"GAAAAHHHHH!!!!" I screamed as I threw my favorite pair of jeans across my dorm room. Those wonderful, $200 pair of jeans that used to hug my ass perfectly, the ones that made Jasper's eyes bug out of his head when I wore them to his house that night his parents left for vacation, they didn't fit any more; I couldn't button them over my protruding gut. It must have just been karma – the pants that I wore the day I got pregnant were now silently mocking me from their place on my floor. That's right, they seemed to say, your fat ass won't be fitting into these jeans for quite some time.
"Shut up!" I yelled at them, kicking the lifeless denim to emphasize my point. "If that's the way you're going to be, I'll just find something that does fit me. How do you like them apples?"
The jeans slumped into a shape that resembled a sarcastic smirk. I kicked them again viciously. In lieu of pants, which I knew would only cause me grief today, I grabbed a pretty, Autumnal dress from my closet and wore it with a pair of brown boots. "There, that's better than stupid old jeans, anyway."
This gaining weight thing was beginning to take its toll. At least at this point I could still pass it off as the freshman 15. It just looked like I had been neglecting my duties at the gym and indulging in a few too many cocktails. Man, I wish I could have a drink right now. It was quite the paradox, needing a drink the most at one of the only times you can't consume alcohol. To make matters worse, it was almost the end of November and I was debating whether or not I wanted to even go home for Thanksgiving. My dad still hadn't changed his mind about making me leave school, so I wasn't about to voluntarily take myself back to Forks. That would just give him an opportunity to dream up some way of keeping me there.
And besides, we weren't exactly getting vacation time for American Thanksgiving because they don't celebrate it on the same day in Canada. Bella and Edward were leaving for a long weekend, but they both could afford to do so since Edward didn't have a game this week. Jasper and I had to stay in Vancouver to work and go to class. I decided to beg Edward to talk some sense into Dad. My brother was so much better at reasoning with the good doctor than I was. I usually just lost my temper and ran to my room, throwing the biggest conniption I possibly could. Edward at least stood his ground against Dad.
"Don't worry," he said as he and Bella took off early on Thursday. "I'm sure Dad's over his anger by now. He probably misses hearing from you so much he'll forget about the whole bringing you home thing if he could only hear your voice."
I rolled my eyes. "Right, when has Dad ever been that sentimental?"
"He has his moments," Edward replied with a smirk. I waved after my brother and sister-in-law as they headed off towards home. No, I can't keep thinking of it that way. As long as my father was trying such high-handed tactics to keep me subordinate to him, Forks was no longer my home. My home was here in Vancouver with Jasper and this little person now living inside of me. I had to admit, despite how frustrated I became when less and less of my clothing fit, I was still kind of excited to meet my child. Maybe there is something to be said about a maternal instinct. Though, studying anthropology like I have has put that logic into question. Do women really have a natural, maternal instinct? Or, is the idea of motherhood so ingrained in the female psyche from birth that we only think we have an instinct? It was a conundrum. And, one I could debate with my friend Greg. He was turning out to be my only real friend outside of Jasper, Bella and Edward. I was distancing myself from Tanya these days. She's still an OK person, when she's not around her annoying little friend. But, she's around Maria most of the time. The little gnat seemed to always be in our dorm room. One day, I almost rudely asked her if she didn't have some other place to stay. Surprisingly, I refrained. And, I began to keep clothes and such over at Jasper's dorm so I could spend less time with those two.
Jasper and I celebrated our Thanksgiving on the Saturday after the fact with turkey sandwiches. Honestly, it was the best Thanksgiving I ever had; mostly because I didn't have to cook anything. In fact, Jasper made the sandwiches while I sat on his bed watching a football game and drinking a caffeine-free soda. Jasper served up the sandwiches with chips and a butternut squash soup to "get us more into the autumn spirit." After dinner, he took out a pumpkin pie he had been storing in his mini-fridge along with a nice big tub of Cool Whip.
"Mmmmm, just give me the Cool Whip," I said as he cut a slice of pie for me.
"Hey," he laughed. "I worked very hard on this pie."
"You bought it at the grocery store," I replied.
"Still," he said, "I took great care getting just the right pie for Thanksgiving, so you're going to have a piece whether you like it or not."
