CHAPTER 1- Dress Up
Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer owns all things Twilight.
"Edward! We love you!"
The screams came from all directions. Sometimes I wished that Renée hadn't decided to move to Hollywood. Yes, it is cool to live so close to certain celebrities—I even know a few of them—but it can get old fast. They really are just ordinary people.
"Come on, Bella," Jessica said, pulling me down the street. "We have to hurry!"
"Jess!" I said, the annoyed tone I had tried to hold back slipping into my voice. "Why do I have to go to this thing? Why are you going, anyway? He's not that great."
"Not that great," she repeated. "Not that great! He is the greatest thing in the world. You are going to this concert and, by the end of the night, you're going to love him too!"
Ha. Not likely. The only thing anyone has been talking about for the past three weeks is about how Edward is coming back. His obsessed fans swarmed my high school and their inane chatter nearly drove me out of my mind. Having Jessica as a friend did not make life any easier. I uncharacteristically found myself regretting not going with Alice and Angela on their shopping spree.
"If you want to meet him so much, then why don't you just ask Alice to introduce you guys? She is his little sister. Then, when you meet him, maybe you'll realize I'm right."
Jessica sighed. "You think I haven't thought of that?" she asked, as if this should have occurred to me before. You know, because I spend so much time thinking about it. "Alice said that she won't introduce any of her friends to her brother. Apparently it makes her feel used." She rolled her eyes and continued walking down the street.
Reluctantly, I followed her, mostly because I had been forbidden to walk the streets alone. Something about robbers and my attraction for danger made wandering Hollywood on my own a horror story. Besides, the only other option was to stand in one place and be trampled by millions of crazed fans.
Completely exhausted and worn out, I collapsed on my couch, too weak to make it up the stairs. Renée wasn't back from whatever party she had decided to grace with her presence tonight, so I had the whole house to myself. Life in Phoenix had never been nearly this complicated. When I lived there, I would leave for school in the morning, come back home in the afternoon, finish my homework, read, go to bed, then wake up and repeat the process over again. Here, life rotated around star searches and parties that usually involve someone who appears on the cover of a different magazine every month.
Today was no different, though many here would disagree. For them, today was the day their beloved Edward came home from his worldwide tour. Just hours ago, he performed at his welcome-back concert. The very same one Jessica dragged me to. It had been three and a half hours of my life that I will never get back, not to mention the fact that I had blisters on my feet from walking all day.
I shook my head and picked up the remote. Maybe some TV would help take my mind off everything that has been going on in my crazy world.
Of course, the first thing I saw was a commercial for the new TV series called My Life starring (who else?) Edward Cullen. I switched the channel, but there was some gossip show on about which pop star is wearing what fashion line.
Disgusted, I turned to the history channel where I knew there would be any talk about Hollywood's favorites. There was a documentary on about the life of famous classical composers. Slowly, I drifted off to sleep, listening to the sweet tunes of Strauss and Debussy.
"Bella," I heard a voice call softly. "Bella, wake up sweetheart. You'll be late for school."
I opened my eyes and sat up. I was exactly where I had been last night, except there was an extra blanket on top of me. Renée had probably put it there last night when she came back from wherever she was. I knew better than to ask. If I did, school would be over before I got there. Renée is well known for talking incessantly.
"What time is it?" I asked, pulling the blanket off me.
"7:10," she answered absently as she glanced under the kitchen table, probably looking for her keys again.
"7:10!" I shouted, jumping off the couch. "Why didn't you wake me up earlier?"
Without waiting for a reply, I ran upstairs and threw on the first t-shirt my hand touched and a pair of jeans. My hair was always a lost cause, even with time to mess with it. I brushed it quickly and threw it back in a ponytail. Then, after grabbing my backpack, I ran out the door to where my truck waited. Hopefully I would miss early rush hour, but my chances were slim. My best bet would be to take the back roads and avoid any traffic.
I made it to school in record time. There hadn't been anyone on the back roads, and all I had to do was drive straight.
"Hey Bella!" came a chipper voice from behind me.
"Hey Alice," I said, recognizing the voice.
"You should have come shopping with Angela and me," Alice said as I spun the spun the dial on my locker. "Almost every store we went to was having a sale. I saw a ton of things that would be perfect for you. I even bought a few. You can come over after school and try them on. They'll look so much better than those boring clothes you always wear." Then, before I could protest, she skipped away.
