Chapter 9 Out-take Shopping with Alice in her Wonderland



BPOV

I trailed Alice down the hall and tried to keep up with what she was saying but the combination of her high pitched voice and the speed of her diction was making it difficult. I caught words like 'designer', 'couture', and 'lace'. I was getting nervous. We stepped out onto the sidewalk and I glanced at my truck.

"I need to figure out who owns that thing. It's been parking in front of the building for the past few weeks now and…oh. Is that…Is that your truck Bella?"

"Umm, yeah. I bought it when I got here to Chicago. Um, it was cheap and I like it. I think it has character."

"Character…yeah. I can see that. We'll take my car."

I looked over at Alice who was standing next to a white, sleek SUV with Lexus emblazoned on the bottom corner in gold. When I got closer the white paint sparkled and I wanted to giggle at just how appropriate it was that Alice's car glittered. I got into her car and leaned back into the soft tan leather, trying not to panic over the pain I would be in later this evening.

"Okay, so we're going to Woodfield. It's got the best shops and I know all of the staff there, so we'll be in good hands. This is going to be so much fun! What size are you? What's your color palate? I think white and blue would look gorgeous with your complexion. Oh my God, we have to go to Lucky Brand. Those jeans would look so good with your figure. I'm more of an Express girl myself…"

And she went on and on and on. I was hoping this was something that would run out of her system. It took us fifteen minutes to get to the mall and providence was with us, so we got a parking spot right at the entrance.

I squeezed in a few words here and there, mostly letting her know I was listening, as she attacked the clothing racks. I was surprised. The clothing she was picking was rather tasteful. I approved for the most part. There were a few skirts and shoes that needed to be vetoed. Too short, too tight, too see-though. She was really good about listening to me and knew when to stop pushing for a certain article of clothing. Shoes were a nightmare; though I did finagle two more pairs of sneakers. I had at least seven pairs of new jeans, countless new shirts and blouses, an array of skirts and sundresses. Odd accessories, such as scarves and belts were randomly added to our pile. And we had to make several trips back to her car to deposit bags; the backseat looked like mall vomit and I cringed when I thought of all the dressy clothes.

We hunted down Bath and Body Works where I was armed with every assortment of product that came in Coconut Lime Verbena. It was the best scent out of them all and Alice latched onto it before I could stop her. Lotions, sprays, bath salts and soaps. We stopped at MAC and I defiantly refused to sit for a free 'mock up', although Alice did buy around five hundred dollars worth of brushes, makeup, and 'special liquid makeup remover' as well as 'brush cleanser'. I was kinda confused and never really knew this world existed before today. Did one person really need all this stuff? Would all these things make me seem as put together as Alice?

Finally she seemed to actually show signs of being human and we were allowed to stop for food. Alice led us into the Rainforest Café and I thought briefly about the appeal of eating in dense vegetation but I shook that thought, just glad I was going to eat. There were parrots squawking and frogs ribbitting around us. Alice and I perused the menu; I chose a burger and fries.

"So. You and Edward, huh?"

Cringing, I nodded and spun my glass of tea slowly.

"We met a few months ago. He's a really good guy. Although, I could stand to live without the tantrums."

I had done my best to ignore the argument we had this morning. I didn't want to think about the way it made me feel. I wanted to push those thoughts off until I had time to deal with them on my own.

"He really cares about you. He's never had anyone stay at the apartment with him before. Hell, I've never seen him bring anyone to his apartment before."

I tossed that comment around in my head for a few moments before shrugging. It made me giddy to know that I was the only girl whom he'd brought there but it wasn't like he'd asked me to move in…he basically told me I was moving in.

Because you had no where else to go.

Sighing, I sipped my tea and gazed around the restaurant at all the colors and foliage.

"Bella, honey, I promise whatever we say here won't be said to anyone else. I really want us to be friends. I like you and I think soon after this whole shopping thing is over, you'll see I'm not really that bad."

"Oh I know Alice, I do. I'm just off kilter right now after everything that happened this morning. I've been tired since Edward got out of the hospital and it's just catching up with me. I'm sorry, Alice; I know I'm not much fun right now but I've never done this much shopping before and I'm getting really tired."

Alice reached across the table and put her small hand over mine.

"Oh sweetie, it's okay, I understand. I just want you to know I'm not the enemy here, I just want a new friend!"

I smiled at her eagerness and nodded.

"So tell me everything! I want to know everything about you! Oh and about you and Edward! This is so exciting."

I took a huge breath and thought back to where I should start. I started with the night I found Edward in the locker room at the The Ring and continued through to the day he was released from the hospital. She aw'd at all the sweet parts and gasped at the rough ones. She looked sympathetic towards me.

"Well, you were right to be pissed about the re-match. Hell, I would be too! Don't worry though; I've known all those boys for years. They know how to keep themselves safe. And I know Edward seems like a pushy prick. Well, he is… but I mean he is trying hard to make you happy and this behavior from him is…different. I guess you don't know the other side of Edward that we've all seen. He seemed so different this morning when I saw him. He used to be so angry all the time. Never talking more than necessary, never going out with the rest of us for drinks; he trained and fought. That's what his life consisted of. Now I think he is trying to make himself worthy of you, sweetie. I know it's hard to let a man take care of your needs. I know you want to be capable and I think Edward knows that you are, but let him have his fun on you. It makes him feel like he's doing right by you, you know?"

