"Burn baby burn, burn that mother down."– The Trammps, "Disco Inferno", it reached number-one on the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart in early 1977, but had limited mainstream success until 1978, after being included on the soundtrack to the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, when a re-release hit number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
I'm mooning in the mirror the next day before my shower, smiling like a fool.
Even though Edward didn't kiss me, I know in my heart he wanted to. My cheek is still warm where he touched it, and I feel like Marcia Brady when Davy Jones kisses her cheek after the dance–I'm never washing it again.
I'm still in awe that he's actually been listening to me these past few months. Here I thought he just zoned me out or was bothered by my presence this whole time, but actually, he maybe found me interesting. My whole brain is warning me that I'm doing something harmful by hanging out with him, by forming a connection, but I can't seem to care all that much. Even if it makes me an idiot.
If he was that close to kissing me, he's got to do something about the situation with Rosalie even if he doesn't like me in that way. He's not the kind of guy to go and kiss someone else while he has a girlfriend.
And the brush. The brush!
I sigh, closing my eyes and reliving the moment he tossed that thing right out into the middle of the highway. That has to mean something, and I hope it means he's going to end it with her.
I can't even dare to imagine that if he does, a small part might be because of me.
I spend half an hour twirling around my room and dancing to the radio, replaying the night in my head over and over again. The way he looked at me, the way he touched me…. Ugh, I can hardly stand it.
I'm as high as Cheech and Chong.
Angela picks me up in her mother's car around lunchtime, and we head to Mac's to get a bite. We called Alice to see if she was up for it, but she just said no, she had to run errands with her mother but promised us she'd hang out soon. At least she seems to be feeling better.
We chow down on burgers, fries, and chocolate milkshakes while we gossip about everyone we know and make plans to see Grease for the fifth time.
Angela takes a big slurp of her shake. "So, Ben's car got hit in the lot last night." She nods towards the outside. "Scraped up the whole right fender."
"Oh shit, that sucks."
"Yeah, the guy drove off, but Edward managed to get his plates."
"Yeah, he and Rosalie were sitting at the table closest to Ben's car. He was able to read it before the guy peeled out of the lot."
"Edward was here last night? With Rosalie?" My head starts to pound heavy with the blood rushing to my brain, the sound making a whooshing noise in my ears.
After the almost hand holding. After the almost kiss. After the actual cheek touch. He dropped me off and went straight to her.
"Yeah." She nods her head while my stomach sinks, and my burger feels like Renee's chicken cacciatore in my gut.
I don't know what to say. I'm sitting there silently, trying not to let my eyes well up at the information. My face is hot and my hands are sweaty. I have to admit to myself that a little part of me actually thought that maybe, just maybe, he had started to develop some feelings for me.
I am an idiot.
I take a deep breath and look up at the ceiling so I don't cry. I tell her about the day I spent with Edward, leaving nothing out about my stupid assumptions and incorrect view of his actions. I tell her about my idiotic theory with the brush. When I'm done, I wipe a stray tear with my napkin.
"Huh. Well that might explain it." Angela narrows her eyes and chomps on her straw.
"Before Ben's car got hit, it looked like they were fighting."
I wave a hand at her. "They always fight. Doesn't mean anything."
"It might," she says, smiling at me like I need to be coddled.
I shake my head and rest my hand against my forehead. "I can't believe I actually thought for a minute that maybe I stood a chance. I should've known better. I'm such a pathetic jerk."
"You're not. Maybe he does like you."
"He doesn't," I snort.
"He almost kissed you."
"Or I imagined the whole thing."
"Or maybe you didn't."
"Will you stop trying to make me feel better? I knew I was setting myself up by spending time with him. This just proves it. Look how miserable I am right now."
Angela sighs. "Maybe you should just tell him how you feel already and find out for sure."
My eyes bug out at her. "Are you out of your mind?"
She shrugs. "I think you should. The worst thing that could happen is that he tells you he likes you as a friend. At least you'd know."
"No. The worst thing that could happen would be he'd laugh at me, tell Rosalie who would also laugh at me, and I'd have to spend the next year eating dinner in my room until I leave for college as far away as possible."
"I'll smuggle you some McDonald's through your window."
