For the newbies this is the fourth chapter. If you want to start, go here.
15 Step is going to be posted chapter by chapter. I don't intend on it being too long but... we'll see. This story is Bella's POV. Everyone is a human. I did attempt to keep a decent amount of the original stories in this tale.
Disclaimers - The characters, naturally, are Stephenie Meyer's and I've just warped 'em a little to suit our, er, "needs." The titles of the chapters and anything in italics do not belong to me, either. The titles are actually song titles and the italicized bits are pieces of lyrics that I've pulled from songs.
And, this goes without saying, these stories are intended for mature, adult readers. Well, adult, at least. Eighteen and over only.
Author's notes to follow story.
Chapter Four – The World at Large
Thankfully, Charlie didn’t bring up my tantrum the next morning as I trudged down the stairs, head pounding as if I’d gone on a whiskey bender the night before. My brain slogged through thoughts that appeared to be hazy apparitions of conjecture rather than anything concrete.
“I was going to go fishing this afternoon,” Charlie said, his voice careful. He was sitting at the kitchen table, shoveling a pile of scrambled eggs into his mouth, his mustache dancing above his lip with every gigantic bite. He eyed me warily, trying unsuccessfully to hide the concern that was written all over his face. I stepped cautiously inside the kitchen and forced myself to meet Charlie’s eyes, drinking in the uncertainty and the helplessness I saw there.
I felt like such an asshole. Charlie had done nothing wrong and I destroyed the things he had given me. I forced him to witness something that no one should ever have seen. I despised, loathed, my weaknesses, and I was ashamed I had put Charlie through it. I felt like a monster, a Medusa of ungratefulness. And there was nothing I could do about it.
I cleared my throat, still burning from stagnant tears that huddled somewhere between my voice box and my tonsils. I suspected that lump would not dissipate anytime soon.
“Okay, Charlie,” I replied. “I hope you catch some big ones.”
I tried to keep my voice neutral and light. I was afraid Charlie would eventually bring up my little conniption fit. Or, even worse, Renee. I didn’t want to talk about either of them.
At the thought of her name a lash of rage swirled through me. I may have wept for my mother the night before but it would be the last time. She might have given me life but I didn’t ask her for it. I owed her nothing. I mourned the loss of Renee last night and was determined to move on. Still, I couldn’t help being aware of the fact that it wasn’t just the wound in my hand that was throbbing. and you are so lame/you always disappoint me/it's kind of like our running joke/but it's really not funny…
I poured some cereal into an old ceramic bowl, its country-kitchen speckled blue marred by huge white chips - war wounds from the kitchen sink. I pulled an equally battered coffee mug from the cabinet and helped myself to the last dregs of coffee in the machine.
“I can make a fresh pot, Bells,” Charlie offered.
“Nah. This is fine. Thanks.” I watched the steam waft lazily out of the cup before I sipped the coffee tentatively; it was bitter and scalded my throat when I swallowed. The sensation of the hot liquid was uncomfortable and I found that, in some grim way, being able to choke down the acrid liquid made me feel somehow stronger, as if I‘d accomplished something.
I nibbled at the cereal, listening to the sounds of Charlie preparing for his day. As he continued to bang around in the back room it occurred to me that I had left my iPod upstairs; I felt strangely vulnerable without it. Charlie’s noises seemed alien. No, it wasn’t Charlie’s sounds that were foreign, extraneous. It was me. I wondered detachedly why this suddenly felt like a new sensation to me. I was worried this would become a permanent state of limbo.
“You going to be okay here alone all day?” Charlie stood in the kitchen doorway, tackle box in hand; he had tugged a goofy looking fishing hat over his thick dark hair. He looked like a picture postcard for some wilderness retreat, with dark green khaki pants tucked carelessly into tall rain boots. The fishing vest bowed around his belly, the result of too many nights alone with only the sports on TV and a can of Rainier to keep him company.
“Yeah, Charlie.” I gave him a wan smile. “I’ll be fine.”