"Ladies and gentleman, Alice Cullen," I muttered. I would tell her that I couldn't—no, wouldn't—come to her house after school when I saw her at lunch. As tacky as she insists it is, I happened to like my wardrobe.
First bell came and went, quickly followed by second and third. In fourth bell, we watched a movie that dragged forever. With the lights turned off, it was a struggle to stay awake. Then, finally, it was time for lunch.
I gathered my books and quickly walked out the door in an effort to avoid—
"Hey Bella!" came an over-eager voice. I closed my eyes, sighed, and stopped, allowing him to catch up.
"Hi Mike," I said flatly, hoping he would catch my tone and leave me alone. No such luck.
"I'll walk you to your locker," he offered.
"Um...sure," I said, resisting the urge to tell him that no escort was needed to put my books away.
"Great," he said, beginning to walk towards my locker. I followed walking slightly behind him. Mike then proceeded to talk about his recent trip to the beach with his friends Tyler and Eric. The only good thing about talking to Mike was that I never had to say anything. He did all the talking for me.
We walked to the cafeteria, making a quick stop at my locker. "Do you want to sit with us?" Mike asked hopefully.
"Sorry," I said, trying my hardest to sound apologetic. "I promised Alice I would sit with her today." As if she knew I was talking about her, Alice's head shot and she waved me over to our regular table. Saying good-bye to Mike, I walked over to the table.
"I got your lunch for you," Alice said as her form of greeting.
"Thanks," I said gratefully. Alice had a habit of paying for everything for me—from lunch to shoes to speeding tickets. In my defense, I have only ever received one and that was because Alice wanted to go to a sale that lasted half-an-hour and, apparently, we were about to miss it. In the end, there wasn't really a reason to rush because we got there two hours before the sale. After a lot of refusals and arguing about who should pay, I finally gave in.
"I can't go to your house after school," I said in reply.
"Can't or won't?" Alice asked knowingly.
"The latter," I answered.
She smirked slightly. "Not a good reason," she said. "You're coming, whether or not I have to drag you." I knew that she would drag me if she had to. I started formulating a plan involving running and hiding—anything to avoid Alice's 'Dress up Bella' game.
I sighed and turned to the rest of the table. "So what's new?" I asked, knowing either Jessica or Alice had some gossip that they could not wait to share. Every lunch was the same. Alice and Jess discuss the latest scandals, while Angela and I listen and shake our heads.
"I have Edward news!" Jessica said in a sing-song voice. At the mention of her brother, Alice looked down at her plate. Knowing of the rocky relationship Alice had with her brother, I steered Jess away from the subject by bringing up the upcoming spring dance. She immediately forgot about her news and went on about dresses and dates. Alice mouthed a thank-you to me, and I nodded my head back at her.
"What are you wearing to the dance, Bella?" Jessica asked.
"Um...well. I'm not exactly sure I'm going," I said quietly, knowing my words would bring on a wrath from Alice. I was actually pretty set on not going. Dances and I were a combination that would, without doubt, lead to disaster.
"You're not going?" Alice yelled in disbelief. She screamed it so loud that the entire cafeteria fell silent, every eye on us.
I felt my face heat up as I slid down as far as I could in my seat. I hated being the center of attention, something that, unfortunately, happened a lot when I had such a loud friend.
"Shut up Alice!" I muttered. She was glaring at me, the look on her face murderous.
"I won't stop until you say you'll go," she shrieked for the still silent cafeteria to hear.
"Ok, ok," I said, trying to get her to sit down. She did slowly, and everyone around us gradually went back to his or her conversations.
"Promise you will go?" Alice asked skeptically. I sighed. There was no point in lying to her, but maybe she would agree to a little compromise.
"If I go to your house after school today willingly, will you not try to talk me into going to this dance?" I asked. It was a big sacrifice on my part, and Alice knew it.
She considered it for a moment, then said, "Only if you agree to try on every outfit I picked for you without complaint. I started to answer, but she cut in and added, "You have to actually wear the outfits in public too."
My yes was becoming more and more doubtful by the second. I had been planning to let Alice play dress up, then take the clothes home and hide them at the bottom of my dresser drawer. She gave me a look that quickly assured me that, if I did not agree to this, there was no deal.
"Fine," I muttered reluctantly.
"Yay!" Alice squealed. "And, for the record, you know I'm going to find a way to make sure you go to this dance anyway."
