Disclaimer: Twilight and any Twilight characters are the property of Stephenie Meyer.
Chapter 10: Unwelcome
My cell phone slid closer to the edge of my desk as it vibrated with an incoming call. I sat in my desk chair with my feet tucked under me, staring at Edward's picture on the phone's tiny screen without reaching to answer it. After James had dropped me off at home last night, I had sent Edward a brief text: Car slid off road. Its still in ditch. Got home fine. Dont come over. Call u tomorrow.
I was surprised that Edward had respected my request and not rushed over immediately. I was even more shocked that he hadn't appeared today considering I had been ignoring his calls all morning. After the first few, I had turned the ringer off. The high pitched melody only intensified the pounding in my head.
I needed to answer it. It wasn't fair to poor Edward. Reluctantly, I reached over to pick up the phone.
"Hey," I said.
"Bella!" Edward exhaled with relief. "Why haven't you been answering your phone? Do you have any idea how worried I've been?"
"I'm sorry," I answered automatically. "I slept in. It was a long night. Did you get your car home okay? Can you fix it?"
"I don't care about the car, love. I care about you. I'm sending Carlisle to check you for injuries. Can I… would it be alright if I came with him?"
"No!" I said quickly. "No, I mean, don't bother Carlisle. I'm not hurt at all."
"You know it's not a bother to him. But I'll do whatever you want, Bella. I'm so sorry that I let you drive home upset. I never should have let you go," Edward said ruefully.
"That's dumb," I snapped. "You didn't 'let' me go anywhere. I wanted to leave. I spun off the road because of the rain, not because I was upset."
"Bella, tell me how to fix this. I never want to make you unhappy. I truly don't understand what I've done." Edward's normally silky voice had taken on a nervous edge.
"Nothing," I said, closing my eyes. Why was I reacting so badly to Edward? He loved me. At this rate, I would drive him away before James ever had a chance to get further in his revenge plot. Ugh. Thinking about James reminded our impending 'date' tonight. "Edward, you didn't do anything at all. I just feel a little worn out. I'm going to take it easy today, sleep a little more. Can we hang out tomorrow? Maybe go to the meadow?"
There was a pause before Edward answered. "Are you sure you're not hurt?"
"Alright," he agreed hesitantly. "We'll go to the meadow. Will you call me when you wake up later, my love?"
"Yes, Edward. I will," I answered, grateful that he had acquiesced so quickly. "I love you."
"I will always love you," he said feelingly. "Sweet dreams, love."
I pushed the 'end' button and set my phone back down on the desk. How would I spend the day now? Truthfully, although my aching head made me wish I could pass out for the rest of the day, I had been unable to sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. I couldn't get James out of my head.
Deciding to forfeit sleep for the mindless comfort of daytime cable, I hauled myself out of bed, dragging the purple comforter behind me. I took a detour in the kitchen to pour myself a bowl of cereal. I decided to forgo my usual multigrain choice and instead snagged Charlie's marshmallow filled box. With my brimming bowl of concentrated sugar in hand, I settled onto the couch and began to flip channels. I settled on the 24-hour soap opera network, sure to be full of murder, sex and general mayhem. It comforted me to watch other people, albeit fictional people, suffering from turmoil even more bizarre than I'd been experiencing lately.
I was engrossed in a particularly twisted love triangle involving fraternal twins separated at birth and a suspected serial killer/rodeo clown when I heard the sound of Charlie's keys at the front door. I managed to sit up and brush a few stray marshmallows off the couch before he walked into the room.
"Hey, Charlie. You're home early. Late lunch?" I asked as I clicked off the television.
Charlie looked at me dubiously. "It's 6 o'clock, Bella. Have you been on this couch all day?"
"No," I answered defensively. I glanced at the clock on the wall. "Oh. I guess I have."
"Are you sick, Bella? You don't look that good," Charlie commented, his forehead creasing in concern.
"Gee, thanks, Dad. That's just what every bride-to-be wants to hear," I groaned and leaned forward to examine my reflection in the television screen "I'm not sick. I just needed a day to de-stress."
Charlie shifted uncomfortably and rubbed the back of his neck. "Bella… you know that if the stress is too much… I mean, if you ever had, um, second thoughts… It's not too late."
I whipped my head around to face Charlie. "Not to late for what?" I asked suspiciously.
"You know, um, not to late for you to… um, cancel things," he said, avoiding my eyes. "The wedding."
