high noon - Chapter 1 - dawningsunstone - Twilight Series (2024)

Chapter Text

He buries his head into my neck, pressing open-mouthed kisses onto my collarbone. I lean my head back, panting.

Heavily brushing his hand down my breastbone, he fingers at the buttons of my school shirt. “Can I take this off?”

“Yes,” I gasp, breathless.

As his fingers elegantly slip me out of my shirt, he captures my mouth in another sinful kiss, all heat and tongue and passion. I’d though him handsome when I’d first met him, too chiseled and put-together to be a real 17-year-old boy. And when he’d kissed me that first time, I had felt hypnotised for days afterwards. But here, now, with my shirt draped inelegantly off me like a lewd shawl, my lacey bra exposed for him to see, those initial impressions pale in comparison with how gorgeous he looks, gazing at my chest.

Shaking my shirt off my arms, I reached behind me to release the clasp of my bra, his hands brushing down my arms, bringing up goosebumps wherever they trailed. I pulled off my bra, and-

“Hello Tallie sweetie!” my mum called from downstairs, as the front door slammed shut.

He made eye contact with me, and I could see my panic reflected in his eyes. I’d told him about how strict my mum was, and well, let’s just say I wasn’t allowed any boys over, let alone have them in my room kissing me within an inch of my life. Mum was meant to be at a business conference till late tonight, so I’d figured it was safe - I’d figured wrong.

Before I could do more than re-clasp my bra and slide away from him, I heard the thump-thump-thump of my mum walking up the stairs.

“Why have you got the door shut, Tallie, you don’t usually-” she opened the door, her expression of humour morphing to one of surprise, then anger, more vicious than I’ve ever seen it.

Pointing at my companion, she growled. “You, out,”

He grabbed his backpack from the base of my bed and slung it over his shoulder with a muttered “seeya, Tallie,” as he left the room. Mum glared at him as he went.

I stared at the floor. I assumed Mum was glaring at me - she could be right scary when she really wanted to be. We heard the front door slam shut.

Mum sighed. “Put on some clothing and come downstairs. We need to have a Conversation.”

I could practically hear the capitalisation. Jesus. I pulled my white school top back on, doing up the buttons resignedly, before risking a glance at the door. Good - Mum had apparently gone back downstairs.

I opened my bureau and pulled out the first item I found - a lavender knit jumper - and pulled it over my head. Checking my hair in the mirror next to my door (looking distinctly ruffled, I noted), I pulled it into a ponytail as I padded down the stairs. Lord, what was my mother going to do this time?

Sit exasperatedly at the dinner table, it seems. She gestured for me to sit next to her - generally a good sign. If she’d really been pissed, I’d be opposite her, two metres away. I sat.

“Okay, Tallie, here is how it’s going to go down. You are moving to Forks - with your Dad.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “C’mon Mum - I’ve got a whole life here - surely kissing one guy shouldn’t erase all of that?”

“Tallie - no abbreviations.” I rolled my eyes - my mum had a whole agenda about getting me to ‘speak properly’ which I often ignored when I was with my friends - or pissed off, as was currently the case.

“No, it is not entirely the fact that you were kissing ‘one guy’, although that was a very idiotic and short-sighted thing to do, particularly given what you were clearly about to do had I not come home.” She fixes me with a steely glare.

“Okay… then why?”

Her eyes flicker about the room - an unusual sign of unease from my mum - before they fix back on me. “My work is going to have me travelling a lot in the next few years, and I won’t be able to keep looking after you properly. There’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s all you need to know. This has been planned for the past week.”

Typical Renée - not telling me all the details. She’d done that a lot in the past, like that time she’d made me attend Sunday School for a year and a half before pulling me out - and had pretty much never mentioned it again.

“Come on Mum! I have friends here - real friends - and decent university prospects! I’ve got roots! I’ve never lived in America - God, will I have to learn imperial?”

“You’re going anyway. The flight is booked, and your Dad is looking forward to your arrival. I’ve arranged it with the school - they’re not happy, but you’ll be able to pick up where you left off in Forks.”

