Disclaimer- I don't own the rights to anything written by Stephenie Meyer.
A/N: A slightly updated version (March 23, 2014). I was re-reading, found more mistakes than I'd like to admit to and then decided to re-vamp it (re-vamp, vamp, vampire...Get it? Was it funny? No? Alirghty then). If you happen to find any more issues, PM me. Thanks a bunch and enjoy!
I hadn't known Bella could be so forceful. Her personality kept her from making snap decisions and this flew in the face of everything I thought I knew about her.
However, I could sympathize with her position. All those staring eyes and whispered abuse, it must've been very unnerving, especially for someone who hated attention as much as she did.
I wondered how long she'd been keeping it all in, if she'd spoken to Edward about how uncomfortable she was with the constant observation. I was almost sure she had, they weren't the type to keep secrets from each other.
I remembered asking about how she was holding up. Surely she was feeling stressed about the wedding plans? That hadn't been her biggest worry though.
"It's not so much the planning, Alice has that all taken care of. I just can't stand how everyone's taking the news!"
I understood, even I had been doubtful in the beginning that it would work. They were both so young! I couldn't even begin to imagine being married yet. There were so many other things to think about.
Then again Edward and Bella were, well, Edward and Bella. They were old, kindred souls and, in my humble opinion, perfect for one another. I would have backed Bella no matter what she'd chosen, but when I thought about it I was glad she'd decided to take this road. It seemed right.
But that was just me. I knew for a fact that many of our friends didn't see the union the way I did. They sneered at her behind her back and speculated at the cause for the seemingly spontaneous decision.
"I bet she's pregnant."
That was the general consensus, but I didn't think so. I was ashamed to admit that I had thought about it as well, why else would they get married so quickly? It would be the obvious answer, but it didn't feel right.
I was sure it was only out of love. Whenever I saw them together it was almost tangible. The way they looked at each other was intense. I envied it and couldn't have been happier for them.
I'd told Bella that I wished them nothing but the best and she'd thanked me for my support.
"I just wish everyone else would try to understand," she'd said. "Is it really too much to ask?"
I worried about her and did my best to keep the rumors from getting too out of hand, but when your own mother can't keep her thoughts to herself, she'd been gossiping ever since she'd seen Bella's new car, what are you supposed to do? My father said he couldn't see the marriage lasting, but also firmly advised against the gossip.
"Do whatever you can, Angela," he told me. "If there's one thing a person needs in the face of opposition it's a friend."
Jessica was content to make up her own theories and keep them, mostly, to herself. Lauren, on the other hand, was something else. Whenever Jessica let one of her 'ideas' slip the story would end up around town in a matter of hours. I worked to talk her out of the more eccentric explanations, but once something took root it wasn't letting go.
"Sharing is caring," she'd told me.
Whenever Lauren decided to share I had to do damage control.
It was a self appointed job, I couldn't do much else. I wanted to assist Bella in any way I could. It was hard enough planning a wedding without the backlash of jealous and curious townspeople. I couldn't be sure that my efforts were doing much in the way of helping, but I could hope.
It had been a great surprise when Bella called me, asking if I'd like to go into town with her. She'd always disliked shopping. I still remembered our trip with Jessica to find dresses for the dance, the one that had caused so much drama. She hadn't been having fun and I suspected she'd come more for something to do than anything else.
"I just need to get away from Alice. If she thinks I'm shopping she'll let me leave."
I'd agreed with a laugh; I could understand her need for a break.
We met in the parking lot of the Port Angeles strip mall. I'd caught sight of Lauren as we started off and led Bella in the opposite direction. I wanted to keep them apart if at all possible. I was sure Lauren would be meeting with Jessica and probably a few other girls from school as well. That was one gathering I could do without.
Bella and I window shopped, stopping occasionally to check the prices on items we liked. I ended up getting a purse. It certainly wasn't Prada or Dolce and Gabbana, but it was cute and I'd needed a new one anyway.
We were chatting about nothing in particular when I noticed Lauren and her crew enter the store. Much to my dismay they saw us too. In an apparently covert attempt to hear what we were talking about they 'wandered' in our direction.
"Umm, Bella? You know what, I think I'm done here, can we go look at one of the...clothing shops?"
She seemed surprised, but agreed. I was breathing a sigh of relief when we exited the little boutique. Lauren seemed to be looking through a rack of new arrivals and the others wouldn't leave without her.
My sense of ease died quickly. After only a few minutes of browsing Jessica and Lauren made their way into the shop we had decided upon.
It was almost like they were following us, I certainly wouldn't have put it past them, but I didn't tell Bella that. She was already under a lot of strain, she didn't need to worry about what other people were doing. I was sure she'd heard it all by that point, but she deserved at least a few hours of peace.
When Bella left for the bathroom in the back I confronted the two would-be stalkers.
"We just wanted to see this shop is all Ang!" Lauren exclaimed.
"Yeah, Angie," I flinched at the sound of my hated nickname. "There's no law against browsing."
I shook my head at them and returned to my former position by the summer sale side of the store. Bella came out a few minutes later.
"Angela, I know what you're trying to do." I looked at her in shock. "And thanks. For trying to keep the hyenas at bay I mean."
I chuckled at the analogy, it was true enough.
"Let's blow this pop stand and get some lunch, okay?"
I readily agreed and we slid out the door when the prowlers weren't looking, settling on a sub shop down the street. It was busy, but getting lost in the crowd might be a good thing.
