Aloha there, guys! I'm here with another update, which I'm sure many of you are happy about. I checked my stats today and there are about fifty favorites for this story and over sixty alerts! That makes me so happy, and everyone who reviews get huge kudos in my book! You guys keep my world going around, and I suppose I should keep yours going by continuing with the chapter, huh? Well, Stephenie Meyer owns everything, and I own none of the characters - except for Riley. On with the story!!! =D
Chapter Song: Feels Like Today, By: Rascal Flatts (Not really, I just sort of put it in here.)
Chapter 13: Preparations
All I could think about was the fact that my mother was now going out with my director. How my mother was kissing my director. How my mother now invited my director to our home almost every night for dinner. How my mother was always so happy around him. How my mother always smiled when his name came up in conversation - she even smiled more about him than she did about me.
Of course, I wasn't jealous or anything.
But, as a fifteen-year old girl who happened to love her mother more than anyone in the world, I couldn't help but wonder what had changed to make her this way. My mom had never thrown herself so willingly into a relationship in her life.
It had been a week since my mother had officially asked Edward to be in a relationship with her. After he'd accepted, they'd been taking things gradually, like any other normal couple would. A few chaste kisses, holding hands… it was almost sickening to a girl like me. To an outsider, it actually might seem like they were taking things way too fast. But in this situation, anyone who knew my mother well enough understood that if she was ready for something, she threw herself into it without any second thoughts. She just seemed to be that kind of person.
Today was a Friday, and this was the scheduled day off for everyone in the theater.
Now, even though I knew that Edward and my mom had every intention of spending the day together today - asking innocent questions and having interesting conversations - I knew that it wasn't going to happen.
Mainly because of my Aunt Alice.
Her wedding was coming up in three weeks, and I honestly thought she was going to go insane. Of course, it had been her idea to bump the wedding date up, and at least she had everything picked out. She had her dress, a more-than-willing groom, a bridal party, a church, a date, invitations sent out, and everything.
The only thing that was missing was the maid of honor's dress, and the ring bearer's.
Of course, the reason we hadn't been out shopping yet was all my mother's doing. Anyone who knew my mom knew that she hated shopping with a passion… unless it was with her own money. And, of course, since this was Aunt Alice's wedding, our Uncle Jasper and everyone related to us was paying for it, essentially.
Hence my mother's reluctance to go shopping.
"Oh, honestly, Bella," Aunt Alice responded the instant my mom start complaining when we were in her car, safely on our way to the nearest bridal shop. "Just go along with me on this one. I want your dress picked out now, before I have Esme arrange everything."
Esme was a very loving woman, who was Aunt Alice's, Uncle Emmett's, and Edward's mother. Of course, she wasn't related to me by blood, but I still viewed her as a grandmother. As I was sure that she viewed me as a granddaughter.
My mother just sighed. She was sitting in the passenger seat, while I was in the back. She leaned into her seat and grumbled about not being able to pay for her own dress. I saw Aunt Alice roll her eyes and I grinned to myself. My mother was so stubborn, just like me. But Aunt Alice was a lot of fun, and I definitely didn't mind shopping as much as my mom did. Maybe it was an adult thing.
It was only took five minutes to get to the bridal shop and park in the rather small parking lot surrounding it.
"Now, Bella, I don't want to hear one more complaint out of you until we're out of that store," Alice announced as she turned the car off. "I want this wedding to be perfect, and damn it you are going to wear the best dress I can find you. I don't care if it's the most expensive one in the store - you're going to wear it."
I laughed, and my mother turned around in her seat to glare at me playfully.
That was another thing that had changed. While before, my mother rarely joked around with me, now she was always grinning at me, teasing me, or even just playing around. I had no problems with it, of course. In fact, I was a lot happier that she was so free. It was just another change I noticed that was brought about by Edward.
"That goes for you too, Riley," Alice added on firmly, eyeing me over her sunglasses as she too turned around to look at me.
"I know, Aunt Alice," I answered, a smile on my face. I didn't mind wearing a pretty dress as much as my mother did.
Aunt Alice grinned at me - she seemed to hear the eager acceptance in my voice. She got out of the car, and I quickly followed suit. My mother was the last to get out of the car, a stubborn expression on her face as she self-consciously crossed her arms over her chest.
Yeesh, did Mom hate shopping.
