|The Miseducation of Bella Swan
Author: zgirl21 PM
Bella has all but given up on relationships and now, as a first-year teacher, she finds her resolve tested by a certain Music teacher/basketball coach at Forks High who also just happens to be an old classmate of hers. Rated for language and future lemonsRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 3 - Words: 20,107 - Reviews: 142 - Favs: 154 - Follows: 274 - Updated: 03-10-09 - Published: 01-25-09 - id: 4818745
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sorry for the long wait for this one...real life got in the way once again and it's here! I hope you like it.
THE MISEDUCATION OF BELLA SWAN
I heard Renee honk her horn again for what seemed like the fifth time in the span of thirty seconds. God, that woman had absolutely zero patience. I hurriedly put the finishing touches on my makeup because, naturally, I was running late. Go figure. After tossing my keys, phone, and some lip gloss into my purse, I flew down the stairs and yelled a rushed good-bye to Charlie before kissing Jack on the top of the head as I ran out the door. By the time I slammed the car door, I was already gearing up for an earful from my mother about punctuality but instead, she just said hello and asked how I was.
I blinked a few times in shock before I found the words to respond.
"Uhh…I'm fine…" I trailed off, eyeing Renee suspiciously.
She caught my stare as she backed out of Charlie's driveway.
"What?" She asked innocently.
I just rolled my eyes at her and shook my head. "You're seriously not going to lecture me about making you wait? That's not like you…"
Again, I trailed off, this time for effect more so than loss of words. She was definitely up to something. But what…I wasn't so sure…I wasn't sure I even wanted to know.
The rest of the week had flown by in a blur. So much that I had nearly forgotten the plans I had made with Renee. If she hadn't called me Friday night to confirm the pick-up time, it might have slipped my mind all together. And god knows, it's been a bad, crazy week if I almost completely spaced out on "Wicked". Absolutely insane. Renee and I had had these tickets for almost six months and up until this week, I had definitely been pumping myself up for this beyond amazing show, not to mention my absolute favorite Broadway show of all time. But this week, everything had gotten so nuts from trying to learn the names of over eighty students, trying to learn the ins and outs of the school district, trying to figure out how to run my own classroom and then with my truck going to hell…needless to say, I had been pretty distracted.
I had spent my afternoon cleaning my room and blasting the "Wicked" soundtrack, much to Charlie's dismay, which of course, only led to me loosing track of time which was what led to Renee standing on her horn earlier. But still, her mood made me nervous. Sure, she was probably just as excited as I was to see the show but…there was something I couldn't quite put my finger on that made me uneasy. She just had that look on her face, that glow…which signaled she was up to something.
"Oh Bella…" her voice broke through my thoughts. "I forgot to tell you last night that some of my friends are coming to dinner too before the show."
"Alright." Well, that seemed normal enough.
"They're just as excited about the show as we are."
"Oh so they're going too?"
"Yeah…this is going to be so much fun, Bella! I just can't wait…and think about it, Bella…we've been waiting so long for this and it's finally here!" She even rubbed her hands together excitedly for effect.
I had to chuckle at her enthusiasm. "I know…those six months sure flew by fast."
She scoffed at that and waved a hand at me in dismissal. "Yeah right they did. I've been counting down the days since I got our tickets."
I was just about to ask if I knew her friends that we were meeting when she cut straight through my thoughts to ask how school went yesterday.
"Things are going pretty good, Mom. I have to admit, I was pretty nervous about this…my first teaching job…but now that I'm actually doing it, I can't even tell you how nice it is to have my own classroom. It's so different than student teaching…I feel like I actually have some freedom to do what I want how I want."
"I'm glad you're liking it, Bella…so…have you seen Edward Cullen at all?"
I rolled my eyes at her mention of him. Of course she would bring him up. I should have expected it but like the good daughter I was, I preferred to believe my mother wasn't intentionally trying to drive me insane. Or maybe she was. Regardless, the very last thing I wanted to do was relay every single one of my encounters with him over the course of the week. I knew exactly what she would do; she would analyze everything he said and everything I said and try to find some ray of hope that her dream for me would become a reality. Tough luck, Renee. What she was selling, I had no interest in buying.
