A/N: Much love to my Comma Queen brwneyedgrl01. Thanks for keeping me on track.
"Who would have thought I would meet a rockstar here in Forks? Bella mussed. "I mean, seriously, Edward Cullen in freaking Walgreens… I didn't even know people like him went into stores on their own. I thought they'd have people to do that for them. I kinda figured they had people to do everything."
Carefully she sprayed cleaner on the etching in the stone and wiped it away with a polishing rag. She already tossed the dead roses and placed the new ones in the attached stone vase.
"It was surreal, Mom," she told her mother. "I didn't even tell Rose and J. I mean who would even believe that shit?"
She stepped back to check out her handy work. Her mother's headstone gleamed in the weak sun light.
"But he was gorgeous, Mom. Beyond gorgeous. You see people like him on TV and you think 'I bet they look just like everybody else without the makeup and the stylists and shit' But nope. He was….I don't know. I don't even have the words for it," she explained as she loaded her supplies in her bag.
Bella shook her head ruefully thinking about the stunning man who turned her night upside down just by showing up. After Edward had left the store, she had a hell of a time finishing up her close out. She had to count the drawer about six times before she finally got it right. When she first got to the lake she couldn't wait to tell her friends about the freak encounter. Then, as she took that first sip of cold larger, she had a change of heart. She wanted to keep it to herself. Just a little special moment to treasure. So she kept her mouth shut until she could reveal to the one person who would always keep her secrets. She sighed and ran her fingers over the top of the granite.
"I miss you, Mom," she said softly.
She glanced at her watch, the sun would start sinking soon, so if she didn't want to walk in the dark she'd have to book it. Most of the time Bella didn't mind her ride-less state, but for her weekly visits with her mom, it was kind of a pain in the ass. She could count on Rose to give her a lift when she was available, but her Dad flat out refused.
It had taken some time, but Bella had come to terms with her mother's suicide. Her Dad had not. On the rare occasion that they discussed Renee Swan's worldly departure, or rather argued about it, Charlie Swan was of the mind that it was a cowardly and selfish thing. Bella couldn't necessarily argue, but she found it pretty hypocritical of him to all judgey since he wasn't exactly the poster boy for being selfless. He hadn't even been around for the first nine years of Bella's life. He had been busy making a career for himself while Renee and Bella lived a separate life in Arizona. Then suddenly, or so it seemed to Bella, he had time for a family again and off they moved to Washington. Only, the happy family thing was only happy for so long. Slowly Renee changed. Bella didn't have a name for it then, but she did now. Depression crept in and Bella's beautiful, vibrant mother dulled and withered. And then she was gone.
Bella willed away the memories and brushed away the tears they left in their wake.
"See you next week, Mom," she promised before she turned to go.
With her backpack across her shoulders, she headed down the cemetery path and through the wrought iron gates. The walk back home would be nice. Forks was quite on Sundays, with folks at church or home doing the family thing. The streets were nearly empty, and Bella felt the sadness that crept in drifting away again.
For a while, after her mom died, Bella was scared of the sadness. She was scared that she would be devoured by it, just like her mom was. Even though she had lived in Forks for a few years, she was still on the outskirts of the kid populace. She wasn't bullied but she didn't really have a circle either. That changed when Rose arrived. She should have been queen of high school due to her blonde and beautiful bitch face. But that beauty was canceled out by her neck to ankle jeans and hoodie getups and her stay the fuck away from me attitude. However, the old adage about misery loving company proved true. Bella and Rose gravitated to one another, they learned how to keep the sadness at bay. They figured out how to laugh again, even though it hurt. They saved each other.
Bella's attention was caught when the sleek SUV that was driving by eased to a stop along the sidewalk in front of her. Her curiosity was peaked but many, many SUV reruns with her dad made her ease off to the opposite side of the walkway. As she approached, she saw the passenger side window was down. Behind the wheel was the fuck-hot man she'd just been telling her mother about.
"Hey little girl, need a ride?" he quipped.
Bella felt her mouth curve up in a smile and her heart started to pound.
"Got any candy?" she asked reaching for the door.
True to form, Carlisle Cullen couldn't even say hello to his son without being condescending.
"Good morning, sweetheart," his mother greeted him the morning after his arrival. Both of his parents were in the kitchen having a second cup of coffee.
It was a little after ten and Edward had already went for a run, despite staying up until after two talking and finishing a bottle of wine with his sister.
