DISCLAIMER: my plot, SM's characters and backstory…sadly…
A/N: sorry it has taken so long for this to be posted, but it is getting into my busy season now! Lots to do, and unfortunately it isn't all writing fanfics :( Hope you like this chapter…all Edward, all the time
Chapter 9: Fashion disaster
I was lying down, contentedly stroking Bella's hair when my brother's taunt echoed through my mind and off the walls.
"May the best shoppers win!"
And then I heard my sister's thoughts and realized that she was so cocky she figured she didn't even have to try to win the game. That did it! All of Bella's calming influence couldn't contain me anymore. I launched myself up from the bed, into the doorway and shouted down to my siblings.
"That's right Alice, you are such a good shopper you think you don't need all the time? You are GOING DOWN!"
"Of course I don't Edward, but I really enjoy the hustle and bustle of the crowds so I want to make sure we get to experience everything. C'mon Jazz baby, let's get a move on!" She just continued to fan the flames of competition until the moment they drove out of hearing range.
Bella had been watching me during the entire exchange with an amused look on her face. "Edward, just what did Alice think to get you so worked up again?"
"Nothing much honestly, just some thoughts about not needing as much time as the rest of us to shop. Really, I don't care if we win, I just want her to lose!"
"Well, we're never going to win if we don't get going too! Cmon, Edward, get your sexy butt over hear and let's get ready to go. You better put on something particularly dashing so you can dazzle our way to some great deals!" Bella threw me some tight jeans and a black t-shirt that I could barely get on.
"Um, honey, what the hell is this? I look like I shrunk my clothes in the wash and didn't realize I couldn't breathe once I put them on! You can't seriously expect me to go out in public like this, do you?" I turned away from the mirror and then saw what she was wearing; we very nearly missed the entire competition. "WHAT IS THAT?"
She spun around as though on a catwalk in a black leather "dress" that barely reached her mid-thigh and barely hid any of the ample cleavage it created. "Alice mentioned something about Rose wearing something to help her win; I figured two could play at that game! It is high time I listened to you and acknowledged how gorgeous I really am, at least to poor, innocent humans!" She winked at me and spun around again, slowly, so I could get the full effect.
Almost without thinking, I pounced on her, and then the "dress" had a few more holes in it. She just laughed and wriggled out of my grasp, wrapping herself in a robe she had thrown on the bed as she was getting dressed.
"Really, Edward, we need to get going if we are going to have any chance to stop 'Hurricane Alice' from winning today! I guess this was a little much, eh? Back to my standard wardrobe then, but no changing for you!" Before I could protest, she was dressed in a much more suitable, yet still amply sexy, outfit of tight jeans, low heeled boots and a fitted v-neck t-shirt. A small whimper escaped me as I reluctantly followed her out of the bedroom to the car like a puppy dog.
AT THE MALL (still EPOV)
We wandered around the mall, staying in stores near Alice and Jasper so I could easily monitor their progress. It became clear very quickly that Alice's gift was proving to be rather distracting today and I rapidly devised a plan to use that to my advantage. In an effort to hide it from her, I kept changing my plans on how to use my new-found knowledge, hoping she'd be too distracted to see the outcome of my plans before I enacted them. It helped that I still wasn't sure when the right situation would come about to begin the plan.
"Well, when Rose hears how Alice's day really went, I think she'll realize that Alice's gift didn't really help her much." I chuckled lightly, thinking of how the fashion crisis my sister had just averted was only the beginning.
"What's going on? What are her visions showing her?" Bella grinned up at me, obviously intrigued by what could be derailing Alice's legendary shopping skills.
"She keeps getting visions of people in the store near her buying things that look absolutely horrible on them. She feels the need to perform a fashion intervention with each and every one of them, so you can imagine how distracting that is. You know how many women will buy something just because it is on sale, so even if they normally have decent taste, it gets stretched a bit when there is the possibility of owning a pair of $200 jeans for only $15."
"Ah yes, the 'sale goggles' phenomenon. I had completely forgotten about that. I can't believe she didn't see this, but I guess everything is a quick decision. Most people don't go to a store with the intention of buying ugly clothes." I could see from the wide look in her eyes that in that instant Bella had thought of a plan similar to mine. She wasn't in the position to know the best way to use it effectively, but if we talked about it then there was a significant chance Alice would figure it out. Her thoughts were still cluttered, but at this point she was still watching out for chicanery from the rest of us.
"How challenging is it for you to 'double-wrap' me, love? I think I have an idea, and I can most likely carry it out without your help, but if you could help protect me from Alice's visions it would be a bit easier." I was sure I could keep myself from deciding what to do until it was too late for Alice to avert disaster, but I wanted to at least hint to her that she should also try and dodge her visions. Plus, there was always the possibility that Bella's newfound ability could allow us to scheme openly.
