I looked up at the two story brick house skeptically. It had been my grandparents' house for as long as I could remember and when they finally moved out my aunt and uncle had taken ownership. Their son, my cousin Jasper, was going to college here with his best friend Edward Cullen and girlfriend Alice Brandon, so the three of them had moved in. Uncle Carl was good at construction and renovation type stuff, so they'd installed two more bathrooms and updated the kitchen for the three of them and a roommate they met. Now I was off to college, three years behind them all, and I had chosen a school in the same town as the house to be near family. Mom and Dad were soon off to London for 18 months for Dad's job and everyone felt it would be better for me to be near familiar people.
The house was in Decatur, IL and I was enrolled at Millikin University here. Jasper and Alice were at University of Illinois – Champaign. Edward and the other roommate were both pre-med at University of Illinois – Springfield. Decatur was about halfway between Champaign and Springfield, but it was still about an hour drive for all my roommates to their respective colleges.
I was nervous about it, to be honest. Not the driving, so much, but the roommate situation. I'd only really met Edward once and Alice a few times and I'd never met the other roommate, Emmett Masen. I hoped that they liked me and that we all got along. Otherwise, it would be a really long year.
I hitched my bag up on my shoulder and started up the steps. It had been a long drive from Texas and I was exhausted. I didn't really have the money to get a hotel, so I'd made the 18 hour drive in one stretch, leaving my parents' house at about 6 am. Three stops later, I was here, grateful for GPS. It was almost 2am and I never would have found this place in the dark.
The door opened as I reached the top step and a tall gorgeous guy with shaggy dark bronze hair stood in the doorway. "You must be Bella," he greeted me, reaching for my bag.
I released it happily. "If I must, I must." I grinned up at him. He had friendly green eyes a girl could lose herself in.
"I'm Edward Cullen, Jasper's friend from a million years ago. I think we met once when you visited."
"Probably," I yawned. "I spent most of my time reading while the boys ran off and got into trouble."
He chuckled softly. "Well, we've gotten some better. We don't have to run off to get into trouble anymore."
I grinned up at him and stepped into the well lit living room. It was exactly the way I remembered it.
"Bella!" I was engulfed in an awkward hug by my cousin, Jasper. He was tall, too, though not as tall as Edward, I noticed. His mop of dirty blonde hair was growing out, too. Must be an Illinois thing, I thought. "You have more stuff in the car?"
I rolled my eyes. "Of course. No way would Mom let me leave without a fully stocked kitchen. She knows how much I love to cook. I think she's going to miss that more than anything."
"Sweet, a cook," grinned a good looking boy with dark hair coming out of the kitchen with a bowl of what looked like cereal. He was huge, bigger and broader than the other two guys, but in a purely muscled way. "No more cereal for dinner," he grinned, confirming my suspicions. He set the bowl down on a pool table in what used to be the dining room and crossed the room, his hand out. "Emmett Masen."
He grinned. "So are you willing to cook for us? Cause I will worship at your feet if you're any good."
I laughed. "Sure, maybe. Can I get my bearings first?"
"Yeah, shithead. Let her breathe a second." I turned to see Alice Brandon, Jasper's girlfriend of the last few years coming out of the small bathroom, a grin on her face. She pulled me into a hug. "How are you, kiddo?"
"Sore," I laughed. "Turns out, 18 hours of driving makes your butt numb." She grinned at me.
"Well, let the guys bring your stuff in and I'll show you what we've done with the place." I nodded and tossed my keys to Edward. He headed outside; Jasper and Emmett close behind him. "You're going to love it here. These guys are the best. Like a bunch of brothers, you know?" I nodded.
The kitchen hadn't changed much since my grandparents occupied the house. The appliances, counters and cabinets had been updated and repainted, but the layout was the same and I noticed there still wasn't a dishwasher. The living room we'd been in was really more of a conversation area; the guys had apparently decided that the perfect place for the entertainment aspect of our lives was downstairs.
I followed Alice down the steep steps to the basement. The old washer and dryer were still here, still working after all these years. There was now a small bedroom at the back for Emmett. Alice explained that since he kept odd hours he could come and go more easily through the basement door and not bother the rest of us. They'd set up a couch, an armchair, and a love seat in a semi-circle with an old coffee table I recognized from Jasper's parents' house and a nice looking entertainment center with a flat screen TV, game system, DVD player, vcr and what looked like a million movies and games.
