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BELLA

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Chapter 1

Renee and Charlie were in a hospital room, waiting anxiously. Renee would be induced soon and start giving birth soon. Which was why Renee was so frustrated that the doctor wouldn’t leave them alone about her baby.

“Mrs. Swan, please. I really need to tell you something important your--” the doctor started, sounding incredibly frustrated. How dare he? She was the one about to give birth here! He should just do his job and be professional.

“For the last time, I don’t want to know what the baby’s gender is!” Renee snapped, cutting the doctor off. “We want it to be a surprise.” She turned to give Charlie loving eyes, completely unaware that her husband was looking from her to the doctor with worry. He had a feeling what the doctor wanted to say was important, but he had no way to get the doctor to continue without stressing out his wife. “We’ve already decided on names,” Renee continued to a nearby nurse. “Beau if it’s a boy, and if the baby is a girl, Isabella. Bella for short. Which is why we don’t care what the gender is.”

Charlie almost laughed out loud at that. While they had chosen a boy name, Renee had made it very clear from the day that she found out she was pregnant how much she wanted a girl. Not just a girl, but a girl named “Bella.”

“This isn’t about the gender, this is about--”

“Will you stop it already? You’re just here to do your job, that’s all.” Again, Renee had cut the doctor off. The urge to slam his own head against the door until he was unconscious was quickly building in the doctor, but logic dictated he try to inform the family about the extra important information. Logic, apparently, did not apply to this particular woman and her doormat of a husband. Why did the doctor think he would have better luck than the doctor that had tried to convince the woman to look at her own ultrasounds?

“Very well then,” the doctor said tightly. He needed to get out of the room before he snapped. “We will induce you shortly.” One last time, just one last attempt and he would give up. “But about your child, it’s not--”

“You need to leave now,” Renee said, turning away in a clear dismissal of the doctor. Charlie looked at the doctor and just shrugged helplessly as Renee started gossiping with the nurse in a very loud whisper that everyone could hear. “I swear, what is with doctors these days? Both this one and all the others kept trying to tell me the gender. What’s wrong with wanting a surprise?”

The nurse listened to the woman, nodding uncomfortably as she kept glancing at the doctor. The man really was about to explode any second now, which was why he rushed out of the room without even excusing himself.

It wasn’t long before Renee had been induced, and soon was actively in labor with the help of a new doctor. The entire time, she clutched Charlie’s hand, squeezing it as tightly as she could as she pushed with all of her might.

It felt like forever, but soon, with one last “Push!” from the doctor, Renee managed to push the baby out of her.

“Oh, finally,” Renee panted as the child started crying. “I thought I--” Another contraction had her gasping for air, and soon screaming and wailing all over again.

“Come on, ma’am, you’re not done yet,” the doctor urged. “Keep pushing!”

“What do you mean I’m not done yet?” Renee screeched.

Beside her, Charlie grimaced. He had a feeling he knew what the doctors had been trying to tell them all this time now.

Not much later, another baby popped out. Then another. Then another. Finally, beyond exhausted after nine hours of labor, the final baby popped out with a loud wail, announcing herself to the world.

“Congratulations ma’am, you have yourself five healthy baby girls!” the doctor announced as the nurses, each holding a baby, crowded around the sweaty mess of a woman, who was quickly becoming panicked. She gripped Charlie’s hand again, getting his attention from where he had proudly been staring at his children with tears in his eyes.

“Charlie, this is bad! What do we name them?” Renee asked as she looked from one child to the other. She only had one name planned for a girl, and now there were five! Which one was she going to name Isabella?

“Ma’am?” the doctor started as all of the nurses glanced at each other in confused concern. “The naming can wait. Don’t you want to hold your children?”

“No, no, this is far more important than that,” Renee said distractedly. Charlie, who had excitedly opened his mouth to ask if maybe he could hold one too, immediately closed it with a glance at his wife. It only took a few moments of Renee deep in thought before she figured out what to do. “That’s it! What was the order the babies were born?”

“Well, that would be this girl right here, then this one, then this tiny one right here, then this one, then the yeller right here,” the doctor said, pointing to each baby in turn despite not understanding why this was what was so important right now. The children needed human contact and to eat, not whatever the hell this woman was doing.

“Perfect! Then this one will be named Blaise,” Renee started with the oldest. Come on Renee, think! The name doesn’t matter, just think up a name that starts with the right letter! “Then we have Eden.” Oh no, two L names. What names started with L that Renee had heard recently? “Lux,” Renee said, pointing to the third born. “Erm, um...Lucifer…”

“Whoa whoa, wait a second there!” Charlie exclaimed, speaking up for the first time with clear alarm. “We are not naming one of our children after the devil!”

“It was the only name I can think of, Charlie!” Renee snapped defensively. Letting out a growl of frustration, Renee said, “Fine, Louis then!”

“We have a daughter Renee, not a son!” Charlie stressed. 

“Ugh, does it really matter?” Renee huffed, much to everyone’s disbelief. “Fine then, her name will be Lux.”

“That’s what you named our other child, Renee.”

“Lander then.”

Charlie didn’t know where the name came from, but he sighed, giving up. “That’ll do.”