I sighed - sometimes my mother could be persuaded away from some of her odder ideas, but this one seemed to have stuck.

“Do I have any time to say goodbye?” I asked. Last time we’d moved, it had been with a day’s notice - I’d barely been able to call up all my friends before we’d been in a van, Sydney-bound.

Mum checks her watch. “Your plane departs at eight tomorrow morning.”

I sigh. Better than last time - I got maybe half an hour’s warning. “Can I go pack?”

“Sure,” she says, standing and walking over to me, before pressing a kiss into my scalp. “I know this is not what you want - but I promise it will all work out in the end. Okay?”

“Okay Mum.”

At 5am the next morning (yikes, I hate early mornings with a burning passion), I stand in the centre of my room, the walls stripped bare. My posters have all been rolled up and delicately placed in a suitcase, my photos of friends present and past jammed into my journal for safekeeping, and my incense burners carefully wrapped in tissue paper and stowed away. I’ve lived in this room for four years, and now I’m saying goodbye.

I pointedly don’t look in the mirror as I leave, dragging two heavy suitcases behind me - I stayed up late calling my friends and bidding them farewell, and the bags under my eyes are testament to that. The lack of sleep will probably give me pimples too - and with the dryness on the plane, my skin is going to be hell by the time I arrive in Forks.

At the bottom of the stairs, Mum glances up from her BlackBerry and smiles. “Looking good sleepyhead!”

I groan. Mornings are really not my forte, even if I am going to live on the other side of the world.

“Have you got everything?”


“You’ve got your incense?” I nod.

“Clothing for Forks? By which I mean long sleeves, Tallie - it will be a lot colder there than the worst winter here.”

“I brought what I have,” I blearily mutter. “I’m sure I can get some over there.”

“Yes, I am sure you can. Do you have all your toiletries? Including your eczema body wash?”

“Yes Mum,” I reply. I’ve used the same body wash all my life, a mixture of roses and eucalyptus, specifically formulated by Mum to get rid of the eczema that’s plagued me from birth. I have a near-endless supply of the stuff in my suitcases.

“Your whole jewellery collection?” I nod.

“All the schoolwork you’ll need?” I nod again - it’s not much, I quickly checked last night what American juniors studied, and it seems to be about a year behind the Aussie curriculum. At least I won’t have to deal with schoolwork being a bitch.

“Your phone?” I pull my Razr out.

“Good - let’s go.” She hefts one of my suitcases - with near perfect ease as always - and walks out the door. I follow her, leaving this part of my world behind.

Our farewell at the airport is perfunctory at best - I can tell Mum has to be somewhere else, and she’s never been one for big shows of affection anyway. As a kid, I was shipped between school and tutoring and ballet and band and aikido - I never ended up spending much time with her, bonding with her. I know many people would think I was deprived - maybe I am. It’s not like I’d know. Maybe I’ll find out more about healthy families while I live with Dad.

I use my Australian passport to get through customs - I have an American one, since I was born over there, but it’s just easier. I’m not stopped on my way through - I’m a five-foot-one (see what I did there? Using imperial?) Caucasian girl who looks like a wind could blow her over. It couldn’t, I’m actually quite strong, but that doesn’t mean border security knows that.

I get to the boarding gate an hour before departure. With a bacon-and-egg roll in hand (typical Aussie airport fare), I crack open my well-worn copy of Dracula and start from the beginning.

I get through a few good movies on the flight: Legally Blonde, which was excellent and almost makes me want to become a lawyer, Mean Girls, which I personally thought was like watching a car crash in slow motion, and the first few Harry Potter movies before I doze off.

I land in San Francisco, then have to scramble about the airport to manually grab my suitcases and transfer them to the domestic flight to Seattle. I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about the airport aside from the number of my gate (23, by the way) and how many hairs the gate attendant had coming out of his nostrils (concerningly, only four. Perhaps he’d missed some whilst tweezing?). At this point, all my thoughts are scrambled - any sleep you get on a plane is like a half-sleep, I swear it makes you worse off. But I get onto the flight fine, and I zonk out again.

