AN: A dear friend wanted a Mulletward, so this story is for Kni Nut and all of my silly friends.
The Opposite Effect
Her name was Vicki.
I glared at the ear punch and imagined using it on James's head. The wooden stool I found myself perched on was uncomfortable and it made my foul mood borderline murderous.
"You wanna sanitize the counter?" Alice Cullen asked me as she chomped on her gum. The girl was like a cow chewing on its cud the way she was going to town on her Bubble Yum.
I turned my glare onto her instead. She was admiring herself in the tiny mirror we used to show the customers their new earrings. Immediately shoving a mirror into their faces seemed to appease them after the momentary pain the piercing caused. I had learned a small amount of facts from this poor excuse of employment. The most apparent one was that the people who came to get their ears pierced at a mall kiosk were a big group of wimps. I should start taking notes about this so when I start working on my Doctorate in Psychology, I will have some concrete evidence to support my thesis.
I wiped the counters with a spray bottle and a wad of paper towels. Bleach filled the air as I squirted it all over the counter. The overhead speakers started blasting Michael Bolton. I felt my ears bleeding and it only got worse.
"Is it true that you married some guy?" Alice asked in between her chomping.
I looked at the girl with her chopped hair and bright red lipstick. She would be considered cute if her tight tank top and acid wash jean weren't an ode to a Metallica music video. It also didn't help that her personality was reminiscent of a yapping poodle.
I ignored her and kept cleaning.
"Everybody is saying that's why you moved in with your dad. That he left you or something like that." She started swaying to Bolton and I tried not to squirt her in the eyes with bleach.
"Do you see a ring?" I countered. There was one, but it was hanging on a chain around my neck and was hidden under my blouse. Obviously, I was a glutton for punishment. I should have sold it at a pawnshop as soon as I signed the divorce papers.
"Fine. Divorced then." She raised an eyebrow. "What happened? Was it a case of growing apart? Was he a monster? Did he cheat on you? Beat you?"
I was stuck working with a nosy gossip. I was in a florescent lighting hell that smelled like cleaning solution and stinky armpits. The soundtrack of this devil's hideaway was pop favorites from the eighties and nineties that was now the chortling of Whitney Houston wanting to dance with somebody. Eric Yorkie was staring at me from the entrance of the Hot Topic with his eye liner and leering grin. The mesh shirt he wore was about three sizes to small on his muscleless torso. I was surprising myself by not running screaming to the exit.
"It just didn't work out," I replied to the hair band groupie.
James cheated. Alice didn't need to be privy to that information.
Our apartment was about four blocks from campus in a building that was where most of the grad students would congregate for housing. It was a comfortable little place to come home to where I could cook ramen noodles and watch talk shows in-between waiting for my acceptance into the doctorate program. I should have been excited about receiving my Master's, but instead I regarded it only as a stepping stone for something bigger.
James came in with rosy cheeks from the long trek up the staircase and held a bag of take-out from the local Chinese restaurant. I still found him handsome with his bright blue eyes hidden under dark frames and pale blond hair always in place, but things had been strained lately. I watched as he took off his tweed jacket and placed it on the hook. There was a place for everything and everything had to be in its place.
We got married too soon. We were only students when we wed and not truly citizens of the world. It was the worst decision I could have ever made. I was still desperately in love with him, but I didn't really know who he was. Who I was really was.
"I grabbed some food," he stated. He didn't look at me, instead he pushed the piles of papers off the unused kitchen table and unpacked the small boxes of assorted dishes from the bag. "I thought we could eat at the table tonight. Talk."
This broke up our normal routine of dinner on the couch and watching the evening news, followed by brushing our teeth next to each other, and perhaps languid lovemaking if we weren't too sleepy.
This was a no good turn of events.
"Egg roll?" He asked as I sat down.
I grabbed a pair of chopsticks and watched as he played with his fingers. I ignored his question and instead I asked, "What is this about, Jamie?"
"I guess it's best not to beat around the bush, Bella." He tugged on the sleeves of his sweater I had gotten him for Christmas as a joke. It was covered in reindeer and I was always curious why he wore it so much. It was far too warm for a sweater, but it seemed to be what he wore when he had something serious on his mind. Boy, it was hideous. "I love you. I really do—"
"There's a but."
He looked guilty and I clutched my chopsticks tighter. A single tear coursed down his cheek. "I met someone."
His tear was a lie. I broke one of the chopsticks in half.
"I meet lots of people, Jamie. It better be an old man playing chess at the student center that inspired you to write a poem about chess and the elderly." I grabbed an egg roll and began to stab it with the stick.
"It was a girl." He gave me big, sad eyes like a dog that pissed on the floor. "I didn't mean for it to happen."
Like hell he didn't. I was going to shove the egg roll down his throat.
"Did you have sex with her?"
"That is beside the point," He stated looking trapped.
I waved the chopstick towards his face. Forget choking, I was going to impale him in the eye with the Chinese utensil.
