A/N: Sorry about the late update but I figured I'd just update after the holidays and such. Family only stays for so long. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year! Cliche, I know, but had to get that out of the way. On to the story. This chapter is long because I thought I'd be nice and add a little extra. The next chapter is when the drama really starts though.
Chapter 8- The Good Stuff
"Did we have to drive?"
Rosalie looked over her shoulder to roll her eyes but said nothing. I sighed and returned my attention back to the trees that we quickly passed. Emmett, Rose and I had been driving for nearly four hours and she was banking on getting there around midnight. I told her that it was too far and we should've just flown but she disagreed. As usual.
"Stop your complaining," she finally called to me from the front seat, her magazine perched on her knee.
"It's not complaining. I just feel…cramped," I replied, holding back the string of insults I could easily throw at her.
"It is complaining," she argued without looking up, "And it needs to stop. We'll be there soon enough dear Eddy."
"Have I told you how much I hate you lately?"
"Every chance you get," she laughed, her eyes still focused on the fashion magazine in front of her. I could hear Emmett chuckling in the driver's seat. I had a sudden urge to kick the back of the seat but ended up trying to ignore the duo all together.
That was, until my phone rang.
"Edward!" I heard Tanya's nasally voice echo through the phone. I sighed and wondered if the day could get any worse. "Where are you?"
"I told you I was going on a road trip," I reminded her.
"Well, I forgot," she said. "Are you going to be back in time for the premiere?"
I breathed in and out, trying to relax myself. The woman was enough to make me want to take therapy. "I'll only be gone for two days."
"Okay, well, I miss you."
"I have to go," I said and hung up before she could complain further about the situation. We had starred in one movie together and now she considered us an 'item'. I had told my publicist to keep her far away but apparently, Tanya was a hard force to stop.
"Was that your girlfriend?"
"She wishes," Emmett finally said, cracking up.
"Please, laugh at my misery," I spoke to both of them, trying to block out the sound of their laughter.
I saw Rosalie shake her head. "Oh, don't worry, we've got that covered."
When I heard my phone ringing again, I groaned and pressed end before I shut it off and threw it into my bag. If anything, this weekend would be a great chance to get away from everything, media and publicists.
After changing into some comfortable clothes, I walked out of my room and down the hall, heading towards the living room. The house was still the same, in sight and smell. The same pictures from five years back hung on the wall, the same shade of paint was still there too. As I walked down the stairs, I heard giggling, immediately recognizing it as Alice's. My brows rose in curiosity and I descended the rest of the steps and stopped when I saw the huge tree that Jasper and Carlisle were trying to put up.
"Do you guys need some help?"
I blushed when everyone's eyes turned to me. Carlisle waved me over just as Esme stepped out of the kitchen, a tray full of cookies and cups in her hand. I smiled at her as she set them down on the coffee table and went to help her husband and daughter.
"How's it coming?"
"Not so good," Jasper commented as he stepped away from the ladder. "We decided to cut it down ourselves this year."
"Well, there sure is a lot out there," I said, my eyes trained on the large pine. Jasper laughed and nodded in agreement before he rushed forward to capture Alice before she stepped off the ladder. I smiled when she looked down at Jasper and patted his hand, ensuring him that she was alright.
"I'll help," I called before I went forward and pushed the tree. Eventually, with much pushing and laughing, we got the tree up. I was just glad that the ceilings were high enough. "You got the biggest tree, didn't you?"
Carlisle smiled proudly. "Jasper picked it out but I cut it down."
"I helped," Jasper called from beside the tray of cookies. Alice was already biting into one as she walked towards the tree. She seemed to analyze it for a moment, probably trying to decide what ornaments and lights to use this year. Alice was always the one to decide that aspect of Christmas.
"I want to go out and get the lights," Alice finally spoke after several minutes of silence. No one argued with her. Everyone knew that Christmas was her thing. "Jasper, want to run to the store with me?"
"Why not use the lights in the storage room, dear?" Of course, Esme didn't want anyone leaving since we just got here.
"I have a better idea, mom," Alice said gently, "And I want it to be a surprise."
"You'll still use the tradition ornaments, right?"
"Of course," she scoffed. Esme smiled before Alice and Jasper grabbed their coats and left through the front door. Carlisle excused himself, leaving me and Esme to mill about the living room in silence.
Before I knew it, she had started a fire and we were both on the couch, sharing milk and cookies like when Alice and I were younger.
"Why don't you tell me about your friends who are coming down?"
I wrinkled my nose up and sighed. I didn't really know much about any of them to be honest. I only knew Edward because I'd been forced to read up on him. I didn't know anything about Rose except that she was Alice's good friend. And I knew absolutely nothing about her husband.
"Um, to be honest Esme, Alice would be the better person to ask," I squeaked, embarrassed that I didn't know the guests well enough to speak of them. "I don't really know them that well."
"Alice said you knew Edward," she said, confused.
Of course Alice would say that. I furrowed my brows and tried to think of some interesting facts I'd read about him and learned about him on our date. "He's very…interesting."
Esme smiled. "How is that?"
