Author's note; Well, my lovelies. The first six words of this chapter were the spark to begin another story. These words were going around in my little head for a few days and then finally my brain decided what to do with them. I know that I have said these words a few times over the years, that I have been around. I wonder how many of you lovely ladies out there have said the same at various times. Be honest! So here we go. The bulk of this story will be in Bella's POV but I may well insert the odd POV of other people as and when relevance dictates. Enjoy.
Disclaimer;I own nothing to do with Twlight. I just use the characters and I'm using Bella again!
Agony and Ecstasy
"I can't do this right now!" I shut my eyes, tightly. My mind was clouded with thoughts of leaving him right now, just going out for an hour or so, to get some air, or just giving in to him. And that's the problem. I would always opt for the latter. I always gave in to him. He always got his own way. It would leave me felling angry and frustrated at myself. Why couldn't I just be honest with myself, let alone with him?
As he detached his lips from the side of my neck, he inhaled, deeply. "Shit, Bella. I just don't get what your problem is." He muttered, frustrated.
He said it again, for the third time this month. He didn't get me!
Surely I wasn't the only woman on this planet who sometimes didn't feel like a quick fuck in the morning? Or was I. Maybe there was something wrong with me. I thought he would be different the first time we met, but now I realised that he was just like every other man I had dated or stayed with, over night. Six months of dealing with his morning needs was enough. I knew what the problem was. I didn't love him and although he said he loved me, I was beginning to believe that he was just saying it to save himself from having to go out there and find my replacement.
"No, you don't and I'm beginning to think that you never will!" I answered back. I gasped at my own honesty. For the first time, I had said exactly what I was thinking. I usually processed every thought, every idea, before I verablized it. I was such a bitch!
I was a natural, at not wanting to uspset anyone. I think I got that trait from my dad. He never really said much at all. But that always made the times that he did say something, all the more poignant.
My mom would say the first thing that came into her head. Some days, dad and I wouldn't know what hit us, first thing in the morning. A lot of it was pent up frustration. I understood that, all too well. But mom would just, let it all out. As far as she was concerned, with family, that was precisely what you should be able to do. Be honest, don't hold back. If they loved you, then they could take it, deal with it and forgive you, if you had to be forgiven.
I wasn't too sure if my outburst was such, that I wanted to be forgiven. Right now, what I wanted was an out. If he turned around right now and told me to fuck off, in no uncertain terms, then I would, happily. But I knew he wouldn't. He needed me too much. Much more than I needed him. I didn't rely on people to make me happy. I didn't need another person to justify my existence. I was with him out of habit. Confrontation was not my game. I was such a coward!
I only spent quality time with a few men before him. The sort you hang out with, make out with but don't stay over night with. Just casual. Good fun. I could take it or leave it. I never really needed any of them.
I was beginning to think that there was something wrong with me. Sex was always something that others talked about. My girlfriends at work, were always whispering about this guy or that guy and trying to work out how they might gain his sole attention for a night or even longer. I didn't join in with their conversations, very often. I didn't understand what their fascination was, with the guy they were after. The centre of their attention wasn't exactly centerfold or high up in the IQ stakes.
"You're just too damn picky, Bella." Alice huffed at me one lunchtime. I remember that day clearly. We met up and went over to the park. It was a sunny day. It was good to feel the warmth on my face. We found Rose easily, sunning herself, leisurely stretched out on a tartan picnic rug. She was attracting a fair amount of attention, which was the whole idea. She was very adept at not making it obvious that she was checking out the men walking past her. They slowed down to look at her but that meant, that she in turn, could get a good look at them. They actually didn't realise the tactic was purely for her benefit.
"I don't think I am, Alice." I sighed back at her, as we made ourselves comfortable on the rug. "My life doesn't revolve around men and which one I can get to take me out on a Saturday night and show me a good time. That's all." I tilted my face up towards the sun, shutting my eyes so that I wouldn't have to look at her incredulous face. We hitched our already short dresses a little higher, to expose as much flesh to the sun's rays as was possible, without being dreadfully gawped at.