"Morning," his dad scoffed, glancing at the clock over the top of his paper. "I guess in your line of work you don't see many mornings."
And there it was. The quick comment laced with implication. Edward thought of a handful of things he wanted to snap back as his father disappeared behind the Forks Daily Leader again. When you've been doing it for ten years, it's a career, dad. I've seen plenty of mornings, dad, when I'm leaving sold out venues. I just ran three miles because I need to stay in shape for the TV gig, dad. Instead of opening his mouth, Edward focused on his mother. She gave him a warm smile and rolled her eyes, encouraging him to blow it off.
"Alice and I made waffles this morning," she told him popping open the microwave. "I made you a plate."
Edward took it from her gratefully.
"It's not champagne and caviar, but hopefully it's up to your standards," came the snotty comment from behind the paper.
Edward gritted his teeth.
"I think I'll take this out on the deck," he told his mother. "Thank you."
"We'll make sure the maid comes to clean up afterward," came the parting shot as he headed out the door.
As he slid the glass door shut behind him, he could hear his mother start the rebuking. Edward sat down at the deck table and attempted to eat. The chocolate chip waffles that he loved since he was a little boy were like soggy cardboard in his mouth.
He shouldn't be angry. He knew this was exactly what was going to happen. This was why he didn't want to be here in the first place. This was the sum of his interaction with his father since he was twelve years old. Edward wasn't sure how or why, but at some point his father had mentally slapped a great big defective label on Edward's head. It seemed nothing he did ever measured up. Good grades should have been better grades. Starring in the school play was simply a display of wasted time that he should have spent studying. The record deal and tours were merely a silly kid's job. Edward heard it all. He learned to take it. To shove down the ache that came from never being able to impress the one person you really wanted to. He probably wouldn't have managed that had it not been for his Mother and his sister. So that made his father's betrayal all the worse.
Edward always thought that the basis of his father's criticism was his goodness. His father was an upstanding citizen of strong moral fiber, who made his living healing people. Edward thought that his father's issue with his life stemmed from the parental yearn to see a child do even better in the world than the parent. At least that's what he thought until he went to visit his dad at work and found him banging his nurse.
Edward shook his head at the memory as he stared at the woods bordering his parent's property. It was best not to dwell on that old shit. That would only make the current situation worse. For the time being, he just needed to avoid his dad and keep it cool until he could get back to his life in LA.
He spent most of the day in his room fucking around on his laptop with a new song that had been in the back of his head for a while. It was late in the afternoon when he decided to come out of his hole. He cursed Forks yet again when he realized that the only places that delivered were chain pizza giants. With his hoodie up and his shades on, he hunkered down in the corner at Carl's Jr. After his artery clogging goodness, he texted Alice to see what she was up to. Alice informed him that she was shopping with their mother and she was not there to entertain him, so he'd have to find some way to keep occupied. She also advised him to stay away from their father since there was no one there to supervise.
So he drove aimlessly. That was just another difference between Forks and LA. In Forks, you could drive aimlessly. That was completely impossible in the city. He was considering how he might actually appreciate traffic when he got home, when he noticed someone walking along the sidewalk. As he passed he looked in his rearview and felt himself start to smile when he recognized her. The Wal-greens girl. Bella. The one who made him laugh. He made the corner and looped back. He thought, for just a second, this may be super creeper territory but he shrugged it off. He watched as she approached cautiously. Something tweaked inside him when he saw that her first response to seeing him was to smile.
"Hey little girl, need a ride?" he teased.
"Got any candy?" she joked back as she climbed in.
"Only this roofie pop," he replied.
"Still stuck in Forks, huh?" she asked with an arched brow.
The small smile that started when he recognized her turned into a grin.
"Still with the snappy questions, huh?" he volleyed back. "Where we going?"
"My house," she replied. "Turn left at the light. You would think you'd be accustomed to questions by now being a super famous rockstar and all."
He shrugged as he braked for the light she mentioned.
"I am. It just gets kind of old," he replied.
"You poor, mistreated guy," she said dryly.
He glanced over and her eyes were sparkling. She was teasing him again. He liked that.
"So, you're telling me you'd love to have people badgering you with inane questions?" he asked.
"Now they're badgering? Bet the press would have a field day if they knew what you really thought of them," she was smirking when he looked over this time. This girl.
"Ok, ok," he said nodding. He kept one hand on the wheel and made a fist with the other. He thrust it right under her nose, "Bella, Bella, you just got off of a sold out tour and your fans want to know….who are you dating?"
