Along Came a Spider – Chapter 1

Summary: While Dr. Bella Swan isn’t a fan of the spooky side of Halloween, she finds herself drawn into a charming spider’s web at a friend’s pumpkin carving party, leaving her to wonder if getting caught could be the sweetest treat of all.

Twilight – Rated: M – English – Romance/Drama – Chapters: 14 – Words: 53,331 – Published: Nov 28, 2020 – Updated: Feb 27, 2021 – Bella/Edward

A/N: Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and I wanted to participate in the annual Twilight contest since I began writing almost three years ago. My thanks to the contest team, my fellow writers, but especially, the readers for reviewing and voting for this story. It won a number of awards: 1st Place Public Vote (tie), 1st Place Judges’ Vote, Host OhGeeFantasy‘s pick, Judge Cejsmom‘s pick, Judge Hadley Hemingway‘s pick, and the Pumpkin Pie Award for the best use of pumpkin.

Thank you to my daughter and NKubie for their help in pre-reading. It was a pleasure working with you both. For lemon-flavored reasons, my daughter won’t be with us past the one shot. Lol My never-ending thanks to Midnight Cougar for her sexy Edward ideas and rockstar beta skills.

I’ll be posting my TwiTricksandTreats6 entry in five chapters with new material starting at chapter 6. While the contest entry is in Bella’s POV, we’ll hear from Edward once we get through the one shot chapters, then I will alternate POV’s. I plan on updates being weekly. I’ll also be sharing songs for each chapter which couldn’t be included with the contest entry.

Happy reading! xx

Song inspiration for this chapter: “Here For a Good Time,” George Strait with Sheryl Crow

Folks are always dreaming ’bout
What they’d like to do
But I like to do just what I like
I’ll take my chance
And dance the dance
It might be wrong
But who knows it might be right”

(Playlist for this story can be found on my YouTube channel, if you search for “ghostreader24”)

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.

/ /\ (oo) /\ \

Chapter 1

October 2019

“No. It’s . . . I understand, Jason. Take care.” Disconnecting the call, I release a heavy sigh and stare out my office window. 

The ending of my relationship with Jason isn’t unexpected. After a handful of dates, which felt more like friendly business meetings, I conclude it’s for the best. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the right guy, and I’m disappointed I wasted two months on a relationship that went nowhere. I realize I was prolonging the inevitable with Jason, but maybe it’s time for another change too. 

After calling in a favor with our practice’s accountant before appointments this morning, I confirmed my suspicions that I’m working the most but paid the least in comparison with another associate. I’m left to wonder if I’ve reached the end of my time at Uley Family Dental Care, because there’s no denying the numbers. 

Thinking back on my decisions that brought me here, I don’t regret moving to Texas after finishing my undergraduate degree in Washington eleven years ago. While my father hoped I would stay, I longed for a warmer climate, like when I lived in Phoenix with my mother before she moved with her new husband to Florida. I think back on those uncertain times while applying to dental schools around the country, but know, without a doubt, accepting a spot at Texas A&M was the right call. 

A proud Aggie, I finished near the top of my class after four years of hard work. I completed a one-year residency, then took my current associate’s position in Dallas. I’ve been here since, and it’s been a great fit, except for the dating scene. My circle of friends is closer than family, which includes a smiling Rose who’s approaching my office. She’s our receptionist and one of my most trusted friends. But I already suspect the reason for her visit.

She knocks on my open door. “Are you busy?”

“I’m in-between patients. What’s up?”

“Did you see the invite I left on your desk?”

I groan. “Yes, I saw it, but I don’t know, Rose.”

“Bring what’s his name, you know, the lawyer.”

“The lawyer is history.”

“Since when?”

“About five minutes ago. I should be more upset, but I’m relieved?”

“All the more reason to join us this evening. You’ll have fun. My brother is in town, and he’s bringing some of his teammates. Maybe you’ll meet someone and hit it off,” Rose adds.

The mention of her brother sweetens the invite, but she doesn’t know that, as I’ve been doing my best to conceal my crush from her. Sure, I’ve googled Edward Cullen, but who hasn’t? He’s ridiculously handsome and oozes charisma with every post-game interview during the late news. But I’m not the type of woman to date a professional athlete—a hockey player no less. I’ve heard her talk about the women who chase her brother and his teammates, which is definitely not me.

I sigh and stare at the Boos and Booze invitation, which has an orange-filled martini glass and an eyeball on a cocktail stick. The pumpkin carving party promises a wickedly good time, but as I go over the details, I’m brimming with questions.

“Is this one of those Halloween parties where you need a costume?”