Even Alice didn't understand me, as far as men were concerned. She didn't mind too much about looks or his occupation. She very rarely found someone as energetic as herself, so when she did come across one who could dance practically all night and keep up with her in conversation, she was, shall we say, smitten for a while. But she still hadn't found 'the one'.
Rose was a little bit more understanding. She didn't see the necessity of needing a man in her life, twenty four seven. She was a very resourceful woman. She was independent and always called the shots. The men she dated really didn't know how to handle her. If she was unhappy with you, you knew it. She was the total opposite to me.
I envied her strength, her resolve and her determination that she would never allow herself to be owned by any man. She was her own person and she liked it that way. If she let you in, you were special. Alice and I, were those special people in her life. We had somehow clicked, gelled, bonded. An amazing mix of oestrogen, Alice described us, one time.
She said that if we could somehow be merged into one woman, then we would probably be the almost perfect woman.
I took it as a compliment. Rose looked at Alice with narrowed eyes, shook her beautiful head, in disbelief, and went back to reading her motorcycle weekly magazine.
"Bella!" His sharp tone, broke me out of my daydream. I looked at him, with wide eyes. I blinked and then I looked at him again, really hard. "You're doing it again!" His jaw set, as he rolled his eyes and got out of bed, heading for the bathroom. The door shut with a click and I stuck my tongue out at it, childishly. I wouldn't have the nerve to do it to his face. You see that is my problem. I can't be honest about how I feel.
I hauled myself out of the sumptuous bed, dressed quickly, found my shoes and purse, fished out a stick of gum, popping it into my mouth, as a quick breath freshener and made my way quickly, to the front door. As soon as I shut the door, I leaned against it, sighing rather dramatically, even for me. Pushing my body away from the door, I gathered my hair up into a deliberate messy bun, securing it with a scrunchie from my jeans pocket, that I always kept handy for times like these.
But this time was going to be, the last time. This time, I had finally decided that I wouldn't be answering his calls, that would, without a doubt, begin one hour after my departure. This time I was going to be strong, resolute and determined. But I would have to go over to Rose's place in order to do so. I couldn't do it on my own. I would need her to hide my phone from me and keep my mind occupied with some other distractions. A good DVD or a bottle of wine. Hell, even a shopping trip! Anything that would mean I couldn't just get up and go back to him when he clicked his fingers. This time I wanted to stay away, for good. This time I was going to do something for Bella. Me, Bella Swan would finally not be at the beck and call of a man. Least of all Mike Newton.
Once I arrived at Rose's place, I parked the car in a suitable spot, quickly checking my face in the rearview mirror. After all said and done, I did have a certain amount of pride in my appearance, especially when it came to standing next to the siren, that was Rose. It didn't matter what time of day or night, she always looked perfect. I just hoped that one day, eventually, some of her confidence, would rub of on me. We had after all, known each other for three years now.
I picked up my purse from the passenger seat and locked up the car. I made my way up the steps, to the entry door to her apartment block. I buzzed her number and was immediately allowed access. She must have seen me arrive, from her kitchen window. When I reached the top of the stairs, leading to her apartment, she had left the front door open for me. There was nothing more comforting than a friend who would leave their front door open, upon your arrival. It was like a huge hug but without arms. It was the pre-hug to the real hug. I stepped through the doorway and shut it, securely behind me.
"Thanks, Rose." I breathed. I felt safe here. Probably because, Rose would take control and I would be allowed the luxury of not having to think.
"What happened this time, hon?" She busied herself, pouring out two mugs of coffee, handing me one and gesturing, with a nod, to the couch in the living room. I set my mug on the coffee table and took off my jacket, draping it over the arm of the couch. I sat down, nestling myself into the cushions and shut my eyes for a moment.
Rose never expected an immediate answer. She was patient. Well, patient as far as Alice and I were concerned. She never afforded this kind of patience to others, outside of our circle of three.
I reached forward to claim my mug and held it, cupping both hands around the now, slightly cooled, receptacle.
"I do believe I've finally come to my senses." I looked at her, smiling and took a sip of the coffee.
Her eyebrow arched, gracefully. She turned her pajama clad body towards me, tucking her legs under herself. She was giving me her full attention.
