This might be chapter six but this is STILL my first attempt at writing fan fiction, so go on easy on me, okay? At least use a little verbal lube before you tear into me.
For the newbies this is the sixth 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.
And thank you everyone for being so patient.
And, as always, thank STY, you dahling you. I'm going to miss you dreadfully when I'm in
CHAPTER SIX - MAGIC TRICK
Charlie was talking quietly on the phone when I scurried down the stairs the next morning, finally forced from my peaceful slumber by my insistently hungry stomach. He hung up and walked over to the counter, picking up a cup of coffee and staring glumly at the dark whorls of clouds outside.
“Supposed to be a bad storm today,” he remarked casually. “I’m going to head down to the Rez to catch the ball game with Harry."
“Have fun with that,” I told him cheerily. Charlie looked askance.
“Do you want to come?” he asked as he pulled a twelve-pack of Rainier from the fridge. I got to work cracking a couple of eggs into a in a skillet, even though it was closer to lunchtime than breakfast. He wrinkled his nose as I gave a bottle of hot sauce a few generous shakes.
“Thanks, Charlie, but I think I’ll stay in. Sports don’t really interest me,” I replied, smiling broadly.
Charlie narrowed his brown eyes at me. “What’s wrong?” he asked suspiciously.
I frowned. “Nothing’s wrong.” I jerked my wrist, flipping the eggs over in the skillet with a satisfying hiss.
I slanted my eyes at Charlie, confused. “And?”
“Well, you haven’t smiled like that in… well,” Charlie looked a little abashed, as if he just realized he shouldn’t have brought it up. “Well, since you’ve gotten here, I guess.”
“Oh.” I figured telling him that I was in high spirits thanks to a midnight make-out session with Edward Cullen would do me no good, so I kept my eyes focused on the eggs as I slid them onto a plate, their insides warm and perfectly runny. The toaster binged on the counter, releasing two pieces of toast, which I used to murder the perfection of the eggs. The yellow seeped out of the destruction and I sopped it up greedily with the bread.
“At least sit down,” Charlie huffed, looking slightly disgusted as I wolfed my meal down.
“Shwoarr.” I sat down and licked yolk from my fingers, ignoring Charlie’s apparent disapproval of my eating habits. The truth was I rarely sat down to eat meals. Renee and I never really shared dinner together and I often ended up hunched over my laptop with a plate on the desk. Eating with Charlie was just plain uncomfortable; neither of us ever seemed to know what to say.
“What are your plans for today?”
I shrugged and swallowed a mouthful of bread. “I don’t know. Maybe some homework and laundry, I guess.”
Charlie nodded curtly and turned to leave. He was almost to the front door when he stopped and turned back toward the kitchen.
“Oh, Bella,” he called over the distance, “Your mother called.”
My good mood hovered inside of me for one short moment before it crashed into the ground and disappeared.
“What did she want?” My voice was terse, angry.
“She wanted to talk to you.”
“Yeah, well, it’s good to want things.”
Charlie paused, measuring his words. “Look, Bells, you should call her. I know you’re upset but-“
“Upset doesn’t quite cut it, Charlie.” I stood abruptly and scraped the half-eaten eggs into the garbage, my hunger pangs replaced by something deeper, sharper. “Did you tell her I got suspended?”
“No,” he replied softly. “I figured I’d leave that up to you.”
I gave Charlie a small smile, grateful he kept his mouth shut, especially since I had no intention of talking to my mother, much less telling her I got into a fight at school.
“Will you call her?”
I hesitated, feeling guilty about lying to him outright. “Yeah, sure. I’ll call her.”
Later. Like never.
After Charlie left, I plugged into my iPod and busied myself with mundane chores, pushing Renee out of my thoughts. Unfortunately, it didn’t take me as long as I had hoped to do some wash and tidy up, and soon enough I found myself with nothing to do but stare moodily out the window, the strum of guitars trickling into my ears barely registering. I come from just the other side of nowhere/ To this big time lonesome town/ They got a lot of ice and snow here/ Half as cold as all the people I've found/ Every way I try to go here seems to bring me down/ I've seen about enough to know where I belong...