“And the last will be named Ash,” Renee continued, adding a glare at her husband as if daring him to argue. But Charlie didn’t, and that made Renee smile proudly. “Blaise, erm, uh…”

“Eden,” the doctor supplied, still in a state of disbelief. Now she could see why her colleague had dumped this woman on her. “You named her Eden.”

“Right. Blaise, Eden, Lux, Lander, and Ash.” With this, Renee had her Bella.

“Okay, now we should really get onto feeding them.” The babies had only started crying louder during this whole ordeal, and the doctor knew the poor things had to have been starving by now.

Renee frowned. “I’m exhausted. Can’t someone else do that?”

With this, Bella’s first day of life began.

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Sixteen Years Later

“Bella! Bella! Can you help me find my purse?” Renee shouted from downstairs as she rushed through the house, throwing things out of the way at random. “I have no idea where it is and Phil is going to be here any minute!”

“So, which one of us is going to volunteer to suffer this time?” Lux asked. “It sure as hell isn’t going to be me. I’m comfy.”

“You’re laying on the floor, Lux,” Eden said with a sigh. “The hardwood floor.”

“I’m still fucking comfy. Someone else do it.”

“Bella! Come down here at once and help me find it!” Renee shouted again, sounding even more hysterical.

“I will,” Lander said, jumping off the bed as all of her sisters looked at her in surprise. They had all believed that they would have to play rock paper scissors again to decide. “You guys owe me.”

“You know we do,” Ash said with a grin at her sister. “I’ll treat you to ice cream next time.”

“How are you going to pay with your broke ass?” Lux jeered.

“BELLA!” Renee’s shriek made the five girls flinch at the volume.

“I’m coming!” Lander snapped. Storming down the stairs before they all had to suffer another shriek, Lander added, “Which one are you looking for?”

“The black one! You know, with the silver!” Renee paused to look up at her daughter, only to frown. “I didn’t want you to help me, I wanted the other one. She’s better at finding things.”

Lander felt her temper flare. “Well maybe if you actually used our names instead of our initials you could get the right daughter on the first try.”

“But that’s so hard!” Renee whined. “You girls are too hard to tell apart.”

We’re not even identical! Lander wanted to scream, but she bit her lip hard to hold herself back. She really didn’t want to have a blowout with her egg donor, not on today of all days. She tasted blood, but even that didn’t stop her as she struggled not to let her temper get the better of her.

“You know it’s our birthday today, right?” Blaise asked Renee, having appeared behind Lander at the first sign of struggle. She put a hand on Lander’s shoulder as she asked this, helping to calm her younger sister.

“Of course I do! You’re turning…”

“Sixteen,” Lander and Blaise said as one when Renee floundered.

“Right, right.” There was a honk from outside, and Renee gasped. “Oh no that’s Phil! Help me find my purse!”

Blaise looked around the room at the damage hurricane Renee had caused before zeroing in on a fallen chair. Still hanging on was a black and silver purse, the one she had heard Renee describe to Lander. Slipping by her sister, Blaise righted the chair and grabbed Renee’s purse. For a moment, she stared at the purse, at war with herself. But the bitterness won out, and she took one of Renee’s credit cards and pocketed it before turning to hold the purse out to Renee for her to take.

“Here.”

Renee squealed and clapped her hands together in excitement. “Yes! There it is.”

“Since it’s our birthday, can we--” Lander started, but of course, Renee cut her off with a wave of her hand.

“Yes I know have fun! By Bella!” With that, Renee was gone, slamming the door behind her. Blaise and Lander stared at the room that Renee had completely destroyed, not in disbelief, but resignation. They knew they would have to clean it up.

It was only when they heard Phil’s car take off that the remaining sisters felt it was safe enough to come down without risk of Renee coming back.

“Did Renee leave us money for takeout?” Eden asked as she slid down the handrail of the stairs, Lux and Ash right behind her. She didn’t even sound hopeful. “At least enough money for a cake?”

“She didn’t leave a goddamn cent,” Lander said, and while it was expected, the sisters still got angry. It was their sixteenth birthday goddamn it, shouldn’t they be able to do something fun?

“Or did she?” Blaise sounded evil and proud, and as everyone turned to look at her, she held up Renee’s credit card. The oldest sister was feeling more validated by the second. “I believe it’s about time to actually have a birthday for once, don’t you?”

“Hell yeah!” Lux cheered, launching herself at her sister from her place on the stairs. Most people would have been knocked flat, but Blaise easily caught her and swung her around, unable to contain her excitement any longer.

As the other sisters got excited, Eden frowned with worry. “We’re not going to spend Renee into financial ruin, are we?” While their life wasn’t the best, she really didn’t want to have to end up living on the street.

“Of course not.” This time it was Ash’s turn to be proud. “I’m the one who she makes do her taxes and keep all of her finances in order. I know exactly how much we’ll be able to spend without putting us in the red.” Her smile took on a bitter edge as she added, “Renee has a vacation fund too for her and Phil. We have thousands of dollars right there to use.”

“Let’s rent a limo!” Lander said excitedly. She had always wanted to ride in one of those things.

“I could really use some new clothes,” Eden added thoughtfully. 

“We need to buy video games too! I’ve always wanted my own gaming system!” Lux added.

“Then let’s do it.” Blaise twirled the card thoughtfully between her fingers. “We’ll deal with the consequences when it happens. We deserve at least one good birthday.”

Little did the quintuplets realize just how big those consequences would be.