A/N: If you review, I will reply! :)
Chapter 5: A Friend In Deed
My cell phone vibrates on the nightstand next to me, interrupting my perusal of my old green notebook. Fitz, still lying curled up on the bed, lifts his head to look at me.
"I'm sure it's for me," I say, patting him. Fitz drops his head back down to the bed with a sigh. I pick up my vibrating phone and glance at the image on the screen as I take the call.
"You knew it was me, Swan? So much for making a prank phone call!"
I smile into the phone. "Yeah, the photo that comes up when you use your cell is a dead giveaway. You might want to consider using the old pay phone in front of the Food Mart next time." I hear Angela's familiar soft laugh.
"I can just imagine setting that up… 'Ben, you're in charge of the kids. I'm going to pop over to the pay phone at the Food Mart to prank phone call Swan.' 'Sure thing, sweetheart. Drive carefully and pick up some Mint Chip ice cream while you're there.' He wouldn't even question it; he'd just go along."
It's my turn to laugh. "He probably would. Pastor Ben knows our relationship is a special one—there'll be no salvation for us." My eyes drift down to the notebook, propped open on my lap. "I was just thinking of you, Angela…"
"Because I've been badgering you with nightly phone calls and the occasional visit?"
Angela has been a solid-rock-of-a-friend since the day we met. I've been particularly grateful for her friendship in the days since Charlie died. She has hugged me and cried with me, listened when I needed to talk, talked when I needed a distraction, and she's been helping me navigate and coordinate death's aftermath and arrangements.
"I love your badgering. You're the best of badgerers. But actually, I was remembering my first day at Forks High…you know…when Jessica made me think Ben and Edward were a couple…and then announced to the whole cafeteria that I thought they were gay lovers." Angela makes a squealing sound.
"Oh gosh, I haven't thought about that in ages! That was awful!"
"Tell me about it!" I say over her laughter. "You weren't the one whose face fried to a crisp in embarrassment…over and over again!"
"No, but I felt your pain. There you were…the new girl…obviously on the shy side…and 'Assica' pulls that stunt on your very first day."
I burst into giggles. It's been years since I've heard Jessica Newton referred to as 'Assica,' but it's even funnier coming from Angela, who is Reverend Weber's daughter and Pastor Ben's wife. She's such a good person and everyone thinks of her as the 'quintessential good girl' but I know she has a devilish streak.
"How dreadful was it when Edward showed up to add fifth period Bio?!"
"To be MY lab partner! The whole time he was talking with Mr. Banner I was chanting, pleasegoaway, pleasegoaway, pleasegoaway. I remember looking across the room at you…your eyes were as big as saucers."
"I couldn't stand watching but I couldn't look away. It was such a train wreck!"
"I know!" I start giggling as the scene unfolds in my mind…Edward turning away from Mr. Banner…heading to his assigned seat…his body stiffening as he spots me there…his expression grim as he brushes past behind me…pulls his chair out…and takes his seat with a huff.
"Poor Edward, he was too polite to actually say anything rude to me. He just sat there suffering in silence…with his chair practically in the aisle to get away from the weird, homophobic, new girl."
It takes Angela a few seconds to respond. She's too busy making snorting sounds.
"Well, things worked out amazingly well after the debacle of your first day. Edward moved his chair back into place and within a few months' time, the hottest boy to walk the halls of Forks High was dating the weird, homophobic new girl…and I was dating heterosexual Ben!"
We're both breathless from laughing. "Yeah…that was pretty amazing," I sigh.
Angela doesn't say anything for a moment. She knows another whole year of amazing followed the end of that school year…before the amazing came to a halt.
"So, what made you think of that horrible day?" she finally asks in a more serious voice.
"Oh, I was just…reading my old journal from high school…"
Are you writing again?"
Angela knows about the journal. She's heard excerpts and knows bits and pieces from it have found their way into relatively obscure print.
"No. I dug it out because…"
I'm not ready to tell her I imagined I saw Edward…because that's probably what that was, earlier today. Nor am I ready to examine why I would be imagining his presence here in Forks after all this time.
"I was thinking of when I moved here…how awkward it was at first, living with Charlie when I didn't really know him all that well and him trying to figure out how to parent a teenaged daughter full-time."
"Well, of course it was awkward. For both of you. Even though you and your dad turned out to be alike in so many ways, you were used to living with your mom."
I nod at her words. At the time, Mom's wacky was my normal.
"Speaking of your mom… You never told me what she finally decided. Are you picking her up in Port Angeles? Is she staying with you?"
"Oh, I didn't tell you… Of course the plans have changed—this is my mother we're talking about, after all. Since she turns into a basket case when she flies alone, Phil is now coming with her. And no, they're not staying here. Phil booked a room at the Miller Tree bed and breakfast. They're leaving Jacksonville at six tomorrow morning and should get into Port Angeles around one. Phil reserved a rental car, so they're just going to call when they get to Forks."
"How long are they staying?"
