Author Note: I do not own these characters, unfortunately. They belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Music: If anyone is interested in music selections that I feel work well with this chapter, give me a PM. If there's enough interest, I'll start doing a list for every chapter.
As always, please R & R!! I'm a new author here, though I have done a significant amount of original work. Encouragement is always nice! Constructive criticism too :)
I knew from the crashing and wailing inside the apartment that the worst had come to pass.
My suspicions, and Alice's too, had been aroused for several days now and we'd had several hushed conversations, preparing for the inevitable. And like clockwork, it had happened, just as we'd predicted.
I turned the key in the door to the apartment and let the door swing slowly and silently open. The scene that greeted my eyes was hardly unexpected, yet I still felt dismay creeping into my heart.
Alice was perched primly on the side of the couch, like a tiny dark exotic bird, her black hair sticking up in all directions. It was rare to see Alice not perfectly groomed, but I had a feeling that her dishevelment had more to do with Rosalie than some new groundbreaking style. Whenever she was truly and completely frustrated, she tended to run a hand through her hair, almost without thinking. Considering that Alice almost always thought about every facet of her appearance, this was indeed a cause for worry.
Alice was trying, in vain, to calm Rosalie down. The remnants of what must have been a cell phone were scattered all over the floor. That must have been the big crash I'd heard right before coming in. I bent down and picked up a bent antenna off the hardwood floor and pretended to examine it minutely, all the while watching Rosalie pace.
If I hadn't known Rose so well, I would have been intimidated and more than a little scared of her. There was no one else I knew who looked as if they could be both a supermodel and an Amazon. She was tall and gorgeous and undeniably fierce. And the latter was definitely more evident today.
"He was such a douche, Alice, I can't even begin to tell you," Rosalie stormed.
"You've said that, dear." Alice usually remained peacefully neutral, our own personal Switzerland, during these sort of incidents, but I suspected that even Alice was losing her patience this time, especially when I heard her murmur under her breath, "more than once."
Rosalie let out another ear-piercing shriek of anger and kicked a chair. She whirled around, blond hair flying, and that's when she spotted me. I tried to give her a friendly smile, but I think it turned out looking mildly grotesque instead, like I was dreading what was coming. Which I was, of course.
"God, Bella, I can't believe him." Rosalie was practically growling and if I hadn't had so much practice calming her down, it would have been pretty damn intimidating. But Alice and I were old hands at this by now.
"What'd he do?" I asked almost casually, though I already knew the answer. It was always the same story and I'd been around the flavor of the month enough times to be familiar with his long list of shortcomings. Alice sent me a suffering look, and I knew she'd already been subjected to the story numerous times. But it helped Rose to talk it out in order to work through her anger, and we had to get her calmed down before she broke something bigger and more expensive or our neighbors called the cops. Already the chair was looking like it had lost a fight with Rosalie's patent leather stiletto boots.
"He just. . ." Rosalie sputtered in speechless anger, "He said that I wasn't allowed. . ."
Uh oh. I'd thought he was a few fries short of a happy meal, but this really took the cake. How could any man really think that telling Rosalie what to do was a good idea? She exuded confidence and independence, in a far more confrontational and aggressive style than most women.
Rosalie continued with her ranting, as it appeared she'd calmed down just enough to be able to verbally malign the unfortunate male properly.
"He was such an asshole. The biggest asshole ever. I can't believe he thought that I was really interested in him, as if someone who had macaroni and cheese for brains and spaghetti for arms could really interest me." She growled again, either at his stupidity or hers, I wasn't sure.
I sighed and stayed quiet. I wanted her to keep going. Alice had her head cocked slightly to the side, as if Rose was saying the most interesting thing she'd heard yet. Only the two of us knew that she'd probably silently retreated to a part of her mind that even Rosalie couldn't penetrate with sound.
