Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns all.
Rated M for several reasons.
Chpt 3 View Recent History
I have long since gotten used to being met at the airport by an archetypal sheriff with a lively moustache and burgeoning paunch. It doesn't really even faze me any more when he loads my bag into the trunk of the cruiser and makes the same old joke about whether I should ride in the front or the back. One of the things I've grown to love about Charlie since I moved back to Forks is his total consistency.
Bad jokes. Eating steak at the diner on Thursdays. Beer while the game's on. Fishing at every available moment. Deep suspicion of anything he didn't grow up with. And a chronic lack of small talk.
We ride back to Forks in companionable silence, I'll eek all the local news out of him while I'm cooking us dinner.
"Billy asked after you."
"I hope you told him I'm well."
"Of course. He rolled his eyes like he always does. He know something I don't?"
"Unlikely." I shrug.
"That's what I thought. Maybe he's still hoping you and Jacob will get it together."
"Extremely unlikely. Jake doesn't like me, remember?"
"He's young, maybe he's still thinks being uppity will get your attention." There's a long pause. "Billy said he might get Jake to run him over tomorrow night for the game."
"Jesus Dad, are you matchmaking?"
"Um, better not be. Jake and I don't have anything in common and we live on opposite sides of the country. Besides, he's not my type."
"What is your type?"
"I'm still rather partial to Brad Pitt."
"Jesus Bells, he's older than I am."
"Yeah Dad but he looks really good in a little leather skirt . . . ."
I watch him exit the kitchen, muttering to himself and manage not to laugh, just.
First night back I always cook fish because that's all he ever has in the freezer, tomorrow I'll go shopping and try something more cosmopolitan on him . . . . I wonder if I could get him to eat couscous?
Oh my god. Jessica. Abort, abort, abort . . . .
Damn, too late.
"Bellaaaaa! Long time no see!"
"Hi Jess, how are you?"
Oh my god. Pregnant, heavily pregnant.
"Mike and I are great thanks. I'm so sorry we didn't invite you to our wedding but you were graduating and well, you know."
"No, its fine. I hear it was quite the occasion."
"It was, biggest wedding ever in Forks."
"That's um, nice?"
Apparently whatever inanities I spout are immaterial and it's a full twenty minutes before I can escape her boastful bliss. I don't care how much they spent on their wedding. Or when Newton Junior is due, or how expensive their wedding present house was and I certainly didn't care for having my hand forcefully laid over her 'bump'. Jesus whatever happened to the concept of personal space?
The store, where I formally spent many hours trying to eke out our household budget suddenly seems like a haven as I bustle inside.
Jake did drop Billy off after dinner, in the driveway, before speeding off in a cloud of water vapour, yep raining in Forks, who could possibly have guessed it.
I'm not entirely sure what Billy thinks he knows but he's always surprised to see me and then a bit weird about it, under the circumstances I'm okay with that, it's much better than Jake. The Cullens weren't able to tell me exactly what's involved in turning into a wolf but I'm betting it was pretty traumatic because Jake disappeared for a couple of months and when he came back he couldn't stand to be anywhere around me. Apparently I stink of vampire and am the stupidest thing since stupid was invented. Oh well . . . .
I manage to fit in a quick visit to Angela Webber before I leave, she's done with college too and is about to move to England to work on a research project that's famous in her field of quantum mechanics. I've no interest in the quantums but I'm jealous that they're giving her the opportunity to live in another country. She and Ben genuinely didn't make it through college, they parted in the first semester, but have remained good friends, he's in Orlando now doing something with sports science.
Of necessity I fly out of PA and Edward leaves from Seattle, while we were in college he could run to Forks, now he has to fly too. It seems silly for him to come really, it's not like he can let anyone see him, but I always feel a frisson of excitement when he glides through my window after Charlie's gone to sleep.
I nod equal parts excited and hesitant.
"The convention's in Chicago, a load of us are going, and then Greg and I are flying on to Alaska to meet the oil company execs."
"You'll love Alaska, it's beautiful."
"I'm really looking forward to it."
"I'll come if you want me to Bella but it might be too difficult to be at the convention, someone might see me."
I nod again, I'd been thinking the same thing and it doesn't seem fair to expect him to hang out on the convention center roof like a vampire bat.
"What if we meet in Alaska, you could visit the Denalis?"
"Now that." He chuckles, rolling me on top of him so he can kiss the tip of my nose. "Sounds like a plan."
I'm in two minds about the Denalis. There are five of them, three sisters and a couple, Carmen and Eleazar. The sisters used to scare the ever loving what not out of me, not because they were vampires but because they are tall and blonde, and self possessed, and beautifully dressed, and a little haughty, and old . . . .
