Chapter Twenty: Downfalls

The next day I was seriously hoping for a mundane school day. Meaning that Emmett and his family stuck really close to me, making everyone stare and making me feel like I had a security detail. I didn't mind though because after what I went through I wanted to feel safe and protected. The quiet time was all I wanted. Too bad Jessica wouldn't let it be completely placid.

"How can you be dating him? Doesn't he freak you out? What the hell are you thinking?" Jessica shrieked at me as soon as I got to my seat in trig.

"Whoa. What are you talking about Jess?" I asked, hoping she wouldn't make a scene.

"You and Emmett Cullen, of course. Mike told me all about you dating him but I didn't believe it. I thought for sure you would tell me if you were. Do you know how mortified I am that I found out from Mike? I thought we were friends! And don't you know that dating a freaky, social outcast makes you one too? This is all very bad!" Jessica was in hysterics by the time she finished this little rant. So much for her not making a scene. Sometimes I think Jessica should be a soap opera star, she just seems to thrive on drama.

"Hey, calm down. I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I haven't even told-" I started to say before she cut me off, which was annoying.

"Sorry? You're sorry? I will not calm down because you are committing social suicide and didn't tell me so I could talk you out of it. How long have you been dating that freak? Since the accident? I wouldn't be surprised!" she wailed accusingly at me. This was getting old and starting to make me mad that she was insulting Emmett. I wouldn't even expect this out of my mom, much less someone I'd only known a few months. At least I had a boyfriend; she was still trying to manipulate Mike unsuccessfully.

"Ok, for starters, I'd appreciate it if you would stop insulting me and my boyfriend. Second, we've only been dating for three days. And I didn't tell you because I haven't told my dad yet because he's working on a big case and I haven't had a chance to talk to him. But since you know now, I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone else so my dad doesn't find out until I tell him and get mad at me. Is that ok with you?" I said, hardly believing what was coming out of my mouth. Outbursts like that don't come out of me very often, hardly ever actually. I was just so tired of her getting on my case about something that is none of her business to begin with. Or maybe that fighting streak I started last night was still with me and I was sick of being treated like a doormat by Jessica.

"If that's true then why did you tell Mike about it? Friends don't keep secrets from each other. What else have you told Mike that you haven't told me? You and Emmett Cullen! Oh, the horror!" she moaned, putting the back of one of her hands to her forehead like you'd see in old movies when prissy old ladies are about to faint because they've just seen someone do something they think is grossly inappropriate.

"Mike forced me to tell him because he asked me out on a date." I said and continued to talk over her when she accused me of that being a lie. "I knew you liked him and Emmett had just asked me out. He demanded that I tell him that just like you did because the two of you are pushy people who don't know when to mind your own business and leave issues alone. Excuse me for not giving you full access to my personal life or asking your opinion on who I should date. There is nothing wrong with Emmett and you know that so stop pretending you don't resent me and wishing you were dating him instead of me. Get your own life!" I spit out and threw my books back into my messenger bag. Then I stomped up to the teacher's desk and asked to be excused from class. I didn't care about what Jessica or anyone else in that classroom thought of me or if she and I were still friends or not. I'd had it with her trying to use me.

Emmett was leaning against the wall next to the door of my class, waiting for me. I almost walked past him I was so mad. When I saw him the aggression bled out of me and was replaced by nervousness. He had this class with Edward and had no doubt been getting a play-by-play from Edward reading Jessica's thoughts. What did they think of my fight with Jessica? Was he here to break up with me? Did this seal the deal on my insanity? Oh god, what have I done?

"I have never heard anyone talk to Jessica Stanley the way you just did." He said and shrugged off the wall, his expression unreadable. Then he took a step toward me and laughed. " I knew I made the right decision when I fell in love with you."

" Really? You don't think I'm mean or rude now?" I asked, not daring to think he was still in love with me.

"Are you kidding? You were amazing. Jessica thinks she's the queen of the world and has been using people like that all her life. It's about time someone stood up to her. I respect the hell out of you for being the one to do it. I didn't think I could love you anymore than I already did but you proved me wrong. Come here." He said and opened his big arms for me to nestle into. I was so relieved that he approved of my behavior and loved me more for this that I started crying into his chest. He rubbed soothing circles into my back.