"Fine," I said. "But, it's going to be swimming in whipped cream."
And, sure enough, I used a good third of the tub on just the little slice Jasper set on my plate. I also kept dipping my fingers into the bowl to take little tastes here and there, for good measure. At one point, Jasper had to smack my hand away lightly. "Enough, we need to save some Cool Whip for the leftovers."
I made a face at him before turning back to the TV. Jasper cleaned the paper plates and plastic silverware we used for dinner and dessert before jumping onto his bed with me. He sat behind me so I could lean up against his chest while we watched some old movies. It made me feel good inside to imagine this is what the rest of our lives could be like. Although, neither one of us has ever mentioned getting married. Maybe that was because it seemed inevitable given that we were having a baby together. But, nothing in this crazy world is ever certain.
Bella and Edward returned home on Sunday and Edward had news about our father's stubborn instance I drop out of UBC.
"Well," Edward began as well sat around his and Bella's kitchen table. "He has calmed down quite a bit. And, he seemed to be impressed that you both have taken the initiative and gotten jobs to help support yourselves. But," my heart dropped at that word. This couldn't be good. "He said he won't make any decision until you two talk in person during Christmas Break."
"That's it?" I asked, slightly relieved; Edward nodded. "Well, I should be able devise a plan that will convince him by then."
"Perhaps," Edward replied, "Just so long as you learn to keep your temper. You and Dad are more alike than you think, and it's that same unrelenting stubbornness that keeps you at odds with one another."
"That's true," I admitted. "And, I'll certainly impress him further if I'm able to show him how much I've grown in my short time here."
"You mean growth in the figurative sense, not the physical sense, right?" Bella quipped.
"That's right, smartass," I told her, sticking my tongue out at her.
"Oh," Jasper laughed, "Very mature, sweetie."
Thanksgiving had been a trying experience. Alice had rested a rather large burden on my shoulders with her instance I speak to our father about her situation. Dad, for his part, was actually more receptive than I thought he would be. Especially when I told him about Alice getting research work that was usually not offered to freshmen.
"Well," he said with a chuckle. "That sister of yours is nothing if not resourceful."
"She is incredibly intelligent," Mom chimed in. "And, she's going to be an amazing mother."
My parents and I sat around the table with Bella and Charlie for Thanksgiving dinner, and the talk remained relatively pleasant. Charlie did ask a few question about Alice, since he only got the gist of the situation from Bella. Even without Alice's help, Mom still managed to make an amazing dinner this year. Of course, I'm sure she got a lot of help from my wife who has become very fond of watching the Food Network recently. I'm betting it was Bella's idea to make pecan pie in lieu of pumpkin this year.
We stayed in my parents' basement for our three nights home, and I reveled in the break from football practice. Of course, it would be back to business as usual on Monday. But, in the meantime, I could at least sit on Charlie's couch and watch a football game in peace. Although, the cultural differences between Canada and America managed to sneak up on me very subtly. "Hey Bells, could you get me a beer?"
"Sure babe," she replied nonchalantly from the kitchen. Charlie stared at both of us in shock for a moment before chuckling slightly.
"Um, guys, drinking age in America is still 21," he reminded us. "So, I don't know what you two've been up to in Vancouver, but we'll still abide by U.S. laws in this house."
"Sorry Dad," Bella said sheepishly. "We forgot."
He eyed me suspiciously for a moment. "You two been drinking a lot up there? I can't imagine alcohol is a good part of the football player diet."
"Not a lot, Dad," Bella replied. "But, we are legal up there, so we have some drinks on the weekend. It's no big deal."
"Do you keep any in the apartment?" Charlie continued, still looking at me out of the corner of his eye.
"Well, do you think the two of us are capable of polishing off a whole bottle of vodka in one sitting?" Bella asked. Charlie turned white and glared back and forth between the two of us; I don't think he really appreciated Bella's joke. So, I decided to try and change the subject.
"So, do you think you'll come up and catch a game sometime this season?" I asked.