He looked wary, uncertain. “Okay, Bells. Call if you need anything.”
“Okay.” I pushed the cereal around the bowl, suddenly not very hungry.
The house was eerily silent after Charlie left. I sat motionless in the kitchen, staring blankly out the window, feeling strangely numb, as if I didn’t exist myself. The thoughts that had been battering me all last night as I tossed and turned in my little bed had disappeared completely, leaving an uneasy quiet in their wake.
With a sigh, I washed my breakfast dishes in the minuscule sink and headed back up to my room, resigned to clean up the carnage from the night before.
There wasn’t much to do. Charlie must have cleaned the broken glass and righted the paperbacks while I was in the shower and only a few lone piles of my affects were in disarray. Still, I worked diligently to remove any vestiges of my meltdown, being very careful not to think at all about it.
I picked up a notebook that was lying haphazardly on the ground near my desk and something fluttered out of it. The paper was pink and pretty, folded neatly in half. It was the note my mother had included when she gave me iPod all those months ago.
I stared at her childish scrawl, dimly aware that I should have felt frightened about the fact that I felt nothing. Numbly, I stood and rummaged through the shelves above the desk, looking for a picture I had placed up there when I first moved in with Charlie. I pushed aside some of Charlie’s knickknacks – he had offered to box them up when I moved in but I had refused, not wanting to get any more comfortable than necessary. I found the picture nestled between a wooden carving of a bow-legged fisherman and a small postcard depicting a Native American in a wolf headdress. My hands shook as I pulled it from the shelf.
Bella, I know how much you love to listen to your music. This is something you can take with you, no matter where you go. I love you and will always be there for you! Love, Mom
It was a photograph of Renee and me at some amusement park. It was one of those automatic pictures that are taken when you’re in a roller coaster, hurtling breakneck down the peak. We were sitting side by side, the harnesses bulky around us. My hands were up, my mouth wide in an exultant scream, though my eyes were squinched tightly shut. Renee was as close to a fetal position as the harnesses would allow, her face slack with fear, except for her eyes, which were wide open, looking triumphant.
I crushed the picture in my fist and threw it on the bed, along with the note. I began to inspect all of my belongings, methodically collecting anything that had Renee’s print on it - cards, pictures and any trinkets she might have given me as a consolation prize for pawning me off on other people. Even books in which Renee had left personal messages went into the pile, all of them defiled by her memory. I even considered tossing the iPod into the pile but decided to keep it; I knew I was acting childish, but I wasn’t stupid. I gathered all the artifacts together in a plastic bag, yanked on my shoes and headed out for the truck. I abandoned you and now I'm free/ I...live...for...me now/ I, I live my life, live it my own way/ forget yesterday.
I didn’t know where I was going and it wasn‘t until I pulled out onto the main street of Forks that I finally realized what I was about to do. I drove around Forks for nearly an hour, looking for a location, the proper burial site. The temptation to drive to the ocean and throw the contents of the bag into its briny depths was strong; I wanted to watch the bag drift out on the waves, until it disappeared beyond the horizon, just as Renee had. I even considered making a bonfire and burning the artifacts but, knowing my luck, I’d probably end up burning the whole damn forest down. Finally, I gave up and pulled into the general store parking lot. I spied some commercial dumpsters in the back and, perversely, that seemed fitting to me. It was my symbolic dumping of Renee. Sometimes being poetic just doesn’t cut the hurt down - but being childishly spiteful does.
A large sign boldly proclaimed that the dumpsters were the property of the store and any private dumping was illegal. Not about to let some silly law prevent me from completing my mission, I grabbed my bag and hopped out of my truck.
Flies buzzed around the dumpster and I carefully lifted the lid, momentarily overcome by the stench of garbage. With a surreptitious look around me, I gave the lid one last heave and quickly tossed the bag inside. The heavy covering slammed shut with a bang and I turned hastily, nearly tripping over my feet as I made my way back to the truck.
