Disclaimer – Stephanie Meyer owns all things Twilight –
I just like to get weird with her characters.
Much love and thanks to my beta love, Carrie ZM,
for all the edits, the hours, the encouragement, and the laughs we had with this fic.
Writing with you is always a blast – you make this shit fun, Boo.
Many thanks to my wonderful pre-readers, Planetblue and Robsmyyummy
Cabanaboy, for all the time, insight, and commentary you provided on this story.
I greatly admire you both and am so grateful for all of your help on this, pals.
Special thanks to Ceci – Lolypop82 for the awesome banner. Tilt, baby, tilt.
Girl Code – Don't gossip. Just call it like you see it.
"So where'd she meet him?" Sue Clearwater asks my mom, wide-eyed and practically salivating for the skinny on Esme's whirlwind romance.
Mom smiles smugly as she sections off Sue's hair, knowing she has a captive audience. "They met in Vegas in April," she begins, tilting her head the same way she has the past four times she told the story today. "She was there for a cutting competition, and he was there for an insurance seminar."
"What's his name, Renee?" Mrs. Whitlock pipes up from Tanya's nail station, straining her neck to hear over the nearby dryers.
"Carlisle Cullen," Mom says nonchalantly. "He's from Chicago, sells insurance." She catches Sue's eye in the mirror and sees they want more that just his name, location, and occupation. She wastes no time getting down to the nitty-gritty. "He's a widower," she pauses for dramatic effect allowing the clients to pity him properly with a shake of their head or the ever common 'aww'. Tanya doesn't miss a beat giving her fourth sign of the cross that day at Renee's revelation.
"Terrible," Mrs. Whitlock mumbles, following Tanya's lead with her free hand.
"And…" Mom continues, motioning for Alec to place a foil against Sue's scalp. "He has a son that's Rose and Bella's age." She paints the color onto the hair and wraps the foil tightly. "Nice boy, good manners. Awfully quiet though."
"Is he handsome?" Sue asks, trying to get my mom back on task. "Carlisle," she clarifies, not wanting to sound like she's remotely interested in the motherless boy.
"Mmm hmm," Zafrina chimes in from two stations over, never taking her eyes off of the track she's sewing into Mrs. Weber's hair.
"Very," Mom confirms, while Tanya nods in agreement.
"How'd they meet? Were they staying at the same hotel? Or…" Mrs. Whitlock trails off, politely nudging Mom to spill.
My mom looks giddy, like Sandy from Grease, surrounded by Pink Ladies urging her to 'tell me more'.
"Well, you'll never believe it." This is an interesting choice of words since they shouldn't believe it, because it's not true. "They met waiting for a table at that restaurant, Serendipity."
Tanya and Zafrina begin bobbing their heads in unison as if to assure their clients 'yep, it's true'. The truth is that they actually met at the outdoor bar between Caesars and the Bellagio right next to Serendipity. Honestly, who cares if they didn't fall in love over frozen hot chocolates? I think the fact that they fell in love at all is sweet enough, even if it was over copious amounts of frozen margaritas and body shots.
"He asked her to join him for dinner, and the rest as they say is history." She finishes the story strong with a sweet smile and a shoulder shrug, radiating happiness for her friend.
Sue and my mom are long time friends as well. They're nowhere near as close as Mom and Esme, but they've known each other since elementary school. Sue quirks an expectant brow at my mom, waiting for the good stuff.
"So they met at Serendipity and…"
"And they had a nice dinner."
"And…" Sue prods again.
"And they spent the next few days together," Mom says offhandedly, making Sue work for it.
"She didn't go to the cutting competition, did she?" Sue asks, knowing the answer by the smile crossing my mother's face.
I see the corner of Alec's mouth turn up as his favorite part of the story nears.
"No, she didn't." Mom turns and daintily points her brush toward the good Reverend's wife. "Now be a dear and cover your ears, Mrs. Weber."
It's no secret in this town that Agnes Weber loves two things – the good Lord and hot gossip. She doesn't even pretend to cover her ears.
