Bella tried to back out silently but, being the FUCKING klutz that she was, her elbow knocked into a vase of flowers. It went crashing to the floor. Victoria and Edward broke away. Edward stared at her blankly, aloofly, as if she was a complete stranger and Edward had no idea what she was doing there. DEJA VU. Was this another, "I don't think we should be friends. It'd be best if we stay away from each other, so I decided to have a pleasant make-out session with Victoria over here." Because honestly, Bella was beyond sick of all this drama and having her feelings pushed around.
Meanwhile, Victoria was smirking, her lips curled up wickedly. She looked like a cat, having just pounced on a ball of yarn or having just caught a mouse. And Bella was the mouse. Checkmate. Checkmate. Her life was all just Checkmates, Checkmates. Why didn't she ever win? Why was her heart always the target of all these shotgun bullets. At this point, the impact had shattered it. This was probably a good thing, since Bella didn't know how she would manage another shot at her heart. Now that her heart had splintered, she couldn't be shot at anymore.
Bella straightened up and gazed at Edward steadily, wordlessly. She wanted an explanation, an explanation, anything.... just glue her heart back together already. He didn't return her stare and didn't once look into her eyes. He had no explanation, no glue.
Bella didn't shed a single tear. She turned around and walked away, the heels of her broken Converses hitting the floor silently and the backs of her tattered jeans trailing against the floor. She wasn't a princess. She wasn't a celebrity. She wasn't a Victoria or a Rosalie or an Alice. She was just herself, plain and boring and poor and broken.
Why in the world did Bella think that she ever had a chance with Edward? She was probably just some sort of sick entertainment. He had his fun with her, played with her, and now he was bored. He didn't want her anymore, and he was perfectly fine with throwing her away. Bella was tired of the Academy, where she couldn't help but feel so alone. Edward had made her feel a little bit more pretty, a little bit more special for a while. But she was just being stupid. How stupid.
And do you know what the sickest thing was? Even after this betrayal falling out of nowhere, Bella still cared. She still didn't want Edward to die. She still hated him for having leukemia.
Bella had considered staying home and skipping work. In the end, she had decided to go to work. Sitting at home with nothing to keep her busy, the time seemed to stretch for miles and she knew that she'd be forced to think about everything that was wrong, everything that was wrong with Edward and her. She'd be spending the entire time pitying herself and regretting the Academy.
Bella arrived at the café twenty minutes early, to the complete surprise of Mrs. Prince.
"Oh! Thank goodness, Bella! You must be psychic! The worker from the earlier shift had to leave early because of a sick stomach or something, and it's been an incredibly busy day!" Mrs. Prince said, bustling here and there.
"Get dressed, and in the back, there's a bag of peppermints. Restock the peppermint jar that's next to the cash register. Then, I'm going to need you to man the counter," Mrs. Prince said as she ran by with some milkshakes for table 9.
Bella went to the back to get dressed. She restocked the peppermint jar, emptied the donations box, and started to scrub the counter. She was just about done cleaning the sink when Jacob sauntered in, on time as usual. He was whistling merrily and swinging around his earphones.
"OHH. EMMM. EFF. GEE. Bella is actu-wully awn time today!" Jacob said, sassily cocking his hip to the left and doing some sort of shimmy thing. Bella laughed. It sounded so natural; Bella hadn't even thought she could laugh after what she'd just seen. She should have known that Jacob could make her feel a little bit more normal.
"Could you man the counter? I'm going to wash the windows!" Bella said. Jacob nodded.
Bella got SUPERSHINE solution, a sponge, and a pail of water. The windows were large, going from the ceiling pretty much to the floor. Bella immediately started working.
She was halfway done, when Edward and Victoria walked in. Together. Holding hands. All lovey-dovey, mooshy-gooshy. Bella felt all the breath leave her lungs. She couldn't breathe. She leaned on the windowpane, watching the soapy water drip down like rain, like loneliness and sorrow and regret.
Bella didn't even wince. She was so tired of being afraid. She wasn't going to just start to tear up and choke on her own saliva every time she saw Edward and Victoria together. She had to be STRONG! SHE HAD TO BE SUPERMAN! She wasn't going to be a mopey little wrist-slitter and rain on everyone's party, much less her OWN party.
