"The silence was deafening." This is one of those clichés you always hear and think to yourself, That's stupid. That doesn't even make sense. I never understood why authors fell back on it time and time again. How had it even come into being in the first place, let alone common usage? Deafening silence? That's something an angsty teenager sticks in her poem about her boyfriend dumping her. I got it now.
The silence was deafening in the corridor where we now sat, and it was punctuated only by the ticking of an old analog clock on the brick wall to my left. Tick tick tick. So quiet I could even strain and hear the motor inside that very clock, whirring as it pushed its gears around the mechanism that makes the hands move at a proper pace. Tick tick tick whirrr tick tick.
The silence was deafening. If someone didn't speak or walk by or tap their foot or something soon I was going to go deaf, just by straining my ears into the silence and hearing only that damn clock. "The silence was deafening." I get it now. I get it.
I was waiting in the aforementioned hallway with my two closest companions, Alice Brandon and Rosalie Hale. While Alice was only just barely able to keep still, fidgeting her small frame in her chair, Rose sat sullen and defiant with her arms folded firmly across her chest. Alice was probably just as nervous (scared?) to be there was I was, but not Rose. Rose was pissed.
There was a certain irony to this fact which I wouldn't be able to appreciate until later. Rose was really the reason we were sitting here in the first place, it having been at her insistence that we snuck into the backyard of the Chi Nu Omega sorority house three hours earlier. One of the beloved sisters, a certain Lauren Mallory, had deigned to hit on Emmett, Rose's longtime boyfriend. Because it was Rosalie, this was a trespass on her territory that would not go unpunished.
"Don't girls hit on him all the time?" Alice had asked cautiously as we stocked up on eggs and toilet paper at the grocery store. Rose smirked as though this were by far one of the least intelligent questions she'd heard recently.
"Yeah, but not by girls he knows. He's on the football team and Lauren is a cheerleader. It's not like she doesn't know he's taken. Not only that, but she crossed the line of their professional relationship. And she's a skank."
I couldn't disagree with Rose on that last one, although I'd been under the impression that skank was no longer in popular use. Lauren Mallory was, to put it in my father's terms, "overly social." He'd cautioned me time and time again not to be "overly social" at college. He'd been afraid I'd be like Lauren Mallory, who'd slept with most of the football team aside from Emmett as well as the entirely of Zeta Alpha Delta. Lauren Mallory was a skank, sure. Then again, the only reason I even knew this was because of the gossip Rose was constantly filling my head with when we were supposed to be studying.
Rose hadn't been in a sorority since she'd been kicked out of hers sophomore year, but she liked to keep tabs on them all. Gossip was her best weapon, and she wielded it well. Standing there in the paper goods aisle, watching Rose fill our cart with the fluffiest toilet paper she could find, I was reminded to never cross her. The incident that had led to her being thrown out (and consequently to her meeting Alice and I when she answered our ad for a housemate) had left two other girls suspended and one actually transferred schools.
"The fluffier it is, the faster it comes apart when wet and the harder it is to clean up," Rosalie informed us smugly as she paid. She didn't give a damn if the clerk overheard what we were planning. Oh, and plan we had. Rose even went so far as to learn the sprinkler schedule for sorority row, to maximize the mess we planned on making. She was nothing if not thorough; you had to give her that.
Normally her juvenile pranks are not my thing. Normally I would have told her and Alice to have themselves a grand old time and stayed home with my boyfriend Mike. However, as of just very recently, I no longer had a boyfriend Mike to stay home with and Rose had grown tired of my moping. She and Alice insisted I tag along just for something to do, just to get out of the house for at least one night of the past month.
That's why I was sitting with them at the Clallam County police department, waiting for our arresting officer to decide what to do with us. It would seem that, following a little skirmish with the girls in the neighboring Gamma Theta Epsilon sorority, Chi Nu had seen fit to have a motion-sensing security system installed. We'd been arrested with a surprising amount of our dignity intact, considering our arms were laden with bathroom product and breakfast goods. The officer had even done us the courtesy of not handcuffing us, although it was probably more because he only had the two pairs of cuffs.
Finally there was noise in the form of the door at the end of the corridor bursting open. Our heads swiveled in unison to the source of commotion and Alice let out a small squeak of surprise. Suddenly the hallway was all noise as officers dragged through two loud, boisterous guys about our own age. They were both tall and too-lanky, one of them with wavy dirty blond hair and the other with a wild bronze mess atop his head. My breath caught in my throat.
