I was trying to get the next chapter done before posting this, but things kept popping up and I lost the flow of it and just couldn't write. But I can't make you guys wait any longer and I'll be going out for the night, so it'll be nice to come home to a bunch of reviews/alerts/favorites. This chapter's kind of short but I'm about half way done with the next chapter but I feel like I'll be able to write again by later tonight or tomorrow.

Thanks to BohemianBuffalo for betaing and I own nothing.


*6*

I walked past it once, hesitated at the door, then continued on. I wasn't quite ready to go in yet. I took a deep breath, resolving to go in the next time I passed the store.

Then I kept walking past the entrance.

For thirty minutes I paced back and forth in front of that damned door, yet I couldn't make myself enter just yet. I was sure by now they were watching me, mocking me with their eyes and giggling behind their counter. But I just. Couldn't. Do it.

My phone vibrated once and I flipped it open quickly, desperate for the distraction.

Dude, u better b in there getting #s now

Good, old Emmett always knew. Dang intelligent marriage counselor.

I wrenched open the door, storming into the room without a second thought. Because if I hesitated the slightest bit again, I'd never make it.

"Eddie! Is that you? Gee, and I was just expecting a phone call! This is so much better," the blonde girl that worked with Bella squealed nasally, her voice reminding me of Fran Drescher's and the pitch nearly deafening.

"I, um, sorry. I lost the card and couldn't call. But do you know where – "

"Gawd, I was like so worried. I thought that I looked like shit that day or had lost my touch. Because if, like, I'd lost my touch, that whole modeling thing wouldn't work out well, ya know? It's like if you, as a doctor, lost his hands. It just wouldn't work." She giggled. Why was she still talking to me?

"I'm, um, sorry Tanya. But I … where is the girl that was working the register when I came in here last time?" I finally pleaded, unable to sit through anymore.

"Bella? She's a freak, but a good listener. Very quiet, though, and I think she actually likes working here. She's stocking shelves today – "

"Thanks, Tanya." I hurried towards the shelves, not wanting her to stop me again and mentally noting to myself that I shouldn't get a book to buy and risk having to deal with her.

I almost slapped myself in the head as I realized I hadn't even asked where the hell Bella was stocking the books.

Browsing a bookstore to look for a gorgeous girl. Where's the problem?

I went through each aisle slowly, my hands brushing the poor, orphaned books. Considering the fact that the store was in a more secluded area and few people really seemed to know about it, the shelves seemed fairly vacant. I briefly wondered if Bella might've been buying all the books.

Reaching the classics section, the first thing I noticed was a cart that my hip would've banged into with another step. Then I saw Bella, leaning on the shelf across from the cart on the floor while intently reading a book.

"Erm … hi?" I questioned hesitantly.

'Hi' is not a question. You can't question if you're actually hi-ing someone. It doesn't work, moron.

She jumped, the book falling out of her lap. She looked at it mournfully, as if she'd lost something.

"Man, I didn't get a chance to save my page," she muttered. "Can I help you with something?" She looked up to me, confusion and disappointment in her eyes. "Oh! You. Hi." Her eyes lit up, a small smile forming in her features.

"Yeah. Me. Hi."

Sped.

"I think you said that." She giggled, all thoughts of the book forgotten.

"Yeah, I guess I did." One of my hands reached behind me and began rubbing at my neck, a habit I'd picked up from my dad. "What're ya reading?"

That's a great pick up line.

"Wuthering Heights," she stated quietly. "It's one of my favorites."

"Really? But the characters are so horrible."

Yes, insulting one of her favorite books will so help you get her number.

"That's kind of the beauty of it, isn't it? They're the absolute worst examples of humanity, examples of what some real people are, and they can still feel something as good and pure as true love. Their love for each other is their redeeming quality, isn't it?" She blinked at me, her eyes rendering me speechless for a moment.

You picked the wrong girl to try and debate literature with.

"But even their love destroys. Catherine loved Heathcliff, but ended up dying. She then proceeded to haunt him until he couldn't survive any longer and he died as well. Catherine's sickness could be said to have been caused by the war on her heart besides everything else. Her nerves were destroyed and that slowly destroyed her."

"That just shows how attached they were. Cathy died because she had nothing to fight for, in her opinion. She didn't truly love her husband and her daughter was just a part of him, and the man she did love couldn't be hers as long as she was on this earth. And then by dying, he was able to join her in the afterlife, whatever it may be," she argued passionately.

"Well, you probably know more about these things than I do. I read it once because I was forced to and then never felt the desire to pick it back up. It seems you've reread it many times and know it cover to cover." I smiled, internally sighing with relief as she smiled back.

"Everyone can have different opinions … Edward was it?"

She remembered.

My heart fluttered as I nodded. "Cullen. Edward Cullen."

"Isabella Swan. But please, call me Bella," she offered. I stuck out a hand, her pale one grasping it and I pulled her up. She stumbled slightly, almost landing on me, but I caught her by the elbow. "Thanks. I do that all the time. And, erm, sorry."

I chuckled, her slight blush causing her to be all the more beautiful. "Don't worry about it. I'm a doctor, so I'm certified to fix you if you hurt yourself." Her blush deepened.

"Well, do you need anything?" she asked, brushing off her jeans.

You. Forever. Please.

I shook my head, trying to rid myself of those foolish thoughts.

"No? Then why are you here? If you don't need something, you should be flirting with Tanya, not me." She wrinkled her nose in confusion, reminding me of a small child.

Just say it, stupid.

"There actually is something I need." I swallowed the tennis ball-sized lump in my throat. "Your number," I squeaked.