Five o’clock found me lying on my bed, staring absently at the ceiling as a nasty tempest raged outside of Charlie’s house, clamoring at the windows to get inside. The thunder was cacophonous and lightening cleaved through the thick black sky in dazzling arcs of blinding yellow-white brilliance. Boredom ate away at me; my body felt heavy, ennui sinking me deeper into the sagging mattress the longer I remained inert. I envisioned myself disappearing inch by inch until the mattress finally engulfed me, and thought of the time Renee and I had rented A Nightmare on Elm Street. Images of a young Johnny Depp fighting death in a sea of blood flickered past my mind's eye. I couldn't decide what was worse - getting sucked into my mattress or calling my mother. I dispelled my musings with a huff, rolled over onto my belly, and grabbed my phone. No new calls. I flipped it open anyway and the face lit up, signaling that there was nothing wrong with the phone.
I was loath to admit it to myself, but I wasn’t actually bored. I was waiting, and patience had never been a strong suit of mine.
Edward hadn’t called.
The phone is a fine invention/ It allows me to talk endlessly to you/ About nothing disguising my intentions/Which I'm afraid, my friend, are wildly untrue... I knew there was no reason why I couldn’t just pick up the phone and dial him, but my stubbornness outweighed my desire to talk to him. Barely. He had suggested sneaking out, he was the one who brought me to the woods. Edward was the first to make a move back in Port Angeles. And he would be the first one to call.
“Bella?” Charlie’s voice sounded distant and small, tinny under the violent thrashing of the furor outside.
“Hi Charlie!” I scrabbled off my bed, flung open the door and thundered down the stairs. “How are you?”
He stared at me a mixture of fear and distrust, like I just admitted I murdered the old lady down the street. I grinned at him, eager to focus on something other than the fact that Edward had not called.
“All right, what on earth is going on with you?” Charlie exclaimed, throwing up his hands helplessly. I froze in my spot.
“Huh?” My mind stuttered and, with a jolt, I wondered if he discovered that I had snuck out the night before. Judging by the perplexed--but not angry--look on his face, I figured my secret was safe.
“First, this morning you were all cheerful and then tonight I come home and you come out of your room like a bat out of hell, looking very happy to see me.”
I laughed. “Charlie, c’mon,” I wheedled teasingly. “I just happen to be in a good mood, that’s all.”
“If you were any other kid, Bella,” Charlie said, waving a finger at me, “I would buy that. But you’re up to something and I’m going to find out what it is.”
“Are you hungry?” I asked innocently.
“Don’t change the subject, missy,” Charlie growled back but the suspicion had vanished from his voice and he regarded me with wary, but hopeful, eyes.
“I promise I’m not up to something, Charlie.” I rolled my eyes and heaved a martyred breath. “Now, are you hungry or not? I can cook a mean chicken...”
“Who are you and what have you done with the teenager who was living here before?” Charlie laughed, a soft wheeze, and followed me to the kitchen.
After dinner I shooed Charlie from the kitchen and took my time cleaning up, disinclined to head back to my room. I had purposely left my cell phone up there, so I wouldn’t be tempted to look at it every fifteen minutes and wonder why Edward had not yet called.
Grease pocked the water in the sink with iridescent bubbles as I puzzled over the previous night's activities in my head. Maybe Edward thought it was a mistake and that was why he had not called. Or perhaps his parents caught him sneaking out and he was grounded. I gnawed my bottom lip anxiously, loathing the upheaval in my emotions that one absent phone call was causing.
I willed myself not to pounce on my phone the moment I stepped into my bedroom and instead busied myself on the internet, the greatest tool of procrastination ever invented. But after a half-hour of mindless web surfing, my curiosity got the better of me and I reluctantly reached for the phone.
1 missed call.
The phone snapped open in my hand but there was no message, only Edward’s name blinking at me expectantly. I pressed send.
“About time,” Edward greeted me drolly. “I called almost an hour ago.”
“I was downstairs having dinner with Charlie,” I replied.
“I was beginning to think you weren’t going to call me back.”
And I was beginning to think you weren’t going to call at all… “It’s not like I was sitting around waiting for you to call or something,” I lied glibly. “I returned your call as soon as I checked my phone.”
Edward chuckled. “I have to admit, I was kind of hoping I’d hear from you sooner.”