The instant we were in the store, a kind woman came up to us with a gigantic smile. She embraced Alice, and I figured they knew each other.
"Alice, doll!" exclaimed the woman. "It's so lovely to see you! How has the wedding planning been going, my dear?"
"It's going great, Judy. Thanks," Aunt Alice gushed as they let go of each other. She smiled and gestured towards me and my mother. "I have a maid of honor and a ring-bearer here, both in need of dresses. Think you could help us out?" The smile on her face was impossible for anyone to resist.
"Of course!" Judy had a huge smile on her face, and she instantly began leading us to the racks of beautiful dresses they had hanging. The instant we reached the racks however, it seemed that our guide Judy was all business and no play.
"Now, I'm assuming you want both dresses to be themed around yours… so we'll discard all of these ridiculous colors and go straight for the whites," Judy told us firmly, tapping her chin thoughtfully. The instant she said this, she moved down the aisle and motioned for us to follow. Aunt Alice leaned in close as we followed Judy.
"Judy is an expert with dresses. She's helped me through this entire experience, and I swear the lady's a genius," Alice whispered.
"Here we are. Now… er… what's your name?" Judy was staring at my mother, flustered and embarrassed.
"Bella," my mom instantly answered with a cheerful smile. She gestured to me. "And this is my daughter, Riley."
Judy nodded briefly to me before handing a rather fluffy white dress to my mom. Just by the look in her eyes, I could tell she hated it. And by the expression on my aunt's face, she wasn't too fond of it either. I smirked, but then blanched when Judy handed me the exact same one in a smaller size. Ugh. Maybe shopping wasn't as great as I thought.
My mother and I both ended up trying on four different dresses - not including the horrible one that my Aunt Alice 'discarded' the instant we both tried them on.
Alice ended up picking out identical dresses for the pair of us. My mother and I looked like mirror images of each other - though I of course looked much younger, and I was pretty sure that my body wasn't as developed as my mother's. Aunt Alice had said that we looked utterly adorable. And she thought it was sweet that mother and daughter looked so alike. And, after all, we were going to stray a bit from usual tradition and have me stand alongside my Uncle Jasper and Emmett at the altar. It had been Aunt Alice's and Uncle Jasper's mutual decision. I, of course, had no problem with it.
Both of our dresses were off-white, strapless, and went all the way own to our ankles. They were very nice dresses, and (to my mother's joy) happened to be the cheapest of what we tried on. Which, of course, made my mother fall in love with the dress.
"That wasn't so bad, was it?" Aunt Alice declared as we exited the store - the dresses reserved for us. They'd be sent to Alice's house within three days, because minor adjustments had to be made because of my height. And since all of the women involved with the wedding would be getting ready at Aunt Alice's house, my mother had convinced my zealous aunt to take in the dresses. She'd used the excuse that if she lost the dresses by the time the wedding rolled around, Alice's maid-of-honor and ring-bearer would be forced to wear simple jeans and t-shirts to the ceremony and reception.
Despite the ridiculous notion of that happening, the threat was enough for my aunt.
"Alright," Alice said as we now drove to lunch. "Rosalie is meeting us at the restaurant for a girl's lunch out. Then…" She let out a dramatic sigh. "I'll release you from your cage so you can rush to your natural habitat."
My mother hadn't been paying attention. "What?" she asked, sounding like an idiot who'd been caught daydreaming.
Alice shook her head. "After lunch, you can head back home. I don't have anything else to do today."
My mom's face lit up like the Fourth of July. Because, I knew, that we probably wouldn't be going home. We'd be going to Aunt Alice's to visit Edward. I didn't mind that much, honestly, mainly because Edward would often play Guitar Hero with me if he wasn't making out with my mom.
Which, have I mentioned, really grosses me out?
I mean, they don't make out of course as one would think of it normally. They would make those gooey eyes at each other and would always be smiling. And then would, occasionally, usually when Edward asked permission, they'd share a kiss. Which is just as bad as watching someone make out. Because it was just as gross. Especially when one of the person in the relationship was your own mother.
Aunt Alice drove us to Navy Pier, my favorite place in Chicago. It was a sunny day today, and since it was a Friday, it was packed. Just the way I liked it.
