.

“Well, I really want him to like it,” she said matter-of-factly. “I mean, I'm just a sophomore and I got invited to the prom by this senior football player. I'm so excited! I'll probably be the only sophomore at the prom! My friends are so jealous!”

“I'm taking a sophomore, too,” I added before I realized what I was saying. I flinched. I couldn't believe that I was just sprouting stuff left and right. It was unlike me to feel so comfortable sharing stuff with people.

“You are!? That's cool... I guess,” the girl said, clearly shocked. I guess she wasn't into the whole cougar thing. I had to laugh. Even though Jake was technically a year younger than me and two grade-levels below me, he didn’t feel younger at all. In fact, lately, it felt like he was surpassing me in maturity daily with all of his responsibilities to the tribe and pack.

The girl continued to look at me awkwardly, unsure of how to respond. She finally stuck out her right hand and introduced herself, “My name is Bree.”

I reached to shake her hand. “I'm Bella. And that's my friend, Angela, over there with her mom.”

“You're lucky you have someone to shop with,” Bree said with a wistful smile. “My mom came but went off to do her own shopping and left me to make my own decision.” She nudged the navy blue dress again. It was the perfect color to offset her porcelain skin, gray-green eyes, and brown hair. “I really do like this one, but it's a bit pricey,” she sniffed as she bent over to glance at the price-tag again, as if magically hoping that it would have gone down in price since the last time she checked.

“Go for it,” I encouraged. “Just try it on. What do you have to lose?”

Seeing that she had no hands left to carry the dress, I picked it up for her with a nod and followed her into the surprisingly cushy dressing room area in the back of the store. There was a circular skylight that was letting in a few late afternoon rays of sunshine, a sitting area with a blue couch, and three little rooms cordoned off along the back wall. The last room was twice the size of the others, designed to accommodate a wheelchair, and just beyond that last dressing room, there was a door to a closet.

The rooms were empty, or at least I thought they were when we entered. Bree dumped her stuff down in the first dressing room. I was about to hand her the navy blue dress when I saw something out of the corner of my left eye. A glimpse of sparkling diamonds against an icy white background.

I started. And then I stared hard at the partially closed door to the third dressing room. I could have sworn that I saw something there. Not just something … but someone.

“Bella, what's wrong?”

I heard Bree ask but I waved at her with my right hand, which was still holding on to the navy dress tightly, to hush her. My heart started pounding so hard that I couldn’t hear Bree’s continued questions beyond the pulsing roar in my ears.

I took a deep breath and took a few steps towards the partially open third dressing room door. I still couldn't see anything. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply as I took the final step. With my heart thumping in my ears, I reached out and swatted the door open with a loud bang.

But there was nothing there. Just a white dress that someone had left behind, swinging back and forth on the rack from being hit by the door when I slammed it open. The dress’ sequined bodice was sparkling from the faint rays of sunlight coming through the skylight. I almost keeled over in shock and relief. I didn't know what the heck I had been thinking or what I thought I saw, but this wasn’t it.

I walked back and handed Bree the dress, the skirt now crumpled from my tight grip. She gave me a weird look; she obviously thought I was crazy. I made my apologies and took off, wanting to put some distance between me and whatever the heck it was that had just happened.

Angela and her mom were at the far corner of the store. I made a beeline for them as I wasn't in the mood to shop anymore. Angela looked like she wanted to ask me what was wrong, but she got distracted when she and her mom got into a heated debate over whether a strapless dress was appropriate or not.

I settled myself into a chair nearby as I waited for them to finish. My knees still felt weak and my heart was still pounding in my ears as I tried to take stock of what had just happened. It was nothing, I told myself, nothing. I didn’t see anything. But I knew better than anyone that just because I didn’t see anything, didn’t mean that someone wasn’t there. I knew what I saw. I didn’t think it was ever possible for me to forget the sight of Edward’s sparkling skin in the sunlight. And I wasn’t hallucinating this time. I was sure of it. Or was I? It scared me that I couldn’t be sure either way.

Twenty minutes or so passed by before I felt my pulse finally returning to normal. A large heavy-set woman with stiffly permed brown hair and heavily mascara-ed eyes showed up around then carrying a bunch of shopping bags.

“Bree?” she called as she looked around the store. She frowned when she saw that we were the only ones there.

“She's in the dressing room,” I pointed helpfully. The woman gave me a friendly nod and lumbered over.

Angela and her mom came over to me then, their arms full of dresses for Angela to try on, ready to head to the dressing rooms too. And that’s when we heard the woman scream.

← Chapter 4: Confusion      Chapter 6: Danger →

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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