“Oh.” I glanced at the clock. “I guess it is kind of late. You have to get up early tomorrow for school.”
“And you don’t, fighter girl,” Edward snickered again. “What do you plan to do with all that free time of yours?”
I twisted a lock of hair around my finger. “Oh, I don’t know. Sleep late, watch some TV, maybe go to Port Angeles and hang out.”
“Alone?” Edward’s tone turned sharp.
I raised a brow. “Do I need a chaperone?”
“What if you run into that asshole?”
“Edward, if I run into James, I will merely walk away. What’s he going to do? Beat me up?”
“Oh please, Edward,” I groaned. “I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself. Besides, he’s just some dumb punk. Don’t worry so much.”
Edward sighed. “Please don’t go to Port Angeles. I’ll worry whether you want me to or not.”
“We’ll see,” I compromised. “I’ll probably just stick around Forks tomorrow, anyway. Not sure if Charlie would appreciate me gallivanting around when I’m technically supposed to be punished.”
“Good. Does that mean I can come by and see you after school tomorrow?”
A little tremor of elation coursed through me. “Here?”
“I’d have to ask Charlie.”
“I’ll come by after dinner, then.”
I grinned. “Sounds like a plan, Edward.”
I hung up the phone, grinning as I looked around my room, only vaguely wondering how I would tell Charlie about my impending visitor. I wasn’t sure if he would care or not but that wasn’t going to stop me from seeing Edward.
Edward excited me. At the same time, I felt a little calmer inside when he was around. With a small jolt of wonder, I realized I was more comfortable around him then I’d ever been with another person. I closed my eyes, conjuring up images of his crooked grin, the way his bronze hair would fall into his green eyes when he leaned down to kiss me. What a beautiful face/ I have found in this place/ That is circling all around the sun/ What a beautiful dream/ That could flash on the screen...
The next night, I cooked lasagna for Charlie in the hopes that it would make him a little more amiable when I talked to him about Edward.
“Hey Charlie.” I leaned against the counter, shifting my eyes from him and letting my hair hide my hot cheeks. Charlie glanced up from his newspaper. “Is it okay if I have someone over tonight?”
Charlie looked pleased. “Of course, Bella. I’m glad to see you’re finally making friends.”
I was positive if Charlie knew how me and my 'friend' spent our time together he wouldn't be so pleased.“Uh, yeah. He’ll be here in a little bit, then.”
“He?” Charlie’s smile plummeted from his face. “Who’s ‘he’?”
“Edward.” I shuffled under Charlie’s growing glower.
“Edward Cullen?” he said darkly, the crow’s feet around his eyes deepening as he scowled. “You couldn’t find another boy to make friends with? A nice boy?”
“Edward is a nice boy,” I defended lamely, avoiding eye contact. “He’s just a little misunderstood.”
Charlie scrutinized me, a look of understanding dawning on his face. “You like this boy?”
“Can we not talk about this?” I mumbled, flushing deeply. “No offense, Charlie but…”
“Fine. But you have to leave the door to your room open. I don’t want any funny business going on in this house.” Charlie’s face flushed scarlet and he cleared his throat awkwardly, obviously as uncomfortable with the conversation as I was.
"Charlie!” I groaned. “Okay, okay. The door stays open.”
“Edward Cullen,” Charlie muttered under his breath, shaking his head.
The doorbell rang promptly at seven. I flew from my room and raced down the stairs, barely avoiding a collision with Charlie as he lumbered out of the living room. He smirked as he opened the door and I rolled my eyes, glaring at him.
“Good evening, Chief Swan,” Edward said politely, stifling a smile as I peeked out from behind Charlie.
“Edward,” Charlie responded stiffly, grudgingly moving aside to let him in. Charlie was a maladroit actor, playing his role with a good deal of unease etched on his face. Edward, on the other hand, was a smooth operator, suave and courteous. He stuck out his hand and shook Charlie’s, the smallest of crooked smiles curving his lips. Grace under pressure/ Cooling palm across my brow/ Eyes of an angel...
“Okay, enough of that,” I announced loudly, tugging at Edward’s sleeve. “C’mon, let’s go upstairs.”
“Sure.” Edward’s grin grew; I detected a slight spark in his eye, that hungry expression fighting to remain under wraps as he regarded me.
