A/N: So I will be reposting/updating all posted chapters. They will have now be beta'd. Thank you SarcasticBimbo for your amazing Beta work.
I was bored with life. I did the same thing, day in and day out. I worked, babysat for the neighbors, and stayed in my cramped studio apartment, watching TV and reading or surfing the net.
For once, I wanted to do something that was out of the norm for me. Something that mousy, innocent Bella would never do.
I felt like I was looking older every day, with my dull, eyes long, straight brown hair. I needed a huge change, I felt like I was dying inside.
I wasn't sure what I needed to do, but I knew I needed to do something. Maybe I could make some new friends. I mean it was Arizona after all, there has to be a party somewhere. But I was never the party type of girl. I was quiet and shy, maybe I needed someone to help me out of my shell.
I went to my trusty laptop and I started looking through the personal ads on craigslist.
Then I chose the strictly platonic tab, I happened on a pop up ad for a website where you write to prisoners.
No, I could never do that.
But something pulled me to the site. I figured, maybe I could just look. No one would ever know, and besides, it's not like I was going to actually write to anyone.
I browsed through a few ads, laughing at the requests from the inmates. There were requests for money and pornographic pictures; anything and everything.
The last ad I came across was something I didn't expect. A picture was included in the ad. The man in the picture had striking green eyes, and messy, reddish-brown hair. I looked at his profile page because I wanted to make sure he wasn't some kind of pervert. The crime he was convicted of was possession with intent to distribute. I had no idea what that meant. But it was his profile, the part where the inmate describes himself in his own words, that intrigued me:
I'm doing a fifteen-year bid for some lifestyle choices I made that were for the good of those I love and care about. I pass my time by reading, watching movies, and I cook in the kitchen. I like to read anything, but my favorites are the classics. Music is and has always been a passion of mine, from Jay-Z to Sinatra to Debussy; I love it all. All these interests can only take up so much of the long boring days, though. I need something else, something more. I'm looking for a friend, someone intelligent and fun, to help me pass some time. Until I hear from you. Eddie
He liked to read, he was into music, cooking and family. I was confused. He was an inmate; how could he seem so normal.
He liked some of the same music as I did, and I loved reading classics, too. He was in prison, but it was still some kind of human connection for me; someone to break up the monotonous rut I had somehow let myself slip into.
I pulled out some stationery, and I started writing. I told him about the books I've read, the small town I lived in, and how boring and plain I am. I told him that something in me wants to change.
I must have sounded like some desperate moron, and the opposite of intelligent and fun like he wanted, but oh well. I addressed the letter and put it on the table to send out the next day on my way to my shift at the coffee shop.
I almost didn't send the letter. I felt desperate, needy, and was sure I would come off like some moronic child. I have no idea what made me buy the stamp at the corner store and affix it to the envelope before I put it in the mailbox. . . but I did, and then I went on with my boring existence.
One day I got a return letter from Edward, or as he was known in the streets, Fast Eddie.
I had spent another boring day at the coffee shop that was attached to my favorite bookstore. I was again taunted by the Botox blonde party girls I worked with. They teased me relentlessly, calling me Virginella, because I kept to myself and I didn't get into the party or bar scene. I was always afraid I would lose control of myself, and there would be no one looking out for me.
"So, any plans tonight, Bella?" Ben asked. He was one of the only people at work I talked to. He was studying anthropology at ASU and was a bigger bookworm than I was.
"No, not really. I mean, I have this new series I'm reading, and it's getting good," I said with a small smile.
"Besides, who would be desperate enough to ask Virginella out on a date?" Jessica snarked in her nasal, yet sickeningly sweet voice.
"God, Jess, is that all you think about?" Ben asked with a shake of his head and roll of his eyes.
"Benny, come on, you know it's true. We know you're just being charitable. You should come out with me and Lauren tonight. We're gonna go party at Devil Dawgs, you would have fun," Jessica said, her hand softly rubbing his bicep.
"Thanks, but I would like to make it through undergrad without an STD." Ben snatched his arm away and walked to the back
Jess spent the rest of the shift huffing and pouting at Ben and treating me as if I didn't exist. Normal.
I got home and checked my mail, and there was a thicker envelope with the most beautiful handwriting. I look at the address, thinking it had to have been put in my mailbox by mistake. I shook my head when I saw my name written in elegant script. I smiled and lugged my groceries up to my apartment clutching the letter like it was the Holy Grail.
I made myself a simple dinner, refusing to look at the letter until I was sitting on my couch, eating my dinner. I took a deep breath and carefully opened the letter. I didn't want to destroy the envelope, he had hand drawn some dragons and roses on it.
I smiled as I unfolded the first page.
First, I want to thank you for taking the time out to write me, it was a really pleasant surprise. You don't even want to imagine the type of women who write to men like me.
I know every other guy in here claims they are either innocent or different, but I won't. I'm guilty, I'm here because I was arrogant and sloppy. I will also say I'm always to the point and brutally honest.
I'm not looking for a girl to use for money or for anything like that. I just need something to break up the monotony, something to look forward to. I don't know how long I will be in here. I'm not a rapist, and I could say I'm not a murderer. In a way, I could say I'm not, but I am a monster.
I was sentenced to fifteen years for possession of a large quantity with intent to distribute. I will admit to being the largest cocaine and heroin distributor on the eastern seaboard. I ran drugs through every community from Florida to Rhode Island. So, in effect, I probably have killed some people, and I should be sorry for that, but I do what I have to do to take care of my circle.