"Wow." I was impressed.
"Wait until Friday night. Friday is always movie night and Edward just set up the surround sound system. They promise it will blow my panties off." She laughed and led me back up the steps.
The guys were dragging boxes and suitcases in from the car, arguing what should go upstairs and what should stay down.
"Just take suitcases up," ordered Alice. "We'll unpack tomorrow while you are all at work or whatever." I moved to grab a suitcase to take up with me, but Alice smacked my hand. "Let them do their tasks. They're the muscle of the house." Emmett made some kind of barbarian-esque grunt then to prove the point. I laughed and followed Alice upstairs to the second floor.
The main bathroom was at the head of the stairs and across from it was the master bedroom that Alice and Jasper had claimed. I was in the bedroom down the hall on the same side as the bathroom, next to the stairs up to the attic.
There was a third bedroom on this level that was about the a lot smaller than mine and on the same size as the master bedroom. Alice informed me that when parents came, that was her room. None of them knew she and Jasper were sleeping together and she wanted to keep it that way.
My room was a nice sized room. It was a corner room with lots of big windows looking out over the back yard. There was a good sized closet that was cedar lined. I remembered playing hide and go seek with Jasper and Brad and hiding in the closet, smelling the cedar and letting Grandma's old fur coats brush against my face. The room had a full sized bed, a dresser with a mirror, a small desk and chair and nightstands on either side of the bed. The old rag rug was gone, but the lace curtains were still at the windows. The bed was bare, but I'd brought my own bedding. It was in a box somewhere downstairs. I decided I could steal a blanket from somewhere and just sleep on the naked mattress tonight.
Alice and Jasper and I were to share the hall bathroom, which Alice felt was unfair, since the other two got their own bathrooms, but I was fine with it. I missed sharing with Brad, as weird as that was. I stopped in to go to the bathroom while Alice headed downstairs to direct the boys.
It wasn't a large bathroom. It had a sink, a toilet, and a small tub with a shower. There was a closet where towels were stored and a small cabinet had been added over the toilet. I noticed that the old medicine cabinet had been replaced by a newer, larger one. I peeked inside and grinned when I saw that a third of it had been cleared for me. The closet and cabinet over the sink were likewise 1/3 empty.
When I came out of the bathroom, I looked back up the hallway at the door to the attic, curious to see what it looked like now. Last time I'd been up there, it had been divided in two areas: one a storage area for Christmas decorations, china that was rarely used, and old suitcases and boxes, the other an extra guest room that Brad and I had always shared. Jasper and his parents would generally come up for the day or maybe the weekend. When they stayed, we three would camp out on the screened in porch. I shook my head and turned to go back downstairs.
"Where did you pack your bedding?" Alice asked as I came down the stairs. "Is it in a suitcase or a box?"
"Box," I yawned. She looked around at the small pile of boxes around her.
"Any idea which one?"
I laughed and shook my head. "Not a clue. If I can just borrow a blanket, I'll be fine tonight."
"You can sleep in my bed," offered Edward. I looked at him with surprise. "I'm staying over at my girlfriend's tonight. I wanted to be here to meet you," he explained. "I think you'll be ok to sleep in my bed. You don't still pee at night, right?"
I flushed and laughed. "No, I gave that up for Lent this year and it stuck."
He grinned. "Oh, you're going to fit in here great."
"Are you sure you don't mind?" I asked, already heading towards the stairs. "I'm pretty beat and I may just go to sleep now, if y'all don't mind."
"Y'all?" he laughed.
"I'm from Texas. It's a word."
He grinned. "Yeah, I'm sure. Let me grab a couple things."
I waved at Alice and she grinned. "We'll take care of all this in the morning, get some sleep."
"Welcome to the house!" called Emmett as I followed Edward up the stairs.
The attic rooms were pretty much as I remembered, with the exception of the storage room being a bit smaller due to a small bathroom having been installed. It was really small, but it was tidier than I'd expected a bachelor's bathroom to be.
The bedroom was tidy, too. A king sized bed with a simple brown comforter and lots of pillows in white cases, a dresser with a mirror and an assortment of stuff on the top of it as well as a small TV. A desk sat under the small dormer window looking out over the front of the house. It was neat for now, a closed laptop sitting on it.