“Door open, Bells,” Charlie reminded me sternly.
“Charlie!” I hissed back, making a slashing motion across my neck with my hand. “Knock it off! I know.”
Charlie just growled and wandered back to the television, and I led Edward to my bedroom.
“So, this is your room...” Edward peered around the tiny space. I leaned casually against the doorframe and pulled my hair off my neck, suddenly feeling a little flushed.
“It’s no great shakes but it works,” I answered. His presence seemed huge in my tiny room, as if his already tall frame had grown, lean and strong, right before me. His eyes raked across the old, worn rocking chair in the corner before settling on my narrow cluttered little desk.
“And this is your desk.” Edward’s long lean fingers traced a line on the edge of my desk.
He turned and headed for the bed. “And your bed."
“Uh, yeah.” I furrowed my forehead. “So far, so good, Captain…”
Edward chuckled, a little sharply. “I’m just deciding where I’m going to fuck you when it comes to that.”
My knees buckled as a lick of hot white passion whipped through me as I also imagined what he would do to me on various pieces of my bedroom furniture.
I cleared my throat. “That’s… quite pervy of you,” I choked out.
Edward only looked smug as he approached me. “But you liked it.” He pushed a lock of hair away from my face and leaned in to kiss me. At first his lips just grazed mine, lightly. Then the kisses became more insistent, demanding, and I gasped as he roughly pulled me into his chest, his arms wrapping tightly around me.
Finally, with great reluctance, I broke the kiss. “Charlie could come up here any second,” I rasped, sagging against his arms. “He’ll go apeshit if he catches us.”
“Charlie won’t come up here,” Edward replied as his finger curled into my hips. “Trust me.”
“How do you know?” I doubtfully replied. “He’s probably at the bottom of the stairs right now.”
“Bella.” Edward tugged me into my bedroom and we half waltzed until I resting against my desk. It’s wooden edge bit into the tops of thighs, making me squirm. “Don’t worry about it.”
“I am-“ I bit off my sentence with a soft sigh as Edward slipped a hand under my sweater, his fingers warm and slightly calloused against my flesh, tickling me. His other hand crept up my back, until he had wrapped a hank of my hair in his fist. He pulled on it, forcing me to raise my head and look at him. “Kiss me,” he commanded, giving my tresses another sharp tug. They’re going to send us to prison, for sure/for having vague ideas of ways to turn each other on again…
I obeyed, pushing my tongue greedily into his mouth, and his fingers bit into my skin. Edward’s breath was ragged against my lips and I moaned, causing him to tighten his grip on my hair and kiss me deeply.
“Now,” Edward murmured as he released my hair. “Did you put on that sexy little outfit just for me?”
I sputtered a laugh, surprised at the question. “Maybe.”
Edward gathered the cloth of my black corduroy skirt in one hand, pulling it up over the heavy cotton of my stockings, his eyes hooded as he leaned in to nibble at the hollow of my neck. My own hands started working and I found the hem of his button down, curled my fingers over the waist of his jeans, the leather belt smooth against my palms. Edward’s breath hitched as I traced my fingertips up over his taut belly, feeling the soft trail of hair and letting it lead my hands down to where I started.
“Bella,” Edward said warningly. “You’d better behave or else.”
“Or else what?” I teased, reaching up to kiss his neck. I found the belt buckle and easily undid it though I fumbled embarrassingly with the buttons on his jeans. Edward growled, guttural, feral. His hands were on my waist, lifting me so I was half sitting on the desk, balancing on my tiptoes and pushed open my thighs.
“Oh my,” Edward whispered huskily, “You really are going to be the death of me.”
His gaze was trained on the swath of my alabaster thighs, stark against the black of my skirt and thigh-hi stockings. He swung his gaze to the open door and grinned deliciously.
“You better hope like hell Charlie doesn’t come up here.” His fingers traced the edge of the edge of my panty. “Because we’ll both be arrested for what I plan to do to you.”
Before I could respond he grabbed me again, swinging me easily onto my bed. The tiny frame groaned as I fell back and Edward stretched out next to me, one hand going to the back of my neck while the other tugged at my panties.
“Take them off,” he said hoarsely and I scrambled to comply. His fingers dipped into my cunt and I moaned, loudly.