“Can’t you read the sign?” an amused voice said behind me. I rolled my eyes and turned around.
Edward was leaning against a very fast looking red car in the parking lot. His hair shimmered in the rare sunlight, ruffling carelessly as the wind teased around him. He seemed paler in the sunlight, and sharper too; his face was all angles and planes, strong and stern. He looked both feral and sweet; his expression was friendly but he kept his hands against the red car, as if he might spring at me at any moment. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“First fighting and now illegal dumping?” He gave me a crooked grin and I couldn’t help but smile back. “Bella, you’re becoming a criminal mastermind. What next, drug running?”
“I heard it‘s good money,” I retorted, shoving my hands in my jeans pockets, hitching my shoulders. “Forks could use a kingpin.”
Edward laughed and, resigned, I headed toward him.
“What were you throwing out in the dumpster?”Edward changed subjects so fast it made my head spin.
“Aren’t you the nosy one,” I quipped. “I pulled in to get a soda and realized I had a bag full of trash that I never threw out from when I cleaned the truck.”
“Well, that’s not very interesting. I was hoping for something far more exciting from Bella Swan.,” Edward leaned against the car, folding his arms across his chest.
I flung my hands in the air in mock defeat. “Okay, you got me. It was Lauren Mallory’s head. I finished her off last night.” I sighed dramatically.
Edward roared with laughter. “Don’t let anyone else hear you say that. They might actually think you’re serious.”
“That’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
“No,” he replied, his tone deliberate. “It’s definitely not a bad thing.”
I shuffled my feet as his voice trailed off, very conscious of the fact that he was scrutinizing me intently. “And what are your plans for today? Are you grounded?”
“Surprisingly, no. At least, Charlie didn’t say I was.” Being grounded was definitely something that hadn’t occurred to me. “I figured I would head down to Port Angeles, enjoy the relatively nice day.” The lie came so smoothly I was impressed with myself.
“Port Angeles, huh?” Edward looked thoughtful. “I think I’ll come with you.”
Surprised, I blurted out, “I don’t recall inviting you.”
You didn’t.” Edward winked at me and I gaped. “I invited myself. Wait here while I tell Emmett.”
There are few times in my life where I have been rendered speechless by another person’s audacity but, as I watched Edward jog casually through the parking lot, I knew this was definitely one of them.
Slowly, I headed back to my truck and leaned against the cab, watching as Edward spoke to Emmett. I recognized his girlfriend immediately; her beauty was unrivaled in the sparsely populated high school and even I had to admit I had never seen a more gorgeous woman. The boys in school lusted after her quietly, each of them knowing they would never stand a chance of laying her but hoping desperately, anyway. I wondered how many masturbatory fantasies Rosalie Hale had been the star of, late at night when the teenage boys of Forks were alone with their feverish, dirty thoughts.
Naturally, all the girls fucking hated her.
As if reading my thoughts, Rosalie, stared at me, her unfriendly expression ruining her exquisite face. I don’t see what everybody sees in your sexy body/all I see is a shallow grave trapped inside a pretty face... I met her eyes and challenged her gaze, breaking off only when Edward walked toward me.
“Ready?” he asked. He was totally at ease, moving comfortably around the truck as if he and I were old pals who made regular trips to Port Angeles. I wasn’t sure I could ever be that comfortable around another person.
I nodded and climbed into my truck, sliding across the seat to unlock the passenger side and trying not to think about how many self imposed rules I was about to break.
“This truck is too big for you,” he commented as he slammed the door. “You can barely pull yourself up.”
I rolled my eyes. “Hey, beggars can’t be choosers.”
The truck grumbled to life and I coaxed it out of the parking spot.
“No stereo?” Edward poked a long lean finger into the gaping wound on the dashboard of the Chevy as we chugged down the main street. “I figured you of all people would at least insist on having a decent stereo in this jalopy.”