They were absolute messes, both of them. The blond was sporting a black eye so bad he couldn't even open it and the other one's nose had bled all down the front of his grey t-shirt. He muttered something inaudible to me and his friend laughed jovially. Blond was stumbling as he tried to walk with his hands restrained behind his back. Whatever the bronze-haired one had said to make his companion laugh, the officers were not amused.
"Great," Rose groaned sarcastically, loudly enough that they could hear her if they were listening. The hall was now filled with the smell of alcohol and Rose eyed the men with evident disgust. As they passed us the blond grinned amiably, unfazed by Rose's disdainful stare. The other one, not so much. He turned his head just enough to lock narrowed eyes with Rose as long as he could while walking by. I shivered at the coldness of his stare without even receiving the brunt of it, but Rosalie Hale does not back down. She arched one perfectly manicured eyebrow at him, her lips pressed tightly together.
And then, just like that, they were through the door at the other end of the corridor and gone again. I exhaled.
"This is ridiculous," Rose spat, holding out a hand to examine her nails. She broke one on the Chi Nu fence and she was pissed about that, too.
"What do you think they did?" Alice whispered, a little excited despite herself. Everything was so thoroughly interesting to Alice.
"Maybe they got into a fight at a bar or something," I theorized. "Who knew a nose could bleed that much?"
Rose scoffed. "Who cared?"
"That was one of the worst smells I've ever smelled," Alice tossed out, wrinkling her cute little nose. At less than five feet and under 100 pounds, everything about Alice is cute and little. Even her short layered brunette hair is cute and little.
The door that the men had just disappeared into swung open again and our arresting officer stepped out. He was really a very nice guy considering, his amusement clearly apparent in his eyes even as he'd let us know we were in "a heap of trouble." His name was Officer Barthes, and he was probably only a few years older than us. If Rose hadn't been so mad, she would have tried to charm him into letting us go with a warning. As it was, she'd been overly snide.
Too bad, really, because there are few things Rose can't get through charm and the simple fact that she is gorgeous. Truly, breath-takingly gorgeous, with silky blonde hair, blue eyes, and a model's figure if the model had actual breasts. She and Emmett are a perfect match for each other: the handsomely masculine jock and the feminine blonde bombshell. It also helps that her sense of style is immaculate. It was more than likely the cop would have let us go, but now we'd never know.
"Okay, so what I'm going to do is take you in one at a time to answer some questions, and then you each get a phone call. Miss, why don't you come with me?" Officer Barthes correctly pegged Rosalie as our ringleader and went for her right way. With inimitable coolness she rose to her feet and followed him back though the doors to what I assume are the offices. Her kitten heels clicked on the tile with each step; only Rose would wear kitten heels to TP and egg a house.
"What do you think's going to happen to us?" Alice wanted to know as soon as the two of us were alone. I shrugged, trying to be cool like Rose. It failed. Hey, at least we were talking now. It was better than the deafening silence.
"We'll probably just get fined or something," I assured her, not at all certain.
Alice considered this. "It was a stupid prank, Bella. I'm sure we're just going to get yelled at and maybe fined. I mean, it was pretty obvious we weren't hurting anyone."
"Exactly," I agree. "We weren't hurting anyone."
Then again, Lauren Mallory was just the kind of bitch who would call her daddy and insist that the full force of the law be applied against us. Rose had said he did something important, but I couldn't remember what now. Something that paid very well, I was sure. It had to be, if she was in Chi Nu Omega. Those girls would live their entire lives without having to do something like learn how to wash their own laundry or cook their own meals. I could see why Rose hated them on principle, even when one of them wasn't trying to steal her man.
Her family was well-enough off, just like Alice's, but certainly not rich. And me? I was middle class, all the way. By middle-class I mean wooden house with a white fence and a one car garage middle class. I was raised by my father and we'd lived on his salary as Chief of Police – the only police, really – in neighboring Forks until the day he was killed in the line of duty, busting up a meth lab somewhere in the woods between Forks and the Indian reservation. It was his pension putting me through school, the least the good people of Forks could do for their beloved Chief Swan. Oh, if he could see me now.
Only about fifteen minutes had passed before Rose was back, looking smug. Officer Barthes appeared decidedly less confident as he bid Alice join him beyond the doors.
"You couldn't play nice?" I demanded of Rose. She lifted one shoulder in an effortless shrug.