"I thought you were happy for me," I said coldly. "I thought you had finally realized that this is what I want. Edward and I are permanent. He's not going anywhere. You said that you supported my choice."
"And I do support your choice, Bella. If you are happy, so am I," Charlie paused, clearing his throat before continuing. "But Bella, you've gotta understand… do you know what it's like for me to watch my eighteen year old daughter make a choice that is going to affect her entire life? I thought your mom and I were going to last forever, too. No one gets married thinking that it won't last. But we were young, and so are you and Edward."
"Not that young," I muttered under my breath. "So, what then? You don't think I should get married?"
"I didn't say that." Charlie's gaze finally focused on me. "I just want you to know that you still have options. I know that it probably doesn't feel like it to you right now. You're all wrapped up in wedding planning and flowers and dresses. It probably feels like it's a done deal. But it's not. You have a choice until the minister pronounces you husband and wife. And I'll support you whatever you choose. That's all I have to say."
I stared back at Charlie, trying to form a response. I felt anger and relief, all at the same time. The anger I could understand. How could he think that I'd want to back out? But the feeling of relief… that was harder to explain. In the pit of my stomach, I had felt something unclench as he spoke. Like some secret, unconscious weight had been lifted from me.
Both Charlie and I started at the unexpected sound of the doorbell. Charlie turned and walked to answer the door. Assuming it was Edward coming over to check up on me, I stood up and tried to run my fingers through my tangled hair. I couldn't do much about the baggy t-shirt and sweatpants. I froze, however, when I heard a familiar voice ask, "Is Bella home?"
In a daze, I stumbled to the front door. James was standing on the porch, right out in the open for God and Charlie and the whole world to see. I had expected him to show up in my room after dark, not ring the doorbell and chat with my dad. He was wearing a pair of sunglasses, effectively hiding his blood red eyes. Regrettably, it was pouring down rain, rendering his choice of accessories a bit odd. He stood with his arms crossed, hiding his disfigured hand. Charlie glanced back at me questioningly before turning back to James. "And who are you?"
"Bill. I'm a… friend of Bella's," James answered, pausing significantly before the word 'friend.' He smirked and nodded at me. "Hey babe."
"Um, yeah… this is Bill." I scrambled for an explanation. "I met him at the Newton's store. He was looking for some camp equipment. He's going to help me pick out some stuff for Edward. You know, 'cause Edward likes camping. And I wanted to get him something for a gift. For, um, you know, that thing…" My voice trailed off. Charlie's eyebrows rose higher with every sentence that came out of my mouth.
"For your wedding?" James added helpfully. A self-satisfied smirk spread across his face.
"Yeah," I said, with a sinking feeling in my stomach. This was really not helping to convince Charlie that I was ready for marriage.
"I don't know that Bella is ready to out right now," Charlie said, eyeing my disheveled outfit.
James shrugged and put his hands in the pockets of his jeans. "That's okay. I can wait," he answered pleasantly. He took a step forward, clearly indicating his readiness to enter the house.
"What happened to your hand?" Charlie asked gruffly, stubbornly blocking the doorway.
"Dad!" I grabbed his arm and dragged him from the door. "Don't you have a ballgame to watch," I said through clenched teeth. "You can wait in the kitchen," I called over to my shoulder to James as I tugged my dad toward the living room. I shoved the remote control in his hand and pushed him toward his easy chair.
"Who is that guy, Bella?" Charlie asked, clearly not willing to let the subject drop.
"I told you, Dad. He's just someone I met at work who's helping me pick out some stuff for Edward. I wouldn't know what to choose on my own."
"Couldn't Mike or his dad help you out with that? Or Jacob?"
I looked at Charlie skeptically. "Jacob? Help me pick out a wedding gift for Edward? He won't even talk to me right now."
"Fine, I get it. Just be careful with that guy. He doesn't look very trustworthy." Charlie sank down into his chair, clicking on the television.
"You thought the same thing about Edward," I said as I walked out of the room. As I passed by the kitchen on my way to the stairs, I hissed at James, "I'll deal with you in a minute." In reply, he tilted his head to the side and twisted his mouth into an exaggerated pout. I glared at him and stomped up the stairs.
Up in my room, I stared helplessly in my closet. What do you wear on an impromptu and completely unwanted date with a psychotic vampire?
AN: I will finish this story. I promise!