Fifteen minutes passed and things were looking up. Our unwelcome companions hadn't found us yet; perhaps we had a chance after all. There were quiet a few restaurants in this area. Maybe they'd stopped somewhere to eat and lose interest completely.
That was wishful thinking.
"Guess who just came in?" Bella whispered.
I rolled my eyes and glanced at the entrance. It was no surprise really. Why would they have given up? They were looking for a new story, for more information to distort. It was what they did. I was very sorry to say it, but they were those kinds of people. Maybe they would grow out it someday, but that day was clearly not today.
We could hear everything they were saying, it wasn't as if they were trying to be quiet about it, and I knew Bella was losing her patience. It was a bit jumbled with them all talking over each other, but the subject was clear.
They just couldn't get enough of her engagement. They were speculating on the reason behind it. The most common theories came up of course, as well as a few I hadn't heard before. All of them equally scandalous and degrading.
We left to sit outside at a small, round, umbrella shaded table as soon as our orders were out.
Bella was looking tense and there was nothing I could do to ease the situation. I wanted to tell her not to worry about it, to not let them get to her. They didn't know her at all, not really. Soon she would be leaving for college in Alaska and most likely she would never see any of them again.
I wanted to say those things, but I didn't get the chance.
We were tossing our emptied plastic cups and wrappers into a trashcan when they came out laughing and giggling, until they saw us and became almost eerily silent. Lauren was the one to step forward. She'd never made her dislike for Bella a secret and it seemed as if she was ready to really prove herself.
"Hey, Bella," she called. "Is it true? I mean, I've heard it all over town."
Bella was biting her lip and turning red. I could see that, this time, it wasn't embarrassment coloring her face. It was anger.
This was going to get ugly.
"Heard what Lauren?" She didn't turn around as she answered.
"I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I wouldn't want to embarrass you on the street like this."
And that was when Bella decided she'd had enough.
"Oh no," I whispered, as she wheeled around to face her verbal attacker. I wasn't one for confrontation and this was exactly what I'd been hoping to avoid. In the end I supposed I'd only been delaying the inevitable.
She stalked toward Lauren and her group, completely ignoring the few people who had stopped to watch the exchange.
"Lets get a few things straight alright?" she hissed. "I am not pregnant. Edward did not 'knock me up'. He isn't marrying me out of pity or because it's the honorable thing to do. There is one reason for our engagement and only one!" She got right in Lauren's face. "We are in LOVE! I realize, Lauren, that it may be a hard concept for you to understand. The idea of caring for someone enough to spend your existence trying to make them happy has probably never occurred to you, but that gives you NO RIGHT," a crowd had gathered, consisting of some Forks citizens who had bought into the hushed conversations regarding Bella Swan's personal life, "to start or continue rumors! I am SICK and TIRED of all the gossip!" She looked around at the crowd, picking out the ones who came from our home town. "That goes for all you good people of Forks who've been gossiping about myself and my fiancé!" She ended her tirade with a shout.
Turning suddenly she grabbed my arm and pulled me through the stunned crowd. She towed me all the way back to our parked cars before she stopped.
Looking me in the eye she said solemnly, "I'm sorry you had to hear that Angela. I hope you understand that none of that was meant for you." She was taking deep breaths.
I waited until she had calmed a bit. "Don't worry Bella, I understand. Sort of." I couldn't exactly relate to her situation; I'd never had to deal with that kind of pressure, but I could see what it had been doing to her. "I don't blame you for the outburst. In fact, I'm almost relieved. This might mean that I can give up my post as damage control monitor."
Her laugh was short, but she was smiling again and that was always a good sign. "Maybe, though I may have just given them something more to talk about. Don't go quitting until we're sure alright?"
I nodded at her, completely serious. "I won't." I would do just about anything to help any of my friends, but Bella especially.
With a sigh she pulled a key of her pocket. "I think it's time that this trip end."
"Yes," I agreed. "I'm exhausted."
She grinned at me sheepishly. "Well, this was a disaster. I'm not sure that I want to tell Edward about it."
"I think he would be proud of the way you stood up for yourself," I told her.
She looked at me doubtfully and conceded with a maybe. We got into our respective vehicles with promises to have a better outing soon and made our way back to Forks.
When I arrived home my mother was there to greet me. "So, how was your time with Bella?" What she was really asking was, 'So, what did you find out about Bella?'.
"It was eventful. To say the least." I gave her a hug and a kiss. "I'm beyond tired. I know it's early, but I think I'll go to bed."
"Well, if you're sure you have nothing else you'd like to talk about...," she looked hopeful.
"Nope. I'm pretty sure that I just want a good, long sleep." And that was the end of the conversation. She'd likely hear about the episode later anyway.
I changed into my pajamas and flopped onto my light blue comforter. It was nice to be in my room, where there were no stalkers or crazed teenage girls looking for their next story. The worries of the day seemed to fade away into nothing. Tomorrow would be a new day and with any luck I would be out of a job.
My phone blipped, alerting me to a text message. I reached over to my nightstand, where I'd set it down, and flipped it open.
It was from Bella and it read:
You were right, Edward was proud. Emmett thought it was funny and Alice wasn't surprised. Seriously Angela, thank you for trying so hard to keep it all to a minimum. It couldn't have been easy. You're such a great friend.
It was extremely nice to be appreciated.