I scowled and said over the wheeze of the engine, “First of all, you wouldn’t be able to hear anything. Secondly, it came like that. And besides, stereos are expensive. I’m on a budget.”
Edward looked out the window. “Man, this thing is slow. We’ll be lucky if we get to Port Angeles by nightfall.”
I brought the rumbling heap to a halt at a stop light and gave Edward a black look.
“Are you going to complain about my mode of transportation the entire time?” I inquired, irritation creeping into my words.
“No.” He leaned forward and wiped imaginary dust off the dashboard, a small smile playing on his lips. “Just until we get out of Forks.”
“Well, that’s so kind of you,” I grumbled sarcastically, stomping on the gas as the light turned green. We had barely gone ten feet when Edward spoke again.
I braced myself for another barrage of automotive insults, my fingers wrapping tightly around the steering wheel. “Yes, Edward?”
“Are we there yet?”
I blew a lock of hair out of my eyes, incredulous. “Are you serious? No.”
“How about now?” He was teasing me, his voice light and mischievous.
I glanced out my window, watching the trees fly past and hid a smile, the truck roaring in protest as I hit the gas pedal even harder. “Yes. Get the fuck out.”
Edward laughed. “Touché,” he told me, grinning. “Touché.”
We fell into silence for a few minutes and I could feel Edward’s gaze on me once again.
“You’re staring at me,” I said pointedly.
“Well, stop it.”
Edward laughed. “It makes you uncomfortable?”
I nodded, keeping my eyes on the road.
“Would you be embarrassed if I told you I thought you were pretty?” he asked, idly.
“Abso-fucking-lutely.” I already felt the heat rising in my cheeks.
Edward snickered. “Fine, fine. Let’s talk about something else, then. Tell me about Charlie.” Edward stretched out his lanky form and rested his arm on the back of the bench seat, his hand dangling close to my head.
“Okay,” I took a deep breath. “Charlie is the Chief of Police in Forks.”
“That’s all I’m going to get?” Edward groaned. “I take it this is a taboo subject for you?”
I gritted my teeth. I wasn’t sure what his motives were for poking around my personal business but I answered anyway, hoping I wouldn’t regret it in the future.
“Charlie is my mother’s first husband.”
“But not your father.” It was a statement, not a question.
“Did you know your father?” Edward shifted so he could face me, openly curious.
“No. He wasn’t interested in me. According to my mother he left months before I was even born. She met Charlie when I a year old and they split up three years later.”
“Why are you living with Charlie?”
I swallowed hard. “My mother remarried,” I answered, my voice brittle and tight.
“They wanted to travel.”
“Will you move back with her soon?”
For a moment I thought I was going to cry as a wave of emotion washed over me and I struggled against it, blinking rapidly. To my amazement, I realized that I wanted to answer Edward’s questions and the emotion settled into a tolerable, almost familiar, dull ache. “No. I’ll never live with Renee again. I don’t really like my mother.”
I wasn’t even sure where those last words came from but I felt relieved the moment they jumped from my lips, even if I wasn’t entirely sure I meant them. I took a deep breath, my chest swelling for the first time since I found out Renee had moved; it was as if a giant weight had been lifted from me.
“She married this guy Phil,” I told him, my words tumbling over one another in their haste to escape. “He’s a ball player and needs to move around a lot. At least, that’s what she told me when she sent me to live with Charlie. But I found out yesterday that they actually bought a place in Jacksonville, Florida.” I snorted. “I should have known better.”
Edward quietly processed the information. “I don’t think,” he began slowly, “I like your mother, either.”
I gave him a curious look, comforted by his allegiance. “Thanks,” I said softly, gratefully.
I hadn’t planned on going to Port Angeles but I knew exactly what I wanted to do once we got there. Edward was in an agreeable mood, something I suspected was rare for him, and amiably followed me to the record store. When we got to the door, Edward strode ahead and pulled it open for me. I blushed, pleasantly surprised at the chivalrous gesture. He placed a soft hand on the small of back and followed me through. My blush deepened.