"You're a pal." I push a fry through some ketchup, my appetite completely gone, blown to bits by my stupid heart and destructive crush. "Fuck me, I can never face him again. I'm truly embarrassed."
"What do you have to be embarrassed about? You didn't do anything, he almost did."
"Maybe he was just brushing an eyelash from my face and I was looking at him like a lovesick creep."
"I think you're thinking too much."
"I think I'm not thinking enough." I decide right then and there that I will avoid Edward Cullen for the foreseeable future.
As much as it'll kill me to do so.
I'm doing my best to ignore anything Cullen related while I'm working the next day, forcing myself to smile and whistle and be nice to the customers. I'm hoping that my 'I don't care' attitude will solidify in my bones until it's actually real.
Jared comes by at one point to grab a bite, and even though it's awkward at first, his easy demeanor smooths everything over and we spend about twenty minutes laughing and talking until the lunch rush begins. I consider asking him if he wants to do something soon, but I worry that it'll send him the wrong message, so I don't and we end up just saying goodbye and see ya later.
I watch him go, sorry I couldn't feel something more for him. At some point, I'm going to have to meet someone, right? I don't want to spend my life living like a nun or god-forbid, in a sad, singles-only apartment complex with a roommate. A Shirley to my Laverne. A Lenny to my Squiggy. A Felix to my Oscar.
Angela is nice enough to forgo some plans with Ben so she can spend a few free afternoons and evenings with me to help me with my mission. We shop over on Mulholland with our meager summer earnings, we go see the new Goldie Hawn movie, Foul Play, and Ang even indulges me another day when we get a map to the stars' homes and try to find where Goldie lives because she is my idol.
Despite my bustling schedule and new resolution of an Edward-less life, my subconscious hasn't seemed to get the message. It tells me every time I'm at work for the next week that there's been no sign of him coming in and out of the shop. It hasn't even seen him down by the ocean surfing or just walking by. It makes me overthink like Angela said, and I begin to get paranoid he's avoiding me.
Because even though I want nothing to do with him, I don't want to think that he doesn't want anything to do with me, which makes me a hypocrite to the extreme.
Maybe he's decided I am actually in fact annoying and is reverting back to the ignoring Bella aspect of his life.
Maybe he's horrified that he almost kissed me, and maybe he's really grossed out he touched me.
Maybe he had been abducted by aliens and the probe up his butt was forcing him to spend time with me, or they were going to scramble his brain for all of eternity.
I'm not sure which of the three scenarios I've cooked up are worse.
The more time that passes from that moment at the pier, the more my head tells me I imagined it all… but logic be damned, my female intuition is still clinging to the idea that there was something there between us. I try to squash that thought as soon as it arises.
Which is about every three to five minutes, but who's counting.
The other part of my plan is to avoid Rosalie, which goes remarkably well until I'm sitting by the pool in the backyard one day, working on my tan and flipping through Renee's old Cosmopolitan.
The patio door slides open and someone is shuffling across the cement towards me. I doubt Charlie came home early from work and Renee is at a ladies auxiliary meeting, which to me, is hilarious. I have it on good authority that all they do is sit around and drink and complain about their husbands while figuring out who they are going to sleep with at the next key swap.
"Mind if I join you?" Rosalie stands over me, towel in hand and bikini bod smokin'.
My mouth turns into a frown and I wonder why she's being so polite. "It's a free pool." I shrug.
She plops down next to me and picks up a magazine, sifting through it. We're silent for a while, just the turning of pages and the gurgle from the pool filter making noise around us.
At one point, she leans over and shows me an ad for a dress that she thinks would look good on me and it hits me hard that I've missed her company. For all the sniping we do at each other, we have had some really good, sisterly kind of moments in the two years we've been forced siblings. We used to do this stuff all the time–poolside chats, makeup sessions, face-mask night… It's not often that we spend any time together anymore where we're not insulting one another, and I'm not sure when or why that changed. Things have been so up and down and all around, I'm either feeling bad for it all or wildly nostalgic, so I make an effort to not be rude to her. We spend an hour or so reading each other articles and testing each other on the stupid quizzes about sex and What Kind of Career is Right for You!.