" I don't think I can handle the rest of school today. Don't want to get into another fight." I murmured to him.

" I was just about to suggest we cut out of here and go to my house. We have a game room if you wanted to have a little fun." He said, kissed the top of my head and started leading me to the parking lot.

"That would be great." I nodded, trying to focus on something other than what just happened. His hand on my waist was a good distraction.

When we got to Emmett's house, Carlisle was on his way out. "Hey, why aren't the two of you in school?" he asked, stopping on his way to the garage.

"Bella got into a fight with another girl and didn't want to stay." Emmett explained, holding me closer.

"Are you hurt, Bella? I have a minute if you need a doctor." He said with concern, his eyes looking over my bruises from last night and checking for new ones.

"That's ok Carlisle. It was just a shouting match. I'll be fine." I told him, hoping he wouldn't make a fuss. I had escaped Emmett taking me to him last night. Barely but still.

"Yes, your heart rate and blood pressure are slightly higher than normal but that's emotional not physical. Well, since everything is ok here, I should be leaving. The hospital needs me to help operate on some not so lucky motorcyclists. Feel better Bella. Make sure you eat some fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water today." He advised and waved as he started for the garage again.

Esme met us in the front hall. She didn't ask questions, just followed us into the game room and suggested we play three-way pool. I really liked her. She was the perfect mother and truly loved Emmett like he was her biological son. Which made me want to know more about their relationship.

"I hope you don't mind me asking but I was wondering why you saved Emmett from that bear? I'm really grateful that you did, I just want to know why." I asked her as Emmett took his shot and sank two of the balls.

She smiled at me and said, "The most simple way I can explain is that he reminded me of the son I lost. Maybe I thought he would be a perfect replacement since he was the same age as my son would have been when I found Emmett."

"Mom, you sure you want to talk about this. I know how hard it is for you." Emmett said, putting a comforting hand on Esme's shoulder.

"Hard or not, I want her to know how lucky she is to have you and how close she came to never meeting you." Esme said in a loving voice like Emmett was the most precious thing in the world to her. She touched Emmett's hand before turning to me and saying, "I found Emmett five years after I became a vampire and married Carlisle. When I was human, I had an abusive husband who made me miserable. He caused me to lose three babies before I finally carried a pregnancy full term. Only reason why I finally kept one is because he was on a business trip while I was pregnant. My little baby looked nothing like his father so he accused me of cheating on him. My husband was a red head and our baby had dark, curly hair like Emmett does."

"I'm sorry you had such a hard life before. All the stories I've heard so far are so sad." I said, feeling more compassion for them than I had ever felt.

"The stories begin sad but we all have happy endings. I got the loving husband and children I always wanted in the end. The beginning was a trial though. My husband thought I was cheating on him and even though I insisted the baby was his and looked like my father, he wouldn't listen to me. He broke my arm and gave me a concussion during that fight. It wasn't until the next morning when I woke up that I realized my beautiful, perfect son was killed during the fight. I was so happy when he was born because I had a reason to keep living. I should have taken him and ran when I had a chance. That was the beginning of my own downfall. Without my baby, there was nothing in this world for me." Esme started to dry sob then and Emmett wrapped his arms around his mother.

"Why don't you let me tell Bella the rest, mom. It's about time for her to eat anyway, can you go get her food?" Emmett said softly. Esme nodded and left.

"I'm so sorry. I never would have asked if it was going to hurt her so much." I said, hoping Emmett wasn't mad at me and that Esme would be ok.

" The thing you gotta understand about Esme is that the loss of that baby was the most devastating event in a series of horrible things that happened to her. She'd finally given birth to the baby she'd always wanted just to have it taken away from her. She has such compassion and always wanted to be a mother so she couldn't bear to continue living without her son. As soon as she found her dead son, she went to a cliff near her house and threw herself off, hoping to kill herself. She would have succeeded too if a neighbor hadn't seen her and called 911." Emmett explained morbidly. Talking about this didn't upset him as much as it did Esme but I could tell it was still painful for him.

"Poor Esme. She tried to kill herself? How did she survive the fall?" I asked, hoping this was where the happy part I was promised came in.