“Um, there are just a few CD’s I’ve been meaning get,” I told him, feeling a little unsteady. “I don’t know if you want to split up or something…”
Edward lifted a brow. “Trying to get rid of me already?”
I flushed even more. “No,” I said hastily, “I just don’t want you to think that you have to hang around me – “
“Bella, I want to hang around you. That’s kind of the whole point.” He stepped closer to me and my breath caught in my throat. I could smell a faint lingering of soap and something almost woodsy. My heart skipped a beat and I felt my cheeks heat up even more.
“Oh.” My voice cracked over the syllable.
Edward chuckled quietly. “You look adorable when you blush like that,” he told me.
I gave a weak laugh and, not knowing what else to do, merely nodded and began to walk down the rows of CD’s. Edward trailed after me, occasionally stopping to peruse the music himself and eventually we settled into a comfortable silence. I would peek up at him every once in awhile, my thoughts muddy and jumbled.
Edward was handsome. Very handsome. I don’t think I really appreciated his beauty until that moment. He had removed his sweater at some point; his arms were lean but well muscled and the white t-shirt clung snugly to his broad shoulders and chest.
My own CD searching was temporarily forgotten as I watched him deftly flip through jewel cases and I wondered what it would feel like to have his arms wrapped around me. I imagined him leaning down, covering the distance between our heights to kiss me –
“Did you find what you were looking for?”
Edward’s voice jolted me from my reverie and I knew my face turned scarlet. I grabbed the CD my hand had been resting on and added it to the ones I was already holding.
“Yup,” I squeaked, hoping like hell he couldn’t read my mind.
Edward gave me a quizzical look. “Let’s pay then, shall we?”
The sun had been swallowed by gray clouds when we emerged from the record store.
“Where to next?” Edward shrugged back into his sweater and I looked at my watch.
“I probably should head home,” I told him regrettably. “I don’t want Charlie to get worried.”
I couldn’t tell if Edward was disappointed or not. “Home it is.” He grabbed my bag of CD’s, another thoughtful gesture that surprised me, and we started walking.
“Are you staying in tonight?” he asked as we strolled down the sidewalk toward the Chevy.
“Yeah,” I sighed. “Trying to be on good behavior, you know?”
Edward smiled. “Bella, I have a feeling you and ‘good’ behavior go together like oil and vinegar.”
“Yeah, well, at least I try, right?” I joked feebly. We were coming up the street to my truck and I was about to head for the driver’s side when Edward grabbed my hand. I looked up at him, confusion all over my face.
He was staring at me, his emerald eyes serious and clouded with an emotion I couldn't decipher, his hand engulfing mine; he rested our bags on the hood of my truck and took my other hand. Then, he gave a gentle tug and I stumbled closer to him. Instinctively, I tried to put my arms out to break my fall and Edward guided my hands to his waist before putting his arms around me.
I froze, tense, my heart hammering against my ribs as my thoughts spun out of control in my head. Gingerly, I stepped a little closer, my legs rubbery beneath me. The scent that I had smelled earlier engulfed me as he tightened his arms, his sweater soft and luxurious against my cheek. I could hear his heart beating, steady and strong. Edward took a deep breath and then slowly loosened his hold so he could look at me.
“You worry me,” he said, sounding a little puzzled himself.
“I’m… sorry.” My voice was a breathless whisper.
Carefully, he lifted his hand and brushed it softly against my cheek, sending a volt of electricity through me. My heart picked up double time as he leaned forward and kissed my cheek. His lips were soft and smooth against my flesh, his breath tickling as he turned my head to meet my lips in a gentle kiss.
“Don’t be,” he whispered against my mouth. I stood on my tiptoes as he stroked my cheek, his lips meeting mine again, this time more insistently; his tongue pressed against my mouth, begging for entry.
I felt dizzy as we kissed and I leaned against Edward for support, all thought gone from my mind. It was only his lips against mine.