Charlie sat back and gazed at me thoughtfully. "Well, I would like to come up there and see where you two live and all that." The mission to divert father-in-law's attention from our private life had failed. I sighed and turned back to the TV. All of a sudden, I couldn't wait to get back to Vancouver. I had so been looking forward to the vacation, but now all I wanted to do was get back into my routine. The five-hour drive back to school did manage to provide me some perspective. My parents and Charlie were having a hard time letting go of their children. I guess we have been piling a lot of stuff on them all at once – Bella and I getting married and then Alice getting pregnant; and, we were all still under the age of 20. This couldn't be an easy situation for our folks. The question now is how can we help them get over their feelings of abandonment? Mom seemed OK with everything, though I could see in her eyes how much she wished her kids had decided to stay back in Washington. I know a part of her believes Bella and I would have waited to get married and Alice wouldn't be pregnant if we had gone to, say, the University of Washington. But, that simply isn't true; our location had nothing to do with our circumstances.
And, though Dad did budge at least a little bit on the Alice situation, it wasn't much of a victory. I could only imagine what Carlisle will do once he actually sees Alice. My sister had always been so tiny and thin, now she looked like she swallowed a small watermelon. Dad was bound to more than overreact when he lays eyes on his one-and-only daughter on Christmas Break.
Charlie said he would come out to visit in two weeks. He was making it a big, weekend road trip with Billy, who wanted to come up and visit Jacob. They were even closing down the shop for four days while they were out of town. So, that being the case, I invited Jasper and some of my teammates over the weekend before Charlie's trip to help me finish off the rest of the booze in our apartment. Noon on Saturday, Jasper and Alice showed up so the girls could go shopping while the guys were "watching a game." I don't like lying to Bella, but she didn't need to know my friends were coming over for the sole purpose of getting hammered. Jeff, Doug and the offensive line showed up around one in the afternoon. One of the guys even brought a little portable grill. "Hey, as long as we're hanging out, let's make a party of it."
OK, a small party could be fun. Besides, I only invited eight guys over, so it shouldn't get too out of hand. Unless one of the guys decided to invite more people.
Sometimes Edward and I do need a few hours apart, so when he said some of the team would be coming to the apartment for a little get together, I saw a perfect opportunity for him to have a little guy-time while Alice and I hung out. I found a shopping center that had not only a Babies'R'Us, but also a maternity clothing store. Alice's belly was beginning to outgrow her clothing, so we really needed to get her some pants that fit. She was starting to come to terms with her expanding midsection, but she was still a bit salty about not knowing her size. That meant she had to try on a lot of different things before she found the right fit. And the jeans with stretchy waistbands definitely didn't fit into Alice's world of fashion. "Oh, hell no!" She cried as I held up a pair. "Jeans are not supposed to have elastic in the waistbands."
"Alice," I said gently, "they still look like your other jeans from the waist down, they just have elastic around the top for your belly. Just wear a longer shirt so no one can see the stretchy waist."
"It's the principal of the thing, Bella," she told me. "I will know I'm wearing jeans with an elastic waist. How can show my face under those circumstances?"
I sighed and set the jeans back on the rack. This may be harder than I thought. Alice scowled as she looked around the rest of the clothes. There were some really cute shirts, but she didn't seem all that interested in trying them on. The lady working in the store seemed to sense Alice's distress and handed her a package. "Here sweetie, you can wear these instead of those other jeans." The package had what was called a belly band that held jeans together even if the wearer couldn't button them.
"That's a good idea," I told Alice. "Now you don't have to buy jeans with elastic waists, you can just cheat them."
Alice's scowl was still firmly in place. "It's still elastic; it's just not attached to the jeans."
"Well hon, that's just what you're going to have to do for the time being," the sales lady said. "At least this way you can wear your old pants."
"That's true," Alice agreed begrudgingly. "And, some of these shirts are actually kind of nice." She grabbed a cute red top and took it into the dressing room. I smiled and thanked the sales lady before grabbing items I thought Alice would like. She ended up getting two packages of belly bands and three shirts before we headed off to shop for the baby. Mostly, I wanted to see what kinds of things I could get Alice for Christmas. We walked around and looked at the cribs, changing tables and various gadgets. I knew we wouldn't know the sex for at least another month, but we still looked around the clothes department. Admittedly, we were sticking to the girls' section. I think Alice really wants a daughter, and I couldn't help but be drawn to all the pink. All the clothes were absolutely adorable. I took different dresses and held them up for Alice to see.