So instead, I completely sidestepped her line of questioning and broached a safer topic. "You know, Edward's sister-in-law, Rosalie, is a teacher too. She teaches Organic Chemistry and AP Chemistry, of all things. She might as well be a model or something…anyway, I'm really glad I met her, she's quickly becoming one of my favorite people at school."
Crap. Shouldn't have said that.
Renee's eyebrows immediately shot up at my last comment. "One of them, huh? Who are your other favorites, Bella?"
She tilted her head towards me, her mouth turning upward in a knowing, albeit annoyingly triumphant smile. Well, I'll be damned if I was going to give her the satisfaction of knowing she was at least one step in the right direction of having all her dreams come true.
"Mother…" I warned. "I didn't mean that the way it sounded."
Now her smile just widened. "Sure you didn't, Bella."
I decided to be the bigger person and just let that one slide. "So anyways, Rosalie is pretty fantastic actually. When I first met her, I wasn't really sure what to think of her but now we sit together at lunch every day and she has the same prep as I do, so we're always bouncing from one classroom to the other. She actually had tickets for the show tonight but something came up with her parents…I'm not sure what exactly but I know she isn't going anymore."
I was hoping and praying that my mom wouldn't pick up on who else I sat by at lunch every day. As far as my personal life was concerned, my mother was on a need-to-know basis and she just didn't need to know that. I had every right to withhold information wherever I saw fit.
"Well, I'm glad you've found a female teacher friend at school."
I had to bit my lip to keep myself from snapping at her for that one. She really needed to let this go; what did I have to do to make her realize that I had absolutely no desire to get involved with someone like Edward Cullen?
I bit my lip yet again for what seemed like the fifth time since I got in the car and resolved to just let everything go as we walked into the restaurant. Tonight was a night for music and fun, not for arguing with Renee about something neither one of us could do anything about. By the time we were waiting to be seated, I had all but completely cooled off and was now ready to just have fun with my mom. When she was leaving my personal life alone, she could actually be a lot of fun when she wanted to be. Crazy Renee.
Just as we were sitting down at our table, my mom's phone started buzzing in her purse. She snapped it open and her fingers flew across the buttons in an expert speed that completely threw me off guard.
"Since when do you text?" I sputtered.
Renee just held up a finger to silence me, her focus completely set on whatever message was being relayed back and forth between her and her friend. I took this time, this peace and quiet, to settle into my seat. It was then that my mind registered the four place settings at our table. Okay, so we were just meeting two of Renee's friends for dinner. I had just assumed that there were more than that but I guess in the grand scheme of things it really didn't matter.
"Well, they're just walking into the restaurant right now so they should be here any second now." Renee said excitedly, that glow seeping back onto her face. She practically had to sit on her hands to keep herself from clapping from giddiness. No wonder her and Alice got along so great…they both acted like overgrown children.
Renee started waving animatedly to her friends so I, naturally, turned to greet them. I nearly tumbled right off the booth at what I saw. When my heart finally started working again, my blood churned around faster and faster until it boiled over. That god damn crazy mother of mine. Always plotting against me.
For low and behold, who was walking towards our table but none other than Esme and Edward Cullen. Renee was a dead woman.
My soon-to-be-disowned mother jumped up to hug Esme, both of them smiling at each other with stupid shit-eating grins. I wasn't at all surprised when Esme slid in the booth next to Renee, leaving Edward grinning at me sheepishly, his hands shoved into both pockets. At least he looked just as surprised as I was.
"Bella." He breathed with a faint smile, nodding slightly to me.
I took in a deep inhale…in and out…in and out…a deep cleansing breath to calm myself and to not lash out at the insane women sitting across from me. I somehow managed a weak smile towards Edward and he took that as permission to slide in next to me. I couldn't stop myself from glaring at him; he had no where else to sit but I didn't like him sitting that close to me. It made me achingly nervous.
"How are you, Bella? Excited for the show?" He was smiling down at me now and I felt a hand grab tight hold of my heart. No, no, no. Not happening.
"Uh…yeah, I am. I…I didn't know you were going tonight." I stammered.
Edward opened his mouth to answer but his mother quickly cut in to answer for him.
"Well, Rosalie was actually supposed to come with me but something came up with her parents at the last minute so I had an open ticket. Even if Emmett hadn't had to go with Rosalie, he wouldn't have been caught dead at "Wicked" and Carlisle conveniently had to work a shift tonight so Edward was free and I figured since he loves music as much as he does, he wouldn't mind tagging along tonight." She smiled warmly at her son and I felt myself shifting awkwardly next to him.
