Chapter 19 of Pinned but Fluttering is by far the longest chapter yet at over 4,000 words and is now available on both Wattpad and FanFiction.net. It's receiving great reviews from both sites and in only a couple of hours has already garnered 25 votes on Wattpad...which is the total number of votes received for the final chapter of Evening Star.
I thought I'd put up an excerpt here from Chapter 19, so here's Bella's flashback to her thirteenth birthday, less than a year after Sarah Black's death. So here 'tis....
The loss of Sarah Black was still a fresh pain for all of us, and Billy had been drinking himself to the point of passing out nearly every night after dinner. Then the two girls left the house to hang out with friends, taking full advantage of the freedom from their usually strict father; they often came home smelling of bourbon, sweet weed, and sex. Rachel and Rebecca, my beloved big sisters who had always watched out for me, were far too caught up in their now-exciting social lives to care that Billy locked me in my room indefinitely as punishment for killing their mother...a punishment they coldly assured me that I fully deserved.
So Jacob hauled his slumped and mumbling father back to his room in the wheelchair and assisted him into bed where he snored away his grief in an alcoholic daze. After the girls left the house in their too-short skirts and too-high heels, Jake would often let me out of my room to watch TV together on the small loveseat. Sometimes I would read while he did homework.
No one had said anything about my birthday all day, and I really didn't care; I didn't deserve a celebration, anyway, and I knew it. But Jacob had been walking around all afternoon with a cat-who-just-ate-the-canary look in his eyes. From behind my deadbolted door, I listened as he helped his intoxicated father to bed, and as Billy's bedroom door clicked closed, Jacob appeared in my room smiling widely. He beckoned, and I hopped off my naked mattress and eagerly followed him into the living room.
Jacob served me half a frozen-but-reheated chicken pot pie for dinner and a shiny red apple...a feast compared to my usual fare. Then his wide grin widened even more, and his black eyes, encircled with dark rings of sleepless nights, sparkled mischievously as I wondered what he was up to.
“Wait here,” Jacob ordered excitedly. “And close your eyes.”
Obediently I masked my eyes with both hands as I heard him rustling about the room. Then just as the curiosity was really getting to me, I heard a whisking sound and smelled the faint sulfur of a lit match.
“Okay, you can look!” he exclaimed.
Lowering my hands, I opened my eyes to see in his large hands a bakery cupcake topped with pink icing and a single lit candle nestled carefully on one of Sarah Black's treasured china plates. Walking carefully forward to keep the candle lit, he laid the plate gently on the coffee table in front of me. Beside it was a large box, wrapped messily in pink tissue paper...and half a roll of Scotch tape. A large silver bow sat crookedly on top of the gift...my only gift.
“Happy Birthday, Bella!” Jacob crowed.
I remember feeling the pressure of tears in my eyes as I took in the lit candle swaying in the movement of air as Jacob plopped beside me onto the loveseat, the inexpertly-wrapped gift, but most of all, the beaming face of Jacob Black, his black eyes dancing with merriment and joy, expressions I hadn't seen on his face since his mother's death.
Leaning over, he grasped the edge of the china plate and brought the cupcake and burning candle between us in the soft half-light of the small room. “Make a wish,” he ordered gently, smiling.
But I sobered. I knew which wish I would make, if turning back the clock were truly possible. If the last year had never happened. If I could change that one night...the night when I had killed Sarah Black, the woman whom everyone loved and adored.
The woman whom I loved and adored.
The woman who became my mother after my mother died.
If I could have switched places with her, if I could be dead in her place so that she could be alive for Billy and Jacob and the girls, I would do it without a second thought.
Billy blamed me, and rightly so. As did Rachel and Rebecca. But Jacob, loyal brother that he was, refused to let me think it was my fault...even though it was.
If it weren't for me, Sarah Black would not have been out on the road that night.
If it weren't for me, clumsily falling out of a tree at the Clearwaters' house while playing hide-and-seek with Leah and Seth, Sarah Black wouldn't have been driving at twilight, taking me to the reservation clinic to x-ray my injured wrist.
If I hadn't been stupid and careless and clumsy as usual, we wouldn't have been in that car, and that drunk driver would have hit someone else or no one else...and Sarah wouldn't have been killed instantly when we hit the tree.
And if I hadn't been the reason for Sarah driving, and if I hadn't walked away with a hairline fracture to my wrist (caused by my fall, not the accident) and a slight concussion, perhaps Billy and the girls wouldn't blame me for their beloved wife's and mother's death.
But none of these wishes were possible.
So as I closed my eyes, I wished desperately that Billy would stop blaming me for Aunt Sarah dying, that he would stop saying I was an angel of death who had caused my mom, my dad, and now his wife to die, and that he would stop drinking and forgive me.
I wished desperately that Rachel and Rebecca would stay home, stay safe, and forgive me.
And I blew out the candle, Jacob smiling at me, his white teeth brilliant in the twilight of the half-darkened room.
Then he thrust the heavy gift into my lap, laughing as I attempted to unwrap the awkward box. Finally I managed to remove the paper with his help, and he helped by slitting open the packing tape with his pocket knife, laughingly refusing to let me handle something so sharp, knowing my track record.
I pulled back the cardboard flaps to reveal a midnight-blue faux leather-bound book, the title embossed in gold print: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I had squealed with joy, jumping into Jacob's lap with delighted pleasure.
“Thank you! Thank you, Jacob!! It's wonderful!!” I enthused, wrapping my arms around his neck and hugging him close.
“Do you really like it?” he whispered in my ear.
“I love it,” I assured him, smiling.
I hadn't smiled in months, and it felt good.
With Jake smiling back at me, we sat there on the love seat, practically nose-to-nose, me sitting in Jacob's lap, my arms around his neck.
Our smiles faded a little as the energy between us became charged. I was thirteen, he was turning thirteen in a few months. We had always treated each other as brother and sister.
But something changed at that moment. His eyes fixed unblinkingly on mine, Jacob slowly leaned toward me, tilting his head to the side as his lips touched mine.
I didn't move as he kissed me tentatively, gently, his lips warm and sweet as they pressed against mine. Without conscious thought, my eyes closed, my arms tightened around his neck, and I was kissing him back, our mouths hesitantly moving together.
We both backed away at the same time, his black eyes glowing in the dimly-lit room.
“Happy Birthday, Bella,” he smiled warmly.
I blushed, breathless and strangely pleased.
So there's the big revelation in Chapter 19...the reason why Billy blames Bella for Sarah's death, and why Bella even blames herself. This question was raised in the first chapter, and now we finally have the answer....
And about six more questions, LOL!
I've just started a new one-shot, an EPOV story. I have only about 700 words so far, so we'll see where it goes. I hope to work on it during my break as I don't return to homeschooling or teaching until January 9th.
So, back to writing....