Barely more than two hours later, I’m jolted awake by the plane landing. Feeling a lot more refreshed (and alive) than I had for the past day, despite the zits I can see rising on my chin, I disembark into the fresh August air. Sydney had started warming up, getting to unpleasantly high 20-something days, so the cool air is refreshing. It kind of hits me at this point that I’m coming to live in a place I’ve never before been, with people I’ve never known (save for Dad), and my stomach fills with trepidation.

By the time I’ve picked up my suitcases and am waiting to embark on a (tiny) local flight to Port Angeles, my anxiety is roiling in my belly. I close my eyes, clasp my hands before me, and begin to pray under my breath.

Our father in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done on Earth,
As in Heaven.

Give us today our daily bread,
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the the time of trial,
And deliver us from Evil,
For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory are yours,
Now and forever,

I open my eyes, feeling a lot calmer, only to find an elderly lady sitting next to me, smiling at me.

“It’s good to see someone of your generation following the word of the Lord. I’m Mary, by the way,” she offers her hand.

Totally unsure of how to approach this situation, I tentatively shake hers. “Thank you Mary. I’m Isabella.”

I’m not sure quite what prompts me to give my full name, but I do, discarding the nickname of my peers for now.

“Isabella… ,” she muses. “Devoted to God, I believe your name means. Hold God close to your heart, young girl, you may just need him.”

Waving at a middle-aged man apparently returning from the bathroom, Mary departs with a smile, leaving me very confused. Was this what America was like? Unsolicited religious remarks? I mean, I had admittedly started it by praying - but that was because I used the Lord’s Prayer to calm my anxiety, not because I’m actually religious! Jesus.

Sighing, and attempting to put that interaction behind me, I turn to the window. A storm is clearly on the horizon, and I’m hoping we land before it hits. I loathe plane turbulence - it makes me unnecessarily nauseous.

The flight goes smoothly, and I don’t see Mary again.

It’s even colder up in Port Angeles, and I wrap myself tighter in my thin jacket as I disembark. By now, my anxiety has turned to excitement, and I bounce on my Converse-covered toes as I walk across the tarmac into the (tiny) body of the airport. I’d though Albury airport was miniscule - this was another matter altogether. I’m ushered through to baggage collection by a tired-looking, but smiling security guard. Maybe this will be a good thing. Maybe Forks will be the place I flourish, rather than moving from Sydney to Cairns to Bredbo to Areyonga to Melbourne and back again. I grab my bags and step out of the airport (if it can be called that) with a renewed sense of purpose.

Standing right outside the swinging door is Dad! I drop my bags and rush at him, grinning wildly. Squeezing me into a bear hug, he lifts me off my feet.

“Hi Dad! It’s so good to see you again!”

“Good to see you too Bells,” he replies.

After a minute or so of lung-squeezing hugging, he puts me down. He’s got a few more grey hairs at his temples than a year ago, and he’s grown a mustache, but that’s the same familiar face I saw last summer, and all the summers before that. Every year, when the summer heat in Australia got intolerable, Mum would ship me off to holiday with my dad in different parts of the world - France, China, New Zealand and more - so many countries that I ended up being conversational in quite a few languages. But it’s been half a year since I’ve seen him, and I’ve missed him dearly.

“C’mon, let me grab your bags.”
He walks over to where they’re haphazardly dropped on the ground and hefts one up.

“Jeez Bells, what’d you pack in here? Rocks? No, I know you - books!”

I chuckle sheepishly as I go to grab the other two bags. “Yeah, there is a couple of books, but I’ve also got a CD player and a good few CDs, so I think that’s taking up most of the weight.”

“Well, I’ve given you a good room at the house - it looks out onto the street and has a wonderful window seat. But I don’t really know what kind of decorating you’d like to do - maybe we can work on that together?”

I grin so hard my cheeks hurt. Setting down roots, part one accomplished.

“Sure, I’d love that, Dad!” I heft the last bag into the boot of the police car.

I climb into the car.