He just shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Are you kidding me? I didn't have a choice."
Esme and Renee laughed heartily at his admission and went back to whatever they were clacking about. They were obviously trying to give us some time to get comfortable next to each other. Fuck if that was ever going to happen. Edward tugged himself out of his jacket and immediately stuck his head in the nearest menu, most likely to get away from this painfully awkward situation. Great, so he didn't want to be here anymore than I did. Well, this was shaping up to be a fun evening at the theatre.
"So, Bella," Esme's kind voice broke through my increasingly irate thoughts. "Edward tells me you're fitting in well with the other teachers."
I couldn't hide my surprise at her, somewhat out-of-nowhere, comment, and my eyes flew to Edward, who was busy sending his mother a death glare. When he felt my gaze, his head shifted towards me, his mouth turning up in a slight smirk. He just shrugged his shoulders and bit his lip.
"Well, it's true." He offered softly.
I could practically feel my mother vibrating across from me with elation. That woman was dead to me.
A few more uncomfortable moments passed between the four of us before our waitress finally rescued us to take our drink order.
"I'll have a Bloody Mary." I spit out, knowing full well that if I was going to survive this night, I going to need something to calm my nerves.
Edward's slight eyebrow raise was not lost on me but I chose to ignore it. Instead, I kept my focus trained on the waitress, who was scribbling down my order and whose eyes kept darting from me and back to Edward.
"How do you like it?" She was asking.
"Really spicy, lots of green olives and a pickle, please." I asked as politely as possible, even though the way she was eye-fucking Edward was more than off-putting. I almost laughed out loud at the thought. What did I care if the waitress was ogling him? It's not like he was really noticing anyways…
"Ugh, I don't know how you can drink those, Bella. It tastes like you're just taking shots of steak sauce…" Renee was muttering. Did I mention that I hated her?
With my order taken, she turned her full attention on Edward now, her eyes glimmering at the prospect of finally having a genuine excuse to talk to him.
Curiously, though, Edward sent a slight smirk my way before giving the waitress his order with a nod: "I'll have the same."
Renee's mouth opened slightly at that, the waitress just seemed lost in Edward's eyes, Esme was looking on with a glint of warm pride and I…I was just struggling to make sense of all this.
After Esme and Renee had ordered and that damn waitress was finally gone to get my much-needed Bloody Mary, I nonchalantly announced the need to use the restroom and not-so-subtly hinted that Renee needed to come with me. She had some explaining to do. As I slide out of the booth, my shoulder accidentally brushed against Edward's. I wasn't going to even think about the sensations rippling through me at that miniscule contact. I had bigger fish to fry.
Renee followed me into the bathroom with that crazy smile on her face that I was tempted to just slap off her.
"What's up, Bella?" She asked innocently.
I huffed, slammed the door behind me and planted down right in front of it so she was trapped.
"Alright, mom, you have thirty seconds to explain. And it'd better be good or I'm getting the hell out of here."
Finally, that shit-eating grin was gone. Her forehead immediately creased and a genuine look of concern crossed her features.
"What do you…"
I didn't even give her a chance to finish. I wasn't going to deal with this tonight. Especially not after the stunt she pulled. "You know exactly what I'm talking about. Esme. Edward. At dinner with us. Going to the show with us. What the hell, Mom?"
She immediately held her hands up in defense. "Bella, we really didn't plan it. It was really a coincidence."
"Ok, ok…well, it was planned but it wasn't. Rosalie really was going to go with Esme and then when their plans fell through; it just seemed like a good opportunity for us to all spend some time together."
I clenched and unclenched my fist tightly at my hips and exhaled deeply. "You know, this is an all-time low for you. This has got to be the absolute worst set-up in the history of horrible set-ups. God, I'm on a double date with my mother! Could it be any fucking worse?"
"Bella!" My mom rasped out in a hushed whisper. "Watch your mouth! It is not a double date…look, we should get back to the table but can you please just promise me to try to have fun tonight? When was the last time you went out and had a good time?"
My mouth opened and closed of its own volition as I struggled to find a counter argument. Well, if I was being completely honest with myself…it had actually been a while. Probably since my last night in Seattle with Jasper and Alice. That didn't exactly aid me in this situation. Renee might have had a point but I wasn't one to give in to her ridiculous schemes that easily. Someone had to be the adult in our relationship and it might as well be me.
