Okay, last chapter for the day. And YAY, I have a review you have no idea how happy I was to see that little number one there. I did a jig. Alrighty, this chapter is a filler, its not dramatic or anything, its just back story for what is to come, you need to get a feel for the characters and this is it. Bare with it people, the next chappy gets, well, yeah. Can you say angst?
"Bells, this is a mistake."
I rolled my eyes stepping over his outstretched legs in the hallway as I left the station. I knew Jacob would be waiting for me and I made a mental note to call Leah and apologize for him missing dinner yet again.
"Jake, its none of your business." I looked over my shoulder as I pushed through the double doors making my way down to my car. "Shouldn't you be home right now? Your girlfriend's six month pregnant. Priorities Oh Noble One."
I was mocking him and on a normal night I would actually feel bad about it, but, not tonight. Tonight I was damn tired and really didn't feel like explaining myself to Jake. Besides, I knew him and the only reason I was sure he thought I was making such a huge mistake was simple. The Cullens had money and Jake hated people with money.
He caught up to me quickly taking my bag off my shoulder as he walked me to my car, his gun belt shifting noisily with each step.
"I know what my priorities are Bella, don't worry about me. You on the other hand…" He held my arm to stop me, turning me around to look at my face; which I'm sure looked like I could care less what he had to say. My head fell to the side just needing him to get this tirade over with so I could make it home. I had class in less than 5 hours.
"What the hell are you thinking helping out with this case? These fucking people are…are so…"
"Are what Jake?" I snatched away, taking my bag from him as I did so I could find my keys, walking to the car as I continued.
"Are so rich? That's your problem with them; you think if they have money they're automatically wrong." I gave him a pointed glare as I snatched my door open tossing my bag inside.
"It really makes you kind of a prick."
I ignored his huff as I climbed into my truck, I glared harder, arching my brows when he began to speak again turning the key in the ignition knowing the raucous sound my ancient engine would drown out anything he had to say.
He got the message and rolled his eyes shaking his head, as his lips turned down into a pout.
I felt bad.
Leaning out the door a little I gave him a slight smile and a shrug.
"You still coming over this weekend? I have East Of Eden on blueray."
He would never pass up James Dean; I smiled wide as I watched him fight his; the corners of his mouth twitching with the effort. Finally he gave in pushing my door closed for me as he leaned into the window, his grin letting me know I was forgiven.
"I'll be there. But you're buying the pizza and I don't want that Pizza Hut shit either. Giovanni's, with onion's, no mushrooms."
Ew, maybe I wasn't completely forgiven.
I don't think I'd ever been so happy to be home in my life, tossing my keys on the table I let my bag drop to the floor as I stepped out of my shoes simultaneously pulling my shirt and jacket off. Making my way through my apartment I pressed the answering machine button as I popped the buttons on my jeans easing them down my thighs with a thankful groan.
By my own admission I am not a neat person. The clothes I took off mapped a line to the kitchen where I now stood in my underwear tossing a Lean Cuisine into the microwave before twisting my hair up into a messy bun. I stepped over yesterdays clothing that mapped a line to the living room the day before, I made a mental note to get it all up later.
I flopped down on the couch rubbing my feet cursing Rosalie for forcing me to wear heels with jeans. Something I feel is a complete contradiction. Jeans are meant for comfort, ergo sneakers, flip flops, toe socks, take your pick. Heels are meant for torture, ergo medieval, metal with locks that dig into your vag while some fucker prances around in tights with the key. The two should never go together. Yet, bitch cons me into wearing them every time.
Resting my head back on the couch I listened as the automated answering machine voice filled the room.
You have eight new messages.
Well that's different; I don't believe I've had that many messages since I plugged that thing in three years ago. Lifting myself from the couch again as the microwave dinged I listened as the messages began.
Uh hey Izzy, listen its Harry. Look, give me a call as soon as you get this message. There have been some changes in my schedule and I need another favor. You're probably on your way to bed right now so I don't expect to hear from you this late. But as soon as you can, thanks Iz. Have told you lately that I love you? Well…yeah.