“Wow - there’s a real grille between the driver and the backseat passenger! I didn’t know they did that in real life - only in movies.”

Dad laughs as he slams his door shut and pulls out of the parking spot. “Wow, it’s gonna be fun having someone around who’s unsure of Americanisms.”

As we merge onto the highway, he turns his head to look at me. “I’m really glad you’re here, Bells. Really glad.”

“Me too, Dad. Me too.”

I sleep on the car ride to Forks - my new home. It’s only an hour, but it really helps to refresh my brain after nearly two days of straight travelling.

I jolt awake when we enter the town, smooth asphalt giving way to uneven roads. As we drive down the main street, people turn and wave at Dad - he’s the town’s Chief of Police, and clearly very well respected by the populace. The main road is peppered with bakeries, mom-and-pop cafes (that’s an American phrase, right?) and small vintage shops - I can’t wait to go shopping in those. The small-town camaraderie is apparent in the townsfolk: cheerily waving at each other and stopping for impromptu conversations in the middle of the footpath.

Dad turns left onto a quiet, leafy street - more leafy than your average Sydney suburb, surprisingly enough, and about halfway down parks parallel to a white double-storey house. It has two front-facing windows and a welcoming, pot-plant-surrounded teal door, next to a neatly lettered ‘33’.

Before Dad has fully put the car into stationary, I jump out and smile at the house that’ll be my new home for the next two years - if not longer.

Dad’s door opens and shuts.

“C’mon, let’s get your stuff organised and get you settled in.”

We heave my bags from the boot and drag them through the house’s front door. The house is very Dad - worn, well-loved furniture, pictures of us on our yearly holidays, and perhaps a few too many empty cans of beer next to the TV.

Dad steps in front of me. “Bells, your room is up this way.” He lugs one suitcase up the stairs, thumping it on each step. I follow.

On the left hand side of the stairs is a room painted in powder blue. Dad’s already inside, heaving the suitcase onto the bed (sorry Dad, I know they’re heavy).

I enter, awed at how perfectly Dad’s prepped the room for my arrival. There’s a quilt on the double bed in the middle of the room, with pinks and yellows smiling cheerily up at me, framed by a white frilled bedskirt. A clearly-vintage teak desk opposes the bed, already stacked with some of my favourite well-worn books and a sturdy lamp. The window seat is already layered with many cushions, most of them looking as though they’re straight out of the 80s. Fairy lights adorn one wall, and there’s a couple of framed photos of Dad and I above the bed.

“This is so perfect - like literally so perfect! How did you get this right? Did you talk to Mum?”

“No,” he sighed. Not surprising, they’d basically never talked since their divorce when I was only a baby. Neither of them will ever tell me any details about it. To my knowledge, they’ve only ever interacted over email, organising my exchange or holidays.

“But I do remember your journal from New Zealand earlier this year - you’d created quite the collage of home decor, and it wasn’t that hard to do. Once I told the ladies who run the vintage shops in town that you were coming, they were more than happy to help Chief Swan’s daughter,” he says with obvious pride.

I walk over and hug him again. “Thanks Dad. This is… amazing.”

Dad leaves and I start to unpack, slowly, calmly.

I have two weeks until I start school - apparently the Americans start their school year at the beginning of September. Yet another American oddity. I unpack my belongings into the room, placing my crystals by my bedside and my incense on my desk. The antique cross goes above my bed, and I take a few seconds to make sure it’s on straight. Then I pile my clothes into the dresser opposite the window - underwear in one drawer, sorted by colour, then blouses into the next, sweaters into the next, and jeans in the bottom drawer.
I glare at the dresser (not that it’s done anything wrong). I don’t have nearly enough clothing to survive a Forks winter. I know the Pacific Northwest is meant to be freezing - and rainy as hell. I have a solid rainjacket, I just need a thick jacket, and a whole pile of thermals.

After sticking some of my favourite posters up (Queen, Led Zeppelin and Bon Jovi, if anyone was asking), I patter down the stairs to talk to Dad.