"Mom…I know, ok? I know you're concerned about me and I know Esme is concerned about Edward and that both of you think we'd be a good couple and all that shit but could you please just back off? I'm not going to leave, alright. Besides, I've waited too fucking long for this show to back out now just because fucking Edward Cullen decided to ride in on his white horse."
Renee bit back a smile as she reached forward to gather me into a tight hug. "Language, Bella, language."
She rubbed my shoulders soothingly and whispered into my hair: "Just have fun tonight, Bella. That's all I'm asking."
As Bella and her mom stalked off to the bathroom, I blew out a breath and threw a weary look toward my own grinning mother.
"What?" She asked slyly.
I rolled my eyes at her and shook my head before rested my elbows on the table to rub my eyes in disbelief. This night had quickly gone from bad to worst. First, my mother guilts me into tagging along with her at fucking "Wicked" of all things…what had she said? Oh yes… "but Edward, I can't waste this ticket and…you wouldn't really let me go all by myself, would you?"
Of course, she had conveniently forgotten to mention that she had had long-standing plans with some friends, also conveniently forgetting to mention exactly who those friends were. As soon as I saw Bella sitting in the booth…and her mother grinning like a five-year on Christmas Day, I knew exactly what our mothers had been up to. To say this whole thing was awkward was the understatement of the fucking year. But I'm not going to lie, if I was going to suffer through an entire night filled with clacking women and chick musicals, it somehow didn't seem too bad if it meant I got to spend the entire evening with Bella.
However, from the moment she caught sight of us, it was clear she didn't share my thoughts. Not only was she glaring hatefully across the table at her mother but she slid far over until there was as much space between us as possible, like I was a leper or something. She obviously wanted nothing to do with me. I had nothing else to do but open a menu so we could all order and get this night over with.
That annoying waitress came back with our drinks, pulling me out of my thoughts. She winked at me…she actually fucking winked at me…and I could have sworn her eyes lingered a little too long on a certain area below my waist. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat and sent her a weak smile. Unfortunately, that only seemed to encourage her. Suddenly, I hated my mother for more than just setting up this ridiculous scheme tonight…she had had to teach me manners too, didn't she?
I took a long pull from my Bloody Mary and exhaled deeply. Ah. Now I felt better.
"It's kinda funny that you guys both ordered the same drink, the exact same way, isn't it?" My mom said with a big smile.
I just rolled my eyes at her again. "Pure coincidence."
"Sure it is."
This time, I sighed and rubbed my eyes again.
"Oh come on, Edward. Don't tell me you weren't secretly happy to see her here, especially with the way you and Rosalie have been talking about her this past week. She seems like she's in a bad mood tonight, though…" She trailed off thoughtfully.
Was my mother really that dense?
"Hmm…I wonder why that is? Maybe because her crazy mom and my equally crazy mom thought it was a good idea to try to set up their children under the guise of going to fucking "Wicked"…which by the way, is probably going to be torture."
My mom just shook her head and waved that off. "Regardless, I think this is a good opportunity for you to get to know her better…even if it's just because she's a colleague."
I shrugged my shoulders and took another drink. "Well, she didn't exactly look happy to see me."
"I'm sure Bella automatically jumped to the conclusion that this was a set-up."
My eyebrows immediately shot-up in mock surprise. "It wasn't?"
My mom just frowned and waved me off again before she continued. "All I want is for the two of you to have a good time tonight…I know it's been a while since you've had a fun night out and Bella, well, she's had a difficult time with some things over the past few years. You'd be surprised how much you two have in common."
For some reason, I didn't doubt it.
My head snapped up when I caught sight of Bella and her mother walking back towards the table. At least now she looked a little calmer than she did before. I just couldn't figure this girl out. She was the most interesting person I had met in a long time…but she obviously wanted nothing to do with me and was only polite to me in school for the sake of being just that. There was something about her that I couldn't quite put my finger on; maybe it was the fact that she was so different from when I had known her in middle school, or maybe she hadn't really changed at all…I don't know, either way, I wanted to know this new Bella Swan and she wasn't letting me in. And the more I thought about it, the more I needed to know why. And the more I thought about that, the more it scared the shit out of me.