He laughed and I rolled my eyes as I schlepped back into the living room already starting to eat my linguini and marinara out of the carton. I suppressed the urge to talk to the answering machine knowing it really meant I'd be talking to myself; I just resolved that Harry would owe me so big.
Heeeeey girrrrlllll. God are you not in yet? That little mojo freak of yours Jacob called to let me know you should be getting in soon. I swear to god that kid is channeling your father most days with the checking up on you. Weird much? Anyway, I'm just calling; I haven't talked to you today and Bella, Ohmigod do we have things to talk about. I know you got the Cullen case. Spill or I swear I will ram my shoe up your a….BEEP
I threw my head back laughing, Rosalie. When she's not assault my feet with bad fashion advice or threatening me over my answering machine she filled the role of best friend in my life. I love her, there isn't much more to the story than that.
I hate your fucking machine. It is the twenty first century Bella, buy a fucking blackberry like normal people. I think you shortened the message time just to piss me off. Anyway. This is too late a time to be out when you're not drinking or getting laid preferably both. I know you've got class so get your ass home, I'll meet you for lunch. And don't give me that bullshit about being busy, tell Harry to fuck off and have a burger with you gorgeous friend namely me. I mean it Bella I…BEEP
Why isn't your cell phone on? I really hate this thing. Okay, this is the real reason I called and don't be mad…um, I met this guy yesterday, really cute. He says he knows you...aaaannnndddd, Igavehimyournumber. BYE!"
"Wha…" I nearly choked.
God, I want to strangle her. If it were up to Rosalie and my mother my face and number would be plastered on billboards in the middle of every busy intersection in Washington with the headline, Single. Will screw for food.
They always made me sound so pathetic the way they pimped me out to every single man they lay eyes on. It's embarrassing. But, I have a motto. As long as Duracell is still in business, dating is not a priority.
Why is this Isabella? My Isabella? The child that I carried for 9 months and six days and suffered through eighteen hours of painful labor? I don't know, I haven't spoken to her in about a week...I'm beginning to think she's a figment of my imagination.
Oh boy. Here we go I groaned tossing the empty carton and fork on the coffee table stretching out as I pulled the throw over me. May as well get comfortable.
Call me. You know, your mother. Looks just like you just slightly more wrinkled with a much better disposition. Phil says hi and he misses you. I miss you. We miss you sweetie, you should never be too busy to call. Okay. Bye. I lo…BEEP.
Okay, that wasn't so bad; I turned over closing my eyes making a mental note to call her when I got up. Which was really about four hours from now. So tired.
Hi, um Bella? Hey this is Edward...Edward Cullen. I got your number from Harry, I hope you don't mind. I just wanted to tell you that, uh, you were great today, with Jasper. With all of us. I didn't know you weren't a lawyer yet. You're really good...I was…um…anyway. I know we have to get moving on those statements so, I called everyone and set up a meeting for today. Around six o'clock. Harry told me classes end for you around three, so I figured that time would be fine. Call my assistant for my address, 555-2357. Thank again Bella.
I sat up when his voice filtered into the room not exactly sure why I was so excited, but, I was. Before I could help myself I was grinning hovering on every stumbled word. I was actually disappointed when the messaged closed with that annoying beep.
Edward Cullen just called my house. My house, at two in the morning, how cute is that?
Shut up Bella.
Ah hi, its me again, Edward. Um, that was stupid; my address is 5533 Stonypoint Drive. I don't usually call up people I barely know and leave my address with them. Sorry, I'm a little guarded around strangers sometimes; I don't always know what to…do. If you don't have a GPS or anything, just call my assistant for directions. She'll hook you up. Okay? And um...thanks again…BEEP
I was giggling. I was now giggling for like, no reason whatsoever.