A chuckle nearby shattered the moment and I jerked away from Edward even as he was tightening his arms around me.
James dropped the cigarette he had been smoking to the ground, his smile cold and hard.
“Hi Bella,” he said, “remember me? The guy from the show? We were going to go get a drink when we were rudely interrupted.” He looked at Edward, baring his teeth in a predatory grin.
I nodded stiffly, unsure of what to say but positive this was going to end badly. Edward growled deep in his chest. I saw another beat down last night, take warning/ Who's the next to hit the ground tonight, take warning…
“And I could have sworn you said he wasn’t your boyfriend,” James continued casually, taking a few steps forward, his gaze appreciative as he eyed me up and down. “But that sure looked like something you do with a boyfriend.”
“Come on, Bella,” Edward said quietly in my ear. “Let’s go home.”
“You know, Bella,” James leered at me, “If you want to waste your time with some high school boy, that’s fine. But there are benefits to being with a man. I could show you things that would make you scream with – “
Edward pulled me behind him, his eyes glittering with cold unadulterated fury. “If you know what’s good for you you’ll shut your mouth,” he said, his voice low.
James’ eyebrows arched in surprise. “Don’t threaten me, you fuck wit.”
Edward laughed, savagely. “It’s not a threat. I promise you –“
I nudged Edward, cutting his threat short.
“Just ignore him,” I said loudly. “Come on, let’s go.” I tugged his sleeve.
“See you around, Bella,” James called to me. “And you better hope I don’t see you around, pretty boy.” He jerked his head toward Edward.
Edward moved so swiftly I only realized he wasn’t at my side when he had James pinned to the pavement, his arm painfully bent behind him.
“Not so pretty now, am I, mother fucker?” he snarled, jerking James’ arm upward. James let out a guttural yelp. “I see how you look at her, asshole. I know what you’re thinking. If you so much as speak to Bella, when I see you again, I’ll break your arm in so many places you’ll never be able to use it again. Do you understand?”
James twisted to glare balefully at Edward. When he didn’t respond, Edward yanked his arm again.
“Answer me!” Edward commanded. “Do you understand?”
“Yes!” James rasped, his voice squealing.
“Good.” Edward released James and came back to me, grabbing me by the arm roughly, his face still dark with anger.
“Give me your keys,” he demanded grimly, pulling my CD’s from the hood of the car. I fumbled in my bag, too stunned for words and soundlessly handed him my car keys. He unlocked the passenger door and helped me inside before getting into the driver’s side himself.
The truck groaned in protest as Edward floored it out of the parking lot and tore down the road. His knuckles were white as his fingers strangled the steering wheel. I sat rigidly in my seat and stared out the windshield, wondering how on earth something so amazing had just gone so horribly wrong. A terrible silence hung between us as Edward drove toward Forks.
“Did I hurt you?” Edward’s angular jaw pulsed with tension. The strained taut tone of his voice cracked the silence but I couldn’t turn to look at him.
“I don’t understand what happened,” I admitted, carefully. “It was like one minute you were all nice and sweet and the next… you went crazy.”
Edward grimaced. “I shouldn’t have lost my temper. I hated the way he was looking at you, like he wanted to do terrible things to you. And it made me so angry.”
I thought of Lauren Mallory, remembered the shocked, scared look on her face when I punched her. “I understand. I can’t really blame you, I guess,” I sighed.
Edward gave me a small smile. “I just feel… very protective of you. I can’t quite explain it.”
“But Edward, I don’t need any protecting,” I told him softly, “I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time, now.”
“Everyone needs some kind of protecting,” he replied firmly. I opened my mouth to protest but Edward cut me off abruptly.
“I’m sorry our trip had to end on a bad note,” he said.
I shrugged. “Not your fault, exactly.”
“Well, I’d still like to make it up to you.” Edward smiled crookedly and something warm settled in my belly. I looked away.
“What do you have in mind?”
“I don’t know, but I’ll think of something.”
I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but it sounded good to me.