The mention of ear covering has Mrs. Whitlock leaning over as far as she can until only one ass cheek secures her seat.
"They spent every single moment together for those few days," Mom says slowly, making eye contact with each client including the nosy Mrs. Weber. "And the only scissoring she did that weekend was her legs around that man's head."
For the fourth time today, the salon erupts in raucous laughter. I go back to scrolling through my Facebook news feed, trying to tune out the cackles and the rest of the story about the four-month courtship consisting of Skype sessions, phone calls, and a romantic proposal at some restaurant overlooking the city of Chicago.
Fucking around on social media all day is one of the perks of my job working the front desk. I don't make much money, but that's okay because Renee and Esme pay me in other ways like hair products, services, and my favorite form of compensation – secrets. I laugh when I see Alec's status from an hour ago and press the like button immediately. Scissoring is fun at Reneesme's Salon.
While that mouthful of a salon name is both cringe and eye-roll worthy, I must say that for two young mothers fresh out of hair school, they made this salon the place to be in Port Townsend. If you need to get something off your chest, you either head down to one of the nine churches our small town boasts, or you take a seat in one of the chairs at Reneesme's. It's like a confessional with wine and a willing ear to listen in a judgment free environment. Well, at least until you leave that is.
The bells clanging over the front door jar me from my midday social briefing as a bored-looking Rose enters the salon. "Well…hello, hello," I say, raising my brow at her weary expression. She and Esme are moving into a new house this week with Carlisle and his son. "How goes it?"
Sighing, she drops her purse on the counter. "It's interesting."
"I'll bet." I check the book and see my mom penciled her in for a quick cut. "Getting the back-to-school special?"
"You know it." She leans onto the counter, propping her chin on her hand and starts scrolling on her phone. "Senior year, can you believe it?"
I shake my head. "Not really. I still remember when we coordinated outfits and school supplies in first grade." Just like our moms, Rose and I are inseparable and have been all our lives. I pick up my phone and check out what's new on Instagram. "We should totally do that though. Matching outfits. It'll be the most epic then and now Throwback Thursday pic ever for the yearbook."
"We should!" Rose's eyes get as big as her grin. "Oh my God, Alice would shit twice and die!"
"Fuck Alice," I mutter quietly under my breath.
"What happened now?"
"Nada. I'm just sick of her shit."
"Were those passive aggressive statuses about you last night?"
I snort. "Which ones?" I ask indifferently, though I quickly flip to Facebook to see if they are, in fact, about me. I swear sometimes I wish she'd just tag me in them, because I never know. "She's been posting some crazy shit ever since Garrett gave her the big boot."
"Are we allowed to address that yet?"
"No, not to her face."
Rose nods. "It was something about 'don't talk shit if you don't know shit' kind of thing, followed by about three snarky eCards about gossiping."
"Oh, that's about Chelsea. She made some comment on Victoria's post which apparently sent Alice over the edge." I toss my phone on the counter, stand up and stretch. "The funny thing about it is that Chelsea actually liked Alice's status."
"That's so fucked up."
"I know, right?"
There are lots of fucked up things about our little group of friends, especially Alice. I consider her my very best frenemy. We get along because we have to and have known each other far too long not to. She's all of five feet and two inches and 100 lbs of pure balls and bitch. Maybe I'm being too harsh, because she's not all bad per se. She can be funny sometimes, clever for sure, and loyal to a fault when it suits her. However, once you piss her off, she can go from zero to psychopath in about thirty seconds flat.
"Rosie." Rose's head snaps up at the sound of my mom's voice. She smiles big as she heads back to her station, slowly walking into the lion's den. "How's the move going?"
I sit back down and resume my work duties, checking my Twitter feed and email. Much to my disappointment, not much is happening at 3:30 pm on a Wednesday, so I guess I should work for real. I thumb through the appointment book, double checking that I confirmed all of the clients for tomorrow.