I don't usually talk like that, you know…hook you up. It was silly, just forget I said it. You don't have to call my assistant, um, I'll send a car for you at six. That way you don't have to drive all this way in your truck. Not…that your truck couldn't make the drive, this just seems, easier? I don't know. Um….its pretty late isn't it, you're probably asleep and I'm calling your machine like a stalker in the middle of the night. I'm…hanging up now. Bye Bella…BEEP.
Okay. Now I'm not going to sleep at all, getting up I went to rewind and play his messages again. What was that about? I'd just left them not two hours ago and as delighted as I was with the idea of any Cullen calling to speak to me, this actually made me kind of…sad. I went to school two full years with Edward Cullen, sat next to him in a few classes and actually was his lab partner for a full six months. I can't remember ever carrying on a full conversation with him outside of lab projects and sharing notes.
I was by no means popular, but I liked it that way being a part of any crowd wasn't exactly my thing. Edward Cullen was popular whether that was his thing or not. Everyone knew him, everyone liked him, he was intelligent and humble. Teachers adored him, every girl wanted to date him and every guy wanted to be him or at least be his friend. But I can't remember being able to put Edward in any group or even say any one person was his friend. He was just, Edward Cullen, even now, seven years since graduation, I couldn't think of him on a first name only basis. It was too informal and you just assumed you're not that close to him.
He wasn't stuck up like most would assume he'd be, he always seemed almost apologetic for being who he was, with all the privilege his name afforded him. And at times I got the feeling he was just, lonely. In a sea of friends he sometimes seemed completely alone, his eyes shifting around as if looking for the nearest exit. I had that same feeling listening to the messages tonight and had to fight the urge to call him back.
But, I would call.
Mental note, call Mom, eat lunch with Rosalie before killing her and call Edward Cullen.
"Okay everyone, that's it for the today. Please remember your papers on the Sociological Analogy of the Civil Rights Movement are due by the end of this week. Professor Burges will not make exceptions, and it counts for twenty percent of your grade." I love being a student teacher. I still had to do the paperwork and pass exams like everyone else, but, I love the feeling of having already been where these kids are now. It's so, I don't know, grown up. I looked up and watched the undergrads file out of the room as I packed my bag.
It's two-thirty. That gives me just enough time to take some notes and give Harry and Rosalie a call. I missed lunch with her, but she already knew I would. And anyway, I'm a little pissed at her, giving some stranger my number. Just thinking about my personal home number floating around in some strangers head made my skin crawl. I rolled my eyes then remembered students were leaving and one was waiting to speak to me. I smiled, looking at the clock mentally giving this kid two minutes.
"Hi, can I help you?" He's cute, if you like that 'I'm a college student/model' type look.
"Isabella right?" he extended his hand for me to shake and I did, glancing at the clock once more.
"Mmhmm, can I help you?" He frowned a little and I had to remind myself to not check the clock obsessively again.
"Uh, yeah. I'm in this class and I met a friend of yours yesterday. Rosalie?"
Ugh. I'm going to kill her dead.
"She gave me your number, and I was going to call you tonight, see if we could get together or something. You know dinner...maybe some coffee...or something? I figured; you don't really know me and you might not be cool with me just calling you up so...um, why are you looking at me like that?"
As I pinch the bridge of my nose I can imagine how my face looks. Like I smell something horrible and its coming from his general direction. I shook my head.
"I'm sorry, what was your name again?"
"Mike Newton, I've been in this class since September." He gestured behind him as if I needed some assistance figuring out that the classroom was in fact where I actually was standing. I laughed at that. He's funny at least, even if that's likely not his intention at the moment.
But funny works.
No. No it doesn't, no dating, too busy especially for an undergrad. Must. Kill. Rosalie.
"Mike...I'm sorry. I know Rosalie gave you my number, and I will kill her for that later. But I'm not dating right now. But thanks for the offer. It was...sweet."
I've never been very good at declining offers to date, not that I've had a ton of opportunities, which is likely why I'm not good at it. I usually say yes because I'm too embarrassed to say no, which means I've gone on a lot of dates that have been complete disasters.