After that stupid waitress took our orders, Bella was practically mute beside me, focusing only on her Bloody Mary and looking more and more uncomfortable. Well, at least I knew we had that in common.
"So," I began, leaning towards her a little. I barely contained the eye-roll when I caught the moms jump at the motion. "How's the Bloody?"
Her eyes shot to mine, like she was shocked I was speaking to her and I felt my eyes narrow slightly at that. Why did she always act so surprised whenever I tried to start a conversation with her?
"Umm…it's great. Just the way I like it."
I nodded in approval. If she was going to suffer through this, she might as well have a good drink to go with it.
Dinner passed by faster than I thought it would and before I knew it, we were filing into our seats in the theatre. I was not at all surprised when Renee quickly slid in after my mom, forcing Bella and I to sit next to each other for the entire show. Figures.
As the show started, it was painfully obvious how uncomfortable Bella was with all of this. She was fidgeting in her chair, looking nervously around her…like she was trying to look anywhere but at me. She kept running her hand through her hair and biting her lip; every couple of seconds, if I looked hard enough, I could see her tongue dart out and run across her lips and it took a few moments to register the effect this motion had on me. I felt paralyzed. Mesmerized. It made my mouth water. I had to bite my lip just to keep my mouth from opening and closing like a crazy person. And then I was the one shifting uncomfortably in my seat, nonchalantly covering myself up with my playbill. How fucking old was I? Shit, it was like I was back in high school or something. Panting, horny teenager and all. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Bella Swan was going to be the death of me…
I tried to focus on the show, I really did. The parts that I did pay attention to actually weren't all that bad. The cast was pretty incredible and I could appreciate what they were trying to do with the score, when I was able to get past the fact that the whole thing was a play on "The Wizard of Oz". That was a little weird. I would never be able to watch that movie the same way again, that was for sure. But then, I allowed myself to look at Bella again and all my misgivings about this show and this night completely flew out the window. Her entire face was glowing with happiness, her discomfort at being so close to me probably long-forgotten at the start of the show, and she was mouthing the words to all the songs with the largest smile on her face I'd seen in a long time. I was wrong before. This was mesmerizing. I had forgotten what happiness looked like, probably because it had been such a long time since I had actually felt it, I couldn't recognize it when I saw it. But here it was, right in front of me, and I had never seen her look so beautiful.
As we walked out of the theatre, I trailed behind the three ladies, who were bouncing with giddiness from their "Wicked" high. I had to admit, it was pretty amusing to see all three of them so excited and so awestruck.
"So what'd you think?" My mom asked me, her eyes shining up at me expectantly.
"It was great." I smiled and nodded, hoping she wouldn't want me to elaborate.
Apparently, that was good enough for her and she practically sprinted to catch up to Renee, who was now walking a little ahead of Bella and me. When my mom caught up to her, they both cast a sly glance back in our direction and I just shook my head. They were whispering to each other, scheming and plotting, without a doubt.
We herded out of the theatre along with the rest of the mass of people; somehow, Bella and I had gotten ahead of the moms. We were both walking towards our cars as fast as we could, trying to pull the scheming moms behind us, figuratively speaking, and were just about to cross the street when I heard Renee squeal to my mother:
"Oh Esme, have you been to that new martini bar? Oh my God, we have to go there…"
Both Bella and I whipped our heads around to shoot glares at Renee but of course, she didn't even acknowledge us. She just kept talking to my mother, who looked equally engaged in the prospect of getting a martini, of all things. My mom typically didn't drink martinis but of course, this would be the night to start. The perfect opportunity to keep Bella and me in close proximity to each other for a little bit longer. One look at Bella told me everything I needed to know. She was biting her lip to repress her frustration and disdain for the situation, casting longing looks in the direction of our cars. She was ready to leave and ready for this night to be over. Great.
"Come on, Mom." Bella chided. "It's getting late and Jack's probably going crazy without me at home…"
Renee just threw her a look over her shoulder and shrugged at her daughter. "You don't have to come, Bella. Edward can take you home, can't you, Edward?"
All three women's heads turned directly to me. My mom and Renee were silently pleading with me to agree to this farce and Bella…well, her face was nothing short of horror-stricken. And as much as I wanted to put Bella out of her misery, I didn't want to have to deal with my mom when she got home. I knew I'd never hear the end of it if I didn't agree to this.