"Well, I'll try it for a while and see. But remember, we've never tried it on Alice, and I'm not sure it will work. It is pretty difficult to evade her visions, just look at the progress she's made with Nessie and Jake over the last few years. I'm not sure we should rely on my gift to protect your plan." Bella looked meaningfully at me as she carefully rifled through a bargain bin for a matching set of sheets in the perfect shade of blue. "Damn! All I can find is one pillow case. And we all know how rough you are on pillows…"
"Ha ha, very funny dear, will you be here all week? I didn't realize there was a 2 drink minimum to come in this store. And what exactly do we need new sheets for? Alice just ordered all those 1500 thread count ones from France last month; honestly, what she thinks we are going to do with 50 sets of sheets, I have no idea."
"First of all, thank you, yes I will be here all week and it is a THREE drink minimum for you. Secondly, if you don't know what Alice is thinking, then none of the rest of us even stand a chance! And finally, I have something very particular in mind for these sheets, they are the perfect color and TADA here is the matching pillow case. Plus, at 80% off, they will really help us in the competition." Bella looked over at me and winked when she pulled the pillow case out. I wasn't sure what exactly she was thinking, but I decided a surprise would be just fine with me.
"I think you are right about not knowing whether your shield can protect me from Alice's gift; it doesn't seem worth the effort since we will definitely need it on Jake and Nessie later. So, if I start asking you to do some weird things later, just go with it." It seemed clear from the immediate change of subject that Bella was working as hard as I was to keep her mind off of the distraction plan. When it got down to time to act, I'm sure we'd be able to improvise.
"Okay then, love; whatever is necessary for 'the cause.' Now, I'm going to go talk to that clerk over there and see if I can't get these sheets at a bigger discount. You better make yourself scarce!" She patted me playfully on the butt, spun around and sashayed over toward the checkout counter. The poor high school boy who was manning the cash register almost fainted when she smiled at him. Normally the thoughts that were running through his mind would be testing my patience, but knowing that she was doing it intentionally made the whole situation simply comical.
However, after a few more moments of very explicit fantasies on the boy's part, I decided to heed my wife's advice. I wandered around the store, casually looking at silk ties and bathing suits; I wondered idly when we might be able to convince Carlisle and Esme to let us have another honeymoon on Isle Esme. Shaking off thoughts of the colorful ties, Bella and the wrought iron bed frame in the blue room, I focused all my efforts on Alice's scattered thoughts, trying to find a suitable situation to enact my plan.
Her thoughts were a mess, with visions of various sales, people buying things they shouldn't, and the changing weather drifting in and out. I took note when she saw that the sun would come out for about a half hour in another 45 minutes, right when she was planning her initial trip to the car to unload some of her bags. She barely registered that she would need to alter her timing of the trip to the parking lot when she was hit with two more visions of shoppers in need of her fashion advice. I was still laughing lightly to myself when Bella floated over to me after making her purchase.
"What's so funny my love? You'll be proud of me, I was able to get another 10% off when he used his employee discount! Was he imagining me as his wife or something crazy like that?" After all this time, she was still so naïve.
"Well, it was a lot more like he was imagining the two of you on your honeymoon, but that wasn't what I was laughing at. I've finally figured out how to put my Alice plan into action, and we are going to have to hurry!" I grabbed her arm and rushed her out of the store, headed straight for JC Penney's. Bella's fashion sense could be dangerous if unleashed in any store, but it was particularly vexing to Alice in that store. Bella seemed to think that as long as it had a designer name on it, it should be fine in Alice's world. She didn't quite grasp the concept of knock-offs and low-end designer brands. I would barely have to instigate her to distract Alice.
"Where are we going? Do you think I should try to shield you?" Bella questioned me casually as we walked as fast as we could without attracting attention toward my planned destination.
"JC Penney's, and you, my dear, are going on a shopping spree! Don't bother trying to shield me, Alice is getting so many visions at this point she won't be able to tell that this is a set up. It helps that you are so devastatingly fashion challenged; you really won't need to act for Alice to be disgusted with what you pick out." With that, my sweet, loving wife punched me in the arm, using her full strength; it was all I could do to remain standing. Ow, that stung. Maybe I shouldn't have insulted her fashion abilities so much; oh well, I'll just have to find a way to make it up to her. I guess she was thinking something more along the lines of setting someone else up as a fashion disaster, rather than using her own "talents" for distraction purposes.