"Look at this one," I said about a pink dress with butterflies all over it. "It's quite possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life."
"What about this," she countered with a sundress covered in ladybugs. I stood corrected. We circled around the store a couple more times before we headed home. I'm pretty sure I found exactly what I was going to get Alice for Christmas – a crib. But, that was a rather big expense, so I was going to have to ask Edward about it. We drove back to the apartment to see what the boys were up to. When we arrived, there were an awful lot of cars in the parking lot. And, there were a lot more parked on the side of the road. I got a strange feeling most of the owners of those cars were in my apartment. And, sure enough, there were tons of guys standing around my living room. The sliding glass door was open and more guys were spilling out onto our patio area. I could smell smoke and the distinctive scent of burgers and hot dogs being barbequed. One of the guys must have brought a grill with him.
I wound my way through the group of drunken idiots and found Jasper outside working the grill with some of Edward's teammates around him. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I was worried about one of our neighbors calling the police. I finally got Jasper's attention. "Where's Edward?"
"He went to get some more ice for the cooler," he told me, motioning to the gigantic Igloo cooler sitting near the door.
Alice gave him a very disapproving look. "Are you drunk?"
"No," he replied defensively. "Edward and I are pretty much the only sober people involved here."
"Then why didn't he send you to get ice?" I asked. "I can't believe he'd leave all these drunken people around here without supervision."
"Hey, it's not like we're gonna do anything," said one of the random guys. "Give us at least a little bit of credit."
Ignoring the sea of inebriated lunkheads, I took Alice into the bedroom so we could call Edward in peace and quiet.
"Hey Bells," Edward answered after the first ring. "What's up?"
"Where are you and why is practically your whole team here at the apartment? I thought this was going to be a little get together."
"I know, I'm sorry," he said. "Some of the guys kept on calling more people to show up. I promise I'll get them out as soon as I can. When did you get home?"
"Just a few minutes ago," I said. "Alice and I will be in the bedroom when you get back. Just please don't let these guys get too rowdy, OK?"
"I won't," he promised. Alice and I made ourselves comfortable while we settled in with a movie. Unfortunately, Alice started getting hungry. I knew we should have eaten while we were out.
"I'll just go have Jasper make me a hotdog," she said as she heaved herself off the bed. "I'll be right back."
"Grab an unopened bag of chips while you're out there, too," I yelled. I continued to watch the movie and started zoning out. After about ten minutes, I was beginning to drift off. As my mind wandered, I felt a pair of warm, strong arms wrap around me. I snuggled into the warmth enveloping me, but when I turned to bury my face in Edward's chest the scent was all wrong. My husband has a unique fragrance all his own, but the person in bed with me smelled of too much cheap cologne. My eyes focused on the face of James, and the stench of booze on his breath nearly knocked me out cold.
"What the fuck are you doing in my home?!" I yelled in his face as I pushed him away from me. He held me tightly, making my efforts futile.
"You don't know how long I've been waiting to be in this position with you," he slurred with a drunken laugh. "And now, I'm not letting you go."
"Don't make me scream, James," I said as I held him at arms-length. "If you get up and leave right now, I won't scream for every one of those football players out there to come kick your ass. It's your choice."
"Aw, come on, baby. Don't be like that," he replied as he tried to kiss me. I slapped him in the face, but it barely seemed to faze him. He chuckled as he grabbed both my hands. "Yeah, you know I like it rough."
With my hands now incapacitated, James' lips finally found their way to mine and muffled my scream. I tried struggling against him, but James put all of his weight on top of me, keeping me trapped against my own bed. My right leg finally made its way between James' legs. I lifted it sharply and made contact with my captor's balls, causing him to roll onto the floor in pain. "Stupid bitch! That fucking hurt!"
I kicked him one more time as he writhed in pain on the floor. "Get the fuck out of my house, asshole!" The commotion summoned people to the room, but it seemed James had conveniently locked the door.
"Bella!" Edward yelled as he banged on the door. "What the hell's going on in there? Are you alright? Who's in there with you?"
I moved to unlock the door, but James suddenly pushed himself up off the floor and grabbed me around the knees. As I fell forward, I hit my head against the dresser. And then, the world went dark.