“Any chance I’d be able to go clothes shopping?” I ask. “Only, Sydney winters, actually- Australian winters generally didn’t really prep me for this.” f*ck- I used an abbreviation.

Well, Dad doesn’t seem to care. Good stuff. “Sure Bells - is tomorrow okay? We can also grab some more things for your room - make it feel a bit more homey. I’ve got the next couple of days off, so I should be able to drive you around and stuff. Speaking of - have you got an Australian license?”

“Nup.” I’d been preparing for it, but Mum had uprooted me before I could take the test.

“Well, I’ve got a book of basic road rules somewhere…” his gaze searches the living room. “Anyway, when I find it, you can study it and then take the test. I think we’re a bit more lax here about 16-year-olds driving themselves around, so you should be fine - but promise me you’ll be safe, Bells.”

“Of course Dad.”

I go to bed early that night, tuckered out from the days of travel. The quilt and flannel sheets are quite cozy, and next thing I know, the sun is streaming through my lace curtains and onto my face.

I smile into the sunlight. First day in Forks, here we come!

I shower quickly, and only as I’m towelling myself off do I see myself in a mirror for the first time since I arrived here. My skin has broken out (as I knew it would), but it almost glows in the misty daylight of Forks. In Australia, being so pale was oddly out of place, particularly in my school, which was inundated with tall, tanned blondes. My pale skin, dark hair and petite demeanour always made me feel a bit out of place. Maybe Forks is somewhere I can actually belong.

Satisfied by my appearance, I dress in bootcut jeans and my favourite blue knit sweater. It’s the warmest I can do for now - I can layer some thermals underneath later, and a jacket will keep me cosy. Then, I attempt my makeup in the bathroom mirror (which really hasn’t been cleaned as much as it should). It goes on smoothly, save for my eyeliner, which is distinctly uncooperative, but I fix it and am done in about fifteen minutes.

Once back in my room, I jam on my beloved indigo converse and trot down the stairs, tripping on the last step and sending my hip into the handrail.

“Jesus f*ck!” I exclaim, rubbing my hip.

“Good morning to you too Bells,” Dad replies, laughing, as I round the corner into the kitchen. “What’d the stairs do to you?”

“Insulted my sense of dignity, that’s what,” I mutter, reaching for the toast Dad has pushed towards me. “It’s not enough that I have to bruise like a plum, I’ve also got to be the clumsiest klutz this side of Klutzville.”

Dad’s still laughing. It’s not funny.

Okay, maybe it’s a bit funny.

“Anyway, morning Dad,” I say through a mouthful of toast.

He smiles. “Just a warning, I know you Aussies do a lot of swearing, but that’s not gonna roll super well over here. I’ll let it pass as long as you don’t do it in front of your teachers, or very loudly in public. We can’t have it getting about that the Chief’s daughter is uncouth, can we?”

“Yep, sure. Try my best - but I really can’t make any promises, particularly when I trip on sh*t.” Oop, there I go again.

“Yes, well, when you’re done with your toast and your profanities, we should be good to go shopping.”

I do a little jig in my seat, my mouth full of toast. Shopping!

Our first target for the day is Newton’s Olympic Outfitters, which Charlie tells me has the best range of winter clothing in Forks. From his faint blush when introducing me to Mrs Newton, the manager of the store, that’s clearly not the only reason he dragged me here.

“Oh my gosh, it’s so good to meet you at last - we’ve heard so much about you Isabella! I’m Judy Newton - I run this store,” she bubbles, proffering her hand.

Pushing down my anxiety at meeting new people, I attempt to match her level of exuberance.

“Hi Judy! I, uh, usually go by Tallie, not Isabella. Looks like a great store you got here,” I reply, shaking her hand as I gape at the rows and rows of fleece and thermals and puffers.

“It is! Gotta ask though, why Tallie? It doesn’t seem to be an easy abbreviation from Isabella…” she trails off.

I laugh. “Well, in kindergarten in Australia, we had an Italian teacher, who knew that Isabella was an Italian name. She called me Italy-girl that whole year, which was kinda justified since I was obsessed with pasta at the time - and my friends at the time seized on it. Italy-girl, Tallie-girl, Tallie. The nickname stuck.”