Charlie wasn’t home when I arrived, the house dark and empty looking. I let myself in and immediately barricaded myself in my room.
I stood in the middle of the room, thinking about Edward, how warm he felt when he had his arms around me. I remembered the thrill that coursed down my spine as he kissed me and I shivered, absently licking my lips, as if I could still taste him.
I shook my head to dispel the memory. I was treading dangerous territory; I had to be careful. There was too much at stake for me to run into this headlong and careless.
It wasn’t like Edward was the first boy I kissed. I had dated half heartedly in Phoenix, going through the rituals of movies, dinners and the awkward fumbling in the back seats of borrowed cars, or in some parents’ darkened basements.
At first I found the rush of another body next to mine exciting and, while the feel of rough teenaged hands against my breasts, or inside of me, was arousing, I discovered it wasn’t worth the hassle of everything else that had to go with it. I could please myself far more efficiently than any of those boys and I didn’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings, or spilling my dark secrets to a part time lover who would inevitably use them against me. I could bare my body to a boy, but my soul was off limits. This revelation frightened me enough to stop dating altogether. I didn’t want to be like my mother.
I knew about heart break, too. I remembered Renee’s quiet sobs, alone in her bedroom, after a failed romance. I watched TV and movies, and felt a small amount of contempt as the heroines wept and pleaded with their male lovers to stay. There was no sense in giving your heart to someone who would inevitably step all over it.
Yet, never before had I felt whatever it was I felt when Edward’s lips pressed to mine. Just replaying the moment in my mind made my insides go warm and sent my brain into a dizzying tailspin. And that made him so much more dangerous to me.
Edward was ruining my carefully laid plans.
I caught my reflection in the mirror, saw my furrowed brows, my lips puckered in consternation. I was over thinking this way too much, just like always. It was necessary; otherwise someone could get hurt. Namely, me.
I groaned and shook my head, dispelling the thoughts I’d rather not be thinking. I looked around for my iPod, knowing it would distract me. I like songs about drifters - books about the same/ They both seem to make me feel a little less insane/ Walked on off to another spot/ I still haven't gotten anywhere that I want
It was then I remembered my purchases. I kicked off my shoes and flopped to the bed, pulling my new CD’s out of the bag, running my hand over the crinkly cellophane before I began the arduous process of trying to extract the actual CD from its packaging. I was ready to throw the jewel case against the wall when I finally managed to peel the sticky silver tape that held it shut. As I leaned over to open the disc drive on my computer, I noticed my cell phone blinking.
I glanced at the ‘missed call’ screen and saw a number I didn’t recognize, though it was a Washington state area code. There was no message, which piqued my curiosity. I pulled up a website that offered reverse telephone lookup and was informed that the number was either unlisted or did not exist. Clearly, it existed, since it was on my cell phone.
I futilely tried to convince myself it was a wrong number before giving up and snapping open the phone, but my curiosity gnawed at me. Quickly, I punched in the code that would block my number from the recipient’s caller ID. Then I hit ‘dial’.
The phone rang three times and I was about to hang up when I heard a voice on the other end.
I didn’t think this far ahead. I paused, breathing stalker-style into the phone. And then I hung up.
“Real smooth, Bella,” I groaned to myself, tossing the cell on the bed, where it promptly began to ring again. I lunged for it and checked the ID. Blocked. I guess I wasn’t the only one who knew that trick. As the phone rang again, I also realized that it had backfired for me because, if I didn’t answer it, my voicemail would. Hi this is Bella, leave a message. I reminded myself never to become a private investigator and reluctantly picked up the phone.
A chuckle crackled down the line. “Do you always call people, breathe heavily and then hang up?” Edward asked.
I scowled. “No. I didn’t know who you were. You should have left a message.”
“If you didn’t know who it was then why did you call the number back? It could have been a wrong number.” Edward was amused, which made my frown deepen.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I just wanted to see who it was.”
“Curiosity killed the cat,” Edward teased.