"They rushed her to a hospital but it was filled with returning soldiers from Europe who were wounded in the fighting during the First World War. An orderly saw her and how banged up she was and sent her to the morgue, figuring she wouldn't make in much longer and didn't want to waste time with a hopeless case when there were people in there they could save. Her spine was broken and at the time there was nothing they could do for her except wait for her heart to stop beating. Carlisle found her in the morgue and took her back to the apartment he and Edward were sharing at the time. He saved her life by turning her into a vampire. They fell in love and she got a loving husband but she never really felt as connected to Edward as her son. I guess because he was a vampire already. When she found me, I think she thought I would be exactly what she wanted for her son." Emmett smiled and said, "funny how everything turned out. Carlisle saved Esme's life and she saved mine."

"Then you saved me," I said. "I'm just sorry you all had such hard lives before you became vampires."

"It was worth it to be where we are now. I have a mother and a family who love me hen I got you. What we got in this life is more than any of us could have asked for in our first lives." Emmett said like he couldn't be happier with how things turned out for him and Esme.

I was watching Emmett break a new record on their pinball machine when the others came home from school. I wasn't looking forward to hearing what happened there after I left but I didn't stop them from telling me about it.

"The whole school is in an uproar because of you, Bella." Edward declared as soon as he came into the room. "Jessica was trying to turn people against you and no one was listening to her. She started trying to spread rumors about you and a teacher overheard what she was saying and she's facing some consequences. From what I gathered, she's going to be in detention fro two weeks and is suspended from the volleyball team until it's over. No one wanted to sit with her at lunch. You are the downfall of Jessica Stanley and everyone is talking about it."

"Great, now I'll really have problems at school. I didn't want to make her hate me, just set her straight." I mumbled, wondering if this was the storm before the vampire calm. I could deal with that.

"What exactly did you say to her Bella?" Rosalie asked like she didn't believe I could cause such uproar. Until I moved here, I couldn't.

"Basically that she needed to get over herself and mind her own business. Apparently she took it pretty hard." I smirked, remembering the shocked look on Jessica's face when I was yelling at her. I was sure no one had ever talked to her like that before and she was mortified that someone like me was.

"That is an understatement." Alice said. "This might have some consequences for you. Jessica hasn't decided what she's going to do so be prepared for anything."

"Terrific. Cant I just wait this out here?" I asked Emmett, feeling his protective arms around me.

"I wish you could, love. But I don't think Charlie would like that." Emmett said, squeezing me.

"Besides, you have more supporters than Jessica does right now. They're kind of revolting against her. I heard Mike planning to dump her." Edward said with a smirk. I think I just won his respect.

"You have us supporting you at least. We'll never let anything happen to you," Jasper said then added a bit more excitedly, "You're proving to be very cool to have around. I'm glad we didn't leave town when you arrived."

"Me too. You've proven to be more interesting that any human we've met in so long." Rosalie said with a huge smile.

"Thanks guys. Hey, I saw you guys had your own laser tag set. Wanna play?" I asked, wanting to forget about Jessica and the shit-storm she was gonna throw at me.

"Only if Bella and I count as one. It wouldn't be fair to her otherwise because we're so much faster than her." Emmett insisted. I kind of liked his wording there.

"You count as a team and whatever points she gets on her we only count a quarter of." Jasper bargained. I thought he was being really nice since I was sure to lose against them.

"Fair enough." Emmett agreed then started passing gear out.

"Take it outside! I wont have you guys breaking anything in here." Esme called from the kitchen. We all busted out laughing but filed through the back of the house.

As we passed Esme we all said "yes, mom" like little kids and kissed her on the cheek. Even I did, though I wrapped my arms around her too and she patted my hair. She was like a second mother to me. I had been missing my own crazy mom so much and I needed to call her when I got home but Esme was the one I needed to thank for saving Emmett for me. He was her son but she respected that he was my boyfriend and she loved me.

"Have fun, kids. All of you." She said to us with a warm smile.

Emmett was so excited to get playing that as soon as I came out, he swung me onto his back and took off. "Catch us if you can!" he called and jumped up into a tree like he wasn't even carrying me. This should be an interesting game.