After finishing scrubbing the window, she went behind the counter. Jake and Bella started a completely arbitrary conversation about Disney, in which Jake pointed out that his favorite Disney movie was Bambi and that he cried whenever he sees the part when Bambi's mom dies (oh, that hopeless romantic! Who would have known?). Bella, meanwhile, indicated that she had a guilty pleasure for the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, even though she HATED HATED HATED the character of Piglet.
"PIGLET! Is he supposed to be MALE?! Oh my goodness! What a wimp. And how in the world do you understand what he's saying w-w-w-w-with-th-th-th th-th-th-th-th-the w-w-w-w-w-w-way h-h-h-h-h-h-h-he t-t-t-t-t-talks!" Bella screeched, noticing too late that her voice was WAY above an indoor voice. She silently cursed herself for being such a loud, noisy, obnoxious person who liked to attract strange looks, such as the one Victoria was giving her.
Now, other than the fact that Victoria had just snatched Edward away behind Bella's back, Bella had really nothing against her. That is, until, Edward leaned over and said, "Your little friend seems to have a high capacity for screaming," in a nastily bitchy way. Bella just stood there for a second, gaping, and then proceeded to smack her head against the counter top repetitively. She must have been born under a very, very unfortunate star. Why couldn't she just live a SINGLE day without being noticed? All she wanted was to stay under the radar. Clearly, this was hard to do when she was always screaming about Piglet.
Jacob stared at her.
"Why in the world are you smacking your head against the counter top?"
"I'm seeing how many times it takes to smack my head to lose enough brain cells to die... or at least get my memory permanently impaired," Bella declared.
"Yeah, so I was wondering, what the hell happened with you and Edward?" Jacob asked. Bella stared through her hair, which was hanging around all over her face. She blew it away and glared at Jacob.
"What do you mean?"
"Oh please, Bella, you can't possibly think I'm that stupid. I go to the Academy too, you know. Everyone knew something was going on with you and Edward from the instant you stepped into the Academy. So what's up with Edward and Victoria sharing a milkshake over there while you're over here, bonking yourself to brain damage?"
"There was never anything between Edward and I. And what Edward does with Victoria is none of my business," Bella said through gritted teeth. Jake raised his eyebrow, then shrugged.
"Whatever you say."
Bella started doing some Calculus homework with the help of Jacob. She could not help but occasionally let her eyes stray over to Edward and Victoria's table. They never seemed to want to leave. They finished their milkshake, then ordered some donuts. Now, they were sitting there and whispering surreptitiously, their faces inches away from each other. At first, Edward seemed bored, overall unamused. His legs were hoisted up onto the table and he was playing with his straw. Now, he was leaning in and Victoria was smiling surreptitiously, as if she had some kind of scandalous secret.
Sometimes, Victoria's laugh, a dainty hoo-hoo, would float from the table. Each time it sounded like they were having a good time, Bella wanted to bring the blender over to their table and stuff it over both their heads, and press the POWER button. Bella loved being ruthless.... sike.
Bella was going along fuming inside her head and letting her hand move closer and closer to the bender, when the bell dinged, signaling that someone was coming in. Who could it be but Sally Majors and her crew of muffin-baking, petition-making, overly friendly-cheesy crew of BELLWARD supporters. With a startled yelp, Bella immediately ducked down behind the counter, hiding herself from view. Jacob looked down with an amused expression. Unfortunately, he had to go run on an errand, leaving Bella stranded here with Sally Majors.
First, she crawled over to the door to the back room like an idiot. She realized with despair that the door was locked, which meant Mrs. Prince was baking and did not want to be interrupted.
She knew that Sally Majors had seen her an instant ago and would wonder what was going on, so Bella stuck her face in a sack of flour. Desperately, she tied her hair into scraggly pigtails. She pulled a lipstick out of her skirt, which she knew Alice had planted there sneakily that morning. With shaking hands, Bella scribbled over her lips with it, ignoring it when she smeared it all over the place. Knowing for sure that she would be unrecognizable now, Bella pounced back up and smiled. Jacob stared at her like she was insane. Bella gave him a simpering chuckle, heheheee...
"Hey, babe. Like, what can I get for you today?" Bella asked, in a preppy voice. Sally raised her eyebrows and looked slightly disgusted. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed that Victoria and Edward had stopped looking into each other's eyes and whispering lovingly. Now, they were both looking at Bella, covered in flour and smeared lipstick.