Edward pulled a backpack out of the closet and stuffed a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and some clean underwear inside it. He grinned at me. "I think I washed the sheets a few weeks ago, so they should be relatively crumb free."
I laughed. "Ok, thanks. I can wash them tomorrow if you want."
He shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair. "Nah, its fine. I actually changed them a couple days ago. Rosalie, my girlfriend, complained last time she was here."
I nodded, my face flushing. So they were sleeping together. I shouldn't be shocked by that. Everyone else was three years older except Emmett, and he was still two years older. Plus, Edward was spending what was left of tonight at Rosalie's house.
I followed him back downstairs and went into my room while he continued to the first floor. I dug through my suitcases until I found my toiletries and some pjs and then headed into the bathroom. I quickly washed my face and brushed my teeth. I shoved my things onto the empty shelf in the closet with the intention to organize later and headed back to my room to change. I braided my hair as I headed upstairs with my phone charger in my teeth. I hadn't called home yet to let them know I'd made it ok and I knew Mom would practically be frantic, but my battery was almost dead. She'd talked to me practically the whole way here.
I settled myself into Edward's bed, surprised at how soft and comfortable it was. Probably due to the influence of Rosalie. I punched the speed dial for my parent's house and closed my eyes while it rang.
"Bella?" Mom answered on the second ring.
"Hey, Mom. Just wanted to let you know I made it ok." I yawned.
"How was the last part of the drive? Did Jasper and the others help you unload? Was everyone nice? How's the house look?"
I laughed. "Mom, calm down. Everything looks good, everyone was nice, the guys all unloaded my stuff, and the drive was fine. I'm exhausted, so I'm going to sleep now."
"Ok, well, write me an email about it all tomorrow, ok? I have meetings and stuff at work all day."
"Ok. Tell Dad I love him."
"Alright sweetie. Give our love to Jasper."
I hung up and turned off the bedside lamp. I snuggled into the pillow and fell asleep faster than I had in a while.
Jasper and I sat on the couch throwing a ball back and forth. "Dude, when the hell is she supposed to get here already?" I asked with a yawn. "It's almost 2 and I've got to get over to Rosalie's."
He rolled his eyes. "She called from St. Louis about two hours ago, so she should be here any minute. Don't get your panties in a wad. You can just go already. You can meet her again tomorrow."
I scowled at him. "Fucker."
He laughed and started to reply but we heard the sound of a car pulling up in the drive. We both stood up and headed out onto the screened porch to meet her. "She's here," Jasper called over his shoulder to Alice and Emmett.
"I'll be out in a sec," Alice called back from the bathroom.
I studied the pretty girl climbing out of the car. She was tinier than I remembered, but then I hadn't seen her in a while. Her long dark hair was pulled back in a messy bun and there were dark shadows under her dark brown eyes. She hitched her bag up on her shoulder and came up the steps tiredly. I pushed the door open and reached for her bag. "You must be Bella," I grinned at her.
She looked up at me with a killer smile, even in her exhaustion. "If I must, I must." This chick could cause some real serious issues.
"I'm Edward Cullen, Jasper's friend from a million years ago. I think we met once when you visited."
"Probably," she said with a huge yawn. "I spent most of my time reading while the boys ran off and got into trouble."
Once we were inside, Emmett and Alice introduced themselves and Jasper practically mauled her in a bear hug. After talking for a bit, Alice grabbed her to give her the five cent tour while Emmett, Jasper and I unloaded the car.
"Holy shit," gawked Emmett as we approached the loaded down SUV. "Did she leave anything in Texas?"
Jasper laughed. "That sounds like Aunt Renee. She always came up here totally over prepared. I'm sure Bella's got everything she could possibly need and more. But if she's really willing to cook, it's totally worth it."
Emmett rolled his eyes but grabbed a box and headed in. It took us several trips and by the time we were done, the living room looked like a small storage space. She hadn't brought any furniture luckily, but some of those boxes were really fucking heavy. I doubted she'd loaded them herself.
"Ok, so we should probably take some of this shit upstairs," said Jasper, studying the pile. "I think her room is pretty empty, so we should be able to get most of this up there."
"You think all of this goes upstairs?" I asked doubtfully.
"Yeah, why not?"
"Because who the fuck uses a mixer in their bedroom?" demanded Emmett, poking a box with his foot. "If she's got kitchen shit in here she doesn't need that in her room."