"He likes to be the center of attention but he doesn't. He's a jerk but he isn't."
"You can't be both a jerk and not. You're either one or the other."
"That's what makes him interesting, I guess," I shrugged, giving her a small smile. "It's hard to explain."
She seemed to ponder that for a moment before a knowing smile crept onto her face. She patted my hand and offered another cookie. "I'm sure it is."
"I wonder where Alice is," I mused, glancing over at the clock above the piano. It read near midnight. "They've been gone awhile."
But Esme was already cleaning up everything, not really listening to my words. She wanted to make sure everything was clean when her other, less familial guests arrived. I watched her walk around and dust something that was already shiny. Esme was probably the only person I knew who could make a place look perfect without even trying.
A few minutes later and I heard the door open, along with a few familiar voices. "Look who's here!"
My eyes followed her voice to see Edward and two strangers standing behind him, one looking excited and the other looking slightly annoyed. Edward looked indifferent, like he didn't want to be here. I frowned. Then he shouldn't have come.
The first thing I saw when I entered Alice's parent's home was the giant pine tree. It wasn't decorated, so it looked strange just perched in the middle of the living room. The next thing I saw was Bella, staring at us. She looked confused for a minute before a frown took over her features. Now, she just looked pissed.
I internally sighed and figured that she didn't know I was coming. Leave it to Alice to pull yet another fast one on me. I would have to convince her that I didn't know she was here either. I was just as surprised as she was when I saw her sitting on the couch, looking beautiful against the firelight. Well, I would leave that part out.
"Welcome to my abode…well, my previous one anyways," Alice welcomed as she spread her arms, inviting us in.
A woman who I assumed was her mother came up and smiled. "It will always be your home dear. Welcome."
I smiled politely at her even though the whole situation felt awkward. After a second, a man came down the stairs, a warm smile on his lips. I returned the smile and moved away from the open door where the cold swept in.
"Come in before you freeze," the man, obviously Alice's father, called before he walked to the door and shut it.
"I'll take your bags," he said and I let him, not wanting to offend the man I didn't know. Alice came up to me, flanked by Rose and Emmett and Jasper. She introduced us to her parents, Esme and Carlisle. Then the adults left us alone to go upstairs, saying they needed to prepare our guestrooms.
"Do your parents even have enough space?"
"Did you not see how big this house was, dude?"
Emmett's deep voice was heard above everyone else's. I rolled my eyes and glanced over at Bella, who had moved her attention to the fireplace, her frown still lingering. I ignored my friend's ridiculous comments and moved towards her, contemplating my next words. In silence, I joined her on the couch and stared into the fire.
I felt someone sit down next to me on the couch but I didn't have to turn to see who it was. I knew it was Edward. Obviously, he felt awkward about the whole thing. I could tell when I watched him shake Carlisle's hand. I expected him to handle it without awkwardness to be honest. With him being a Grammy-winning actor and all.
"Listen…I didn't know you were here," he finally said.
I turned to look at him. I tried to ignore the sudden attraction that came from nowhere when I saw his emerald eyes staring at me.
"Its fine," I said, wanting him to leave me alone. I didn't like the way he was starting to make me feel everytime he came around. It was unnerving and seemed to make things even more awkward than they were.
"I didn't want you to think-"
"I said it was fine," I repeated and continued to stare at the flickering flame. Being rude was the best way to smash any strange feelings. At least, it helped me. I watched him from the corner of my eye. He fiddled with invisible lint on his jeans and I realized he was nervous. He was nervous. And here I thought nothing could break his confident façade.
With a sigh, I turned to him and pulled what I hoped was a determined expression. "Listen, this weekend was supposed to be for family so I don't know why Alice invited you but she did and you're here so let's make this easy. Stay out of my way and I'll stay out of yours."
He was silent for a moment. "I don't want to stay out of your way."
Just like that, he'd regained confidence and pissed me off all in one sentence. "I'm going to bed." I got up and he followed. "And no, don't follow me!"
I tried to ignore his eyes burning a hole into my neck as I walked up the stairs. I was relieved when I was finally out of his line of sight. I quickly went to my room and locked myself in it, not wanting anyone to bother me. This weekend just got ten times more difficult.
I groaned and rolled over, purposefully ignoring the irritated voice beside my bed. How she got into my room, I would never know. I never really understood how Alice did half the things she did but she did them, whether or not I wanted her to. I felt her nudge me gently but I knew if I didn't get up, her pushes would become rougher, until she was nearly throwing me off the bed. So, with my personal health in mind, I sat up and looked around.
"Do you know what time it is?"
I looked over at the clock that read nine…in the morning. "It's only nine!"
"Yeah and we have to set up everything. The party is today!"
"I know that but not until six at night! You do everything well enough on your own," I argued, wanting to get a few extra hours of sleep.
"I need your help," she tried again. When I looked over at her, she seemed to be pouting. With a frustrated sigh, I threw back the covers and got out of the warm bed to start getting ready for the day ahead.