“Not at all. This one is family friendly, casual—more like an open house. Jasper and Alice are bringing their kids and my three will be there with their friends. I’m making chili, and there’s a football game tonight the men will watch in Emmett’s man cave. He’s purchased cases of pumpkin ale and hard cider while stashing what he calls ‘man snacks,’ like he’s a bear preparing for hibernation.”

We can’t contain our giggles at the image of Emmett she’s painted.

“It’s forecasted to be a beautiful evening, and I thought having dinner and sitting around the fire pit after carving pumpkins would be fun. Em will be out of town next week, and I vetoed having a Halloween party without him. I’ll be lucky to survive trick-or-treating with the kids by myself. Katie and I always watch The Great Pumpkin before bed, and the boys are inviting friends over for a sleepover. So, I thought this would work best for everyone.

“I’m making my famous Honeycrisp apple sangria,” she singsongs, knowing I’m a sucker for sangria. “When was the last time you carved a pumpkin?”

“I don’t remember. It’s been years.”

“It’s Friday night. You need to relax—decompress after working all week. I put five o’clock on the invitation, but it’s flexible. Think of it as happy hour at my house with a few friends.”

“A few friends?”

Her smile falls. “And neighbors. I always invite my neighbors to minimize complaints. Some of Jasper’s employees will be there too.”

“Employees?” I groan. “Not Mike.”

“There’s nothing wrong with Mike. He’s a nice guy. Maybe not your cup of tea, but he’s someone’s. I just haven’t found her yet.”

“Will there be other single women to throw him off my scent?”

“Yes.”

“The cheerleader?”

Her eyes are apologetic. “Uh, Irina is one of my neighbors, but Garrett and Alistair will be there too. You love them. Remember, it’s a balance—ignore Irina if she becomes overbearing. Sangria will help.”

“I’m not into spooky or surprises.”

“I know, I know, but Bella, sometimes surprises are good, and the people we are meant for take us by surprise when we least expect it. You need to keep putting yourself out there. So what if it didn’t work with Jason. It doesn’t mean you should stop looking.”

“On paper, Jason and I were perfect, but there was never a spark.”

“Chemistry is important, but trust me, if you’re waiting for the perfect man, he doesn’t exist. Men are full of faults and relationships are never perfect. But maybe you’ll meet someone close enough and give him a chance. It’s about compromise. Say you’ll stop by, please—for at least an hour,” she pleads.

I chuckle, knowing I can never turn her down. “Okay.”

“Okay?” 

“Yes, I’ll be there.”

“Great. Katie will be thrilled.” Rose turns to leave.

I grin, looking forward to seeing Rose’s mini-me again. “Save me a pumpkin.”

“I will. See you later, Bella,” she says over her shoulder, leaving me to prepare for my last patients of the day, since we close at noon on Fridays.

/ /\ (oo) /\ \

The McCartys’ street is full of cars when I arrive. Dressed for comfort, I check myself in the mirror one last time, then step out of my car. I’m wearing one of my favorite fall outfits: relaxed blue jeans, leather knee-high brown boots, and a multi-colored plaid shirt with blues and browns over a simple tank. 

After grabbing Rose’s gift bag, I see a bunch of kids playing football on the front lawn as I walk toward their home. I recognize Austin, Rose’s oldest son, and Peter, Alice’s son, but Rose’s youngest, Katie, spies me before I can reach the end of the driveway.

“Dr. Bella!” She abandons her sidewalk chalk drawing, running in my direction.

“Hi, Katie. How was school today?” I wrap her in a hug, noticing their cat, Sassy, on the front step chaperoning the rambunctious boys.

“Great. I got a star sticker on my math work and we’re learning about butterflies.”

My eyes dance over the colorful butterflies Katie and Charlotte, Alice’s daughter, are creating. “Well, let me know when you finish these masterpieces because I would love a picture with the artists.”

Katie giggles. “We will. The boys didn’t want to draw, so they’re playing football, but Eric already went to find Mama and tattle on Austin. Daddy says nobody likes a tattletale. Do you think that’s true?”

“Sometimes.”

Eric, Rose’s youngest son, is a sweet but mischievous boy. Rose claims he’s turning more of her hair gray every day. If there’s trouble, he’s usually involved.

“I think I’m going to find your mom too. She promised me a pumpkin to carve.” And sangria.

“They’re out back. I’m making a unicorn pumpkin and Charlotte’s is a Cinderella pumpkin, but Mama said we had to let the paint dry. So, we’re drawing butterflies, but Daddy raked a huge pile of leaves if you want to jump in them with us later.”

“We’ll see how my pumpkin carving goes first. Have fun.”