So, like the dumb-shit I was, I replied: "Uh…sure, I can…not a big deal."
I couldn't allow myself to look at Bella. Seeing her reaction probably would have made me want to punch myself in the stomach. The last thing I wanted to do was make this whole situation any harder on her than it had to be. But, on the other hand, the last thing I wanted to do was face the wrath of a pissed-off Esme. Rosalie probably wouldn't be too happy with me either. Shit. I was fucked every which way you looked at it.
Bella didn't even get a chance to argue because Renee and my mom were already half-way to the martini bar, arm-in-arm, probably congratulating each other on their awesomely bad match-making skills. So instead, Bella just cast a weary glance at me and threw her hands up in the air in frustration. My thoughts exactly.
"Those two are insufferable." She muttered under her breath.
I couldn't resist. "Leave it to you to use big words when you're angry."
Her eyes snapped back up to mine. "I'm not angry…just…."
"Frustated?" I offered.
"Yeah, that sounds about right."
"Well, get used to the feeling because something tells me they're not done yet."
By this time, we were already walking to the parking lot and I tried very hard not to notice the way Bella maintained a safe distance away from me. As if I needed anymore reminders that this fascinating woman wanted nothing to do with me. I was beginning to feel like she was an enigma I didn't have a shot in hell at deciphering. I suddenly found myself analyzing every interaction with her from middle school I could remember. Had I ever been mean to her? Had I ever had fun of her for looking like a boy all the time? Had we played one-on-one and I beat her or something? No…I'd probably remember that one…there was nothing standing out to me from our shared past that could possibly make her feel as uncomfortable around me as she obviously did. I just couldn't figure this out.
We had already been driving for several minutes when the awkward silence became too much to bear. We both must have had the same thought because we leaned forward, reaching for the radio controls, and our fingers touched at the exact same time. Bella seemed to almost jolt out of her seat at the contact and I couldn't shake the thrill that rushed through me at the feel of her fingers. They were as soft as I had thought they would be.
"Sorry." I muttered helplessly under my breath. I felt like I was completely on territory here. I had no idea how to go about any of this…it had been such a long time since I had found myself in this position; alone for the first time with a girl I was interested in, alone in a small, confined, somewhat intimate space…completely and totally out of my comfort zone here. I felt like I was back in middle school. Or at least high school. Fuck.
"Don't worry about it." She said softly but it didn't take a genius to figure out she was still uncomfortable and still not looking me in the eye.
A few more minutes of silence passed and I realized I only had limited time alone with her. And I was going to make the best of it.
"So…I take it you liked the show?"
For the first time in several hours, Bella's head turned and her eyes met me straight-on. The cautious, uncomfortable look in her eye was still there but it was still eye contact nonetheless. Beggers can't be choosers.
To my complete shock and delight, she let out a soft, musical laugh.
"Yes, I liked it. I loved it actually. I have to say, out of all the shows I've seen, that one is definitely my favorite."
I nodded, happy that she was actually talking to me of her own free-will.
"How many have you seen?"
This wasn't exactly fascinating conversation, but all I really wanted to do was keep her talking.
When she didn't answer right away, I turned my head slightly away from the road to look at her and my mouth curved up in a little smile at what I saw. She was biting her lip, her forehead crinkled in deep thought and she was looking up at the ceiling of my car, most likely counting in her head. It was too endearing for my own good.
"Well…I've seen "Phantom" twice, "The Lion King", "Mamma Mia", this is the third time I've seen "Wicked", "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream-coat", "Miss Saigon"…hmm…what else?"
I chuckled softly as I listened to her list. Her eyes immediately flew to mine again at the sound.
"What?" She asked, the look in her eyes retreating back to cautious and aloof.
"You've seen a lot of shows…who do you see all those with?"
A soft smile appeared out of nowhere on her lips and I couldn't stop my own from appearing on mine.
"My mom, mostly. We dragged Alice and Jasper to "Wicked" once…Alice liked it but Jasper kind of had the same reaction to it that you did." She chuckled again, her smile spreading into a lop-sided grin that threw me off guard.
"What do you mean? I liked it just fine…"
She rolled her eyes at me and chuckled again. "Come on, you were just saying that so your mom didn't rip you a new one. You tolerated it at best. Just admit it."
Now I was grinning like a fool. I was definitely liking this new Bella the more time I spent with her.
