"You know," Jessica called over her shoulder, "it's supposed to hit 70 tomorrow."
I was perfectly well aware of that. I was looking forward to leaving my sweatshirt at home and Alice was complaining that she'd wanted to go out this weekend. There was a new store opening in Seattle and she wanted to clean them out by the end of the first day. I'd offered a compromise by suggesting that we do some online shopping with the windows open.
"Yeah," I said disinterestedly. "It's supposed to be up in the 70's until Sunday."
"Oh, I hope so," Angela sighed. "I feel like it's been raining for a year."
"The point is, Bella, that you have the perfect excuse to wear your new shirt," Jessica added.
"Oh, the blue one," Angela added, twisting around in her seat to flash me a smile. "You said Edward likes you in blue."
"Good idea," I agreed.
"What do we want for dinner?" Jessica interrupted again. "Anyone in the mood for Chinese?"
"Not Golden Gate," Angela requested. "I found a bug in my lo mein last time."
"Fair enough," Jessica said. "Bella, do you like Chinese?"
Actually, I was mostly in the mood to get home--I hadn't seen Edward all weekend and Charlie had probably set the house on fire by now. Still, I should probably eat.
"Sounds good," I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.
"We'll go to Sam's," Jessica pronounced. "It's on the one-oh-one anyway and there's this really cute guy named George there. This one time, I was there with my Mom and he kept flirting with me, bringing me extra stuff..."
I let out a long, slow breath and relaxed with my forehead pressed against the window. Jessica was in one of her chatty moods again and that meant that I probably wouldn't have to make a contribution until we got back to Forks.
Edward should have been back by now, since he and Alice had done a quick, local trip this time. They tended to do that during the summer, since there were more tourists and campers out in the wilds. Last weekend, they'd gone to British Columbia, but Edward promised this time that he'd at least stay in the country.
The car lurched to a stop at a red light, prompting Jessica to lurch into a story about how she always seems to hit red lights.
When she came up for air, Angela quickly jumped into the conversation. "Any idea of where you'll be going tomorrow?" she asked.
"We're going on a double date with Alice and Jasper," I supplied, "and we're going to a Mariners game."
"Baseball?" Jessica sniffed. "Does he really think that's romantic?"
Actually, Edward had mentioned something about letting someone else do the work for once.
"It's a family thing," I pointed out. "And it beats candlelit dinners and formal dances."
"True," Jessica giggled. "In a baseball stadium, you probably can't set yourself on fire or break your leg."
"Not without trying, anyway," Angela joked.
The light turned green, but before we could move an inch, a flash of light forced me look away. A bone-rattling impact threw me to the side and I gasped as the seatbelt restrained me. I threw out an arm to steady myself against the back of the seat in case something more happened, but it was over by then.
True to form, Jessica was still talking in between bouts of hyperventilating. Angela had screamed once, but was now bent almost double and whimpering.
"Is everyone all right?" I blurted out.
No one was bleeding--I could smell that much--but that didn't mean there weren't other injuries.
"I'm fine," Jessica called back. "Did anyone get the guy's license plate number?"
License plate... Of course it had been a car. From the way it felt, I'd have put my money on a meteor strike.
"No," Angela said quietly.
She straightened up a little and held up something large and metal. "I think I broke your window crank," she apologized.
Jessica stared at her as if she was crazy. After a long moment, she nodded.
"It's fixable," she said, turning off the ignition. "Stay here. I'm going to find out what the damage is."
As soon as she left the car, Angela set about trying to reattach the handle. "Did you see that coming?" she asked.
"I wasn't paying attention," I confessed. "I just saw a bright light and then the car hit us."
"Me, too," she confirmed.
Outside the car, Jessica was joined by a police officer who had apparently been conveniently nearby. He was pointing at something on the car and she was nodding her head.
"Are you okay?" I asked again.
"I just banged my arm," Angela assured me. "I don't think anything's broken. You?"
"Fine," I said, ignoring the throbbing in my shoulder.
The officer knocked on the window, but Angela still hadn't been able to get the crank functional again, so she opened the door.
"Is anyone hurt? Do you need a paramedic?"
This was turning into a broken record.