I don't mind them quite so much now, Irina and Kate are actually a lot of fun and Tanya would be okay too if Rose hadn't taken great delight in telling me she was in love with Edward. Not that I probably wouldn't have been able to work that out myself, she might be a vampire but she's pretty much got a flashing neon sign over her head where her feelings for him are concerned and I think it says a lot about what a decent person she is that she accepts me at his side even though she is manifestly more suitable for him.
We have talked about that, Edward and I and he's quite right when he says that her 'suitability' is a moot point when it's me he loves, but still, I wouldn't be human if I didn't worry about them spending time together, would I?
Yeah, no irony there . . . .
"You should tell him." Alice says gently as we lower ourselves into Esme's Jacuzzi.
"Why? He knows I have the 'green eyed monster' where Tanya's concerned."
"You try too hard sometimes to make sure everyone else is happy."
"Hardly." I snort, thinking about Edward's somewhat limited existence with me.
"Bella your future still isn't certain."
"I know. Turned. Drained. Accidentally squished while losing my virginity, we've been through this a thousand times."
"Talk to him Bella."
"Is there any point?" I ask, hope and fear swelling inside me. "He doesn't want to 'damn' me to life as a vampire, or hurt me in any way shape or form and I don't want to lose him. We're still in stalemate."
And I'm afraid of rocking the boat again so soon, we had our last 'odd' conversation the night I graduated.
"Talk to him Bella."
"Okay." I sigh and she laughs. "What?"
"You haven't decided to do it because nothing in the future has changed."
"I thought you said it still wasn't certain?"
"It isn't. God I wish I could properly enjoy this, what's it like?"
"Awesome. The warmth soothes the muscles and the jets gently flex them."
"Is it bliss?"
Now it's Alice's turn to sigh and we lapse into silence.
Maybe it's not too soon to talk to him again? My starting work must be making a difference. I wasn't exactly sober the night I graduated and may not have done myself justice. I told him things would change, get harder, harder on him, but he dismissed it assuring me of his love and how he was happy for me to do whatever made me happy. He said I shouldn't be so ready to give up my life when I was just starting to live it. I did tell him that he was my life as much as I'm his but maybe it didn't carry any weight when I could barely stand up? But I was right, wasn't I? About my working making a difference.
He's said before that I don't have to work but that's a concession to 'us' I just can't make, I can't be a kept woman, ever. We talked it through. We can move with the family and I can get another job, which I told him I would do, or we could stay if I was happy with what I had and he'd go into hiding again. I knew, know, that isn't a great solution, but I wasn't compos mentis enough to counter it at the time.
Maybe six months into the new life is the time to challenge that again, is that what Alice is getting at?
"It's a start." She chuckles, surprising me out of my revere.
I guess I've made a decision then . . . .
Not tonight, tonight I'm content for us to just be . . . .
Or tonight, I'm too tired . . . .
Not tonight, he's too distant . . . .
Not tonight, not after we've 'made love' . . . .
Not tonight, too many supernatural 'ears' to hear us . . . .
Friday night drinks have become something of a habit, sometimes Edward and Alice join us, sometimes it's just me and my colleagues. I still don't understand why I get hit on so often but it makes the others howl with laughter and assure the man, or woman, in question that they've no chance, they should see my gorgeous and devoted boyfriend . . . .
"No MDB tonight?" Arthur slurs as he slumps into the seat beside me and I can't help but smile, even a good drink can't dampen his British accent.
"No exquisite little sister either?"
"You have met her husband." I remind him.
"Yep. Wouldn't kick him out of bed either."
"Beauty is beauty, I'm easy."
"Way too easy!" Steffers hollers from across the table to a round of inebriated laughter.
"Where are they?" Arthur asks, ignoring Steffers.
"Whoa, you're in with the hunting, shooting and fishin' set Bells, I hope you've had your hands in their pockets."
"The Masens donate to a lot of charities Arthur, including ours."
"Excellent. Excellent. Rory, my glass is empty and I believe it's your round."
Rory surges to his feet, fishing for his money and swaying slightly, I think it's time for me to go home.
"No, Edward, I'm fine, they got my purse, nothing else, I don't have a scratch on me."
"I'm coming home."
"No. Finish your hunt."
"Bella . . . ."
"I'm fine Edward, really. Charlie's already got the entire Boston PD on high alert and insisted that I triple bolt the door."
"Have you set the alarm?"
"Yes. I'm on total lock down as demonstrated by Jasper and I'm tired so I'm going to bed."
"Bella, I'm so sorry, I should have been there."
"You can't follow me everywhere Edward."