As I step around the bicycles at the end of the driveway, I notice the mix of orange pumpkins, green and white gourds, and yellow mums around Rose’s mailbox. There’s an abandoned basketball hiding in another arrangement of pumpkins near the front sidewalk. A large white spider web covers her black front door with a huge decorative spider hovering closely. Hockey sticks are scattered everywhere. I step past the hockey goal, pushed off to the side, and follow the path toward the backyard gate. Just as I’m about to unlatch the gate, someone jumps out from behind the bushes and grabs me.

“Boo!”

“Aaaaah!” 

Mike laughs uncontrollably. “I got you, Bella!”

“Holy—” I shout, gripping Rose’s gift bag, and amend my curse with young ears nearby. “—fudge!”

“You should see your face!” 

“What the—” Shaking my head, I pat my chest, hoping to calm my pounding heart with a few deep breaths. “Don’t do that again.”

“I thought it would be funny to give you a little scare. You know, it’ll be Halloween soon. I can’t believe you didn’t see me hiding. What did you bring?” He points toward the bag.

“Something for Rose,” I downplay, ready to escape small talk with Mike. “I should find her.”

“Here, let me help.” He unlatches the gate. “Right this way.”

I eye him suspiciously before stepping through. I don’t know how long Mike’s been here, but I don’t want anyone thinking we’re arriving together. Spotting Rose at the picnic tables across the yard under the trees filled with yellow, orange, and red leaves, I start walking her way.

“Monster Mash” booms from their outdoor speakers, and their golden retriever, Duke, perks up when he sees me. He’s a sweet old dog, and I can’t resist scratching him behind his ears. I exchange hellos with everyone as I pass the deck where Emmett and Jasper are sitting with Rose’s parents, Carlisle and Esme, but a quick glance over my shoulder confirms both Mike and Duke following me to the tables.

“Bella!” Rose shouts, waving me closer. I’m relieved everyone dressed casually. She’s wearing a long-sleeve shirt that says “Good Witch” in large letters with “Most of the Time” in tiny letters underneath and a pair of blue jean shorts. “You made it.”

I give her a hug long enough to whisper in her ear. “Mike scared the shit out of me. Help or I’m leaving.”

“Don’t worry. I got this,” she whispers, then speaks normally. “Mike, why don’t you sit over here by Angela?”

“Oh, okay. Sure.” He shrugs happily, and I’m relieved when he slides into the spot next to her.

“Bella, let me introduce you.” She wraps an arm around my shoulders, pointing out everyone in various states of carving pumpkins. “You know my neighbors, Irina and Angela.”

“Hello.”

“Hi, Bella.” Angela pauses from scraping the inside of her pumpkin to wave.

Irina fakes a smile as she leans closer to the man sitting beside her. Rose introduces him next.

“This is my twin brother, Edward.” 

He smiles warmly and his eyes twinkle just like Rose’s do. “So you’re Rose’s boss and the infamous Dr. Bella?”

I chuckle at Katie’s moniker for me. “That’s right.”

He wipes his hand, holding it out for me to shake. “Nice to meet you. I believe I know your biggest fan.”

Good heavens, he’s gorgeous. Perfectly straight white teeth, vibrant green eyes, and tousled auburn-colored hair. 

“Katie.” I grin, trying not to stare, but it’s impossible. 

Rose continues, “These are Edward’s teammates.”

I’m drawn to Edward’s crooked grin, but keep returning to the colorful tattoos covering his arms. 

“James.”

The short-sleeved black polo he’s wearing clings to his muscular curves, and I consider taking the spot next to him, but notice the painted white pumpkin sitting on his other side with containers of glitter and a long multi-colored yarn mane—Katie’s unicorn pumpkin.

“Tyler.”

The times I’ve seen him on television don’t do him justice because in person he’s breathtaking.

“And Ben.”

Rose pauses, and my eyes dart around the table, catching up with the other men. 

“Hey.” 

They’re all ruggedly handsome, but I’m always one to notice smiles first. They each give me some version of a chin jerk or nod when our eyes meet, then Rose continues with introductions while my eyes return to Edward, who winks.

“Jess is one of my sorority sisters.”

I snort at the T-shirt she’s wearing, and Jess teases me. “My eyes are up here, Bella.”

“Nice shirt.” It’s gray with two bumblebees wearing ghost costumes with the words “Boo Bees” underneath. “I love her already.”

“Get in line.” Rose chuckles. “And you know Alice.”

“Hey, girly.” Alice is wearing an orange T-shirt that says “Momster.” She stands, giving me a hug and pointing toward the bag. “Did you bring reinforcements?”

“Yes.” My eyes glance toward Mike then Irina, knowing we may all need something stronger dealing with them this evening, as I offer the bag to Rose. “Your favorite—pumpkin pie vodka.”

“Thanks. Grab a pumpkin and take a seat. There are skeleton aprons, if you want one, and all the supplies should be on the table. I’ll get you a glass of sangria and leave this bottle with Emmett.”