"From the beginning, please." She took another sip of her coffee and looked into my face, intently, with her cool blue eyes.
"I was laying in bed, thinking to myself. 'Why are you doing this?' She snorted at me.
"What were you doing, if you don't mind me asking?" I should have realised that would be her next question. I rolled my eyes. I was always embarrassed when I had to talk about anything to to with activities pertaining to the bedroom kind.
"He was in the mood, as usual." I began, blushing slightly.
"You will stay until the morning, Bella! You know that's why they never stay overnight with me. I hate being bothered first thing in the morning." She looked at me over the rim of her coffee mug. She was right of course.
"Well, I wasn't in the mood. I think I said something like, 'I can't do this anymore'. Rose coughed, as she choked on the sip of coffee, that she was in the process of swallowing.
She took a deep breath to calm herself. "Wow, Bella. Say what's on your mind, why don't you?" I knew she thought it was long overdue.
"I know! I don't know where it came from. I've never said it before!" I was still in shock.
"Well, then. It's about time." She smiled and winked at me.
"I didn't hang around though. When he disappeared into the bathroom, I made the decision to leave, quickly." She looked at me and shook her head slightly. I was such a disappointment to her. I felt like I would never 'grow a pair' as Rose would so delicately put it.
"Where's your phone?" She asked, sharply, holding out her perfectly manicured hand to me. I quickly turned to my jacket pocket and fished it out, handing it over to her as if I had been caught out with some kind of contraband.
She immediately switched it off and buried it behind her back, between two cushions. "There! Out of sight, out of mind." She said, triumphantly. I think she was actually enjoying this. She was imparting some of her wisdom on me and all I had to do, was take note and follow her instructions. Maybe I was a lost cause.
"I don't need him, do I, Rose?" Already doubts creeping in. I was so weak!
"No, you don't, hon. If you settled for him, you'd be settling for second best. You deserve more than that. You deserve the best." This is why Rose is my friend. She always knows how to make me feel better about myself.
"I've got some time owing to me. Maybe I should go away. Be out of reach for a while." I pondered for a moment. The cowardly choice.
"Why not?! Your last proper holiday was a year ago. Where would you go?" She smiled.
"I don't know. I suppose I could go and stay with mom for a while." The easy option. If in doubt go to mom's.
"Would that really be a holiday for you, Bella?" She was right.
As much as I loved my mom, I would end up doing most of the cooking and get lectured on how to find the perfect man. Phil, her new husband of two years, was perfect, as far as she was concerned. They complimented each other ....perfectly. He challenged her in ways that dad never did. Above all, he understood her.
From being a frustrated housewife and mother to making the decision she wanted to be a single mother, when I was about ten, we moved to Phoenix. She loved the heat. Mom had decided the route to take to find herself and what she really wanted in her life. It broke dad's heart in the process, but she became a calmer person for it and she was fun to be around, for the first time. As I got older I reliased that her mood swings back in Forks, probably had a lot to do with the the dreary weather more than my dad. But he didn't want to move; he was happy there and didn't understand why she wasn't. SAD hadn't been discovered then.
She then lived on her own for a year after I left home to go and work in Seattle. That's when she met Phil.
I would have been only too happy to stay in Phoenix, but the company I worked for, transferred to Seattle. At the time I couldn't find another job in Phoenix, so I moved. I thought it would do me good. The relocation bundle I was offered, was a little hard to turn down. The company helped all of the employees who decided to take up the offer, to find accommodation, help with the first months rent, paid for all the shipping costs and gave all of those who moved, an extra week holiday entitlement that first year, so that the move was a little less traumatic for the families. It meant that I could spend an extra day at the weekend, whenever I visited mom.
Moving, for me was a good idea, as it turned out. It helped me to spread my wings and besides, dad lived in Forks, in the old family home, which was only about a four hour drive away. It meant we could renew our relationship a little.
We had only spent summers together when I was still at school. The occasional Christmas together and then that changed to just a week together when I took annual leave, from work, the few years before I moved to Seattle. Now I try to visit twice a month, for a weekend, when he doesn't go fishing. Which wasn't very often. He had lived on his own for so long that he was comfortable in his routine. He enjoyed his own company. He didn't need to have company.