"Bella." I hear my mom call me over all the 'oohs and ahhs' of the peanut gallery listening to Rose talk about her new soon-to-be stepdad. I stand up to see her still foiling Sue's hair. "Come wash Rose's hair and give her a ClayPac."
I give the drill sergeant a salute just as Tanya's next client walks in. "Hey Mrs. Mallory. Tanya's just finishing up. She'll be right with you."
Rose is waiting for me at the shampoo bowl, eyes still glued to her phone. She looks up briefly, eyeing Mrs. Mallory and grins. "How bad is it?" she asks as I wet her hair.
"How bad is what?"
"Mrs. Mallory's 'stache."
"Oh my God, you're awful."
"So is her mustache. Now tell me, is it like a shitty one like Taylor Lautner's, or does she have a full blown Charlie Swan?"
"It's a week shy of a Charlie Swan," our other bestie Alec answers, sidling up to me and grabbing the nozzle. "Let me do that." I'm feeling particularly lazy today, so I let him and slump into the seat next to Rose. "So how's life at the love nest?"
"Its fine, I guess. Kinda, I don't know...weird."
"Did he ask you to call him Daddy?" Alec wags his brows and pumps the shampoo into his hand, before giving me a wink. Alec is the only boy in our close circle of friends. Incidentally, he's also the meanest girl I know. He's like the perfect mix of Harry Styles good looks and Scott Disick's asshole disposition. He's both heinous and hilarious, and in short, I kind of love him for it.
"You're such a pig." Rose looks truly disgusted and kicks my foot for laughing. "Carlisle's super nice and Edward's cool too, I guess." She closes her eyes when Alec begins massaging in the shampoo. "It's just that they're really different than us."
Alec squints, looking confused. "Like Honey Boo Boo family different or…"
"God, no." She points to me. "Bella, you've met him – you know what I mean, right?"
I'm the only one out of our group who's had the pleasure of meeting Carlisle, and I think he's wonderful. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, big personality with the funniest accent, it's easy to see why Esme is so drawn to him. He's one of those friendly, affectionate types. The kind of guy who shakes your hand with two of his, respectfully kisses women on the cheek coming and going, and calls all the ladies 'hun'. If I had to describe him, I'd say he's a total guy's guy, knows a little about everything and can bullshit his way through the rest.
"I thought he was great," I say with a shrug. "My dad even loved him." Truthfully, I think Charlie is just happy to have another dude in the mix. People probably think that my parents and Esme are a real life version of Big Love, minus the Mormon faith and adjoining homes.
"Like, here's an example. The movers bring in all the boxes from their place, right? So he and Edward start pulling stuff out and placing it around the house." Alec and I look at her as if to say 'well obviously'. "But then Mom and I took a look at what they were putting around the house, and that's when shit got real."
My mind automatically goes to pictures of his dead wife, maybe even shrine-style with candles and crosses and stuff. Mom and Esme don't talk about her. It's an unspoken, off-limits subject, much like the topic of Rose's father. The only thing I know about him is that he was a fisherman lothario who loved and left Esme with a broken heart, a baby, and a tarnished reputation in a small town.
"They put a HUGE Chicago Bears rug in the entry way, a Blackhawks throw over the couch, and framed autographed pictures of Mike Ditka and Walter Payton on the mantle next to my prom picture."
"And they are?" Alec asks, dragging out the last word.
Rose claps and throws her hands up to testify. "Hello! Thank you! That's what I said!" She puts her hand on her heart and one in the air because apparently we're having church up in here. "I swear to God, no joke, he gives me a ten minute lecture on the 1985 Chicago Bears." I roll my eyes because now she's exaggerating, but she catches it. "I'm so effing serious right now, Bella."
"So did Esme let him keep it there?" Leave it to Alec to keep us on track.
"No. They stepped out of the room and when they came back, he moved all the stuff to the garage and declared it 'man land'." Alec finishes rinsing her hair and squeezes the Claypac into his hand. Rose looks at me with a soft smile tugging at her lips. "He's crazy about my mom, though. Like, legit head over heels for her. And she's happy, so…"
She shrugs her shoulders and gives me a look. No words are necessary, because I know how much her mom's happiness means to her.