"Thank you!" She hugged me quickly and tightly. When she let go, her face was full of determination. "When you're ready, get downstairs and I'll have a list of things I need you to do on the counter in the kitchen. Okay?"
I just nodded before she smiled, pleased, and left me to my own. I mumbled a few vulgarities as I got dressed and made my way downstairs, still bummed that I didn't get any extra sleep.
"Wake up, sleepyhead," I heard and turned to look at the guy known as Emmett. It was the blonde's husband. He seemed friendly enough, if not a little intrusive.
"I'm trying," I offered, giving the smallest smile I could muster. Before I knew it, he was in front of me, holding out a hand.
"I'm Emmett," he introduced himself.
I shook his hand, smiled. "I'm Bella but I'm sure you already knew that."
His smile seemed to grow ten times bigger and I wondered if anything could put him down. "I did. Are you ready for the party?"
"I would've been more ready for it if I had gotten a few more hours of sleep," I grumbled. He laughed and patted my back.
"Then you would've missed all the fun," he said quietly, as though it were a secret. I was confused, wondering what fun he found in preparing for a party, when suddenly, he pulled out a bottle of silly string and sent the goo flying towards the front door just as Edward walked in. My eyes widened as he got covered in the purple foam. After a moment of silence, Emmett turned and I high-fived him. I began laughing when he did.
"Your right," I said through my laughter, "I'm glad I didn't miss that."
When I managed to calm myself and look up, Edward was pulling the string from his clothes, an irritated look gracing his handsome features. I nearly pranced towards him and patted his head, smiling the entire time.
"It happens to the best of us."
As I went through the front door, I heard Emmett cracking up from behind me. I shook my head, deciding that I liked the Emmett guy and continued down the steps and into the front yard. I saw the blonde, Rosalie, taking out groceries from her car. I walked around the side of the house before she saw me to see Alice telling Jasper where the chairs belonged. I also saw a few strangers setting up a few tents and lights, Alice directing them all the way of course. I wondered how it would've gone down without her to instruct everyone. Briefly, I imagined complete chaos. Yeah, that sounded like it.
"Bella, what are you doing? Why aren't you inside, cooking?"
I'd been caught.
"You're supposed to be inside, cooking! You cook the best out of all of us, so go!"
Still reeling from her commands, I held up a hand. "I can't do all that cooking without help."
"I sent in help."
"Fine," I barked as I walked back towards the house. Weaving in and out of strangers carrying decorations and chairs, I made it safely into the house without being hit; which was saying a lot, since I was so clumsy.
I made it into the kitchen, my eyes roaming all the ingredients laid out on the counter. I saw Alice's list and my eyes widened at the meals she wanted me to prepare. Thankfully, she'd gotten a catering service to serve the plates and luckily, I didn't have to cook any appetizers. I just had to cook the dinners and desserts. Besides the cake, Alice wanted everyone to have some chocolate soufflé type thing.
I was about to go out and ask where the help was when the door opened and Edward entered. I felt my face fall as I watched him walk towards me, looking eager.
"You're the help?"
"You have a problem with it?" He set the paper he had been holding down on the counter and made a move to leave. I debated quickly. I really couldn't do it by myself. I sighed and gave in. "How good are you with food?"
He turned and smiled, confident and ready. I wouldn't make this easy on him.
An hour later and I was only through twenty of the desserts. Edward had been absolutely no help, breaking the chocolate everytime I handed it to him and spilling sauce everywhere. I was nearly ready to call it quits on him but he did help with the making of the chocolate. I was currently transferring the chocolate cups to their individual bowls.
"Are you ready for the whip cream?"
I had heard him but I had been ignoring him for so long that I didn't really care to answer him. He'd do what he wanted anyway. But when I felt the whip cream land in my hair, I closed my eyes and tried to calm myself before I turned and kicked him through the nearest window.
"Oops," he said and I turned.
"Are you serious? I have to finish this," I nearly yelled, wiping the white goop from my hair. I looked down at it before I smiled. Quickly and before he noticed my arm going up, I threw the whip cream at him, straight at his face. It landed with a quiet 'plop' and I bended over as I laughed. When I looked up again, I got a handful of the whip cream in my face.
Shocked, I looked across from me to see Edward laughing.
"Oh, that is so it," I called and began to chase after him. I grabbed the second can of whip cream and poured some onto my hand before I threw it. It landed in his hair, much like it had mine and he reached up to touch it.
"Not so fun when it's your hair, huh?"
But he didn't look unhappy or angry. In fact, when he began to chase me, he looked amused. I ran to the other side of the counter, effectively avoiding his next handful of whip cream. I smiled and fell to the floor, hiding from him. Just as I turned to go around, crawling on my hands and knees, I felt the cool whip cream get smeared on my face. I stared straight to see Edward on his hands and knees, laughing once again.
Glaring playfully, I pushed him back, fighting him for the whip cream. When I finally grabbed it, I realized I was straddling him and that we were too close for comfort. Our laughter ceased and I felt his hands move up to my hips. I watched his emotions play out through his bright eyes, which were watching me.
"Am I interrupting something?"
I nearly jumped ten feet from him when I heard the familiar voice. