Author's Note: Everyone in this story is human. I've changed some details from the Twilight universe to better fit with the characters in my story, but I promise they are all very minor. There will undoubtedly be some OOC elements as well, but I guess that is a hazard of writing an all human story. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or any of its characters etc, and I wish Stephenie Meyer didn't own them either.
Chapter One – She Covets
A sewing machine whirred in the background, but the noise was so comforting, so familiar that Bella Swan didn't even try to drown it out with her iPod. Enjoying the steady thrum of the old beast, she lay, book in hand and bowl of fruit by her side, in the incredibly eccentric bedroom of her equally eccentric best friend, Alice Brandon.
Turquoise blue walls were accented by smatterings of silver glitter and pink moldings in a lacquer finish crowned the room. The same paint was used on an antique coat rack which stood near the door, mostly so Alice's boyfriend, Jasper Hale, had somewhere to hang his well worn black leather bomber jacket. Next to it, because Alice thought a hat rack was incomplete on its own, stood an art deco, mirrored umbrella stand. A simple black satin comforter adorned the bed, serving as a backdrop for what could only be described as a rainbow colored explosion of pillows in all textures in sizes. A black leather arm chair next to the sewing machine corner provided the only classic lines in the bedroom, but the nail-head trim had been replaced with giant stones pilfered from costume jewelry.
As insane as the décor was, Bella had always felt at home in the room for the simple fact that it was just so Alice. Even the blue tinged light, tinted by a light scarf draped over the lamp, didn't interfere with her reading. In fact, it was only when her pixie like friend jumped up and screeched a rather self-satisfied "Ta da!" that Bella finally felt the urge to lift her eyes from the nineteenth century romance that had consumed her.
"What do you think?" Alice demanded, brandishing a neon-blue, almost tutu-like skirt in the air.
Bella raised an eyebrow as she took note of the canary yellow ribbons that seemed to explode from beneath it and the black glitter that frothed over the garment. "Um, it's very you."
Her best friend beamed. "I know, right? I still need to add some pink, but it's a start. Wanna come watch?"
Bella was already collecting her things. "Like I even had a choice."
Alice stuck out her tongue before skipping from the room, the unfinished skirt billowing out behind her like a peacock's plumage. With an eye roll, Bella followed her, shrugging on her cardigan as she went. She slipped her feet into the moccasins she'd kicked off by the door and made her way through the maze that made up the rest of Alice's house to the room the Brandons referred to as the Grand Studio. With capitalization. The capitalization was very important, Bella had discovered.
When she got there, Alice had the skirt on her mannequin and was splattering pink paint onto the turquoise tulle with passionate zeal. She sighed as she flopped into an armchair upholstered in deep purple velvet, pulling out her book once more.
"No reading!" Alice sing-songed as she pranced around her creation.
"So I'm just supposed to sit here and lavish attention on you?" Bella teased, rolling her eyes.
"Obviously," a deep, masculine voice intoned.
Both girls jumped, Alice squealing in delight. Bella bit down hard on her lip to try to keep her face casual but friendly. Still, she could feel the heat in her cheeks and knew she would be the color of a tomato. Before she could meet Jasper's eyes, she tucked her chin to her chest, allowing her long, mahogany locks to form a familiar, protective cocoon around her face. She couldn't bear to watch Alice launch herself laughingly into her boyfriend's waiting arms, but even with her eyes closed she wasn't able to drown out the obvious sounds of Jasper's lips meeting those of her best friend. With a resigned sigh, Bella straightened and gathered her books.
"Ummm…I'll see you later Alice."
"Oh, Bella, you don't have to go!" Alice said, pushing herself away from Jasper.
"Yes, please, by all means stay," he said with an eye roll and a pointed glare at the door.
Alice shot him a look, and Bella felt her cheeks warm once more.
"No, I need to get home. Charlie'll be home soon, anyway," she whispered.
"All right," her friend replied, her voice showing her concern. "Want me to pick you up tomorrow?"
"Yes, please," Bella said, backing toward the door. "Charlie's taking the truck into the shop in the morning."
"Jesus, Bella, you're not still pumping money into that piece of shit, are you?" Jasper said, barking a laugh. "Put it out of its misery already."
She wanted to glare at him. She wanted to defend her truck. She wanted to hatefully point out that not everyone felt it necessary to spend money they didn't have in an attempt to make people respect them. She wanted to point out that such efforts never worked, and certainly not in his case.