"What? I'm going to be one of the fashion disasters she needs to avert? Stupid pixie, nothing is ever good enough for her. I'll show her, I'll pick out the best outfit ever, with fancy designer clothes, and she'll have to admit that I'm finally capable of doing my own shopping. And then maybe I won't be tortured with her endless shopping marathons. Yeah, that's what I'm going to do. Get out of my way Edward, I have the perfect outfit to find!" Bella's rant started out low, barely loud enough for even me to hear, but she picked up steam as she got angrier and was shouting the last words as she pushed past me into the ladies department.
I found a "husband's chair" near the dressing room and sat down, waiting for the show. Sure enough, Bella came in with an armful of clothes in all different colors and styles in record time. She modeled each outfit for me, and honestly it seemed like Alice's lessons were finally paying off. She was always beautiful to me, no matter what ridiculous combination of fabric she was wearing; but some of the shirts and dresses she was trying on today were really playing up her best features.
I checked in with Alice as I watched Bella's fashion show, and realized just how skilled she was getting at selecting clothes – Alice hadn't had any visions of Bella at all! I only had about 20 minutes to distract her enough so she would get trapped in the parking lot. It was time to abandon the secrecy and go at this attack with full force.
"Bella, my love, can you come out here for a second?"
My gorgeous wife walked out in a dress with which even Alice couldn't find a flaw. It hugged her curves with satin in a deep midnight blue, displayed her beautiful legs with slits on both sides of the skirt all the way up her thighs. The halter top gave a hint of cleavage, but covered enough to make it a subtle sexiness, so fitting for my shy Bella. For a moment, I forgot all about the contest yet again.
Bella caught the look in my eye and quickly darted back into the dressing room. I followed her, reluctantly moving at a deliberate pace to not alert the dozens of people milling around. I had just reached the door to her dressing cubicle when something shiny and blue flew over the top and landed on my head. Confused, I pulled the dress down and stared at it. A bizarre vision of Bella in florescent colors was flashing through Alice's mind at that moment and truly stressing her out.
"Edward, you hold on to that, I definitely want to get it. Anything that makes you look at me as though I was a mountain lion is an excellent selection in my book. But we don't have time to indulge those fantasies right now; we have a game to win! I'm guessing you called me because whatever I'm doing now isn't working, correct?" She spoke to me through the dressing room door, and I could hear the shifting of fabric as she tried on yet another outfit. What I didn't realize was that she was one step ahead of me.
This time when she came out of the dressing room, all I could do was laugh. "Oh my, darling, you look ravishing! You have really gotten into the spirit of the game now. How on earth did you come up with that combination?"
"Well, I figured that I should just take Alice's advice…and then reverse it! See, stripes are good, but not if they are horizontal." She pointed to the bizarre leggings she was wearing with hot pink and neon green stripes running sideways the whole length of them. "And Alice always says I should stay in the primary color families, so a neon theme is definitely required." Next she spun around to showcase the elaborate bow on her backside. "I wanted to pay homage to our little role-play last night, so I went with the old fashioned derriere enhancement. And don't you just love the way the pinks in the dress are such a different shade compared to the leggings?" She indicated to the spot on her leg where the pale salmon of the dress matched up to the hot pink on her legs; I doubt it is possible to find two more different shades of the same color.
"Yes, that has already attracted her attention. You are lucky she is so distracted, or she would have seen right through this pathetic attempt to trick her. Even Emmett wouldn't have tried to put that outfit together!" I shook my head, laughing to myself at my silly wife.
Bella simply grabbed me by the shoulders and spun me around to face the racks of clothing. She didn't need to point out the display; it called to me like a beacon in the haze of shoppers. In the middle of the designer section was an entire display of neon clothes, with the exact outfit Bella was wearing prominently exhibited on a mannequin in the center of the entire thing. The only thing she was missing was the bizarre green cape that was wrapped around the model's shoulders.
"I see you eyeing the cape; that is a very fascinating piece of clothing. It is apparently some sort of netting in an iridescent fabric, so it shimmers as the light moves on it. While this," she gestured to what she was wearing as she spoke, "is a bit of stretch at even my fashion challenges, I knew that if I added a sparkly cape, Alice would have been tipped off immediately."
"That's very true my dear. Who can forget the great cape incident of 2015?" A girlish giggle escaped my lips as I remembered the epic battle around the prom dresses that year. I quickly stifled my laugh when I saw Bella's expression. "Relax, love. It's been over a decade, try to let it go. I'm sorry I brought it up. But I think we've accomplished our mission, so why don't you get changed and we can go witness our victory."
Bella stalked back to the dressing room, still seething over the memories. "You're right, it has been ages. And ten years of picking out my own prom dresses has almost been worth it. Why don't you go and purchase my new dress, and I'll meet you at the store entrance. Try to dazzle your way to a discount."