“Shhh,” Edward admonished, plunging his fingers inside me again. I bit back a groan. “Don’t make a sound.”
I nodded but a small whimper escaped me as he circled my clit with his thumb, keeping an even rhythm as he moved one, then two fingers in and out. My hips bucked against his hand and another small mew burst from my lips.
“Ah, ah,” Edward whispered in my ear, his fingers tightening around my neck. “One more peep out of you and I’ll stop.”
“Oh?” I shifted slightly, his fingers still inside of me, and tugged at his jeans. “I don’t think you will.”
His eyes widened when I eased my hand down into his boxer shorts and wrapped around his hard cock that was trapped by his clothing. Edward lifted his hips a little and I pulled it out. Gently, I stroked him and his breath caught, his eyes closing as he sighed in pleasure.
“Told you so,” I whispered, sliding my hand down the shaft toward his balls. He gasped as I cupped them, squeezing slightly.
He pulled me closer to him, roughly, and he thrust his fingers deeper, pushing into me, filling me and I groaned as loudly as I could before his mouth crushed against mine.
Our kisses deepened and grew as our hands moved in tempo across each other’s bodies. A tingling pleasure coursed through me, growing, threatening to take over and I arched my back with a whimper even as my hand tightened slightly on his cock.
“Not yet,” he whispered into my ear, raggedly, breath hot against my skin. I stroked the tip of his penis with my thumb and a growl rumbled through Edward’s chest.
“Please,” I yelped. My thighs were quivering against his forearm, begging him not to stop. Edward shuddered, his own climax growing and thumbed my clit, demanding orgasm.
I rocked against his fingers as I came, my hands curling around fistfuls of his hair, biting back the moan that was threatening to escape. Edward groaned again, his body stiffening as I quickened my strokes on his cock. It grew beneath my hand and he moaned softly again, wrapping his arms around me as he came.
For a few moments there was no sound in my bedroom except our unsteady, heavy breaths, slowly returning to normal. My heart pounded in my chest and I buried my face in Edward’s neck, breathing in his mysterious woodsy scent. He stroked my hair.
“Bella,” he breathed and I thrilled to hear him say it. “My god, Bella.”
“Uh huh,” I murmured back, hiding a pleased smile. “Me too.”
Edward kissed me again and carefully adjusted my clothes. I handed him a tissue from the night table and we cleaned up in silence before I found myself being pulled back into his arms. I tipped my head back to peer into his eyes.
Their emerald color was dark and shadowed, his gaze intense as he regarded me silently.
“You are so beautiful,” he said suddenly, in a muted voice. “I remember the first time I sat next to you in Biology. You had no idea just how lovely you are.”
I gave a small contented yawn. “You’re not so hard on the eyes yourself,” I said, snuggling closer to him.
Then we fell into silence and, for the first time I could remember, I felt content.” And this is the room/ One afternoon I knew I could love you/ And from above you how I sank into your soul/ Into that secret place where no one dares to go...
Charlie was making a fuss downstairs and his banging echoed up the hall, breaking our reverie. Reluctantly, I pushed myself up and looked at Edward, who had a small sated smile playing on his lips.
“You probably should go,” I said, regret in my voice. Edward merely nodded and sat up, still staring at me.
“I’ll see you soon?”
“Of course.” I grinned. “I’d like that.”
“Good.” Edward moved toward me again and brushed his palm against my cheek.
“Come on.” I tugged at his arm. “Before Charlie comes up here to investigate.”
We walked quietly down the stairs together and stopped in the foyer. I peered behind me, into the living room to make sure Charlie wasn’t lurking. Satisfied, I turned back to Edward. His cheeks had taken on a bit of a flush, his hair was more tousled than normal and he wore a languid, lazy crooked smile as he leaned down to kiss me.
“Have a good night, Bella Swan,” he whispered, his lips brushing mine.
“Same to you,” I breathed back.
“I already did.” Edward’s smile grew and touched my cheek softly. Then he was gone.