"We're fine," we responded.
"Well, the car's not," he grunted. "We can have it towed to a repair shop, but is there anyone you could call for a ride home?"
Jessica's parents were out of town for the weekend and Angela had younger siblings. Charlie would probably show up in the cruiser with half the staff of the hospital crammed into the back seat and insisting that I be kept in the hospital for a week of observation.
On the other hand...
"Is there a pay phone anywhere around here?" I asked. "I can call my boyfriend."
"Right over there on the corner," he indicated.
Edward responded on the first ring and promised to be there with Carlisle "just in case" as soon as possible. About fifteen minutes later, the Volvo screeched to a stop behind us and Edward climbed out with his usual grace. He took in the entire scene in a glance, from the flares that the officer had set out to the tow truck that was in the process of loading Jessica's car onto the back. We were all either sitting in the cruiser or standing against the car.
Edward bent down as soon as he reached the cruiser and pulled me into a tight hug, nearly lifting me off my feet. My back and shoulders protested at the gesture, but it was over a few moments later and he kissed me quickly when he'd stopped cracking my ribcage.
"I told you to be safe," he growled as I regained my footing.
"It's not our fault," Jessica protested from the driver's seat, where she was being inspected by Carlisle. "We were at a red light and this guy peeled out of the parking lot and hit us."
"A red light," Carlisle chuckled while Edward looked aghast. "You did this much damage to your car at a standstill?"
Jessica looked about to correct him again on who did damage to iwhat/i, but she decided against it and just nodded while Carlisle checked her pulse.
"Bella, I have to apologize," Edward said quietly.
I arched an eyebrow. "For what?"
"I've called you a walking disaster quite a few times," he explained. "Now I realize that 'walking' doesn't cover it."
I glowered while the others had a good laugh at my expense and Carlisle moved on to Angela. "Nice," I grumbled. "Don't you want to know if I was hurt?"
"You'd have complained by now if it were serious," he rejoined. "How iare/i you?"
"My shoulder and back hurt, but I think they're just bruised or wrenched."
"We'll see about that," Carlisle interjected as he probed Angela's wrist. "There seems to be no real harm done here. You two can wait in the Volvo if you'd like."
Angela headed for the backseat of the Volvo, but Jessica stayed behind to talk to the tower. Carlisle set about making sure that I hadn't accidentally died or something while he was looking after the others.
"So," Edward said conversationally after the initial once-over, "what's this about a blue shirt?"
I glowered immediately, but that could have been a result of having Carlisle discover the bruises that the seatbelt had left. "Who told?"
"Jessica," he said. "She thought you should have had the foresight to put it on so you look sexy and vulnerable."
I immediately engaged in my favorite pastime—turning beet-red—and turned a frown in her direction.
"I look vulnerable enough without it," I sniffed. "As for sexy, that really wasn't the first thing on my mind."
"I think I can live with that," Edward deadpanned. "I think you look beautiful especially when you're vulnerable."
"I think you're all lucky," Carlisle interrupted. "The car has seen better days, but the most I'd recommend for any of you is ibuprofen and ice as needed."
"Good to hear," I said. "Charlie would kill me if I had internal bleeding and thought to call you ifirst/i."
Carlisle smiled at that. "He'll hear about this sooner or later, knowing the Stanleys," he pointed out.
"I'll tell him tonight," I promised, "but I wanted this to happen without him playing cop iand/i being a worried Dad."
"Good point," he said. "Now, we should probably get you home."
"I think they should have something to eat," Edward added. "They were headed to dinner when this happened."
"Right," Carlisle sighed. "Where to?"
"Sam's on the one-oh-one," I informed him.
He nodded approvingly. "From what the other doctors have said, I'd recommend the Peking duck," he suggested. "My treat."
Edward wrapped an arm around my shoulders and steered me to the Volvo with a pained expression. I glanced up at him, puzzled.
"Duck," he sniffed. "They're no fun to hunt. They just sit there."
Of course. He wasn't going to eat anything, but that didn't stop him from disapproving of what I might eat.
"Well, sorry," I said with a grin. "Next time, I'll try and find a place that serves Peking mountain lion."