"Oh. my. God! Bella?! Is that you?" Sally asked, all bubbly-sounding and excited. Bella wanted to melt into a messy puddle of flour and lipstick right there.
"Ehmagawd! Bella? Whoo-oo in the wuh-orld is Bell-ah? My name's... PIGLET..." Bella blurted. She couldn't believe she had just said her name was Piglet. Obviously, she had lost a dangerous number of brain cells because she had definitely LOST HER MIND. She could see Edward and Victoria smirking at her.
"Piget? Like the Winnie the Pooh character?" Sally asked.
"Yeaa-aaah. Like, my parents were TOTALLY into Winnie the Poo-ooh when they were preggie! So I got named Piglet. My boyfriend thinks it's tuh-otally cuh-yooot!" Bella said, feeling like a girl from one of those weird Clique books about these prep-slut 7th grade girls living Beverly Hills or something.
"Oh.... I see. Could I have a Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino, caffeine-free, with a low-fat Chocolate donut?" Sally said.
"Coming ri-ight up, honey!" Bella said. She immediately went to start making everything for Sally, when Sally shrieked, causing Bella to drop the pitcher of milk she was holding. Milk spilled all over the floor. Bella wanted to shoot someone. She was getting EXTREMELY pissed off.
"Edward! What are you doing with Victoria?! I thought you were with Bella!" Sally screeched, shocked. Edward didn't respond. Sally backed away slowly, with wide eyes.
She walked over to the table she was sitting at with her fan club, and they exchanged confused looks. She pulled out her cell phone and immediately began dialing numbers.
"Hello? Suzie? Cancel all the prints of BELLWARD posters and petitions. I think that Bellward is officially OVER. Right now, I'm at Prince and Edward and Victoria are sitting in a booth together, drinking milkshakes and kissing and stuff... NO! He can't be cheating! Otherwise, he wouldn't be kissing Victoria so publicly! They obviously broke up!" Sally was loud-whispering into her cell phone. Bella could hear every word.
"Order 196!" Bella called. This happened to be Sally's frap and donut, but she was obviously too shocked to be paying attention to order calls. After ten minutes of calling out ORDER 196, Bella decided to go over there and personally serve the damn stuff to Sally.
"I can't believe it. They only lasted, like, a week!" Sally was whispering.
"It probably lasted longer than that since everyone saw them together, and everyone could tell they liked each other. It's just pretty obvious Bella and Edward both don't like attention, so their relationship wasn't apparent to the public eye until Hailey blabbed it to the entire world," some other fan club member said.
"Psht. Well, I always wondered what the hell Edward was doing with someone like Bella. I mean, she's pretty and smart and stuff, I guess. But she's so, like, plain. And she's so weird. She, like, bikes everywhere instead of driving. She wears, like, thrift store clothes, I swear to God! I think she shops at Target for her clothes! She doesn't dress feminine at all! She's always just wearing jeans and t-shirts and sneakers and stuff. Like, could you look any more like a dike? She listens to all this weird music. Like, what the hell is Imogen Heap? And she's not even hot!" Sally said.
Bella was standing there stupidly, holding Sally's stupid drink and her donut. She wasn't even mad. Everything Sally was all too true. Obviously, Sally and her fan club had not yet noticed Bella standing there, because someone else started to say something.
"Well, I mean, a LOT of guys liked her when she came here. The guy I like was saying that guys like the way she's so down-to-earth and, like, she didn't care so much about how she looks and what she eats and stuff. He said it's easier to be with a girl like Bella," a girl with an extremely high-pitched, squeaky voice piped up.
"Oh, puh-lease! It's okay for someone like Justin to like Bella. But Edward should have higher standards! I think that Edward and Victoria make a WAY better couple than Bella and Edward," someone else said.
Bella couldn't stand hearing all this anymore.
"Ahem, order 196" Bella said, setting down the drink and the donut. All eyes turned to look at Bella. She smiled a weak little smile and walked away.
In ten minutes, her shift was over. Bella breathed an enormous sigh of relief. But what about the rest of her life? She wasn't sure she could spend the rest f her life, hearing other people talk about her and Edward.