I nodded and twisted my hands together. I knew she was right. But it was hard to let it go. I felt like if I let him keep doing these things, I would lose control. I didn't need to be babied and coddled. But if this is how Edward was going to show his affection, did I really have the right to steal that away from him? Was it such a cop-out to let him take care of me by buying me things? I was never influenced to like people because of their money and I certainly didn't like Edward for his. Why was it such a big deal anyway? Like he said, I didn't have to wear any of it and at least now I had nice things to wear for him. It seemed like a good thing really.

This morning everything had come to a head too fast and I didn't know how to sort through things before reacting. It was like he was trying to own the situation and I felt like a kid being berated by their parent. I didn't have a lot of clothes because of the quick move. I had to leave Milwaukee quickly and there was only so much I could take with me. It made me feel shitty that I only had so many clothes but I couldn't do anything about that. In order to afford groceries and eventually help pay for the utilities, I made sacrifices. His flippant attitude when it came to just shelling out six grand really upset me. He made it sound like nothing – 'Oh, yeah, here - take this ridiculous amount of money and buy yourself some clothes, no biggie, its just chump change.' I wanted to snort.

"So, Alice, tell me about you. Do you own the building or do you just manage it?"

"Oh I own the place. It was left to me by my uncle and I took over management when I turned 18. I've been living there since I graduated high school and when Uncle Sammy died, I just kept on doing what I was doing. I make decent money from the rent and stuff so it's cool."

"That sounds nice. I see you're interested in clothes…"

"Oh I love clothes. Fashion was my calling in high school. I wanted to major in business and fashion in college but I just never got my shit together enough to do it. I still might. I don't know. I want to open up a store or something. I make little things here and there but I just don't know what to do about getting the whole thing started, much less if it would do well."

"Well, I think you would be amazing and I could help you, you know like make up surveys and stuff. Usually people start things like that online first and then go from there. You should look into that."

And from then on we chatted about her dreams of clothing lines and my ideas for writing. I felt at ease with Alice. I had never really had a close female friend before; this was all new to me. She made it easy for me to talk to her and I knew she was right - we would quickly become good friends. We ate and chatted some more about trivial things before we finally paid our bill and left.

"Alright, so I saved this trip for last because I had a feeling you would be a little worried about it."

She led me up to Frederick's of Hollywood. I looked at the mannequins in the window with wide eyes. This was not happening to me. She tugged me into the store and as soon as Alice was seen, two women came up to greet her by name and they began talking like old friends. I was vaguely aware of Alice pointing at me and whispering something to the women but I was fascinated with all the thongs and crotch less panties. There was so much satin and lace and it was everywhere. I ran my fingers over the under garments with curiosity and looked around at the store with a kind of morbid wonder. Where was all the pink? Where was all the frilly cute underwear? This stuff was…sophisticated, some of it even practical. There were no flowery prints or trashy ensembles…this was…I have no clue what this was.

Before I could find my best escape route, Alice had grabbed me and thrown me behind a thick black curtain and shoved a pile of lacy things at me.

I tried on a few and confirmed the right sizes. When I finally came out, there was a pile at the register that Mt. Everest would frown at. I gulped when I heard the beep of the scanner tallying up Alice's destruction and before I could protest or even see the total, she handed over a wad of bills and told the woman to keep the change as a tip. She grabbed the three bags of debauchery and led me out of the store practically skipping. There were definitely some things in there I had not seen nor approved for purchase. I was getting nervous.

What if there's something in there that's embarrassing? What if Edward thinks I bought it? My eyes darted around the mall, just knowing that people walking around us knew what was in these bags. They knew I had all these….and what their purpose was.

I sped up, heading for the exit doors. Those bags were going in the car and they were going right now. Alice smirked and followed me out, opening the door and tossing in the offending things.

"Okay, so I know this wasn't part of the plan but I really want to get your hair done today, so I'm going to make a call to-"

"Not today Alice. It's already past 7 o'clock and I'm bushed. I just want to go home and go to sleep."

"But it wouldn't take long and-"

"No, Alice. Some other time okay? I promise I'll let you take me out and get my hair cut."

"Fine. But only because you promised. I'll be holding you to it."

We drove back to the apartment and she glanced at my truck with a frown. I rolled my eyes and she shoved bags into my arms. We managed to get it all between the two of us but I was hard pressed to see anything in front of me, so I had to follow close behind Alice, taking the elevator instead of the stairs.

Once at the door, I wondered how we would get in the apartment without having the hallway explode with clothes. Alice solved our dilemma.

"EDWARD! OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW!"

I cringed but laughed. This girl was too much. The door swung open and I heard Edward utter a surprised curse. Alice pushed her way in and I followed her, Edward snatching bags from my hands.