"Relax Bella. I have this covered."
"Is that so?" I glared and jabbed my finger in her direction. "I could be asleep right now, you know. I should be asleep. I don't need this."
"Oh, please." Rose rolled her eyes. "You don't need this? This is the most exciting thing that's happened to you in months. Yes, months, as in a long before you finally got rid of that Newton guy. I bet it was hard not to fall asleep during sex."
I frowned, annoyed that Rose was a lot closer to the mark on all counts than I cared to admit. In fact it was easier to stay awake when she and Emmett were having sex, owing to all the noise they made. Mike and I had been so quiet that at one point Alice actually asked if we were "waiting." How embarrassing.
Excitement notwithstanding, I was more than ready to get home, get a hot shower to wash the feel of this place off of me, and sleep for an entire day.
"What kinds of questions is he going to ask me?" I inquired of Rose, watching the clock again. It was past three in the morning by then. I'd been awake for twenty-four hours now. God I wanted sleep.
Rose turned up the corners of her mouth in a way that belied her amused as she let me know in a deadpan tone, "Officer Barthes asked me to please not discuss that with you." She wanted to laugh. It would seem that the Clallam County Police Department did not reserve their best and brightest for the overnight shift. In the moment I tried to imagine how my dad would handle this kind of situation, but the thought just saddened me.
"Hey, look, we'll be out of here soon, I'm sure of it," Rose comforted me, misinterpreting my newly crestfallen expression. I just nodded. Abruptly her tone changed again and she bit out the advice, "Just ignore those assholes."
"Assholes?" It took me a minute to realize who she must have been referring to. By the time I caught up with her, though, Alice was bursting through the doors.
"You're up," she let me know, jerking a thumb over her shoulder at the waiting office Barthes. Well she seems oddly cheerful, I thought to myself as I got to my feet. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. Rose was going to end up being right – she usually was, after all. Her slight, ahem, miscalculation that had landed us here would prove to be no big deal.
It turned out to be a rather small room after such an impressive corridor. I knew there were more desks out front but was nevertheless a little let down. I counted maybe six workstations, a set of three matching doors along one wall, and a large glass window peering into what I'd guessed was the Chief's office. I felt oddly comfortable here, evenly though I'd never been here before; it had that feel. A station house is a station house, I guess, and I had practically been raised in one. If Dad could see you now...
Two of the desks were being utilized by the officers we'd seen earlier, escorting their rowdy charges in this direction. I wondered where the two guys were now. Probably back in holding. That would be through that door in the corner there, the one that looked like it led to another hallway. This place was bigger than the station in Forks, but I was beginning to suspect it had been designed by the same architect and set up by the same ill-informed interior decorator.
"Just have a seat at the desk and I'll be right there," The officer let me know. I followed his finger to an empty metal desk up against a filing cabinet and nodded more to myself than to him.
Sure. This was more routine to me now. Why had I been so scared? Officer Barthes's authority left a little to be desired but he was doing his job and he knew the motions. I knew them too; I took my seat and waited patiently for my "interview."
It was quiet in here, and I found myself thinking about the drunks. Rose had said to ignore them, but how could I ignore them when they weren't even here? I thought about the bronze-haired one with the bloody nose again and shivered. Even just seeing it from the side, his stare had startled me. I couldn't even imagine what it would have been like if he'd been staring at me.
One of the two other officers finished scribbling something on a notepad and looked up at his partner.
"Alright, you ready for the other one?" he asked. The other cop nodded and I followed him with my eyes, already knowing exactly which door he was going for. I was right; the one in the corner. I wondered what was taking Officer Barthes so long. It seemed ridiculous that he would try to "sweat" me or something, but the long I sat there the more my imagination began to run away with me. How the hell had this only taken Rose and Alice only 15 minute apiece? I'd been sitting here for nearly ten and we hadn't even begun yet.
The door in the corner opened again and the first one through it was the bronze-hair guy, his arms still locked behind him as the officer steered him through. The young man's head was down, not out of any kind of embarrassment but rather so that he could watch where he was stepping. He didn't stumble the way his buddy had out in the hall.
Looking at him full on like this, I was able to get a better visual. First, he was tall. I hadn't noticed that before because his friend had been taller. Even with his head down, though, he had a good several inches on the cop escorting him. He was also lanky, as I'd noted before, but I could see the muscles flexing in his arms as they were tensed behind his back. At some point he'd washed the blood off of his face and neck, but it had dried to a dark reddish brown on his shirt.