Mrs Newtown exchanges a glance with Dad. “Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you Tallie. What brought you in today?”

After half an hour of trying on clothing, I end up with a massive haul of thermal pants and tops, woolen socks, and a brown suede jacket with a thick fluffy lining. I pull it on over my jumper and- ahh, instant warmth. Like a blanket I can wear.

“Thanks Mrs Newton,” I call as we exit into the biting wind.

“No problems - come again!”

Dad’s face is still a bit pink, but I choose not to mention it. What a good daughter I am.

“Where to next, chief?”

We spend the day walking around Forks, introducing me to every shopkeeper and their dog. I usually have to explain the whole Tallie-not-Isabella-it’s-a-nickname thing, but everyone seems really nice. The lady at Anne’s Vintage Treasures was the one who sold Dad the pink quilt on my bed, and I pick up a few vintage pieces of jewellery, like sunflower earrings and a red stone ring. In a used bookshop, I find a whole pile of my favourite classics, like Austen and the Bronte sisters - and I promptly buy them all. Along with a few other purchases, we’ve come up with a good haul.

We have lunch at a bakery (goddamn, sausage rolls are good wherever you go), then make our way back to the house.

I spend the afternoon decorating my room: putting a pink lamp on my side table, folding up my new clothes and stowing them away, adding the new jewellery to my collection. All in all, it’s a good day.

The next weeks are spent in much the same way - exploring the town and saying ‘hi’ to everyone I encounter. They all know Dad, and seem to think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, and I glow a little inside in pride at my Dad. He’s a good person.

I’m surprised I don’t meet any of my future classmates while I’m out and about - but I suppose they’re too cool to spend time in a place where their parents might see.

I study Dad’s driving manual, and pass the test with flying colours. He couldn’t administer it, as my father, but Constable Whittaker, a middle-aged man with kind eyes watches as I maneuver my dad’s cruiser about town. I’m sure it’s not ideal to have a driving test done in a car which represents the police force, but I drive it safely, so I’m sure it’s fine.

On the Sunday before school starts, I’m organising my school notes from Australia, reviewing old knowledge on Romeo and Juliet and mitosis and differentiation, when a horn beeps outside. And then it beeps again, dragging on and on and on. Annoyed at the disturbance, I peer out the window to see Dad with another man and a teen, waving up at me. Rolling my eyes, I make my way down and out to them.

“Hey Dad - who’s this?”

“This is Billy Black - he’s been my friend since we were fifteen. I’ve mentioned him?”

“Oh yeah,” I agree, turning to Billy and sticking my hand out. “So you’re the infamous Billy Black - nice to meet you mate.”

“Good to meet you too… Tallie?” I nod. “This is Jacob - he’s my son, and the current reason for my grey hairs.”

“Thanks Dad,” Jacob mutters, nodding at me. He looks to be about fourteen, going through that typical teenage moody phase.

Dad pats the back of a red truck parked in the driveway. “So, what do you think of her?”

I frown, confused. “Think of what?”

Billy grins. “Your new truck, of course!”

I turn to take the truck in fully - it’s old, with rough paint and clear wear and tear, but it looks like it’d withstand a tsunami unscathed. It’s perfect.

“Oh my God! It’s amazing! Thanks so much Dad, Billy.” I circle the truck brushing my hands along its sides.

“I know you were doing ballet classes back in Sydney, so I booked you some in Port Angeles every Sunday, so I thought having something to get you there and back would be a good idea. Uhh, there’s also a mostly-unused dojo on the outer edge of town, so you can practice your aikido there.”

I squeeze Dad into a massive hug again, Jacob and Billy looking on amusedly. “Thank you. Like, thank you - that’s so thoughtful.”

As I grin at my truck and my dad and my new life, I feel oddly optimistic. I’m ready. No matter what Forks High throws at me tomorrow - I am as ready as I’ll ever be.

high noon - Chapter 1 - dawningsunstone - Twilight Series (2024)
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