I picked up the dress and headed to the nearest checkout. The woman at the cash register was practically drooling as I approached her. Her thoughts were similar to most of the middle-aged women I encountered; focusing on the fact that I appeared to be young enough to be her child in an attempt to quell the rising tide of fantasies. I glanced at her nametag – Anne. "Hello Anne, how are you holding up with all of these crazy customers?" I shot her my famous crooked smile, the one that Bella always said she couldn't say no to. "Have you been making many good deals today?"
"H-h-hello there. Did you find everything you were looking for?" She nervously stuttered as she tried to make conversation. Really, sometimes it was too easy.
"Well, my dear Anne, not quite. I found this beautiful dress for my sister, but I'm afraid it is a little out of my price range. I was hoping it might be on some sort of sale I'm not aware of so that I can get it for her Christmas present." I was tempted to use the classic line of "not until you give me your number," but I thought that was a little bit overboard; besides, I really didn't like to lead people on. This unsuspecting woman was embarrassed enough to be having fantasies about me, I didn't need to push her over the edge.
"Well, we aren't really supposed to do this, but I know other cashiers have done it today. I can use my employee discount and that would bring the price down by another $20. Is that enough for you to be able to afford it?" She looked up at me, her cheeks flushing as she whispered her plan to me.
"Why Anne, I wouldn't want to get you in trouble! But yes, I would be able to get it at that price, and I am so excited at the idea of my sister opening that present on Christmas morning."
"Oh, it's no trouble at all! I'd be happy to do it; it isn't every day I see a nice young man buying such a lovely present for his sister. Let me ring it up for you." She seemed to regain her composure as we got down to the actual transaction. However, when she hung the dress to put it in a bag, whatever composure she had escaped her the minute the hanger touched the rack. "Oh my, th-that is a very special dress. You said this is for your sister?" She looked tentatively at me, raising one of her eyebrows.
"Oh yes, I can see what you mean. She had picked it out to wear to the New Year's Eve ball with her boyfriend, but her car broke down and she had to spend all the money she had saved up for it to fix her car. I couldn't bear to see her heart broken when she had to wear her old dress to the dance." Years of lying had made me an expert. I could come up with cover stories like this in my sleep. I still had most of my focus on Alice and heard her thinking that it was almost time to take the packages to the car.
Luckily, Anne believed my story and the rest of the purchase was uneventful. I grabbed the dress and met Bella at the entrance, handing her the receipt.
"I see you dazzled your way to an employee discount as well, perhaps we need a little competition between the two of us." She winked at me as the placed the receipt with hers in her purse.
"I think there are enough competitions going on right now, we should probably just focus on the rest of them love." I wouldn't stand a chance against her and I was a little afraid of what the terms of the competition might have been.
"That's probably for the best. I never had a chance against your dazzle anyway. So, where are we headed now?" My amazing wife, never realizing just how dazzling she really was herself.
"We are going to watch Alice and Jasper take their packages out to the car." We were headed right to the door, but I pulled Bella to the side and sat us down on a bench inside, facing the parking lot.
"Oh, that's a good idea. We should take our things out while we're here. Why are we stopping…OH! Brilliant!" We watched as Alice frantically dragged Jasper into the backseat of her Porsche, moments before the sun peaked out from the clouds.
I heard Alice register that we had tricked her, and then I was confused when her thoughts started focusing in on a pirate theme. I caught on as soon as Jasper did, and unfortunately I saw how the whole thing was going to play out in his mind before I was able to escape his thoughts. Hopefully, they'd find that punishment enough for our little prank.
"How long are they going to be trapped there?" Bella grinned when she saw the whole plan come to fruition.
"Just another 25 minutes, but I think they are truly going to appreciate every second of that time. I might need some bleach to get some of those images out of my mind! Let's go and find that daughter of yours and her dog." I lost the high from tricking Alice pretty quickly once I was assaulted by their mental images.
Bella took my hand and led me over to a music store I hadn't noticed before. "Why don't we look around in here for a little while, maybe you can find some peace of mind before dealing with Nessie and Jake. If Alice is out of the game for a half an hour, we can waste some time looking at pianos and sheet music. Who knows, maybe they'll be having a sale here!"
Sometimes I wondered if she was secretly a mind reader as well. She always knew just how to cheer me up, and the right thing to say whenever I needed a dose of common sense. Really, what could I possibly have done in this long life to deserve spending eternity with this magnificent creature?
A/N: Okay, I'm not that happy with this chapter, both characters seem a little OOC to me. But I wanted to update, and I think it is pretty good. Please let me know your thoughts!! Thanks to all my faithful readers and reviewers. You guys rock my world :) Thanks also to everyone who checked out the Outtakes story…another chapter of that is coming up soon as well!