I want to bring up the supposed fight at Mac's, but I'm not really sure if what Angela saw was a real fight or just how those two usually communicate anyway, so why ruin a nice, summer day by breaking my new rule of Edward who?
She goes in to get a beer and I'm surprised when she comes back and hands me one. I take it and throw the pull tab onto the table between us. We clink Charlie's Budweisers and take long sips between commenting on hair products and shoes.
I take my sunglasses off and turn my face to the sun. Ang wants to put lemon in our hair this weekend for highlights and she says a deeper tan would make them pop more. I sit like that awhile until I'm startled by the sound of a voice I do not recognize saying hi to Rosalie. I look up to see who's blocking my sun and standing right in front of me is Emmett.
In my yard.
"Hey, Emmett," Rosalie says nervously, but turns to me. "This is Bella."
"Well hello, Bella." I don't know if I imagine the leer that comes with the voice or if I just assume it's there with every word he says ever.
"Hi." I sit up and hunch my shoulders a bit so I don't feel so much like I'm in front of creepy used-car guy in nothing but a bathing suit.
"I hope you don't mind," Rosalie says. "He called when I was getting the beer and I invited him over."
"I never heard the phone ring."
"Well, it did. You must've been day dreaming," she says curtly before turning back to Emmett. "Want a beer?"
"Sure." He sits on the end of her lounger and I want to scream to her that hell yes, I mind, and he's not allowed at my house.
He slaps her ass as she gets up to get him one, and she does a weird laughing squeal thing. There's no way in hell I'm sitting out there with him, so I follow. "What's he doing here?" I hiss as soon as the patio door closes behind me.
"He came over for a swim."
"I don't like him, Rosalie. He creeps me out."
"Good thing I don't care what you think."
I feel tears welling up, frustrated that such a good day between us is going to be ruined because of this jerk. Despite knowing I shouldn't, I say something I hope will anger her, the same thing that's angered me for weeks. "What would Edward think of this little friendship?"
It's either what I said or the venom with which I said it, because she whips around, her mouth and eyes ugly as she bites at me. "I don't give a shit what Edward thinks."
"I think he'd like to know that there's a scumbag hitting on you and slapping your ass when he's not around." Having to point that out just makes me angrier.
She snorts loudly and shakes her head. "Trust me, he doesn't give a shit. Besides, you don't know Emmett to have an opinion on him. Get off your pedestal, Bella." She brushes past me to get to the fridge.
"Trust me, I know enough about him and that's plenty."
"This is none of your business. None. I can hang out with whoever I want to. Go play with your Barbies or whatever it is you and your little friends do and leave me to the grown-up stuff."
I grab her arm. "Rosalie, I saw that packet on your floor. I know where you got it from. This guy is not a good 'friend' to have. Plus, it is my business if he's in my house."
She pulls her arm away and turns to me, an iciness in her blue eyes. "You think you and Charlie are going to be here forever?" She snorts. "My mother is on husband number three and I'll bet she's already picking out number four. I wouldn't get too comfortable in your house if I were you."
I stare at her as all the air leaves the kitchen. "Fuck. You."
"Grow up, Bella. Not everyone has the perfect little life like you do. Life is about fathers that leave you. Mothers that care more for their new families than they do their own. Life sucks and sometimes you have to make the best of it with what you can."
"And making the best of it is by hanging out with losers and becoming a cokehead?"
Her hand shoots out and slaps me hard across my face. The sting plays a heartbeat in my cheek and my eyes burn with red hot tears.
"What do you care what becomes of me? Your life is perfect. Perfect little Bella Swan. Don't think for one second that I believe you give one shit about me. That any of you gives a shit about me. I'm sure you'd love it if I ran away with him and you got mommy and daddy all to yourself."
I rub my cheek, my eyes falling pitifully on hers. There's a tinge of remorse in her blue eyes, a true sadness, but all I want to do is get away from her. "Rosalie, however much you seem to hate me, I can't think of anything I want less for you than to be mixed up with that guy."
With that, I run to my room to throw on some shorts and stuff a shirt in my bag, slinging it over my head. I don't know where she is when I run out of the house, slamming the door behind me, but if she was still in the kitchen, she didn't try to stop me.