I'm a complete and total fucking idiot. I wanted to have just a few friends over for some drinks and maybe to play some video games. What I ended up doing was putting my wife in harm's way. I wasn't aware James had come to the party before I left to get ice, but after I returned and one of the other players asked where he was, I immediately went for the bedroom. And, when I was just five steps away, I heard Bella's scream. A moment later, I heard a loud crack; that couldn't have been a good noise. I frantically pounded on the door trying to get to my wife. A few members of the defensive line pushed their way to the front of the crowd and managed to knock the door down. And there in front of me was one of my worst nightmares come true – James alone with Bella. My wife was unconscious while James was attempting to pull her pants off. My instincts just kicked in then, literally. I planted my left foot and swung the other back, bringing it forward until it came into contact with James' face. I heard the crunch of broken bones as James flew back towards the bed. I had to be held back as some of the team went to grab James and Alice made her way to Bella.
"Bells! Wake up!" She screamed as she shook Bella frantically. Jasper moved Alice out of the way and lifted Bella off the ground. He ran towards my car and I sped off after him, grabbing my keys on my way. I took Bella to the nearest hospital and she was immediately taken to the emergency room. And then I was forced to pace nervously around the waiting room until the doctor came out about an hour later to give us the news.
"She's fine, just a bump on the head," the doctor said. "She's had a cat scan and there is no fracture to her skull, but she has a concussion. We'll hold her overnight to watch over her. Can you tell me what happened?"
"No," I replied. "She was in a locked room when I found her. I heard a loud crack, so I imagine she probably fell against the dresser. Can I stay with her tonight?"
He nodded. "If that's what you want to do, I can't stop you. Your wife is being moved to a room right now, you'll be able to see her in a little bit."
"Thank you," I told him. I wandered the halls until I found Bella's room. Her eyes were closed as I approached so I cleared my throat gently. She looked up and smiled weakly.
"Hey," her voice was soft and fragile. It made me want to cry.
"Hey," I replied. "How's the head?"
"Pounding," she said with a little laugh that made her put a hand to her forehead. "Ah, laughing – not a good idea."
"I can imagine it's not," I replied as I pushed the side railing down so I could sit on the bed next to her. I took her face in my hands as I kissed the tip of her nose. "Other than that, how are you feeling?"
"Not good," she said so softly I almost didn't hear her. "I shouldn't have gotten myself into that situation."
"No, don't you do that to yourself," I told her. "You could not have known that would happen. James is out of his mind, but we're finally going to be able to keep him out of our lives for good."
"You mean taking him to court?" She asked, uncertain.
"To say the least," I said. "He's lucky I don't let the boys on the line just beat him to a bloody pulp. But, I'll get in touch with the DA or whatever around here and see what we can do to get a restraining order on him."
She nodded lightly before closing her eyes again and leaning against the pillows. I took my hands in hers and studied her face closely before asking, "What happened in the room?"
Bella's brow furrowed as she thought back to the incident. It hadn't been long since it happened, but her mind had to be a bit fuzzy right now. "I was falling asleep while watching a movie. Alice went to get something to eat, and the next thing I know someone was wrapping his arms around me and I thought it was you. But, I turned around and it was James. I struggled and…kicked him in the groin, knocking him to the ground. And that's when you knocked on the door. I turned to answer, and he grabbed my knees. That's when I hit my head on the dresser."
I could barely contain the hatred bubbling within me; it practically broke the surface of my skin. What made it even worse was this feeling that Bella had kept something from me in her story. That little bit of hesitation told me there was something James did that she didn't want me to know. I ignored that feeling for now as Alice and Jasper entered the room. Alice fussed over Bella as Jasper brought us some clothes and pillows for our stay in the hospital.
"So, what are we going to do about James now?" Jasper asked as he handed me a pillow to put behind Bella's head. "This has gone on for way too long, man."
"I'm not sure," I replied. "I'll just have to wait and see what our legal options are. As much as I'd like to, I'm not going to jeopardize our future by physically confronting him. So, I'm just going to have to hope the law here can come through for us."
Will this incident finally put Bella and Edward at a permanently safe distance from James? And, how will Charlie like his trip to Canada? Stay tuned. And, as always, your feedback is greatly appreciated!