"Ok, fine. You got me. But it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be."
The longer this conversation went on, the more difficulty I had keeping my eyes focused on the road and off of this mesmerizing creature to my right.
"So it's kind of a thing you and your mom do, then?" I just wanted to keep her talking.
She smiled again and nodded to me. "Yeah, Phil…my step-dad…he's not really the type of guy to go to those things with her and since I love them and she needs someone to go with, I get to go for free."
"So…do you like Phil? I mean…sorry…you don't have to answer that if you don't want to…" I was mentally kicking myself for talking out my ass. What the hell was I thinking, asking her that?
But fortunately for me, Bella didn't seem too fazed by that. Instead, she just shrugged it off and nodded.
"Yeah, I like him just fine. He's a fun guy to have around. And my mom absolutely loves him, which doesn't hurt. Sometimes I wish he wasn't so much younger than her but…she wants who she wants."
"How was it for you…with your parents and everything…" God, I'm an idiot. Verbal sewage was spewing uncontrollably from my mouth.
Still, Bella didn't seem to mind talking about it. "I wasn't really all that surprised…I mean I always knew my parents loved each other, they just weren't in love with each other, you know what I mean?"
"Yeah, tell me about it." I muttered under my breath. Realizing my mistake, I felt my whole body tense with regret and frustration. If she wasn't turned off before, she sure as hell would be now by that stupid outburst. We didn't need to talk about that yet. I wasn't sure if I would ever be able to talk about that.
Bella fell silent next to me and even though I kept my focus firmly on the road, I could tell she was back to withholding eye contact. It wasn't like I didn't deserve it now.
I almost jumped with shock when I heard her soft voice again and my eyes flew to her; not surprisingly, she was looking anywhere but at me.
"You know, Edward, this probably isn't my place but I think you're doing really well…I'm sure you don't feel well, on the inside, but you're managing, you're composed…and that's all you can hope for right about now, I guess."
I swallowed nervously and my hands tightened their grip on the steering wheel. I couldn't speak, I definitely couldn't look her in the eye now. If she sensed my new tension, she didn't show it and instead, continued speaking barely above a whisper.
"I don't know if you know this or not…but, I know a little something about what you're going through. I was with my high school boyfriend for almost five years…from my sophomore year of high school to my junior year of college…I thought I was going to marry him, I thought I loved him…I thought we had it all figured out. But when we ended up at different schools, I thought it wouldn't change anything about our relationship. Turned out, the joke was on me…college changed him…and after a while, we didn't really know each other anymore…the distance definitely didn't help anything but I think this probably would have happened anyway. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've been through it too…he told me, flat-out, that he didn't love me anymore and it hurt like hell. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't go to class, definitely couldn't do any homework…my whole life and everything I had planned out for us, a wedding, children, the two-story house with the white picket fence, that was all gone the second he told me he didn't love me anymore."
Somehow, through her story, I managed to find my voice when she paused for a moment.
"So what happened…how did you…?" I couldn't finish, my voice was already hoarse and broken and the emotions raging through me were ones I didn't want to think about.
"At first, I felt like I wasn't really there, you know? Like I wasn't really in my body, just going through the motions, completely numb to everything and everyone…and then I started thinking about all the fights we had gotten into the last few months, even years of our relationship, how distant he had gotten, how many times he had made me cry, how I couldn't remember the last nice or romantic thing he done for me and then…I got angry. I hated him for putting me through that for so long, for making me suffer when he had to have known for longer that his feelings had changed…I hated him for treating me like shit, like I didn't matter and then…somewhere in between anger and hate and grief and denial, I finally felt like I was free…that I was better off to be rid of him…that he done both of us a favor by ending it before we got married, before we had kids, and gradually, it didn't hurt so much and I wasn't so angry…but, Edward, the point I'm trying to make is that, no matter how much it hurts, no matter what you're feeling, it's never going to be worse than how you feel right now, to how you've felt over the last couple of months and you have nowhere to go but up. Time really does heal all wounds and if you just give yourself time, to do whatever it is you need to do, you really will feel better. I promise you that. And…if you ever need someone to talk to, well…you know where I live and you know where my room is at school."