Pulling up short at the sight of Emmett's gold Trans Am in the driveway, my fists clench and all the tears I'd been holding back start flooding down my face. I walk towards the street, determined to get as far away as possible even though I have to hoof it.
As I'm passing his car, I give a nice, swift kick to the rearview mirror and the sound of the crunching metal feels good for about a half a mile until the adrenaline leaves my body.
Screw that Emmett guy and screw Rosalie. I think I'm more angry over what she said about family number four than anything else. It upsets me to think that Renee is already surfing around for someone else because Charlie loves her. I never want to see him hurt. As nuts as she is, he seems really happy and honestly, I'm really happy there. The thought of the family breaking up even if I have a c-word of a step-sister is devastating.
It's hot as hell out, the sun is directly overhead and I'm sure I'm a sight as I'm yelling and crying to nobody as I walk along the busy road for three miles that leads to the stores. No way I'm going to the Gas 'n Gulp right now, and I probably know a bunch of people hanging out at Mac's, but I'm dying of thirst so I go to the pharmacy. I think they have a Coke machine.
The air conditioning feels good. I'm coming down from my anger high, and my exhaustion level after the fight with Rosalie and unplanned workout make me walk through the aisles slowly, looking at ace bandages, stuffed animals, and un-funny greeting cards as the Muzak ringing through the store lulls me into a state of mind-numbing emptiness.
I don't want to go near the counter where the crotchety pharmacist accuses you of stealing if you loiter, so I head around the back of the makeup aisle where they sell the more private items such as condoms, tampons and–
She's standing in the aisle looking at something right in front of her, hands up by her mouth, and I can tell she looks nervous. Or scared. Or like she's about to cry.
"Alice?" I approach slowly and whisper her name so the pharmacist doesn't come running over to see what we're about to stuff into our shorts. She jumps at my voice and turns, her big brown eyes welling up with tears.
"What's wrong?" I'm immediately at her side, my hand running up and down her arm. Looking to the left to see what she's standing by, my mouth opens when I see the boxes in front of me.
early. pregnancy. test.
"Oh, Alice, what…? I don't know how to finish my sentence. Is it for her mother? A friend? ANGELA? I know the answer to all three of these things is no just by looking at her scared-rabbit body language.
Instead of answering me, she sobs loudly and runs away, down the aisle and out the door with the little ringing bell. I chase after her, but when I get out to the street, there's no sign of her. Running to the corner, she's nowhere to be seen and I search the parking lot for any cars I recognize.
Cursing, I start walking in the direction of her house but stop about two blocks away. As bad as I think she needs someone right now, in my state, that person probably isn't me. I consider going in to buy the test for her and leaving it in her mailbox, but I don't even know for sure that's what she was looking at. Maybe she's just got a yeast infection. Closing my eyes, I put my head in my hands and sigh. I hope she's just got a yeast infection. I can't even fathom the who or the why of a pregnancy test.
I forget my thirst and start walking towards the beach. Sitting by the water is the only thing I can think of to do right now. My head is so fucked up and I'm feeling about triple my age with the weight of my world crashing down on me in horrible, twisty, upsetting ways.
I turn to hitch, thumb out and pasted smile on my sweaty face so I don't look so scary as cars fly past me but don't stop. I yell at all of them and it makes me feel better.
One car is Alice. One car is Emmett. About three cars are Rosalie.
I throw a rock at one particular asshole who slowed to whistle at me but didn't pick me up. Obviously, I'm grateful he didn't, but it feels good to scream at his retreating car, so I do.
Turning back around to give it another try, I'm rethinking my plan of possibly getting killed just as a yellow Jeep approaches. A yellow Jeep with a certain non-existent, too-cute boy driving.
This day could not get any worse.
PB Fun Fact: My mother had a ladies church group she belonged to. They'd go to each other's houses for "meetings". 1. My mother never went to church
2. My house would be filled with tipsy women when I'd get home from school
3. I found questionable items a few times after they'd left, like SUPER erotic novels they'd give as gag gifts to each other.
So yeah… not so much churching going on methinks.
Huge thanks to the girls I'd hang out at the pool with and drink Budweiser, LayAtHomeMom and CarrieZM!