I've had enough sweaty, Guido guys, decorated in gold and too much aftershave proposition me for a quickie in a bathroom stall just after appetizers to perfect my ability to say thanks, but no thanks. But this kid looked devastated and all I could do was smile sadly, nodding as he backed away, stammering over his words.
"Oh...oh, that's okay. I just wanted to…take my chance and see if you'd go out with me. That's cool...yeah. Um so thanks for talking Isabella. It was…um, see you Friday?"
"Okay, thanks for asking me Mike, I'm really sorry. And yeah, I'll see you Friday."
Ugh. Rosalie, must die.
I sat in the quad with my cell phone, returning calls as I went over some notes, I had just about an hour before the car service would pick me up from home. I called Harry there were so many things I needed to add to the email I sent this morning and I was positive he'd have questions. I was there and I had plenty.
"Hey Sue, its Bella, is Harry in, he's expecting my call."
"I'll put you right through, he's been waiting for your call."
The sound of Frank chewing god knows what in my ear and crumpling up what sounded like wax paper was so familiar I was already laughing.
"Hey Frank, I'm going tell your wife you're still eating from that hole in the wall down the street you call a deli. Three Ruben's in one week does not make your arteries happy." He laughed.
"Oh yeah, well, what she doesn't know won't hurt me. And you better not tell. She's got a really ugly nephew who she is just dying for you to meet. One word and James will be stalking you." Leave it to Harry to fight dirty, it's why he's the best, nothing's off limits.
"Wow, you're such a horrible person, that's just cruel. What you need I was up all night and I need some sleep." We both laughed, I loved this, Harry and Charlie insulted each other constantly and once he was gone I could tell Harry just missed it. He filled so many Charlie-voids for me, this was the least I could do.
He cleared his throat, which was never a good sign when Harry was asking me for a favor.
"Listen Izzy, I have to fly to Chicago today. A case is falling through and I have salvage it. I need you to do what you can on this Cullen case for me, until I get back."
Okay, don't freak out.
"How much time are we talking Harry?"
He cleared his throat again and I pinched the bridge of my nose. Shit.
"A week, two tops."
"You're kidding. Harry I want to help, you know I do, but I have exams in two weeks and this thing is going to be all consuming I can tell already, did you get the emails I sent you this morning? Its already out of control. I don't even know what you want me to do. I'm going to fail my classes; I haven't even began to study."
Laughter. He's laughing. Does he ever take me seriously?
"Izzy, you're rambling and you know that's not true, you're so far ahead in your courses studying is pointless. I've already called most of your professors, my friends, they're all willing to give their brightest student the extension she'll need in order to help the law firm that is going to hire her in less than a year. And besides....you love this shit. Don't even bother denying it."
I hate him.
"Shut up Harry....fine. I'll do it. But you owe me big. And I'm not talking about some lame dinner, where you and the wife play footsie under table either. I'm talking 65 inch plasma big. You hear me?"
More laughter and I have to swallow the urge to scream.
"Fine, fine, what ever you say. Anyway, brief me. What are we dealing with, I read the email, but I'd rather get my briefing from you." Which means Sue read the email and gave him the gist.
"I should really come into the office for this Harry."
"That bad huh?"
"Harry, you know the Cullens, this is so beyond any idea you or anyone has of them I can't even fully wrap my brain around it. Jasper's innocent, he told me that already, he's just trying to, I don't know, purge his soul or something. Its just completely masochistic Harry. You should have seen him."
"Izzy, I hate to tell you this, but most defendants say they're innocent. It's kind of why I have a job." I rolled my eyes; he wasn't done kidding around yet. I checked my phone for the time, getting up as I packed my things, heading to my truck.
"No, Harry, he didn't just out right tell me. I had to practically beat it out of him. He wants to be in jail. But he didn't commit the murder. I'm sure of that."
"Okay. So, what's next?"
He's asking me?
"I have a meeting with the rest of the family this evening. I'll get the rest of their statements and call the prosecutor to let her know you're out of town and I'm working on things. That should buy us some more time. For now. I'll drop the tape by for your office on the way home you can hear it for yourself. He's pretty bad off Harry."