So you see, this is where I got that trait from. Comfortable with my own company. The only difference between us was, that he was not averse to making sure that people understood his love of solitude. I think that probably comes with age. Being comfortable in your own skin and confident in what you know about yourself.
I was still learning that.
"Maybe I should go somewhere I've never been before." I pondered, reconnecting my mind to where my body was situated.
A deserted island sounded quite appealing right now. I would only need to worry about the bare neccessities, some good books and a journal, so that I could write down all my thoughts.
"My parents own a cabin on Orcas Island. Deer Harbour to be precise." Rose immediately captured my attention. "I went there a lot as a child. It only has one bedroom. I remember I slept on a pull out for years until I got too big" She smiled. "My parents couldn't give it up. They still use it to get away from it all. It might be perfect for you. To get away for a bit and ....breathe." I leaned over to her and took her hand in mine and gave it a gentle squeeze.
"It sounds wonderful, Rose. D'you think your parents would let me use it for a couple of weeks? It's far enough away but not too far." She gave my hand a squeeze in return.
"Of course they would. You're one of my best friends, aren't you? I'll check with them when it's available and let you know. I'd do it now, except they're away
visiting relatives." She informed me.
"That's fine, Rose. I'd need to make sure that's okay with Jasper, Monday morning. I'm sure he won't say no. We don't seem to be that busy at the moment." I mused.
I made a deal with myself. First thing Monday morning and I wasn't going to back out of it. I needed this. That was one thing I was sure of.
Jasper would understand. He often took weekend breaks to go back to Phoenix, in order to keep in touch with friends and family, since moving with the company. He's been my boss for three and a half years and he's great to work for. When I first started working for him he kindly took me out for a couple of dinners. At first I wasn't sure as to which road we were going down. The only time I was aware of, when a boss wanted to take his secretary out for dinner, was because he had an ulterior motive. But Jasper wasn't like that. He genuinely wanted to get to know me a little better and felt that the best way to do that was to chat over dinner. And that's exactly what transpired. Open and honest conversation.
He was a very interesting man to work for. I must admit the first time I saw him, before I reliased that he would be my boss, he had captured my interest. He had moved around quite a lot with his line of expertise and had moved back to Phoenix after an absence of three years. He had been working in Mexico where he was head hunted by the software company that I worked for. Their offer was too good for him to refuse so he took the position and I ended up with a new boss when my previous one retired because of ill health.
Sometimes his good looks, still caught me unawares. His hair was an amazing colour blonde. He was like a male version of Rose. His piercing blue eyes always seemed to be smiling, whenever he talked. He always looked interested, in everyone that he met. He was quite tall and lean. His suits hung well on him and he had a good sense of what looked good on him. His southern lilt was almost too much to bare, when we first met. He had an air of total confidence about him. Well of course he did. He knew exactly what he was doing with his life and what he wanted from life. He was a rather unusual man though. I never heard him talk about ex-girlfriends or even current girlfriends for that matter. I knew he dated because once in a while they would call the office. Whenever I patched them through to him, he would be cutely embarrassed and cut the conversation short. He was a very conscientious man to work for. He didn't like to mix his private life with his working life.
"Of course Jasper will let you have some time off. You're always need to get yourself a set of four different walls around you. Home walls and work walls get a bit boring after a while. The cabin will certainly not make you feel like you are surrounded by walls. I remember some evenings would be so warm that dad would leave the French doors open, well into the night. Mom always freaked out about animals getting into the cabin, but that never happened. You know I almost wish I could come with you. Talking about it, is sparking so many memories." Rose's face took on a dreamlike expression as she spoke.
"That would be wonderful." I whispered to Rose. Straight away she looked at me as if I'd grown a third eye.
"This vacation is for you, remember, Bella? Maybe I'll go over there sometime soon. First of all, you're going. That's the priority right now." I knew she was right.
The decision was made. Rose would make sure that I stuck to it.
End of Chapter
Author's note; I have a pretty good idea as to where this story is going. So whileI get the next chapter tidied up and ready to be posted, I would love your input about this chapter in the form of a review. Take care.