“Whatever, Edward,” I replied, tossing myself onto the bed, smiling in spite of myself. “What’s up?” I paused, thinking. “Wait a minute, how did you even get my number?” Now THAT was the real mystery. I realized that I never gave it to when were together earlier.
“I filched it from the office at the high school yesterday,” Edward said it as casually as if he were talking about making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Get out!” I guffawed. “I don’t believe you. And I’m the criminal?”
“I guess that’s just something else we have in common,” he answered glibly. “I went into the office to drop off something to Mrs. Cope and I saw your file lying on the counter.”
Something terrible was beginning to dawn on me. “My file?” I repeated, dangerously.
“Uh huh. So, when Mrs. Cope disappeared in the back, I grabbed it and took down your phone number.”
“Did you look at my file?” I demanded, angrily.
Edward laughed. “Just a little. Don’t worry, I didn’t see anything that would cause you any embarrassment. Though you did move around an awful lot.”
“You’re a nosy… fucker,” I huffed lamely. “Stay out of my personal business.”
“I thought you would be pleased that I wanted your number,” Edward said, his voice going sour.
“You could have asked me,” I retorted, wondering what could possibly be contained in my file. More than I wanted Edward, or anyone for that matter, to know; I was sure of that.
“I didn’t think of it until I saw your record lying there. And I wasn’t expecting to see you today.”
“Oh. I see…” I was staring at my ceiling watching shadows dance across as the tree outside was whipped by the wind.
“I was calling to see if you were in any trouble for leaving the house earlier.”
“Nope, not yet.”
“That’s good news.” Humor returned to his tone. “And is the Chief Swan home tonight?”
“I don’t know,” I replied honestly. “I haven’t been downstairs in awhile.”
“Would you be allowed out?”
“Um, I’m going to go with…no,” I answered, laughing shortly. “I don’t want to push my luck and ask.”
Edward chuckled again, almost deviously. “Who said anything about asking? What time does Charlie go to bed?”
“You want me to sneak out?”I asked incredulously. “Are you seriously trying to get me kicked out of Forks?”
“Don’t be silly.”
“I’m pretty sure sneaking out would not help my situation with Charlie.” Even as I said it, I was at the window, gauging how far the overhanging tree was, wondering if I could jump it. Definitely not.
“Are you saying that you aren’t going to sneak out, then?”
I hesitated, debating.
“Well,” Edward continued to fill the silence I left behind. “I suppose if you’re afraid-”
That did it. “I’m not afraid,” I interrupted loudly. “Fine, I’ll sneak out. Where should I meet you?”
Edward chuckled again. “Meet me? You honestly think you’re going to be able to sneak out with truck of yours? I can hear you coming down the road from a mile away with that jalopy.”
I let out a frustrated sigh. “So what do you propose, Edward?” I asked impatiently.
“I prefer to pick you up.”
“Fine,” I told him. “Charlie usually goes to bed around eleven. Give him an hour to fall asleep and then I’ll head out. Meet me down the street, where the main road meets mine?”
“Sounds good.” I heard a voice in the background muffled.
"Where are we going, by the way?”
Edward’s chuckle reverberated down the line. “I told you I needed to make up for this afternoon, didn’t I?”
“You enjoy being mysterious, don’t you?” I smiled into the phone.
“Perhaps,” he laughed again. “See you at midnight, Bella. Oh, and wear boots.”
Boots? A quiver of excitement tickled up my spine as I hung up the phone. I didn’t know what Edward was up to but I couldn’t wait to find out.
I have to admit this was, for some reason, a really difficult chapter for me to get out. I apologize if there is something 'off' about it. I had a hard time deciding whether or not to get Edward and Bella 'together' now or later so...
Chapter Title - World at Large - Modest Mouse
Lyrics (in order of appearance)
Dilate - Ani Difranco
Steps - Snapcase
Poor Jackie - Man Man
Take Warning - Operation Ivy
The World at Large - Modest Mouse