Over the next several months, Bella slowly began to accept her life without her Mama and her Dada. Louise and Brad were kind and very patient with her. The worst time was at night, when she was lying in her little bed, clinging onto her Eddie Lamb and thinking about not only her parents, but Edward. She wondered if the bad people had hurt him or his parents. Louise had asked if her lamb had a name and Bella said no. She had to protect Edward, like her father said many times.
“Lizzy Bell, you are part of a very large family, and, as a member, you have to protect the family and respect them with everything you have.”
Bella didn’t know what was happening with her extended family, but she remembered what Caius had told her, and would pretend to be Bree as long as she needed to do so.
Louise and Brad showed her how to take care of the many animals on the farm. Bella especially enjoyed the horses. Brad began teaching her how to ride on a small spotted pony named Lilly. At first, she just sat in the saddle while Brad lead them around the corral, then, over time, she became comfortable riding without his help. After showing Brad she could control Lilly with ease, he moved her up to a filly named Grace. She was a much bigger horse, but was a gentle, well trained animal, and seemed to form a special bond with Bella.
All summer, Bella rode Grace, and helped take care of the other animals on the farm. Louise and Brad introduced her to people as their grand-niece, whose parents who had passed away in a car accident.
When September rolled around, it was time for Bella to begin school. They used the fake documents that Caius had giving them and enrolled her. She was old enough to be in first grade, and was placed in Ms. Thomas’ class.
There were only ten students in the class, and Ms. Thomas was able to get a feel of each student’s academic level and was quick to notice how extremely bright Bella was. After talking with Louise and Brad, it was determined that Bella be giving an aptitude test to see if she needed to be placed in a class that would challenge her. When test results returned, it was just as Ms. Thomas suspected. Bella was reading at a fourth grade level, and her math skills were at the sixth grade level. After talking to Louise and Brad, they planned for her to remain in Ms. Thomas’ class, but would also have some one on one instruction from Mrs. McCarty.
Mrs. McCarty was only a part-time teacher, who specialized in children that were gifted. She was married to Emmett McCarty, an ex-NFL player who retired after eight seasons. He wanted to enjoy life with his lovely wife, while he was still injury-free. They purchased a home in the small town of Youngstown, and planned on starting a family. After several years of not becoming pregnant, they went to the top OB/GYNs in the country. They determined that Emmett, not Rosalie was the reason they were struggling with fertility. They had a one in a million shot of ever becoming pregnant naturally. Heartbroken over the news, they decided to take some time and let fate take its course. Rosalie began teaching the gifted students at the local school, and Emmett opened a small law office, using the degree that he had earned before joining the NFL.
Bella was taken to Mrs McCarty’s classroom. “Bree, this is Mrs. McCarty, she is going to be your special teacher every day.” Ms. Thomas said.
Rosalie came over to them, and bent down to Bella’s level. “Hello, Bree. I think we are going to be good friends.”
Bella smiled and nodded her head.
“Ms. Thomas, I think we are okay here. Thanks for bringing her; when we are finished, I will take her lunch to meet back up with the rest of the class.”
Rosalie offered Bella her hand. Bella looked up into the crystal blue eyes of Mrs. McCarty, and, for a moment, she thought she could see a little bit of her father. Placing her tiny hand into Rosalie’s, they walked over to the desk, and began to work.
Bella loved going to work with Mrs. Rosalie, as she had told her to call her. She enjoyed the work, but also enjoyed spending time with her. Some days they would go outside and have class under one of the large shade trees by the school. Their time together was about learning, but also they talked about themselves. Rosalie noticed that Bree was very guarded with her emotions and about talking about her family. Before Bree came to her for the first time, she had read her file about how her family had died and was living with relatives that she didn’t know well. But Rosalie felt there was something more.
Several times, Bree had been asked to put her name on a piece of work and she had written Isabella instead of Bree. Rosalie questioned if that was her middle name; she quickly erased it and wrote Bree. The other thing was the necklace that Bree wore all the time; it had an infinity symbol on it. Rosalie could tell that it was not a cheap necklace; it was either made of white gold or platinum. She had known the Mathers since moving into Youngstown, and could tell that they did not have the money to buy such an expensive necklace.
Rosalie told Emmett all about the curious things about young Bree, and he was also sure that there something else that wasn’t being said about her. He had gotten to know Brad from purchasing vegetables that they grew on the farm. Brad and Louise both worked hard on the farm, and he had seen them out working in the wee hours of the morning and until the twilight end of the day. Hearing that their great niece was wearing such an expensive necklace, he wondered why, then, would Bree’s family not leave an inheritance to Brad and Louise to take care of her.
As fall became winter, the area was hit with one snowstorm after another, but the people of Youngstown were used to it. A foot of snow was dealt with, and the everyday work went on as usual. One cold snowy afternoon, Emmett was sitting in his office, which was a small building that was on his property. The chiming of the bells that Rosalie had attached to the door to make him aware when someone walked in. He hadn’t been expecting anyone, and so, he was dressed in jeans and a turtleneck with a bulky red checked flannel shirt over it. Walking out of his office into the small front reception area, he was surprised to see Brad Masters standing there.
“Brad, what a surprise to see you. What are you doing out in this cold snowy day?”
“I was wondering if you could write up my will?” Brad explained.
“I sure can. Come in and let’s see what we can come up with.”
As they sat down, Brad explained what he wanted. “If anything should happen to me, I want everything to go to Louise, but, if by some chance that both Louise and I both die at the same time, I want everything to go to Bree.”
Emmett wasn’t shocked by Brad’s request. From what he had seen and heard from Rosalie, he knew that he loved Bree.
“Make sure you put all my property.” Brad incited.
“I have the house and property.” Emmett assured him.
Brad had thought long and hard on what he should do with the money that Caius gave to him, to take care of Bree. After watching her for several weeks, he went against his wishes and did some looking around, and, after awhile, he found the information that shook his very soul. It was an obituary for Elizabeth and Isabella Cullen, the wife and daughter of the head of the Cullen crime family. He was convinced it was Bree’s family, when he saw a photograph of Carlisle Cullen standing by the coffins at the graveyard. In the background was Caius. After that, he knew that something was wrong and knew it was only time before someone would come and try to take Bree, or Isabella, and would get rid of all those who knew her.
He had not stopped there, he continued to look into Carlisle Cullen; every picture of him with his family showed a devoted husband and a loving father. He might be the head of a crime family, but there was no doubt that he was also a good man. Brad had thought about trying to contact him, but he was unsure who to trust.
“Emmett, I have a security box at the bank. Make sure you list that.”
Emmett was shocked to hear that he had a security box. The more he thought about it, he wondered why it was so important to him.
The next thing Brad wanted to talk to Emmett about was something he thought and prayed about. He was not naive to the fact that both Louise and himself were getting up in age. He wanted to make sure that someone that Bree knew would take care of her if something happened to them. She talked all the time about Rosalie and Brad knew that Emmett and Rosalie were on a list for adoption. There was no one else he could think of that would love and take care of Bree.
“I have one more request that I want to put out there.” Brad said, hoping that Emmett would agree.
“What is it?”
“If, by chance, something would happen to Louise and me before Bree is eighteen, we were hoping that Rosalie and you would take care of her.”
Emmett couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but the look on Brad’s face showed that he was serious. There was something more that Brad wasn’t telling him, and, before he agreed to the arrangement, he would have to know all the secrets that Brad was keeping.