But she didn't.
Instead, she bit down harder on her lip and tried to blink back the tears that were threatening to form. "You're right, J, I really should. See you in the morning, Alice."
Turning on her heel, she walked as quickly as she could toward the front door. She wished she could run, but the humiliation of falling where he could see was too much to even think about. With as little sound as possible, she closed the door behind her and stepped out into the mist.
Her steps were heavy as she trudged toward her poor truck. She passed Jasper's shiny silver crotch rocket and, for a split second, was overcome with the urge to tip the motorcycle to the side and drag it along the rough gravel of Alice's extensive drive.
But she didn't.
And she hated herself.
Bella stood with the door of her truck ajar, staring at the bike and letting the rain fall down and soak through to her bare skin. If she could have, she would have stayed rooted to that spot for hours and let the water wash her clean, but she knew that if Alice didn't hear the familiar rumble of her engine soon that she would come out to check on her.
Soaking wet, she climbed into the truck and started the engine. Too late she remembered that the reason her truck was going into the shop was to have the heater fixed. With a rueful chuckle, she let her head fall forward until it hit the cool leather of the steering wheel before sitting up and heading toward the highway. She pressed the gas pedal all the way to the floor, feeling the truck lurch forward as it barely increased in speed.
As she passed through Forks, she saw a shiny Volvo come flying up in her review mirror. She squinted in an attempt to see who was driving, but the windows were tinted almost as black as the paint.
"Tourists," she muttered under her breath as the car continued to ride her ass through town.
Still angry about her encounter with Jasper and desperately needing a distraction, she couldn't help wanting to make someone else miserable and frustrated as well. With a grin and a glance behind her, she allowed her foot to ease up on the gas pedal. The truck began slowing rapidly, causing the driver of the Volvo to slam on their brakes. She laughed as she immediately began moving toward the center of the two lanes, knowing that the driver would try to pass her.
Her laughter only increased as the other car saw her intent but was too late to do anything to stop her. Crawling along at thirty miles per hour meant that Charlie would have to wait to eat, but it was well worth it. She could almost feel the annoyance pulsing from the dark recesses that hid the mysterious stranger as the car swerved angrily back and forth trying to trick her into lurching too far to one side of the road.
The game ended when she spotted a logging truck in the distance and was forced to maneuver herself back into her own lane. As soon as the Volvo was clear, it went shooting out of its lane. She knew she would never be able to accelerate in time so she sat calmly, preparing to watch the car fly past.
But it didn't. It pulled right up next to her. The passenger window began to roll down and she felt her heart do a strange lurch as the excitement of getting to see the owner coursed through her. She glanced down, suddenly very curious about the driver of the sleek black car. She caught a glimpse of pale skin and almost choked on her laughter as a long, slender middle finger poked its way into her view.
She kept laughing long after the driver had booked it past her. The encounter, strange though it had been, had lifted most of the weight that had been pressing down on her. With a significantly lighter mood, she hopped from her truck and managed to land on both feet instead of her butt. Charlie's car was already in the driveway and she felt a pang of guilt that she didn't already have his dinner ready, but the feeling disappeared almost as soon as she stepped into the house and was greeted with the delicious smell of hot pepperoni and cheese.
"Hey, Bells!" her dad called. "I got off early so I picked us up a pizza."
"Thanks, dad," she answered.
The kitchen was silent as they both loaded up paper plates with pizza. Bella grabbed a coke out of the fridge and followed her dad down the hall, waving goodbye as he headed toward the den and a game and she climbed up the stairs. As soon as the door clicked shut behind her, her gratitude for the pizza evaporated. Not having to cook meant losing the hour long distraction from the misery she'd managed to put from her mind since the encounter with the Volvo.
She fell back onto her twin sized bed with a thud, sliding the suddenly unappetizing pizza onto her nightstand along with her coke. Her stomach worked itself into its usual knots as she thought about Jasper. She wished more than anything in the world that she'd never started to look at him as anything but a friend. More than that, she wished that she could reconcile the friend he had been with the unapologetic bastard he had become.
Bella liked to tell herself that she still wanted him because of that friendship and her fond memories of it, but she was no longer sure. His cruelty got worse and worse every day, and still she kept coming back. There were bright spots – he couldn't be an ass all of the time, not while he was dating Alice – and every time he held open a door for her or offered her a ride home her heart did its familiar little flip and she found herself forgetting the mocking smiles and harsh words.
Inevitably, though, they came back to her when she was alone. She wanted to cry as she remembered her meekness earlier but refused to give him the satisfaction. It was so hard to care about him. Impossible, even. He made it impossible. And more impossible still was the fact that dealing with his general douchery was nothing compared to having to see him with Alice.
Anger bubbled up in her before she could stop it. It wasn't rational and she knew it. It was completely unfair to blame Alice because she'd never told her about her crush. But…Alice was her best friend. They'd been best friends since the Brandons moved to Forks six years ago. They were so different but they knew each other as well as they knew themselves.
Or so Bella had thought.
With a scowl she flipped the tab to her coke, popping it open and reaching for her now cold pizza. It did no good to focus on what had happened. She'd never given any indication of looking at Jasper as anything but a friend, and she herself had never guessed of Alice's crush. She couldn't stop the pang she felt when she remembered how she'd found out, but she refused to think about it. It only made her ache and, more importantly, it only made her hate herself even more.
She was distracted from her self-loathing by the ringing of the phone at her bedside. Rolling over and reaching for it, she answered with a halfhearted greeting.
"I'm so sorry, Bella," Alice said immediately.
"For what?" Bella responded, confused.
"For Jazz. He'd just gotten into it with his sister and…well…"
"It's fine." Her voice, though it sounded dead, filled the silence and, judging by the relieved sigh she heard from the other end, clearly made Alice feel better.
"He felt so bad about it, but – you know him – he doesn't ever apologize. His parents –"
"I know, Alice. Really, it's fine. I'm fine."
"Are you sure? Because I can –"
"I'm sure. I know what his parents and Rosalie are like. It's all forgiven."
The word tasted bitter in her mouth. It was difficult to forgive someone's behavior when they had never apologized for it, and Jasper never apologized for anything. Ever. But then, why should he? She'd never demanded an apology from him nor had she ever really expected one.
She let Alice gush out apologies for another few minutes before interrupting her to tell the story of her earlier adventures on the open road.
"Holy shit, Bella!" her friend exclaimed. "I bet it was totally the new kid!"
"New kid?" Bella asked.
"Yeah, the new doctor at the hospital, Dr. Cullen. Jasper was telling me about him. He's some totally talented surgeon and he's doing this study thing on how the stress of the logging industries affects people's hearts or something. I don't know. Anyway, he has a son who's a junior too! Jasper said everyone in the family drives super nice cars."
Bella snorted. "I'll bet the Hales freaking love that."
Alice chuckled as well. "I know, right? Seriously though, way to give the kid a good ol' fashioned Forks welcome."
"Well, serves him right. We have speed limits!"
"Ok, Chief Swan," Alice teased.
"Oh shut up," Bella replied. "God, that has to suck. Can you imagine having über rich parentals who just up and move you to Forks? I almost feel sorry for the poor kid."
"His parents are still über rich. It isn't like they wasted all their money trying to save the spotted owl or some ridiculous shit," Alice pouted.
"Don't get all bitter on me, Brandon. It isn't like you're the kid of a single police chief."
"Touché," Alice giggled.
Bella glanced at the clock. "Crap. I've got to go, Alice. I have Biology to read."
"Oh like anyone actually does all that pre-lab bullshit but you, Bella. Come on! Let's sneak out and go to the beach."
"No way. Besides, if I know you – and I do – you are going to show up here an hour before school starts so we can stake out the parking lot for the newbie."
"Obviously. All right, I'll see you in the AM. You better be ready, too! And please, for the love of all that is holy, don't walk out the front door in your usual uniform."
"We'll see," Bella hedged.
"I could –"
"You could, but you won't. I'm not wearing the peacock skirt, Alice. You know better than that."
"No buts! I will walk out the door in whatever fits my morning mood. I'm hanging up now. Bye!"
Before Alice could respond, Bella followed through on her promise and dropped the phone back onto the cradle. Heading toward the dresser and opening the drawer that housed her pajamas, she tried to process the news she'd just been given. The fact that it wasn't a tourist but a new resident filled Bella with nerves. She hated meeting new people, and Alice always insisted upon it. She was thankful that the truck was going into the shop so that, whoever this boy was, he couldn't place her as the bitch from the highway.
As she crawled back into bed and turned out the lights, she again felt that strange tightening of her chest as she wondered just who exactly owned the pale finger that had so brazenly dismissed her and why the hell she even cared.