I tried to ride the high of spending time with Edward as long as I could, but by Wednesday I was ready to jump off a cliff. Charlie told me that some of the Quileute boys were fond of cliff jumping and, had it not been nearing the end of winter, I probably would have joined them. Instead, I paced the confines of Charlie’s house for the umpteenth time, swinging my arms rhythmically in time to the music pumping through my arms. Oh Nothing Changes Round Here, Oh Nothing Changes Round Here/ Oh No/ Oh But I See You Now On The Outskirts Of Town/ But The Fog Gets So Heavy…
I had been suspended once in Phoenix and it was nothing compared to the sheer torture of being suspended in Forks. Phoenix was a city, and I was free to wander it to my delight. My suspension had been nothing more than a weeklong vacation.
By comparison, time slogged to a near standstill in Forks. There was nothing to do but watch television, listen to music, or surf the internet. I debated going to the diner for lunch but knew that would only earn me curious stares. Or hostile ones, if the patrons knew what had put me out of school in the first place.
The doorbell rang, clanging dustily and I raced to the front door, eager to talk to someone, anyone. Now I knew why solitary confinement was such an effective punishment. I was certainly not a social person, but even I found isolation and lassitude intolerable.
The postman greeted me amicably, and even before he handed off the package, I knew who it was from. Before I could refuse, he dumped the box in my outstretched hands and turned away from the house, leaving me on the front stoop, staring at the parcel as if it were about to blow up in my hands.
It was perfectly square and very light, almost as if it were empty. I gave it a tentative shake and its content whispered against the box. I shook it harder, hoping to hear the tinkling of broken glass. The urge to drop kick the box across the wet yard was overwhelming but, with a sigh, I retreated back into the house and shut the door.
My hands trembled a little as I slid a knife under the packing tape and pried open the cardboard flaps. Renee’s messy handwriting greeted me and my chest tightened. I raked a chair across the kitchen floor and fell into it.
A rueful giggle began to build in my stomach as I began to read the note. When I got to Renee’s lament about feeling lonely in Florida and how hot the weather was, that giggle grew. It finally burst spontaneously from my lips when she gushed about the beautiful condo she and Phil were living in and how they were planning a second honeymoon to Cancun later in the year. The absurd laughter grew until tears were streaming from my cheeks and I doubled over, choking on it, appalled at how absolutely selfish and ridiculous my mother really was. The paper crumpled in my fist easily and I tossed it across the kitchen, sourly looking at my surroundings as my mirth subsided. A glutton for punishment, I peered into the package again and pulled out something soft, wrapped in cheap decorative tissue.
The mittens were knitted with soft, muted colors and I tugged one on. It was bulky, warm and traveled easily to my elbow. I stared at my covered hand, feeling tears prick the back of my eyelids, hot and irritating. Carefully, I counted out my breaths, focused on pushing back the surge of emotion that was grumbling inside of me.
And then, nothing. The wool mitten was smooth as I slid it from my hand and chucked it back into the box, interlocked the flaps.
I retreated to my room and stood in the middle of the small, cramped space, holding the box out at arm’s length. I remained still, until my shoulders and arms began to protest their position. My fingers seemed so white and fragile against the grainy cardboard; I didn’t like how dry it felt against my skin. Almost of their own accord, my hands released the box and it fell to the ground with a soft whoosh, the faint wind of acceleration touching my face. With a swift kick, I sent the box scuttling across the carpet, where it came to rest beneath my bed, peeking out just a little.
I wanted to call Renee and tell her to stay out of my life, tell her that I didn’t need her, but I couldn’t. I knew if I heard her voice I would not be able to contain all the thoughts that were threatening to converge and engulf me. I leaned over and grabbed my cell phone, cradling it in my palm, staring at the glossy, blank and empty face. It gave a click as I flipped it open and the face came alive as I scrolled through the contacts. It didn’t take long to go through the pitifully short list. I’m on my own now/ you’ve gone and left me/ I bet you don’t know/ how you’ve upset me…
I erased my mother’s name and shut the phone.
And screamed when it instantly began to ring.
“Hello?” I answered breathlessly.
“You sound like you just finished running a marathon,” Edward chuckled.
“Oh. Yeah, something like that.” There was no point in discussing the gift with anyone, I reasoned. It will be as if it never existed.
“How was school?” I asked.
“Boring. Dull. Tedious. And very lonely without you,” he replied. The phone gave a scuffling sound as Edward settled himself. “How was suspension?”