"I hope this makes you happy. I can't feel my feet anymore and I have no clue about half the stuff we bought."

He chuckled and set the bags down in the living room.

"Well, it seems like you two had a good time."

Alice was just beaming. Her face was bright and fresh and I hated her for it. I felt like shit. My neck and feet were aching. If I had to take my clothes off one more time today and put on something other than my pajamas, I was going to murder someone.

Edward's eyes were trained on the bags and I could see some sort of sick giddiness coming from him. He was thrilled, practically bouncing at the prospect of what was in those bags.

Good, he can wear it all then.

I plopped down on the couch and Edward tossed something shiny at me. I looked at it. It was a silvery black phone. It had three buttons down on the bottom and huge screen. I scrunched up my eyebrows and looked up at him.

"What the hell is this?"

"It's a phone. It slides open. I already programmed your number into my phone. The charger is in the bedroom on your nightstand."

I didn't want to sound ungrateful but I couldn't get my head around any of this. I took a deep breath and set the phone down on the coffee table. It looked far too complicated for me to be fumbling with at the moment. Edward watched me closely and I smiled at him.

"Um, so yeah, I'm kinda tired and I think I just want to go lay down for a bit. Thank you Alice for taking me out today; I had a lot of fun."

"Oh, don't worry about it sweet cheeks! I'll make an appointment for you sometime this week and we can go get your hair done. Let me know when you have time off of work, okay? I'm just gonna put my number in your phone and then go, alright?"

I nodded and walked into the bedroom. This was a lot to deal handle. I heard Alice leave after she said a few things to Edward. I lay on the bed over the comforter and curled up into a ball. I was so freakin' tired. I desperately wanted a shower. I felt dirty from all the walking and clothes changing, so I got up, stripped and stepped into the shower. I could hear Edward shuffling around outside the door of the bathroom and rolled my eyes.

After infinity under the hot spray, I shut it off and reluctantly dried off. Wrapping the towel around me securely, I tiptoed out of the shower and into the living room.

He must be in his office…

I stepped close to the bags and started to peer into each one, finally finding the pajama set I had weaseled Alice into buying along with the bags of underwear. Quickly, I shot back into the bedroom and shut myself in the closet. I dropped the pj's on the floor and sat down in my towel to pillage through the horrid pile of panties and strappy things in the bags. They weren't half bad. I finally found a pair of cotton panties and despite the odd black and white patterns, they were cute. I put them on as well as the dark green pajama pants and I covered my chest with the towel, and went to the bathroom for deodorant and to brush my teeth. After my hygiene routine was complete, I threw myself onto the bed and buried myself into the pillows. I felt the bed sag down and Edward's warm arms circle my waist.

"I'm sorry." He murmered next to my ear.

I hated that. I hated it with a fucking passion. Two fucking words and I was all gooey inside and not giving a damn about what he was sorry for. Fuck you Edward Masen. Fuck you all to hell.

"S'okay. I'm over it."

"Bella…please, I'm really sorry. I won't do it again."

That made me laugh. Of course he wouldn't do it again. He didn't need to. I had enough clothing and bathroom products to last me a lifetime. Snorting, I turned over and looked at him. He looked so sad and scared. I smoothed my hand down his cheek and kissed his nose. How did we end up in this position?

"Edward, I'm not mad at you. I'm just…confused right now. No one has ever done anything like this for me; it's new and I'm not sure how to react. You'll have to give me time to figure this out. Okay? I'm not upset with you. But you need to stop trying to take care of me, okay? If I need help I'll ask for-"

"Uh, no you won't. That's why I did that today. Because you would have gone on with just what you had and not told me jack shit about it. So you can't say that. I'm sorry I make you feel weird about all of this. But I'm new to it, too; we can learn together."

I nodded and we fell silent just looking at each other. Edward's hands rubbed up and down my sides and eventually made their way under the top of my shirt. My eyes fluttered shut as his hands traveled south and went under my sleep pants to cup my ass and squeeze.

"I wouldn't go getting yourself too excited. You remember what you're doctor said."

He groaned and yanked his hands off my ass. I snickered and rolled back over to set my alarm clock. Edward's hand covered mine and he pulled it back before it could touch the button.

"Let's sleep in."

"Kay."

"Bella?"

"Yeah?"

"I…"

"You…"

"Did you at least get some things you liked?"

"Yeah, I did. And Edward?"

"Yeah?"

"Thank you. For everything. Not just for the clothes and the phone. But thank you for-"

He cut me off with a kiss.

"You're welcome. But you never have to thank me. I just wanna make you happy. I want you to be okay."

I nodded and kissed him again. Long and sweet and full of all the love I had for him.

Because that fucking doctor didn't say shit about making out and heavy petting.


AN:

Yeah, so this wasn't really planned for the story but I thought it gave some insight into Alice, what she does and the beginning of her and Bella's relationship. It kinda gives you the first impression of how others see Edward as well.

Also I figured it was good to kinda see how Bella is holding up with the whole argument right after it happened. She's dazed and still not comprehending what just happened. She's living in this sort of la la land right now. It's just a sneak view into a lost moment of SB.