I gave him a moment to process everything I'd just said, holding my hand over the phone as I started the truck, muting the sound of it.
"Okay…I trust you Izzy. Just give Sue the tape and I'll listen to it on the plane and give you a call. Okay? I've gotta run, I love you girlie. Come by next weekend, we miss having dinner with you."
I smiled, trying to remember the last time I'd had dinner with Harry and Emily. Too long.
"Sure Harry, I'll be there, you just remember you owe me. And if I ever make it out of law school, I want a corner office with a view." He laughed again and I hung up, running my fingers through my hair as I pulled onto the street.
Hitting the dashboard, the lights flickered enough for me to get a glimpse of the time. Okay, I had thirty minutes to freshen up, make a few more notes before the car service should arrive.
Now, normally I'm not an envious person, I've always been really comfortable with what I have its always been enough. But, I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish I could click my heels three times and have a black Range Rover with heated seats that massaged places I was too embarrassed to touch with my hands at my disposal.
As the car made its way through the gate I leaned forward, holding my breath as I stared out the window. I knew the Cullens were rich, but, dear God. This was beyond anything I had imagined. Huge, beautiful houses lined the street bordered by rolling green grass and an assortment of vibrantly colored flowers I couldn't begin to know the names of. I'd never seen any place so amazing. I didn't even know something this beautiful could exist in Forks; green is the general color wherever you go.
"People really lived like this?"
The driver chuckled as I continued to stare, baffled. Some of the houses were straight out of Gone With The Wind. And as we round the 5500 block I was mesmerized by the quaintness of the one I identified as Edward's.
Bigger than any house I'd ever been in, but more modest that the ones that surrounded it. It had Edward Cullen written all over it. I ascended the stairs, and stopped when the door flung open, Edward standing briefly raking his hand through his hair before meeting me at the top of the steps, taking my bag.
"Hey Bella, let me get that for you."
He'd been waiting for me. Was I late?
"What? You're not late. I saw you parking and came out to greet you. Everyone's here, I even have Aro on speaker phone. He's the family lawyer, but more financial stuff. My parents just felt more…comfortable I guess. I don't really know."
I followed him into the house just listening it was all I could do, he wasn't really allowing me time to respond to anything.
"I tried to gather everyone I thought could have information you might need."
Clearing my throat as quiet as possible, I didn't want to interrupt and I took the time to really take in the house. It was simple and incredible all at the same time. My bastard heels clicked against the marble floor, dark wood bordered the walls and entry ways to rooms we passed on the way to wherever we were going.
I noticed Edward was in his bare feet and I envied him as my toes cried a little in these shoes. He was wearing a heather gray flannel shirt untucked; worn jeans and that's it, he looked so comfortable, I don't think I ever imagined him in anything other than formal attire.
This was so much better.
I must have laughed because he turned suddenly regarding me with the oddest look before speaking again, his hand paused mid rake through his hair.
"Are you okay? I hope I didn't offend you with all the calls…last night. I don't sleep very long and I forget things all the time. I find it best to work on things in the moment, otherwise they go undone."
He scrunched his nose in the cutest way and I had to clear my throat to keep from giggling. Ugh, I'm suppose to be professional here, he's making it way too hard.
"Too weird? I thought it might be and I was going to call you and apologize for being weird but, I thought that might be weirder…um, more weird. Strange. So, I obviously…didn't."
Okay. I needed to let him off the hook. I touched his arm, chuckling softly as I nudged him along in whatever direction we were heading.
"Its fine Edward. I didn't get home until after the calls and I wasn't sleeping nor was I offended. I actually started to call you back but felt bad because it was so late."
He grinned, rubbing his hand over his chin, his voice was low but clearly relieved and dare I say, happy.
"No, you should have. I would have been…really good with that."
He laughed and for some odd unexplained reason, my stomach started to dance.
He really shouldn't do that again.