I shook my head, knowing she was probably right. Alice had a one-track mind, and usually that led to her getting anything she wanted.
"Where's Jasper?" Angela asked Alice.
"His birthday is in a few weeks, so Rosalie made him stay home and help plan their birthday bash. It basically means he is at home, catering to her every demand, preparing for a party where he won't even be acknowledged," Alice replied, spitting out Rosalie's name in disgust. Jasper was Alice's boyfriend, going on for two years now. His twin, Rosalie, has starred in almost every chick flick produced in the past ten months. Alice hates her, but none of us have met her before. I nodded and started eating, as Jessica began talking about her date for Friday.
"Here we are!" Alice said, pulling up to her house. It was big, yet simple, though I knew that was not the case. Her house looked big from the front, but, once you were inside, you realized its true size and décor. Everything looked like it cost hundreds, and each room was the size of my kitchen, bedroom, and living room combined. It was a completely stereotypical Hollywood house.
We were sitting in her bright yellow Porsche. Alice was unable to do anything, including driving, without making a statement. Luckily, Angela gat a ride from Alice this morning, and, since she lived a few houses down from me, she was willing to drive my truck home for me.
"Let's go!" Alice said, hopping out of her Porsche. I followed her quickly. The stunning front lawn was less attractive than usual due to the small crowd of paparazzi. I realized that, since he was back from his yearlong tour, Edward would, logically, be at home.
Alice ignored the cameras and their owners as she walked up the path to her front door. I follow, managing to make it without more that a small stumble.
Alice pulled out her keys and opened the door, quickly pushing me inside. "C'mon," she said. "Let's go up to my room." She crossed the foyer and ran up the stairs, leaving me to follow. I had only been here twice before, and the house seemed no less intimidating now than it had the first two times.
Running, I counted the stairs as I went up them for no particular. There were thirty-seven in all. It was information I am sure the world is just dying to know. As I thought about it, I realized I people may actually be interested in that piece of trivia. How many stairs do you have to climb to reach Edward Cullen's bedroom? It was all so ridiculous.
I walked down the hallway towards Alice's room. Before I could turn to go in, a pair of pale arms flew out the door and dragged me into the room.
"Ahhh!" I screamed as I flew across the enormous room and onto a large, comfortable bed.
"We've only got a few hours," came the somewhat muffled voice that belonged to Alice. She emerged from her walk-in closet, carrying a stack of clothes that I assumed were the ones she bought for me. Apparently, in Alice's world, a few clothes meant the entire woman's clothing section of the mall.
"Alice!" I said in a whiny voice. "What did you buy? You said only a few things!"
"This is a few things," she said. "There was so much more that I wanted to buy for you but Angela stopped me."
Thank God Angela was around. If she hadn't been there, then I would have been forced to spend four more hours trying on clothes than I already am.
"So, Alice said excitedly. I was thinking that you should try on this one first." She threw a short pencil skirt and a blouse at me. I groaned, but stood up and went to the bathroom to change.
I pulled on the outfit quickly, and, without bothering to glance at myself in the mirror, walked back out into Alice's room. She was waiting for me, ready with another outfit.
"Well?" I asked, twirling for her, just like she makes me do when we are in the dressing rooms at the mall.
"It's ok," she said. "I don't think green is a good color for you. Try this on instead." Alice shoved the clothes in her hand at me. I carried them to the bathroom again and changed.
Three outfits later, I began to question Alice's perception of reality. As soon as I pulled on the skirt and top she had given me, I knew there was no way I would ever wear them in public. The skirt was denim mini skirt with rhinestone crowns on the back pockets. The shirt was black with a ribbon around the waist. It wasn't so bad, except for the fact that the v-neck dipped down way too low. There was also the problem that the shirt was almost see-through.
A loud knock cam from outside. It wasn't loud enough to be someone knocking on the bathroom door, so I figured it was either one of Alice's parents checking in on her. I waited a few minutes, using the time to examine myself in the mirror and to come up with the arguments I would use against this outfit.
I opened the bathroom door and walked out. "Alice," I said, trying to make the skirt as long as possible, without showing my stomach. This was hard because the shirt was not that long and pulling it down would bring the neckline lower, something I really did not want to happen. "I don't think this is going to..."
I trailed off as I looked up. Alice had an angry look on her face. As soon as she saw me, however, a huge smile spread across her face. Next to her stood a person I had only seen in pictures and from afar. Edward Cullen.
His bright green eyes stared right back into mine. His bronze-colored hair looked like he hadn't combed it in days, but, on him, it worked. He smirked as my cheeks began to redden.
I slowly backed up. This was not an outfit I wanted anyone to see me in. My face flushed a deep scarlet as I turned and ran back into the bathroom as quickly as possible.
"Aw, you scared her away," I heard Alice say playfully to Edward. He laughed quietly.
I quickly shed the offensive clothes and changed back into my comfortable jeans and t-shirt. Then, once my face had returned to its natural color, I went back into the bedroom, carrying the shirt and skirt in my hands.
Edward was gone and the irritation on Alice's face was unmistakable.
"Everything okay?" I asked.
"He just makes me so...I just...never mind," she said.
"You sure you don't want to talk about it?" Alice only ever got this way while talking about Edward
"I don't know." Her voice was low. "I just miss the person he used to be, you know?" I didn't, but I nodded my head sympathetically.
"He was the best brother anyone could ask for. When Emmett became preoccupied with high school, Edward and I were best friends. Then he got famous and left. He doesn't treat me the same anymore. Every time I'm around him, he makes me feel inferior. Sometimes I just want my best friend back."
This was the most I have ever heard Alice ever say about Edward or Emmett. Emmett was her older brother who had left for college somewhere on the other side of the country. I know Alice really misses him, but she refuses to talk about it. Her brothers were both uncomfortable topics, ones that were silently agreed not to be discussed. Now she was opening up and I knew this was important.
I couldn't bear to see Alice unhappy, but there was nothing I could think of doing to make her happy. Maybe if I tried on more clothes...
"Alice?" I asked softly, not really knowing what I was going to say.
"Yeah?" she asked.
"I...what outfit's next?"
She laughed sweetly. Then, without a word, she turned and marched straight back into her enormous closet. When she came back out, she only had two things in her hands, instead of the large stack of clothes I had been expecting.
"Try this," she said. "I thought it will look good on you, and you'll probably like it too."
I doubted it, considering the fact that I have almost never liked any article of clothing Alice bought for me, but I decided to give it a shot. Once again, I walked into the bathroom. I slipped out of my clothes and into Alice's. I was surprised to see that she gave me jeans. I pulled them on along with the blue sweater she gave me. This was a lot like the ones I usually wear minus the bulkiness. This one also had a slight v-neck, but it would be ok if I put a tank top on underneath it. I actually like this one, which was a first.
I walked back out and twirled as I walked. "What do ya think?" I asked.
"OH MY GOD BELLA!" she screamed. "That's perfect!"
"Really?" I asked, suddenly unsure.
"Totally," she answered. "I even have some shoes that will go with that. She went back into her closet to search through what I'm guessing is a huge stack of shoes.
"No heels!" I called after her. There was no answer so I wasn't sure she heard me. I turned to face the large mirror next to Alice's closet. The outfit was definitely not something I would pick out on my own, but I actually did like it.
"Here!" came Alice's shrill voice as she bounced out of her closet. In her hands was a pair of shiny black flats.
I took them from her and tried them on. Perfect fit.
Alice, unable to hold her excitement in, jumped up and down and clapped her hands. I, on the other hand, just stood there as my stomach growled. Alice, of course, heard it, but a little thing like hunger wasn't going to stop her on her obsessive quest for the flawless outfit.
"Bella," she said. "Why don't you go downstairs and get a snack. Bring it up here."
"Okay," I said, leaving Alice to her mad outfit search.
I ran down the long hallway and down the staircase. Her kitchen, I remembered, was on the other side of the house.
I crossed the living room, went through the foyer, walked past the dining room, and ended in the kitchen.
Alice's kitchen was huge. Everything was shiny and looked new. The floor was covered with black and white checked tile and white cabinets lined the wall. I walked over to the tall refrigerator that stood on the other side of the room. I opened the door and started looking through it to find something to eat. There wasn't much in there, and most of the stuff that was in there were leftovers.
"Looks like we've got a food thief," came a voice from behind me. I jumped, almost hitting my head on the refrigerator. My face a permanent red, I spun around and found myself staring into the bright green eyes that had, just twenty minutes ago, seen me in a less than appropriate outfit. The green eyes of Edward Cullen.