"Well, she can bring it down or we can. It's not a big deal."
"I don't want to carry shit up and down stairs just for shits and giggles," I protested.
"Just take the suitcases upstairs," barked Alice's voice. She came into the living room, her hands on her hips. "We'll unpack tomorrow while you all are at work or whatever." Bella reached for a suitcase and Alice slapped her hand. "Let them do their tasks. They're the muscle of the house."
Emmett gave a Conan the Barbarian grunt to prove her point, making Bella laugh as she and Alice headed upstairs. We each grabbed suitcases and headed up behind them. She must have packed every single article of clothing she owned or something. It took a couple trips but we finally got it all upstairs.
"Ok, let's find her bedding," Alice instructed, looking around at the piles of boxes still in the living room. I nodded and started to open a box when I heard footsteps on the stairs.
"Where did you put your bedding? Is it in a suitcase or a box?" asked Alice.
Bella yawned again. "Box." She looked around at the piles discouraged.
"Any idea which one?"
She laughed again and shook her head. "Not a clue. If I can just borrow a blanket, I'll be fine tonight."
"You can sleep in my bed," I heard myself saying.
Everyone looked at me with surprise. I didn't like having other people in my bed, except Rosalie and even then it was iffy.
She put up a little bit of resistance, but not much really. I led her upstairs and packed a few things to take to Rosalie's. She looked around the room with curiosity. It was weird how unweird it felt having her up here. For some reason, I had this urge to protect her and take care of her. I had to shake myself.
After some more teasing, I slung my bag over my shoulder and headed downstairs. Alice and Jasper were still up, organizing the boxes a little better. Alice looked up with raised eyebrows.
"You're letting her sleep in your precious bed?"
"Sure, why not?"
She snorted. "You don't let anyone in that bed except Rosalie and her only because you're fucking her."
I rolled my eyes. "If lots of other people slept in my bed, the indentations in the mattress wouldn't be right. I don't think she weighs enough to dent pudding."
Jasper laughed. "Yeah, she's smaller than I remember, but I haven't seen her since Christmas two years ago since we all went skiing last year."
"Has she been sick?" asked Alice curiously.
He shook his head. "No, I think she's just stressed out a little. Only child now and all that. Lots of expectations to live up to."
I grunted. "I know how that is." I checked my watch. "Shit, it's 3. Rosalie's gonna be pissed. See you guys tomorrow."
They called their goodbyes as I ran out the door. I tossed my bag in the backseat and hurried to Rosalie's house. Rosalie. There was a never ending mistake.
I knew my friends wondered why I was with her and sometimes I wondered myself. Then I remembered how fantastic the sex was at times. It more than made up for the shittier times and the shitty personality. Plus, she was hot and there was history. Shitty history, but history none-the-less.
I pulled up in front of her house and sighed inwardly. "What the fuck am I doing?" I muttered out loud as I headed up the steps. I knocked, again pissed that she wouldn't just give me a fucking key.
She opened the door and scowled at me. "What the fuck? It's 3 am. I thought you were going to be here two hours ago."
I leaned down to kiss her but she turned her head so I got her cheek. "She got in late and we helped her unload. I would have called but I was afraid you were asleep." What bullshit. I just hadn't thought to do it.
She snorted but stood aside as I came in the door. She locked it behind me then led the way to her bedroom.
Why the hell she needed such a big house to live in by herself I didn't know but she did. She had a three bedroom, two and a half bath all to herself, all fully furnished.
Her bedroom was basically the entire attic. She'd put a California king at one end with lots of frou-frou girly shit all over the place. I hated it. The guys thought I hadn't moved in because she hadn't wanted me to. It'd been a mutual thing. I didn't want to either.
Everything was routine with us at this point. Three years in a relationship based on sex meant we pretty much had that down pat. I had to shower before and she showered after. The blankets were already pulled back on the bed so as not to get in our way. She sat down on the edge of the bed and swallowed a small blue pill.
"Birth control," she explained. I nodded as I headed into the bathroom. No way did I want a kid right now, especially not with her.
Tonight was not a swinging from the chandeliers night. I was asleep before she got out of the shower.
Tali: So, let me know if you think I should keep on with this. Is it good/bad/horrible/wonderful? Thanks for reading!