“Boring, dull, tedious,” I laughed but it sounded off. “The usual.”
“What did you do today?”
“Nothing,” Edward repeated dubiously. “You sat around and did nothing all day?”
I sighed. “I cleaned up a little bit. Took a shower. Did some laundry.” Irritation rang down the line. “That’s about it.”
“What’s your problem?” Edward asked me, annoyed.
I took a deep breath and tried to focus. I imagined Edward kissing me, his warm arms heavy around my body, pulling me in. I wanted him to soothe me, kiss away the strange empty hollowness that always seemed on the brink of consuming me.
“Nothing,” I answered lightly instead. “Sorry, I’m just cranky from being bored all day. Tell me something that happened in school today.” I tried to steer the subject from me.
Edward hesitated. “Nothing happened today, I already told you that. What are you doing tonight?”
“I don’t know,” I sighed as I fell onto my bed, narrowing my eyes to study the ends of a thick lock of hair. They were split, a little, and surprisingly redder than I thought my hair was. “Being on good behavior, I guess.”
“Not in the least.” I rolled over, squashing the phone between my ear and a pillow.
Edward’s voice sounded muffled and far away. “Well, you’re doing nothing and I’m doing nothing so I think we should do nothing together.”
“Um, I saw you Monday.” I twisted again. “And I’m not so sure I want to tell Charlie that I’m seeing you again. He might think things.”
I pulled the phone from my ear as Edward’s angry voice resonated through it.“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Talk about temper.
“What do you mean ‘what do I mean’?” I retorted. “I mean, I don’t want him getting any funny ideas.”
“About what?” Edward’s tone was dangerous.
“I don’t know!” I pressed my palms to my forehead and closed my eyes as a hint of a headache started to form. “Listen, I don’t know what I’m saying. Never mind.”
“Tell me what you were going to say,” Edward demanded. “I’m serious Bella, I’m starting to get really pissed off.”
I groaned. “Edward, just drop it. I’m just being stupid, that’s all.”
“You don’t want Charlie to know that we’re together?”
“Well, fine then.” I could practically feel the anger emanating through the phone.
“Wait, that’s not what I meant!” I moaned, rolling my eyes, frustrated. “I don’t care if he knows, Edward. I just don’t know how to tell him yet.”
“We are together, right?” Edward asked, apparently mollified by explanation.
If my emotions weren’t spinning out of control, I would have been elated. Instead, I just felt confused. But I said, with as much happiness as I could muster, “Of course, Edward.”
But I didn’t know how to feel. I liked Edward, very much. But no one I had ever loved seemed to stick around very long.
I wanted to tell Edward why I was really upset but I couldn’t. It seemed so inconsequential somehow, from an outside point of view. So I said nothing, not to Edward, not to Charlie.
But it gnawed me to the bone.
The next day Charlie gave me a worried when he came home from work.
“How was your day?” he asked cautiously, hanging up his gun belt. Clearly, he'd hoped my cheery mood would last longer than a few days. The disappointment was evident in the way he crinkled his eyes at me.
“It was good,” I replied lightly. “How was yours?” I was going to have to get better at making small talk if I was going to keep up this "how was your day?" talk for long. It was getting redundant and stale. Fast.
“The usual.” The door on the fridge groaned open and Charlie peered inside. “Hey, what say you and I go to the diner and get some dinner? My treat.”
The offer surprised me; I knew Charlie often went to the diner for lunch but this was the first time he’d offer to go out to eat with me. “Sure. That sounds good.”
The short ride from Charlie’s to the diner was filled with awkward silence and both of us tumbled from the car, eager to get inside where the humdrum of other people would distract us from each other.
“Chief,” the waitress smiled warmly at him and put two menus down. Her light blond hair was pulled back in a messy chignon at her neck and her tall willowy frame reminded me of a ballerina’s. She looked familiar, though I was certain I had never met her before. It did not escape my attention that she didn’t even look my way and my mood darkened.
“Evening, Annie.” Charlie smiled back absently, not bothering to look at the menu. “I’ll have the usual.”
“Sure thing.” The waitress hesitated, shifting her weight from foot to foot before she finally addressed me, her tone noticeably cooler. “And for you?”