He pitched his voice high to mimic the last annoying webstar interviewer that he dealt with. He shook his hand-mic insistently. A quick glance at the girl in the seat next to him saw she was still smiling.
"Well," she said sounding purposefully haughty, "Since my break up with Chris, you know Chris Evans, I've been taking some time to just enjoy being single."
He chuckled. She was team Cap. Score another point for Bella.
"Turn here," she told him. It was a sleepy little street lined with sleepy little houses.
"Did he cheat, Bella? Did Chris cheat on you? Did you cheat on him?" he questioned, rapid fire. He knew he was close to her place but he wasn't ready to quit their little game yet.
Her laugh was so damn nice.
"Nope. We were both just so exhausted from the complicated circus fucking. When the straps connected to the chandelier broke, we decided we both needed a rest," she said without missing a beat. "Third house on the left."
Edward nearly choked on nothing. He was glad to stop the car because he needed a second to regroup. He turned to look at her and she reacted to the shock on his face.
"What?" she asked with an innocent shrug.
"Circus fucking?" he repeated, wide-eyed.
"Circus fucking," she agreed. "I would definitely do some acrobatic, entertaining, possibly clown-painted circus fucking with Chris Evans."
Edward opened his mouth and the closed it again. Then one more time. He had nothing.
"What?" she asked. "You don't like clowns?"
It took Edward a solid minute to stop laughing. The ridiculousness of the statement, the delivery, her sassy grin… Edward loved everything that was happening. His laughter tapered off when he saw her hand reach for the door handle.
"Thanks for the ride, Rockstar," she said.
"Hang on, do you like need to be home? I mean you're home already but do you need to…" he gestured to the door because his words were failing him again. It was really strange. He routinely preformed in front of thousands of people, but talking to this girl had his tongue tied in knots.
Her smile dimmed a little and her face showed her confusion.
"Do you wanna just ride around a little more?" he asked. "I mean, if you don't have anything to do? Being in my parent's house is killing me and this has been fun. You're fun. You're funny. You're fun to talk to."
He could feel blush heating his cheeks for the first time since high school. What in the fuck? What was it about this girl?
"Sure," she said.
Edward heard a lot of girls agree to a lot of things over the years. Some of those things, they probably never should have agreed to. But none of that made him quite as nervous-excited as Bella's simple agreeance to take a ride.
Surreal. That was the only word Bella could think of to describe what was going on. It was surreal that she was riding around in a swanky SUV with a Grammy winning rockstar. It was surreal that they drove around Forks talking for an hour and a half. It was surreal that they got on so amazingly that the conversation never lulled and was punctuated with gut busting laughter. And stupid was the only word to describe the fact that she had to bring the interlude to a close.
"So, as much as am I'm flattered that you've taken the time out of your busy schedule to spend time with a normal citizen such as myself, I need to get home," she explained regretfully.
"Huh… oh, yeah," he looked a little disappointed. That made Bella's heart race again. He recovered quickly and gave her a smart ass grin that affected other body parts. "You know, it's all part of the Edward Cullen outreach program. Just trying to let everyone know we're all the same."
Bella chuckled. Like most people she had some preconceived notions about entertainers. She thought most of them were dumb as rocks. Edward wasn't. He was witty. Nothing got Bella's motor running quite like quick wit.
"Really though, this was fun," she told him truthfully.
He looked over and smiled at her. It looked genuine. Bella melted.
"It was," he agreed.
They were both quite in the short moments it took to get Bella back home.
"Well thanks…" she began as she started to open the door.
"Hey, can I get…" he spoke at the same time.
They both chuckled nervously. Then he smirked.
"You gonna let me get your number, girl?" He asked with a twinkle in his eye and a playful nod of his head.
Bella laughed. She gave him a sassy hair flip.
"I don't know… I mean, I'm really waiting on Caleb Followill to roll into Forks looking for a date," she told him.
"Come on," he huffed playfully. "They haven't even released anything since 13."
Bella laughed and held out her hand for his phone. She saved her name and number for him. Then they both smiled stupidly as he tucked it back in his pocket.
"So, you can talk all the shit you want about it but I have no intention of waiting three days to hit you up," he told her as she climbed out of the car.
She tried to fight the grin but couldn't.
"Good," she replied.
A/N: Much love to everyone who has followed, alerted, and commented. Makes my heart smile to see you guys enjoying my words.
Chapter Songs: Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Drive – Glades