"Was it a student?" It wouldn't have surprised me in the least. He was a teacher's assistant in the literature department that was full of young undergrads eager to land themselves a husband. I knew the type, because once upon a time I flirted with that myself.
"I met Vicki at Robert's bachelor party," He explained looking sheepish. "It wasn't planned."
I stared at him. "She was at the gallery opening?"
"Umm . . . We skipped that." He looked at the ceiling. "We ended up at a club. She's a dancer, you see. Quite talented."
"She's a stripper," I prompted.
"I would perhaps call her an exotic performer." He pushed his glasses up his nose. "I think you'd really like her. She's got a luminescent personality."
He wanted me to kill him. That was the only explanation.
"James, I need you to leave. Leave right now." I looked down at my hands.
He stupidly spoke instead of running out of the apartment. "I have divorce papers in my messenger bag. We should probably—"
"I'm going to kill you."
"I should go." He stood and backed away quickly.
"Best idea that I've heard all night."
The next couple of days I had packed up my things and ended up in my father's small house with no job and limited finances. I did, however, destroy all James's clothes with bleach and took a hammer to his jazz record collection. There was bittersweet satisfaction, but it didn't help matters in the long run. I was divorced, stuck in this horrible job, and I had to watch baseball every night with my dad. I must have done something terrible in my youth, because karma was punching me in the gut.
"You wanna do this one?" Alice's voice jolted me out of my reminiscing about my doomed marriage. "You need the practice."
I looked up to see a buxom woman who's golden hair was twisted into a haphazard ponytail and there was ketchup stains on her white tee-shirt. In her arms she carried a wiggling baby, that was wailing as snot ran down her small face.
"Hey Al, can you fit Emma in?" The woman inquired tiredly.
Alice looked away from the mirror she was staring at herself in again. That girl was obsessed with her reflection. "Bella will be doing it, Rosie."
The woman sat on the stool and attempted to soothe her child. I looked at them both in a panic and said, "I don't think your daughter is interested in piercing."
"She'll be fine." She bounced the baby on her knee. "My mother-in-law gave us a coupon. I need to use it before it expires."
"That's a baby." Why would she punish a small child like this? I was an adult and I still didn't have my ears pierced. I wouldn't be working here if there was another opening somewhere else. This excludes Hot Topic, because Eric Yorkie did offer me a position to stock the shelves with the various assortment of gag gifts and borderline offensive sexual products. Having him ogling me all day would be horrific.
"I hadn't noticed," the mother deadpanned.
"I shouldn't be doing this, Alice!" My hand was already shaking.
She didn't even look at me. "You're cool. Right, Rosie?"
"I'm not sure, Al. She looks like she's going to faint." This Rosie woman looked at me nervously.
I wanted to prove I could at least make piercing work out, unlike my marriage. Approaching the child slowly, I tried to take my pen to make a single mark. Instead, I made the baby's ears look like she came down with a magenta polka dot disease.
The mother looked at Alice in fear. "Alice . . ."
"I can do this." I tried to sound brave as I place the piercing gun near the baby's ear. The child started screaming louder.
"Who is this pretty girl, Al?" I glanced up to see green eyes staring at me. The voice was attached to a good looking face with short red hair that stuck up wildly. Unfortunately, there was a puff of long hair attached to the back like the barber had missed a giant spot.
In my distraction, I shot my finger with the gun. A diamond stud pierced me in my thumb. "Mother fucker!"
"Watch your potty mouth around my baby!" The mother jumped up and said to Alice, "I'll come back when this accident isn't working."
I just cried, because diamond studs in the finger hurt.
The mysterious mullet wearing stranger grabbed my finger and pulled out the earring with a quick tug. I screamed, "Fuckety, fuck fuck!"
"I like your dirty mouth." He said this fact nonchalantly as if was an observation like commenting on the state of the weather. He inspected my wound and I tried to pull away, but his grip was strong. He glanced at Alice and demanded, "I need the first aid kit, sis."
It was her brother. This shouldn't have surprised me in the least.
"You can't boss me around at work, Edward!" My co-worker puffed herself up like an irate peacock, but still managed to pull out the white plastic box that contained a random assortment of bandages, sanitizing wipes and a tube of Neosporian. She muttered, "Now I have to write up a damn accident report."
He ignored her and set to repair my finger. "You might need a tetanus shot."
"The earring was just taken out of his sealed package. I'm sure I'm fine." I found myself staring at his nose. It reminded me of the paintings I study in art history of Renaissance royalty with there aristocratic profiles though his was slightly crooked as if someone punched him. "I need to go back to work."
I watched as he wrapped a band-aid around my finger and looked at it with a smirk. He said with a grin, "It needs one final touch."
Taking a black sharpie, he drew a smiley face on it.
"Umm . . . Thanks?" I was trying to figure out this strangely charismatic weirdo.
"I'll see you around, Bella." He hopped up gave me a wink. "Mom wants you to come to dinner on Friday, Alice."
How did he know my name?