"The Suns just started their season and they really can't spare Phil from their coaching staff. He can only get away for two days. So they'll get here tomorrow afternoon, be here for the funeral on Wednesday, and then leave to fly back on Thursday around noon."
"That's such a short time."
"Yeah, but honestly I'm glad it worked out this way. I know my mom is doing this for me and of course she means well, but if she were to stay here for very long right now, she'd probably just drive me crazy. She'd look around the house for projects, offering to help pack up Charlie's things to store, donate, or toss out. She'd want to rearrange the furniture or buy new and start suggesting paint colors to brighten up the walls. I'm not ready to do any of that."
"Of course you're not. It takes time to grieve and adjust."
"I told her I'd come visit her in Jacksonville in the summer. That way, she's happy, we can spend some quality time together, and I won't be losing my mind."
"You're a smart cookie, Swan. So, what are you doing tomorrow before they get here?"
"No plans, why?"
"The book nook at the Cup and Saucer is finally finished. Want to come check it out?"
"Of course I do! Angela, that's great!"
"I have to warn you…I might try and put you to work organizing books…but I'll feed you blueberry scones and pour café lattes down your throat."
I'm smiling at the visual. Angela owns and manages the Cup and Saucer—the old Coffee Hut, where Angela, Alice and I worked during high school and off and on during our college years. When the Hut went up for sale a few years ago, Angela bought it, updated it and renamed it the Cup and Saucer. She recently expanded, taking over the tiny defunct shoe repair shop next door, providing customers a quiet side room to read, study, or work on laptops while they consume the Cup's offerings.
"I'm happy to help—especially if you're going to hand-feed me. I'll come by early."
"Great! Then I'll see you tomorrow morning, Bella."
"See you tomorrow. Goodnight, Angela."
I return my phone to the bedside table and scratch dozing Fitz.
"Who needs to go potty outside?" I ask. He lifts his head and looks my way. "No, it's not me," I tell him. "Guess again. Potty outside?"
He hoists himself up and shakes himself out, snout to tail, ears flapping loudly against his head. Finally he jumps down off the bed, stretches, looks over his shoulder to make sure I'm serious about this, and leads me downstairs.
I let him out into the backyard. The rain has stopped, but the grass will still be wet, so I grab a towel for his return. While he does his business, I lock up out front and turn off the lights in the living room. By the time I return to the back door, he's there, waiting to be let in. He waits patiently as I wipe his legs and paws down and then he stares at me expectantly until I give him a chicken cookie for his efforts.
Back upstairs I take care of my own bedtime business, including potty inside, hang up my robe, and finally return to my room. Crawling into bed, I pick up my journal once again and go back to my entry for that fateful first day at Forks High.
Luckily, Mr. Banner turned on the overhead projector, turned off the lights, and lectured all period long so I didn't have to talk to Edward and he wasn't forced to talk to me. I let my hair fall to the side, hid my face behind it, and dove into my note-taking. When the bell rang at the end of the period, Edward was up and out the door before I could even gather my things.
I don't know how we're ever going to do labs together.
Sixth period Spanish 3 wasn't much better. We had a substitute teacher who couldn't issue me a textbook. She let us sit wherever we wanted. Guess who sat next to me? Jessica. (I'm serious!) She was still stuck on the whole lunch ordeal, giggling her head off and wondering how I could think for one minute that hunky senior, Edward Cullen, was gay. I ignored her comments but at least she shared her book and I already knew most of the vocabulary we had to copy and translate.
After school I went back to the front office to turn in my new-student paperwork to Mrs. Cope. Edward was there, talking to her, trying to change his schedule from what I could overhear. Mrs. Cope just kept shaking her head and smiling politely at him. I was going to duck back out the door to avoid Edward but I wasn't fast enough. He turned around, saw me, gave me the stink eye, and left in a huff.
I had to know, so I asked Mrs. Cope if he was trying to transfer out of fifth period Advanced Bio. She seemed surprised I knew but said yes. When I asked if it was because of me, she laughed and wondered where I'd gotten such a crazy idea.
She probably wasn't supposed to tell me another student's business, but maybe she could tell I'd had a rough first day. Leaning over the counter she quietly said Edward was repeating the second semester of Advanced Bio because he had an Incomplete grade in it from the previous school year. She said he was just upset because he now had a full schedule of academics his final semester of his senior year and that meant he wouldn't be able to practice with the baseball team during sixth period Athletics…and he's Forks High's star pitcher.
Poor Edward. He has so many reasons to hate fifth period Advanced Bio.
I sure hope tomorrow is a better day. If every day is as bad as this one, I'll fill up this notebook in about a week.
I close my notebook, set it on the bedside table, and turn off the lamp there. I'm smiling as I slide down under the covers and wiggle my toes against Fitz' warm body, lying down at the end of the bed. I already know how the next day turned out, of course.
It was the day I met Alice Brandon.
And the first day Edward Cullen spoke to me.
A/N: A few more answers and questions. Hope you'll share your thoughts.