"So what else is weird about them?" Alec asks, working the product through her hair.
"Um, let's see." Rose starts ticking off her fingers. "They sometimes communicate through a series of grunts. They leave the toilet seat up." I cover my mouth trying not to laugh at the thought of Rose's ass in toilet water. "And...they put ketchup on like everything, including eggs."
"Gross." I can't help but make a face.
"I know, right? The only thing they don't put ketchup on, because it's like a cardinal sin is hot dogs."
Rose taps her chin. "And Carlisle, he's got a guy for everything. You need a shit shoveler? He's got a guy. A jeweler? A roofer? A gynie?" Alec and I laugh at Rose's pitiful attempt at a Chicago accent. "It's true, you guys. He's all 'whatcha need hun'."
Alec rinses his hands and seats her upright. "You make him sound like he's in the mafia or something."
"I'm just sayin' that it's weird."
"What about the son?" He snaps his fingers trying to recall the name. "Ed, right?"
"Edward," Rosalie corrects. "I don't know, he's just all quiet."
"Like serial killer quiet?" I shake my head at Alec's idiocy.
"Not in a creepy way or anything. I think he's just trying to wrap his head around all this." She waves her finger around. "Like this change is massive for him. He's only ever gone to all boys private schools. Never knew his mom, so he's never lived with girls."
"That sucks," I mutter, unable to imagine how I'd feel if my parents uprooted me from all I've ever known.
"We've barely said two words to each other." We stare at her like she has a dick. "What? You want me to invite him to my room for a slumber party and tell him all of my deep dark secrets while he braids my hair or something?" Alec gives her a big thumbs down and makes a fart sound. "Oh shut up."
Thankfully for Rose, Mrs. Clearwater's timer goes off and he goes to check on her under the dryer.
I pull out my phone to see if there are any updates, only to see a picture of Rose's douche bag boyfriend, who is away at college, with a skanky brunette on his lap looking like the drunk, fat bastard he is. "So how's the long distance thing going?"
"It's not." Rose doesn't look at me when she says the words I've been dying to hear for the past year. "We broke up last night." I internally fist pump and do the Dougie, but I do my best to keep my utter fucking glee in check. "I haven't told my mom yet."
See, there's the rub right there. Esme's in love with the idea of her daughter being in love with someone of stature in this town. Only the best for her Rosalie, and as far as Esme can tell, Royce King is the cream of the Port Townsend crop. Royce's daddy is the president of a bank, while his mom is one of this salon's best clients.
"When are you gonna tell her?"
"I don't know." She sighs deeply. "When's Mrs. King's next appointment?"
"You can't let her find out that way, she'll fuckin' flip. You've gotta tell her as soon as-"
"Hey Sue! How's Seth doing?" Rose looks past me as Mrs. Clearwater approaches. She mouths the word 'later' to me, because we can't speak around this loud mouth.
Ever the braggart, Sue launches into how Seth is working in La Push this week, building a community center or some shit. Rose and I just smile and nod at the oblivious, albeit proud mother. What she doesn't know is that around here Seth is a little less famous for his charity work, and actually better known for taking his dick out at parties and asking the ladies to pet his python.
I jerk my chin at Rose, letting her know I'm heading back to the front desk, unable to handle story time with Sue any longer. Five lives of Candy Crush, four Buzzfeed quizzes, and thirty minutes of trolling Tumblr later, Rose and my mom walk up arm in arm.
"So have your mom call me when you get home." She runs her fingers through Rose's new long layers. "I just don't want to interrupt or overstep." Dad's all over her about boundaries and giving the couple some space. Mom doesn't share well apparently.
"I will." Rose kisses her on the cheek before looking to me. "Wanna grab some ice cream?" She points to Nifty Fifty across the street.