Family is so important to me. I had hoped to one day get married and have a few kids of my own, but I doubt that will ever happen now.
I'm twenty-two years old. I've been selling drugs since I was fourteen. I was different from most because I still went to school. I got straight A's, and I graduated from high school early. Hell, I even had a dream to go to Dartmouth for med school. I was accepted on a full ride, but by that time circumstances had changed. I had people I was responsible for and, as they say, the rest is history.
I love the fact that you love your classics, and you're into fairy tales and I hope that one day, you get your fairy tale.
Bella, there is nothing wrong with being quiet or plain or being a good girl and a homebody. I was kind of the same way before I caught my case, most of the time I was a bit of a hermit. I find that fictional characters are far more interesting and sometimes more loyal than people.
To answer your question, my passions are music, art, and my favorite food is pizza. Homemade pizza, and flatbread.
I like simple things like thunderstorms and hot showers alone. I like to watch movies and had a huge collection of DVDs. I do have a family, in a sense. Maybe someday I will tell you about them.
I am reading a few books right now, my access to good ones are limited, as all we have is a small library here until I get transferred to my permanent spot.
No, Bella, you didn't come across as desperate or crazy. I enjoyed your letter, and your spirit came across as very bright, intelligent, and a person who gives her whole heart. They are rare and good qualities.
Well, it is getting late here, and I should get some sleep, I get to cook breakfast for a ton of hungry badasses. I hope to hear from you again, but if I don't, I will say it again.
Thank you, Bella, your letter meant too much to me, and I enjoyed reading it. Tell me more about you? About your lack of friends, your family, what do you like to do in your downtime? You gotta have some skeletons in your closet, what do you look like? It doesn't matter, cause I already know you're beautiful at least your spirit is.
Talk to ya soon,
I was in shock at how articulate and poised his letter was. I guess I had always assumed most drug dealers to be unintelligent monsters. Edward, or Eddie, didn't seem anything like that. I looked inside the envelope. There was a picture of Edward, probably before he went into prison, he was with a few other guys, and they were all sitting on a car laughing. On the back was written, 'my family.'
The one guy was gigantic, with short brown hair that was curly and a little longer on the top. The other guy was a honey blond, with shaggy, ear-length, dirty blond hair.
I immediately knew who Edward was. I let a smile grace the corner of my lips. He was handsome, any idiot could see that, but that wasn't what this was supposed to be.
If I said I hadn't reread Edward's letter, I wouldn't be telling the truth, and like I wanted, for the first time in my life, I had something to look forward to.
I wrote Edward back, telling him about the coffee shop and bookstore, about my lack of family, and my boring lack of a social life. I told him everything.
Over the next few weeks, we were writing to each other two letters a week, and these weren't small letters. Edward's were, on average, eight to nine pages, and mine were just as long. It was something different, something exciting.
Edward had this amazing sense of humor and way of making me feel better about myself. He only knew what I had told him. We had exchanged a few pictures and tonight, we were going to talk on the phone.
Edward was really guarded about talking about his family. He said he would tell me someday, but right now he couldn't, that there were things he couldn't talk about.
I respected that, I knew that our letters were opened and read before he got to see them; there were certain things he wasn't supposed to have.
I had only told Ben about him, and Ben had told me to be careful, that mostly those guys were just out to get things from women. Money, a place to live when they were paroled, anything.
The funny thing about that was, Edward had never asked me for anything, and he turned me down anytime I offered him anything, saying his family took care of everything he needed.
When he had discussed us being able to talk on the phone, I offered to get him a calling card, but he refused, saying his sister would take care of it, that it wouldn't be right for me to pay for our first "date."
I wrote a smiley face in the letter that included my phone number and told him that if this was our first date, then he had better do a better job of courting me.
The next day a dozen red and white roses and the most amazing Belgian chocolates appeared at my job, with a card reading:
How's this? Am I doing better?
I was shocked; I had never been sent flowers, from anyone. I wondered how he was even able to do it, he's in prison for god's sake, and I loved the flowers. What I loved even more, was the look of utter jealousy on Jessica's face.
She still treated me as if I didn't exist, but every so often, I would see her staring at my flowers with utter disgust.
"Who would bother to give something like that to her?" I overheard her sneer to our coworker Lauren.
"She obviously sent them to herself, no one with eyes would ever want her," Lauren huffed.
"Ben said she has been seeing someone not good for her, but he won't give me any details, something about being a real friend, or some shit."
"Well, ask her, I mean if you truly care and want to know, ask her." Lauren said.
"I truly don't care, like you said, no one would want her, she probably sent them to herself," Jessica sneered, she came out of the break room and when she turned she was looking right at me.
"Uhh, Bella, hey," she stammered.
"Fuck off, Jessica. You know what? There is someone who wants me, who doesn't mind that I'm a virgin and plain. Not that it's any of your business, so just back off," I snapped.
I had no idea where this sudden confidence came from, but I was tired of it. All of it; the rut, the lack of purpose or adventure, but most of all I was tired of my lack of confidence.
I ignored Jessica for the rest of the day and at the end of my shift, I grabbed my flowers and headed home. Tonight was our first date, our phone call. I was unsure of what this meant, but I knew I was excited to hear Edward's voice, even if it was only for ten minutes.