We parked in a parking garage nearly a mile away, and got out of the car. Aunt Alice pulled out her cell phone and called Aunt Rosalie to verify exactly where we were meeting. When she got off the phone, my loveable aunt informed us that Rosalie would be waiting for us outside the parking garage.
We made our way down three flights of stairs, and I stayed close to my mother of course. She held my hand on the way down, and I was secretly please to know that even though she was going out with Edward now 'officially', she still really cared about me deep down inside. I know that, at this point, I probably sounded like a stuffed up teenage brat, but I couldn't help but fear my mother's care for me had dissipated at some point in her and Edward's relationship.
"Riley, baby!" Aunt Rosalie was waiting for us outside, looking stunning as always. She was so pretty that it made my head hurt, almost. She wrapped her arms around me, kissing the top of my head in that motherly kind of way. Out of the two aunts I had, Aunt Rosalie was the fiercer maternal one. I think it had to do with the fact that she was fertile - as my mother had explained - and couldn't have any children with Uncle Emmett. So she made do with whatever children she could. Which, I guess, included me. "You doing okay, honey?"
"Yeah. Aunt Alice made us go shopping this morning, and we got dresses," I informed her, with a grin. "They're really nice."
"Of course they are," Aunt Rosalie scoffed as she tousled my brown hair. "Anything Alice picks out is automatically fashionable. And I'll be damned if her wedding isn't perfect. Including the dresses."
My mom cleared her throat behind us. "Rose, language…" she warned.
"Bah, Bells," Rosalie scoffed again. "Your daughter is fifteen, and I doubt she's said hardly any curse words yet. She needs to buck up."
I felt my cheeks go red in embarrassment, and found it hard to picture myself swearing, especially in front of my mom.
"All because you cursed constantly as a teenager does not mean a normal one like mine does," my mother retorted, her voice instantly playful. I smiled at the sound.
"Whatever, innocent-minded little Bella," Aunt Rosalie snickered, and grinned at the three of us. "Now, where are we stopping to eat this time?"
"How about that nice little place that sells the smoothies? And is half outdoor?" Aunt Alice suggested, adjusting the scarf around her neck. "That place is really cute. I love all the guys that walk by there."
"Ali, you're getting married!" Rosalie laughed, slapping Aunt Alice lightly on the arm. "You can't be considering cheating on Jazz already!"
Aunt Alice giggled and shook her head. "Oh, ye who have little faith," she giggled. "Of course I wouldn't do that. I'm talking for Riley here." She winked at me.
Blood flooded to my cheeks, and heat rose to my face. The instant they said that, my mind flashed to Seth. I didn't really know why, but for some reason it did. I mean, in rehearsals I'd always thought he was pretty cute, and as the two leads we would have to work a lot together. And he was around my age, maybe a year or two older. Just thinking about him and his dark hair and dark eyes made my heart flutter in some really weird way that I didn't understand. Like my heart stopped and then restarted again, like my stomach was doing little flips in my belly.
Wait, why was I thinking so much about this again?
The damage was done.
"Oh, does little Riles have a guy in mind?" Aunt Rosalie teased me at the sight of the look on my face.
I could practically feel my mom snap her head around to look at me fiercely, her gaze burning a hole into the side of my face as I managed to stutter out,
"Not really. I mean, k-kind of…"
"Riley Renee Swan," came the demanding voice of my mother. "What on earth are you talking about? You don't like anyone, right?"
"I said not really," I answered in a mumble with a shrug.
"That proves it," my Aunt Alice announced. "There is someone. Come on, Riley dear, spill while we walk."
I heard my mother grind her teeth.
"Well, I um…" I managed to say, my face still ridiculously red. "I mean, I just think he's cute… I don't really like him that much. I mean, I don't like him like that. I… ugh, do I have to talk about this?"
"Yes," came the simultaneous cries from my aunts as we walked.
I sighed, and glanced at my mother out of the corner of my eye. Her face was red too, but not from embarrassment. I wasn't entirely sure what was making her upset, but I could tell something was. I'd have to talk about it with her later - I didn't want Mom upset. Especially since she was so happy these days with Edward. But I still wasn't sure what she was upset over.
As we walked, I spilled - knowing my aunts would never rest until I told them.
"The boy who plays Demetri… Seth Clearwater," I muttered.
Both of my aunts squealed. My mother grinded her teeth more.
