Dad pulled me in for a hug after loading my bags into the car. "You know you'll always have a home here, right, kid? I'm not just sending you away."
I hugged him back, nodding against his shoulder. "I know." As hard as it was to leave him, I knew I was making the right choice. I'd gone back and forth for a long time but decided he was right. I needed a change.
"I just want you to be happy, Bella. Until—well, until you got pregnant you were always a happy kid. Your mom is into all that yoga and self-help stuff, so I think she'll be a big help. She'll get you recentered, or whatever she calls it."
I gave him a genuine smile for the first time in a long while. He was right about my mom; some people would have called her a hippie. She was always into the newest way of helping people lead a better, healthier lifestyle. "It'll definitely be different, even though it kind of feels as though I'm just exchanging Washington for Ohio. You know, moving from one small town to another."
He shook his head, smiling at me before pressing a kiss to my forehead. "I have a feeling you'll love it. Don't forget to call your old man, all right? We should get going, don't want to miss your flight."
I turned, inspecting the house I'd spent the last 10 years living in. Most of the memories were good ones, but I was happy to start over.
"Oh, let me look at you, Bella!" Mom grabbed my shoulders while taking a step back. "Goodness, I know it hasn't been that long, but you look so grown-up! Much more mature than 18. You look beautiful."
I gave her a faint smile, exhausted from traveling. "Thanks, Mom. You look great, too. Where's Phil?"
She smiled, waving me off. "He has to work, but he's looking forward to having you with us; we both are. Let's get your bags from the car so we can get you home and settled in. This will be so great!" She gave me another squeeze before we headed over to baggage claim.
I thought it would take me longer to adjust to life in a new town, but like I'd told my dad, I was just exchanging one small town for another. Not that Berlin didn't have its differences, because it definitely did. It took a bit to get used to driving down the back roads, only to get stuck behind a horse and buggy. There was no chance of running into an Amish person in Washington.
Aside from that, it really was like Forks. Almost everyone I ran into knew I was Renee Dwyer's daughter since nothing was secret in a small town. Thankfully, Mom kept the reason for my move vague. She knew better than to mention the baby or the adoption. It was nice to walk into a shop and not hear the whispers as I had back in Washington, where I was the chief's daughter who couldn't handle raising her baby.
As quaint as a town like that was, it was also an insanely cruel atmosphere to be a part of after straying from the pack. I was thankful for this fresh start, and a chance to fit in.
"Do you remember that little restaurant we ate at the other week?" Mom asked while we rolled up our yoga mats. It really seemed to help me; it was an hour a day I could take to search my soul while spending quality time with my mom.
I nodded. "Yeah. What was it called, The Cupboard? What about it?"
"Well, I ran into Mrs. Stanley, this sweet little old Amish lady I've gotten to know. Now that all her children are out of the house and married, she works there in the kitchen a day or two a week. She said they're looking for waitresses, and I know you worked at the diner in Forks."
I smirked at Mom. "Is this your subtle way of telling me I need to get a job?"
She shrugged. "You don't have to, but if you aren't going to school, you should probably do something with your time, don't you think?"
I pulled my bottom lip between my teeth, mulling over her words for a few moments before nodding. "It's a good idea. I'll stop in there tomorrow."
"Great!" Mom smiled at me before kissing my head. "I'll get dinner started."
"You have experience waiting tables?" Elizabeth, the manager at The Cupboard, asked. I'd walked in thinking I would pick up an application and leave, but she asked if I had time to sit for an interview right then.
"Um, yes. When I lived in Washington, I was a waitress at the diner in town."
"Great. Can you start tomorrow afternoon, around 4? Two of my best girls left within a few weeks of each other; both were getting married."
"Oh! Uh, sure, I can start tomorrow."
Elizabeth beamed at me. "Great! The only thing we ask as far as the dress code is sensible shoes and dressing modestly for your shift. We have quite a few Amish customers."
I smiled back, honestly happy to be working again. "That won't be a problem. Thank you for the chance. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Bella?" Mom called as I hurried down the stairs. I had a few hours to spare before work and had plans to do a little Christmas shopping.
"Yeah?" I answered, frowning when I walked into the kitchen, finding her sitting at the table, wringing her hands. "Is everything okay?"
"Do you have a second to talk?"
I nodded, pulling out the chair across from her. "You're kind of scaring me, though, are you okay? Are you sick? Did something happen?"
She shook her head. "I'm okay, but I don't know how else to say this, Bella, so I'm just going to get it over with. I'm pregnant."
My eyes widened, and I felt like the air had been knocked out of me. I sat there staring at her for what felt like hours but was only a few seconds.
"Bella, please say something," she pleaded.
I squeezed my eyes shut, willing myself not to cry. My heart ached enough every time I saw a family out and about with their little ones. How was I supposed to live in a house with a baby? "You're pregnant? How long have you known?" I whispered.
"A few weeks."
I felt the bile rise in my throat; she'd known for weeks. "I need to get to work." I stood up quickly, the chair scraping across the floor.
"Bella, please, we need to talk about this!" she called after me, but I couldn't. Not right now.
"Bella? Are you all right?" Jane, one of the Amish women who worked in the kitchen baking the pies and cookies, asked me. I'd formed a close relationship with her over the month I'd worked there. She was probably one of the best friends I had, yet I'd never been honest with her. I knew my eyes were red and swollen from all the time I'd spent in the car crying.
I shook my head. "Not really, but I'll be alright."
"You know you can talk to me, jah?" she asked, and I nodded in reply, instead deciding to throw myself into work.
The hours dragged, but I'd kept myself together most of the night. It wasn't until we had a lull in customers that I let my mind drift back to earlier in the afternoon.
As soon as I felt my eyes fill with tears, I slipped away to the bathroom and splashed water on my face, hoping it would help with my blotchy skin and puffy eyes before heading back into the dining room.
As I rounded the corner, the bell over the door clanged and a tall Amish man walked in. He slipped his hat off and glanced around the room, appearing uncomfortable.
I approached him, and even in the state I was in, I could see how handsome he was with his brownish-red hair and beautiful green eyes. I mustered up the best smile I could. "Welcome to The Cupboard. How many will there be?"
When he didn't reply and instead stared blankly ahead, I searched his face for a moment, noticing that he looked as sad as I did.
"Sir?" I called, hoping to get his attention.
Finally, he snapped out of his daze. "I'm sorry?"
"I asked if it was just you or…?"
"Jah—I mean, yes, just me."
I nodded, grabbing a menu and leading him to his table.
A/N: Now we know why she'd been crying when he first met her.
And they're finally on the same timeline! And now, the next chapter will be a bit of a time jump.