Your head on a platter, I thought mutinously. I took a little longer than I needed to make a decision. “Veggie burger. With fries.”
Her pen hovered over her order pad for a moment before she looked back at me. "I think we may be out of veggie burgers. Let me go check..."
She turned from our table before I could reply and disappeared through the two swinging doors that led to the kitchen. I was perusing the menu for a back-up plan when she returned less than a minute later, the slightest hint of a malicious smirk seeming to dance across the corners of her lips.
“Okay, hon, I set aside the last veggie burger - we'll make it special for you." Her tone seemed suspiciously more friendly than necessary. Where did I know her from? I was obviously missing something…
And then it hit me: Annie, Lauren Mallory’s older sister. They shared the same sharp features and white blond hair. I narrowed my eyes at her.
Without giving me a chance to respond, she snapped up the menus. “Comin’ right up.” She called over her shoulder as she trounced off back to the kitchen, the doors flapping helplessly on their hinges after her.
“That bitch is going to spit in my food,” I grumbled. “She knows I beat up her sister.”
“Bella!” Charlie hissed, scandalized. “Watch your mouth.”
“Did you see how she barely looked at me? What was all that???” I defended ferociously, our voices hovering in curt whispers. “She looked at me like I was some kind of freak –“
“Listen to me, and listen to me good.” Charlie’s voice grew in volume, taking on an authoritative tone he rarely used on me. “You need to learn to accept the consequences for your actions. You attacked her sister! Did you think Annie was going to be nice about that?”
I threw up my hands. “Oh, that’s just swell, Charlie,” I exclaimed loudly. A few people shifted in their seats to look at us; I glowered back. “She’s not just going to spit in my food. I can’t imagine what she’s going to do. No, scratch that, I can but I’d rather not.”
“She isn’t going to do anything to your food! For god sake, she’s an adult!”
“I’m not eating here.” I shoved the chair back and Charlie grabbed my hand.
“Now wait one minute!” he told me angrily. “I’m trying to have a nice dinner with you. Why do you always have to ruin everything?”
I wrenched my wrist from his grasp and stood sharply. By now everyone was staring at us, clearly enjoying the show.
“You’re right, Chief Swan,” I answered loudly, so everyone could hear. “That’s what I always end up doing. I ruin everything.”
Lauren’s sister was edging toward our table with two glasses of water, confused and wary.
“Hey, you,” I called to her. “Sorry I kicked your sister’s ass. But she asked for it.”
“Bella!” Charlie slammed his fist on the table, his face burning red in anger and embarrassment. “Stop this right now!”
I stared at him coldly. “Fine. Everything’s already ruined anyway.” I sneered and kicked back the chair as I whirled and ran out of the diner.
Night had fallen and a chill whip of air slapped my face as I jumped over the three stairs and hit the streets at a full run. I didn’t know where I was going to go. And I didn’t care.
Cars zipped past me on the road, sometimes so close I could feel the pressure of movement swirling around me in a mix of cold wet wind and exhaust fumes. My hoodie hid my face from passersby as I continued down the street at a loping jog, cursing myself for leaving my iPod at home. I hummed tunelessly, forcing myself not to think about the awkward scene I had left for Charlie to deal with at the diner.
A screech of tires against asphalt startled me; I jerked my head up, instinctively scurrying further away from the road, in case some vehicle was careening toward me. Instead, I saw a shiny silver Volvo pulling over. Edward looked curiously at me through the rear view mirror as I trotted up to the passenger door and slid inside.
“Just drive,” I told him dourly. “Please.”
A sigh escaped me as I stared unseeingly out the window and realized that I didn’t know where I wanted to go. And tonight those graves are mine/ take ‘em with me to county mile/ between the lovers and the small towns I’ve fled/it’s hard to think when you’re driving fast…
There was no place else for me to go.
As always, if you have any questions, criticisms, ego strokes or hate comments - post 'em if you got 'em!
Title - Magic Trick - M. Ward_______
Just the Other Side of Nowhere - Kris Kristofferson
You are What You Love - Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
Grace Under Pressure - Elbow
Guest Room - The National
King of Carrot Flowers - Neutral Milk Hotel
Nothing Changes Around Here - The Thrills
Nothing Left - Buzzcocks
Song for a Dry State - Roadside Graves