I was completely and totally stunned. Never had I ever expected Bella to open up to me like this…let alone say everything I both needed and didn't want to hear. I didn't want to be reminded of my pain…I was fine staying comfortably numb, comfortably disassociating myself from my heartbreak and anguish, how the walls had caved in on me, how nothing had made sense to me anymore…but Bella had given me a ray of hope. More than one, actually.
I was just finding my voice again when I realized that we were parked right outside of Bella's house and that she was looking at me with a worried expression. She probably thought I was angry with her. Shit.
She quickly said good-night and hurriedly threw open the door. Swearing under my breath, I flung my door open and sprinted out to catch up to her.
"Bella!" I exhaled breathlessly.
She turned to me with a pained expression on her face and I wanted to hit myself for having caused it.
"Edward…I didn't mean to upset…" She started before I cut her off.
"No, Bella, you didn't have to tell me all that but I'm glad you did…thank you."
I needed her to understand that this wasn't about her…my reaction didn't have anything to do with her. It was all me, all my pent-up shit.
She smiled faintly and nodded to me.
"Well, good-night, Edward. Thanks for the ride home."
"Anytime, Bella, anytime."
With that, she abruptly turned on her heel and practically sprinted into the house, shutting the door behind her and effectively, once again, shutting me out.
I pressed my forehead against the front door and fought the urge to bang it repeatedly into the door until I couldn't feel all of this anymore. I had said too much. Way too much. He probably thought I was a nosy, stupid little girl who didn't know anything about his problems and was just butting-in. Nice, Bella, very nice. Not only does he now think you're a musical freak but he thinks you're just freak in general too.
I felt something warm and wet on my hand and couldn't stop the smile and peaceful feeling that swept over me. He could always tell when I was upset and he always knew just what to do to make me feel better. I really loved that big ball of fluff.
"Hey there, Jackie." I reached down to pet him and he jumped up on me to say hello. "Well, hello to you, too. I hope you behaved yourself…"
Jack trotted behind me as I went up the stairs to settle in for bed. Even as I winded down and got ready for bed, I couldn't shake my conversation with Edward. There was something about him that was getting under my skin and I wasn't sure that I liked it. After all, I had told him about Jacob and I didn't volunteer that information to just anyone. It was privileged knowledge and he had gotten more details than I usually chose to relate. He had just seemed so…helpless, so defeated, so angry…and I recognized those emotions all too well. Seeing that look in his eye, that look I knew so well, brought up an urge to want to make it all go away for him…to offer him my own experience and the lessons I had learned. I didn't want to see him in pain. But thinking about why that was scared the hell out me.
I pulled the covers over my head and reached down to give Jack a good-night scratch as he snuggled in. I didn't want to get too involved with Edward. I hadn't planned on ever telling him about Jacob. I didn't want to feel a connection to him. I didn't want to feel the urge to protect him and take care of him that I was suddenly feeling. I didn't want to feel any of the emotions I was currently feeling. I had worked too hard to get past my own pain and now that I was finally feeling safe and secure, the last thing I wanted to do was throw it all to hell over some guy that needed saving. Well, he could save himself.
I had learned the hard way that allowing yourself to get too involved, too invested in a relationship is only going to end badly. And I had no intention of getting myself involved in something I knew I would never be able to get myself out of. This wasn't all just Jacob's fault…I'd yet to find a guy that I could count on, Phil and Charlie not included, and I didn't feel like testing that on Edward. We had both been through too much, gone to hell and back, to risk more heartache and more anguish. Besides, Edward hadn't proven to me that he could even be considered somewhat trustworthy.
"You're the only man I can really trust, Jack." I whispered into the night as my protection, my personal and physical security nuzzled closer to me.
I didn't need anything more than what I already had. And I wasn't going to let anyone change my mind.
I hope you liked it...I was trying to go for a nice mix of humor and angst, hope it worked. And, since it's been forever since I've updated, I spent some extra time on this to give you a super-long chapter (I'm not saying that makes up for my slacking, but it helps, doesn't it?).
Anyways, since life has gotten in the way, I've decided to just work on one chapter at a time for each story. So since I've updated this, the next chapter I'll work on is for Bleeding Love (I know some of you are dying for this one but I wanted to update this one too). It's easier for me to just alternate updates because then I won't feel like I'm favoring one story over the other.
Since it's been forever, I know some of my earlier readers are probably long gone but if you're still here or if you're new to this, please leave me some feedback and let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for where the story should go from here...I love your input!!