"Pardon?" A slight French accent slipped into her accent, and I couldn't help but wonder why it was there and if she had noticed it.

I cleared my throat, bringing myself back to my senses. "I need your number?"

That's not a question either.

"To prank call me? Come on, I'm not that stupid." Her eyes turned cold and I could feel her withdrawing from me, the casual playfulness gone.

"No, I just … I wanted to call you, yes. But to arrange a … arrange a date," I stated finally, praying it didn't sound like a question, too.

"Yeah, okay." She snorted, lifting a book off the cart, looking at it, and placing it carefully on the shelf. She proceeded to pick up several identical books and place them right next to the first.

"I'm serious, Bella. I want to go on a date with you. Dinner, a movie, a picnic, ice-skating, lunch, breakfast, whatever you want. I'm not picky." I shrugged, hoping she'd realize I was serious.

"Look, we both know you really don't give a shit, so why don't you just go and have lunch with Tanya. I can manage the register for an hour or however long it takes to get you off."

"If I wanted to go out with Tanya, I would've called her and skipped this whole ordeal. I'm being serious," I assured her.

"I know your type. You're not really interested. You're either trying to mess with my head so you can go all Billy from Never Been Kissed on me, or maybe you think you're doing the right thing and giving a freak a pity fuck. News flash, pity fucks don't count as community service." Her eyes flashed with anger, clearly showing her patience was on a fine line.

"First off, that's not me. I don't do this whole dating thing very often. And I've never even heard of Never Been Kissed, so I really don't know what that means. I definitely don't look for people to give out pity sex to either. Too much of a health risk," I rattled off, unable to believe she would really talk to me like this.

"Dude, whatever. Go talk to Tanya if you want an easy lay. I'd bring plenty of the best condoms around and get STD tested afterwards, but you can have fun and stop badgering the loners." She slammed a book on a shelf and turned to face me. "Now, I've got work to do."

"I'm not looking for sex, Bella. Honestly, I want to get to know you better."

"There's nothing to know," she stated flatly, placing another book on the shelf with tender care this time. "Tanya's not doing anything, go bug her."

"Won't you please just give me a chance? I'm not a bad guy, I swear. I spend my day at a hospital helping little kids and teenagers with eating disorders. I'm one of those guys you're supposed to trust and tell your kids to look for if they get lost," I tried to joke, failing miserably.

She flinched before her eyes narrowed into slits. "Alice sent you, didn't she?"

"What? I don't even know an Alice." Maybe this girl was insane and that's why she was acting like this.

She glared at me for another moment then let her eyes open fully again. "Yeah, you're not that good of an actor."

"Who's acting?"

You still wanna go out with the insane girl, Masen?

"Listen, Eddie, I'm not the girl you want. Trust me on that. You'd have more luck with a whore, to be honest. I know several street corners where you can find one, if you're not sure where to go."

"You're crazy, you know that? You're not making any sense right now and I don't even know what to say anymore. Are you okay? Did you forget some medication this morning or something?"

"So you admit it? You want to go out with a lunatic? Honestly, I told you that you can't act that well. Did someone hire you? Tell me who so I can call them and tell them to find a new agency."

Something was definitely wrong with her head. "What are you talking about? Are you high right now?"

"I'm not high. I've been sober for years, thanks for your concern."

"Then what have you been smoking or sniffing or shooting? Did you paint a room recently?" Something had to be wrong with her. She was so far from the girl I met the other day. "Oh, I get it. Do you have a fever? You must be pretty sick to be talking like this."

"I'm perfectly fine. Just a small headache from your badgering. I'm not going out with you. You're not getting my number. End of story," she decided finally. I almost backed off, but had to try at least once more.

"What will it take to make you believe me?"

"Oh, I get it. You were bet to go sleep with a freak, weren't you? Well, try somebody else. Maybe somebody at the homeless shelter can help you."

"Bets like that are stupid and the only person I bet with is a marriage counselor who encouraged me to come here today. Besides, there's something about you. At least let me take you out for coffee so I can get to know you better."

"No."

"Fine. But I'm not giving up on this. I'll come back every day if I have to." She wasn't like this the other day and surely this was just a side effect of something she'd been near or eaten or whatever. Maybe I could examine her someday to figure it out.

"Good luck with that. I'm not even here every day. And we're closed on Sundays. Not sure how you'll get in then," she offered sarcastically, looking at me with mock pity.

"Thanks. But I doubt I'll need it. I'm quite skilled at being persistent until others give in," I told her smugly, hoping I didn't come off as overly cocky.

"Well, that's certainly a drastic change in your demeanor. Now, really, I need to work, Doctor Boy. See ya next time I'm here while you're stalking." She pushed the cart away, not sparing me another glance.

"Oh, I'm sure you'll be regretting not giving me your number tomorrow. And you'll be begging me to take your number next time we meet," I called, sounding far more confident than I felt.

Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.

I marched out of the store, grasping to my last shreds of dignity as they tried to float away like balloons.

"Eddie! Eddie, do you still need my number?" I ignored the nasal calls, continuing out of the store.

The bell tinkled as the door slammed open and I could hear Tanya yell, "You'll be back right? If you pick up lunch, I'm good with just a salad!"

Stupid store. Stupid you. Stupid Tanya. Stupid bell.


Heh?

Nothing much to add here, except my next story rec. Facebook Friends by GreenPuma. It's only 3 chapters in, but it's really cute.

Still on twitter as breakdownslowly and I still encourage you to check out Edwardville. And the twitter for Edwardville. Ruby Wednesday, who wrote Heatwave, is blogging with us this week!