"Apparently I'm a snotty bitch who only thinks of herself and can't really care for anyone. Like he was any different," she snarled, "he only wanted to get into my pants, as if that would somehow give him the right to control me. Good thing it's over. I was sick of telling him that his dick was bigger than a roll of quarters. He needed to get his eyes checked, that's for damn sure."
Rosalie was pacing again, her heels clicking frantically on the hardwood floor. Her hands were balled into fists and the expression on her beautiful face probably could have turned the male population into stone.
"Rosalie," Alice interrupted her. "He said you weren't able to care for anyone?"
"Well him specifically, like he was something special or even worth caring for," she snickered snidely. I could see that we'd reached the sarcastic put-down section of the evening. If only these incidentsweren't so horribly predictable. If only Rosalie could somehow pick a guy who didn't have muscles for brains and a lump of charcoal for a heart. If only she could learn some form of anger management. I sighed again because the last was the most impossible of all. Rose's temper was legendary, which somehow, unbelievably, only added her to charm and goddess-like beauty.
Alice spoke up again, apparently not entirely satisfied with Rose's answer to her question. "Rosalie Hale, sit down." Her voice was firmer than normal, and had a tone that communicated to Rose that she'd better obey or else. In the six years I'd known Alice, I'd never heard her use such a tone. It wasn't as in-your-face as Rosalie's generally was, but the threat was there regardless. And, wonder of all wonders, Rose sat down. Abruptly. On a chair that probably didn't have much legs left in it. A loud squawk emerged from the offended cushion, and the tense atmosphere immediately dissolved into laughter.
At least both Alice and I thought that we were all laughing, but then a sound came from Rosalie that I'd never heard before. Out of curiosity, and trying to mask it as concern, I walked to the chair, put a comforting hand on her shoulder, and only out of sheer willpower could stifle the gasp that tried to escape out of my throat.
Rosalie was. . . was. . .crying?
Rosalie never cried. This was indeed an evening for firsts.
And apparently Alice had suspected it would happen because in a flash, she was also next to the chair, putting an arm around Rosalie's shoulders and murmuring comforting words in her ear. Alice looked a great deal less flabbergasted than I did, and I supposed that was appropriate. While I had known Rosalie for nearly six years, Alice and Rose had grown up together. I was the newcomer, and it was never more apparent than in moments like these.
I was socially awkward anyway--at least that was what I always called it. Alice was normally quick to reprimand me, and insist that I was instead introspective and shy. Not socially inept. But I knew the truth and no amount of ambiguous wording could change that. Becoming friends with Alice and Rosalie in college had mended and refashioned a lot of my social skills, to where I could function pretty normally, but when faced with a completely new situation, I tended to freeze.
I'd first met Alice and Rosalie in college, and at that point, I still froze nearly all the time. Their lives had seemed so exotically different than mine. They were outgoing and exuberant, stylish and beautiful. They made friends easily and everyone wanted to be close to them. I could never quite figure out why they drew me to them, but within a few weeks, we were inseperable. And slowly, I'd begun to pick up some of their polish, though Alice would probably always bitch about my clothing choices.
Rosalie was a year older than Alice and I, and she had been even more intimidating at first. Supermodel beautiful with a temper to match, I hadn't thought there was anything I could contribute to our friendship. Alice had vehemently disagreed when I told her this, arguing that I was just beginning to learn my own value. In the six years since meeting them, I couldn't disagree with her words. I'd grown into my own with them by my side. I didn't look like I'd just stepped off a runway, but I was polished and, in my opinion, passably pretty. I'd lost my awkwardness in social situations, and our circle of friends had widened. After graduation, I'd tried sales (what else can you do with a literature degree?), and discovered a knack for parting people with their money. Alice remarked often that I was growing into my charm and that soon I'd eclipse them both.
Truth is, I owed both of them more than I could ever repay and to help Rosalie right now, I'd be willing to do just about anything.