"I must say, niece of my mine," my Aunt Rosalie gushed, "you have a very good taste in men. I know I'm too old for him, but it he were my age, I'd take him in bed. Very nice choice indeed."
I'm pretty sure my face got redder, if that was even possible. We entered the place with the smoothies, and my mother still looked like she was about to blow a gasket.
"Bella, you seem anxious. Is something wrong?"
After lunch, Alice had driven Riley and I to her home. Edward had been there, and I'd asked him to join my up in his room for a talk. I needed to get this out, and not in front of Riley. I didn't want to frighten her, but I could tell she knew something was wrong. And even though I was ready to castrate this Clearwater kid for seducing my daughter into liking him… I knew I couldn't do it. If there really was a possibility that Riley did like him… I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair worriedly. Edward noticed.
He gently took my hands, as he did whenever I was doing something that worried him, and looked at me.
"Bella… what's wrong?"
I let out a shaky breath. "Riley likes that boy, Seth Clearwater," I managed to choke out worriedly.
Edward paused, taking in what I said. "And what is the problem with that? Riley is a fifteen-year old teenager, Bella… she's bound to begin liking boys of her own age."
"I know," I choked out, and felt the breakdown coming on. "But she said something that scared me, Edward. Something that scared me almost more than anything."
Edward frowned now, confused by my statement. "What do you mean?" he asked softly, making sure we weren't going to be heard.
"That's exactly what I said about James… the first time someone asked about him in front of me…" I got it out in breaths, and winced when I said my first boyfriend's name. It was almost like saying Satan in church… only ten times worse, because it was physically painful.
Instantly, Edward's arms were around me, holding me tight against him. One of the best things about Edward was that he always knew when to hold me. When to hold my hands, or just hold me close to him in general. It just made me feel safe. It was like this with Jazz too… but in a completely different way.
"I'm so sorry you have to think about that every day, Bella," he whispered to me gently. His voice was smooth and caressing, like velvet. Even his voice made me feel safe. "But I can assure you that Seth Clearwater is a very respectable young man. He always shows up to rehearsals on time, and he treats Riley like a real lady. You don't have anything to worry about from him. Or your daughter. If need be, I'll keep an extra eye on her next time at rehearsal."
I smiled, but it did nothing to make me feel any easier about this whole thing.
Now, I knew what Edward was saying was right. Seth Clearwater was a very nice young boy and he was always nice to Riley. That day we had rehearsal, right after we'd found out about James… he'd treated Riley like a princess. He'd asked her if she needed anything and even took care of her throughout the rehearsal, trying to act like a gentleman. James had never done that for me, as I'd realized, and I knew Riley wasn't in danger from Seth. But that still didn't stop the haunting memories from running through my mind.
"Thank you, Edward," I whispered against the material of his shirt.
Edward smiled down at me, and pulled away from our embrace. He gently tucked a stray strand of my hair behind my ear - an affectionate gesture, I assumed, and gestured to the door.
"I guess we'd better head back down there. I think Jasper wanted to cook something for us tonight. Please tell me he's a good cook."
I was glad he was changing the subject to a lighter matter. I let out a small laugh, which in reality was all I could manage at the moment.
"Of course he can. He was born a Swan, which means he already has cooking in his blood," I assured him playfully as he took my hand and let me out into the hallway. Edward laughed at my joke, and began leading me down the stairs.
"I'm sure it is," he answered as we went back to the living room to see everyone.
EOC: Finally finished it! =D I'm so proud of myself, guys. I keep on trucking with this thing, and I've vowed to myself that I'll finish it someday. I know most of you guys are probably sick of me by now, not updating very often anymore and all. A lot of my inspiration has just… I don't know… died out. I'm trying to get it back, but with all the original stuff I'm working on, writing Bella and Edward doesn't seem as good as it once was. I mean, it's fun to write it, I just don't think I can write it with quality anymore, as strange as that sounds. But don't worry, I'm definitely going to keep working on this one.
Well, anyway, you saw there a glimpse of what Edward and Bella's relationship is like. I have no experience with this at all, actually, because the only relationship I've ever had is the one I'm still in right now… and we're never really done much. So I honestly am no good when it comes to the love department. If it seems really bad, let me know. I'll try and improve. Until next time! - Dark and Wild P.S. Reviews!!!!!! I get drunk off of them. XD And they keep me going, believe me they do.