"Yep." I grab my purse, unable to get out of there fast enough. The strings of bells are jingling above us before Mom can even say her goodbye.
"So what happened with Royce?"
Evasive, Rose looks both ways for cars, not wanting to meet my gaze. "I don't know. I'm over it. I just want to be single for my senior year."
I fight the urge to say 'hi liar'. No girl wants to be single for her senior year. Senior year is for partying and pushing the limits, last hurrahs and horrible decisions.
"Okay," I say, skepticism lacing my tone.
A tricked out Honda Civic slows as it drives by, bumping some unintelligible song and shaking the windows of every shop in a one mile radius. Tyler Crowley lowers his cheap Pitbull imitation sunglasses and winks. Rose waves and smiles. I wave and spare him the eye roll he so badly deserves.
"Remember when you liked him?"
"Shut up." I stare at the ground, totally embarrassed. Maybe I should go easier on Alice, because had she not fucked me over, I'd be riding shotgun with that hot mess, and that's just not a good look for me.
"I'll be damned." Rose mutters, stopping as we hit the curb in front of the restaurant and looking over my shoulder. Feet shuffle against the sidewalk behind me and her shit eating grin widens. "Well, hey big brother."
I follow her eyes to the gorgeous guy approaching. He's blushing from his new sibling's salutation, a shy smirk playing at his lips. Everything about him says city boy to me, from the snug fit of his V-neck tee, to the slight sag of his cargo shorts. Handsome doesn't cut it, not for this guy. He's ridiculously hot, almost dangerously so. The kind of guy who makes bad decisions sound like a good idea.
"Checking out your new digs?"
He nods and laughs softly, making the toothpick dangling from his lips bob. "I had to pick up a book from the library." He flicks the book in question, which appears to be some sort of automotive maintenance manual before giving a sheepish shrug. "Dad got me a car."
I stand there like a jackass as they go back and forth, talking about his new Jeep. I don't even care though, he's fascinating. His accent, his mannerisms, and the way he doesn't look at me like I'm a big ol' creeper, because I know that I'm totally ogling him.
"I'm sorry," he says, acknowledging my presence and extending his hand. "I'm Edward."
"Oh shit, yeah. Bella, this is Edward." Rose gets her head out of her ass and introduces me, motioning between us. "Edward, Bella." We shake hands and I'm a little bummed when he doesn't do the handshake, cheek kiss thing his dad does. "We're just grabbing some ice cream."
I realize I haven't spoken yet, so instead of saying something normal like 'nice to meet you' or 'welcome to Port Townsend', I dazzle him with my awkwardness. "I have a bit of a sweet tooth."
Mortification sets in immediately. I feel like that chick in that movie Dirty Dancing, when she's all 'I carried a watermelon'. Idiot.
Rose is merciful. Thankfully she doesn't snort, point or celebrate my humiliation. Instead, she deflects and redirects in the best and worst possible way. "Do you want to join us?"
"Uh, sure," he says, sounding anything but sure, and running a nervous hand over his backwards cap. Like a gentleman, he grabs the door and holds it open for Rose. He smiles crookedly and gestures for me to enter behind her. "After you, Sweets."
A/N: *Lay and Carrie ZM wave frantically* Hi dolls! It's been awhile, huh? We're back with a full length fic this time – we'll update each week on Thursday nights until complete.
The fandom is on fire right now with so many awesome fics coming out over the past few months. Here's what's owning us these days – pimpin' ain't easy – so we like to let it WIP.
Slapshot by Pretty Kitty Artist - *Carrie ZM puts on her Horny for Hockeyward hat* A coffee shop girl falls for a Hockey playing hottie. A lighthearted romance with an Edward who's good with his stick and a Bella with no fliter. Two enthusiastic thumbs up for lemons and laughs.
Sleeping Angel by Blueissoul - *Lay puts on her lady-balls because this one's angsty* My love from London, Blueissoul, is back with a heartbreakingly beautiful story about love and loss. We're only five chapters in, but this one is not to be missed.
Thanks so much for reading!