He was pale, which wasn't a big shocker considering our locale. No one gets sun around here, so no one tans. The closest thing you see to a tan is the Quileutes on the reservation or else the fisherman with their skin reddened by wind burn. His pallid skin accentuated the dark circles under his eyes, though, and vice versa. I couldn't help but think of Charlie Sheen's character in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, making out with Jennifer Grey down at the precinct. The officer was walking him right in my direction, presumably toward the empty desk five feet over from this one.
And then his head lifted up and he was staring at me intently, piercing me with his eyes. Immediately panic welled up within me under that cold gaze. Why is he staring at me like that?! I didn't even do anything! I blushed quickly looked away, searching the room for Officer Barthes. He came toward me with a peculiar expression on his face and dropped into the chair opposite mine. At almost the same moment the other officer dropped his charge down roughly into a chair at the neighboring desk. He couldn't have been more than 6 feet from me. I shivered again.
"Isabella Swan, is it?" Officer Barthes asked. I didn't know why he was asking; he had my license right there in front of him, didn't he? He'd divested all three of us of our belongings before even driving us down here. I could feel eyes boring into me over his shoulder, from the next desk over. It caused me to shift uncomfortably in my seat.
"Yes, that's right," I agreed, trying to sound pleasant in my discomfort. More than anything, I just wanted to get out of here as quickly as I could.
"Did you know you were already on file in our database?" Officer Barthes inquired gently. My eyes widened in surprise.
"In- But- But I haven't done anything!" I managed to stutter. "I mean, I've never-"
He held his hand up to stop me and in the open space created by his movement I could see the bronze-haired guy still staring at me. He was shaking his head slowly against whatever the officer was saying to him, but his eyes never left me.
"Relax. It appears your father took the liberty of entering you as a precaution, in the event that you might go missing or something of that nature." Officer Barthes looked me up and down curiously, and I could tell he was wondering why I hadn't said something right away. What would I have said, though? Dad would have been horrified if I'd pulled a move like that when he was alive; I sure wasn't about to do it now.
"Oh. I see." I had nothing else to say.
He stood up and gave me a tight, not unsympathetic smile. "Let me just finish making an inventory, and then I'll be able to give you girls a ride home."
Once he was gone I could overhear what the other officer was saying to this young man who was still staring. Something about a fight – I had been right, then – and also something about a stolen car. It sounded like their evening had been a lot more eventful than ours. It also sounded like they wouldn't be grabbing a ride home any time soon. I made sure to keep my head down.
"Fuck, hang on," the officer muttered gruffly to himself. He'd never sat down, and he turned now to go back to his partner and ask something. I watched him go and flicked my gaze to the bronze-haired guy, who took this opportunity to lean in toward me, his hands still cuffed. His arm muscles tensed and flexed from the strain.
"Daddy saves the day?" he hissed in a low voice, his jaw clenched and his eyes still boring into me. I met his gaze, shocked by it. It was so much more severe this close up, and I could see that his green eyes were filled with hatred. Again the irrational panic began to well up in me, but this time it was drowned out by my fury.
"Fuck you!" I shot back angrily. "You don't know a damn thing about my father!"
It caught him off guard for maybe half a second before his stare was back on full force. He sneered at me derisively.
"Hey!" The officer shouted out from across the room, coming back over. "Leave her the fuck alone." He grabbed the guy violently by the cuff chain to lift him out of the chair, an act I happen to know hurts like holy hell. It pops the arms back and jerks them backward in their sockets, putting body weight where it was never meant to be put.
The guy grunted and closed his eyes at the pain, letting the officer drag him away from me without any kind of struggle. Now I was the one staring. Bronze-hair opened his eyes again and looked at me, the former intensity of his gaze replaced with patronizing amusement. When I glared at him the corner of his mouth tilted up in a crooked smirk. The officer yanked open the door to the holding cells and practically threw the young man in before following him.
My heart was beating rapidly, circulating adrenaline through my system at the wild, irrational panic that had overtaken me. What did I have to be afraid of? I was in the middle of a police station, for cripe's sake. So absorbed was I in the encounter I'd just had, I didn't even notice right away that Officer Barthes was standing over me, extending my purse. He cleared his throat and I jumped up by reflex.
"We're all set here," he let me know, gesturing for me to follow him to the door. I accepted my purse, grateful to be on my way.