"Go fall off a cliff." Alice was gazing at herself in the mirror again and I watched her brother walk away. That tuft of hair seemed to sway as he headed towards the food court. The eighties wanted its hairstyle back, but I found the way it curled to be mesmerizing like staring at a car accident.
Alice continued talking, "I miss my long hair."
"Oh." She could chop off that mess in back of her brother's head and make a wig.
"It was the lice. I had to cut it off."
"Oh." My head began to feel itchy.
That was when Eric Yorkie came rushing over with a tissue pressed to his nose. It was bleeding. "Hey, new girl, I'm having trouble with my piercing. Can you fix it?"
There was no way that this day could get any worse.
Three hours it did, because Alice's brother was leaning on the hunk of junk of a pickup truck that my father was lending me.
I had parked under a street light for safety's sake and was taken by the image of the man wearing his jean jacket paired with ripped jean combination. Oddly, he could somewhat pull it off. I will admit that I was no fashionista and had an unnatural fondness for oversized, woolen cardigans, but his look was a flashback that rivaled his sister's. I wondered if this was because of chemicals in the water supply. I think I need to stop drinking from the tap.
"What ya doin'?" I slowly approached him slowly, because I was new in town and he had a mullet. There were serial killer possibilities in this interaction. I grabbed my keys out of my pocket and held them like the instructor told me to from that defensive fight class I took in high school. I was certain I could at least jab him in the eye or at least the forehead so I could make a run for it.
"I didn't introduce myself," he explained with a small smile. "It's Edward Cullen."
"Your sister gave me heads up." She did that after pointing out that she believed he was the lice carrier that infected her. My scalp was still itchy at the thought.
"Right. I guess she would have done that." He started scratching the back of his head. I bet lice would love to live in all that extra hair. "I wanted to try something."
The attractive, badly dressed man was going to murder me. I took two steps back and he took two steps forward.
"I need to get home."
"You need to be properly kissed. I can't stop thinking about it." He took my face in his hands and pressed his mouth to mine.
I was going to knee him in the groin. I really, truly was. That was the plan, but instead he tasted like peppermint and it was enough to make me attack his mouth with my own. I could blame the divorce, but truthfully I was horny and he kissed like a champ.
I felt his hands go to my hips, fingers dipping in my jeans to touch my bare skin. He lifted me up onto the hood of my truck and let his travel up and down my body as his lips started to suck on the base of my neck. I felt wanton, out of control, and like the objectified female in a heavy metal music video. Edward Cullen certainly fit the part of the male lead.
I didn't know how many minutes actually were making out, but it felt like hours.
His rough palm grasped my breasts, while the other hand fumbled with my jeans. I froze. We were going to have sex on a car, outdoors, and in a mall parking lot. I was not that girl. I made love in a bed with classical music playing softly in the background, and it was almost always missionary position. James was dependable that way. Changing things up was not for a girl like me.
Pushing on his chest, I sat up heaving. "I don't do things like this!"
"You really should, baby, because you're excellent at it." His eyes were bright and staring at my mouth. "Give me some more."
His lips went back towards mine and I stopped them with my palm. He licked it. I pulled my hand away. "Listen, I don't have sex on the hood of a car in public with a person I don't know!"
"I'm Edward and you're Bella. We know each other now. I wasn't planning on sex with you tonight," he stated brushing a stray hair from my face. "We can plan on trying this in the future. You could be quite the rebel."
"There's no future rebelling with you, mister!" I pushed him away and hopped off the truck. "I will be leaving now."
"I'll see you later, baby." He gave another wink and headed towards a black Mustang.
I stared as he peeled away in his loud muscle car, as the music blared. What the hell did I just do?
My earlier question was answered clearly as I stared in the mirror at the hickey that colored my neck.
I was like a teenager that was marked by an overeager boy after the high school homecoming dance.
Before my shower, I hadn't noticed the mark. I was too intent on washing that man right out of my hair like the heroine in South Pacific. Now standing in front of the mirror with my hair dripping down my back, my lapse in judgement was taunting me as an ugly bruise that I would have to hide wearing scarves and turtlenecks.
Tightening my towel around my chest I walked towards the my old bed. It still had the purple, floral bedspread that my father purchased for my random visits to his home during the summer. The Pearl Jam and Nirvana posters still hung on the walls with scotch tape. It was as if I never grew up.
All of a sudden a noticed a light turn in the house next door. My bedroom window faced what used to be old Mrs. Cope's sewing room. She had passed away a few years ago and my dad never told me that the house had a new family that moved in. I went over to close my curtains, when I saw a wet Edward staring at me. He had lost the denim jacket and tee-shirt and was wearing only a ratty, blue towel around his waist.
He held up finger to make we wait and moved to hastily write something. He held up a drawn heart on a piece of newspaper and cheekily blew a kiss.
My eyes widened and as I lifted my arms to close the drapes, my towel dropped to the floor.
Edward's eyes darkened and I let out a scream, falling to the floor.
Hell had another name and it was Forks, Washington and I was now certain that the devil was one Edward Cullen.