Rosalie had scooted over on the chair to give Alice enough room to fit. Not that Alice was a big burden--she was as pixie-ish as Rosalie was statuesque and I was boringly normal. Tears were streaming down Rose's face now, and her crying was just about as loud as her yelling.
Alice looked at me pointedly and said, "could you get Rose a box of tissues, I think she's going to need it."
No kidding. I'd never seen the perfect Rosalie look so disheveled, emotional and well. . .red and blotchy. It would have been almost satisfying except for intensely sad sobs she was making.
On my way to the bathroom, I detoured into the kitchen. Whenever I was feeling particularly blue, there was one thing I depended on. I knew we had some in the fridge and I had a feeling that Rose would appreciate my thoughtfulness. She had a real appetite for junk food in general, but I'd never seen her stoop this low. But then, I'd also never seen her upset enough to actuallycry.
When I returned to the living room, neither Alice nor Rosalie had moved, but the big hiccupping sobs that seemed to steal Rose's breath away had finally subsided. Alice was nearly crooning in her ear, in an attempt to calm her gasping hysteria. Looking at them, I realized that this reaction of Rosalie's could have nothing to do with the idiocy of the latest man she had dated. She had never been emotionally involved with him, at least not enough to warrant this kind of reaction.
I handed Alice the box of tissues, and she immediately pulled one out. Holding it to Rosalie's nose, Alice asked her, "Rose, why don't you tell us what's bothering you?"
There was a loud blow followed by several sniffles. Rose meekly looked at us through tear-stained eyes and mumbled, "I don't know."
Alice had been in charge up until this point, I'd merely been an observer, but having quite a bit of experience under my belt at things not going right, I knew how to both calm Rose down and uncover the truth about her crying jag.
I ran my fingers down the side of the object I'd taken from the fridge, considering for only a second before I extended it toward Rosalie. Her face immediately lit up, and the intensity of her beauty nearly blinded me for a second. Red, watery eyes and blotchy complexion paled in comparison to the force of her smile.
"Chocolate frosting!" Her smile grew in wattage, and I couldn't help but smile back. Alice squealed and took off running in the direction of the kitchen to grab spoons, but Rose was too fast. She already had the lid of the container off, dipping her finger inside and sucking off the gooey goodness, moaning in delight.
"Bella, this is exactly why I love you so much: you know exactly how to tame the beast inside," Rosalie giggled.
Alice returned with the spoons, only to abandon them on the coffee table in favor of using her finger. She groaned in pleasure as the frosting hit her tongue. "This is almost better than sex," Alice said as she licked every bit off her finger.
I laughed at Alice's natural naivety and Rose added, "you must not have had great sex yet, Alice. Only someone who's never had mind-blowing sex would say that chocolate frosting was almost better."
Rosalie's expression darkened almost imperceptibly as she spoke and I watched her put the carton of frosting on the coffee table. I knew we were about to learn the reason for her blue mood.
Rosalie took a deep breath. "I wasn't honest with you earlier. Thanks to Bella and the chocolate, you're now going to learn the truth."
The expression in her aquamarine eyes was bleak as she met Alice's sympathetic gaze. "I saw Emmett today, Alice."
I didn't know who Emmett was, but judging from Rosalie's reaction and Alice's suddenly tear-filled eyes, I figured this was about a traumatic an experience as was possible. But the weird thing is that I didn't remember ever hearing a word about an Emmett. How could they have not spoken of someone who was clearly so important in the six years we had known each other? We three girls were, I had thought, inseparable. Again, I felt the twinge of loneliness. There were obviously some secrets that I was not meant to know, that obviously nobody was meant to know.
"And Jasper?" Alice's voice was small and almost shaky with an effort to keep the tears glimmering in her eyes from falling onto her cheeks.
Rosalie nodded gravely. "I. . .I. . .I wasn't that upset until that stupid asshole told me that I couldn't care about anyone. . .and Alice, all I could think about was Emmett. . .and. . ." her voice broke and she looked at the ground, not even seeing her Laboutin patent leather boots.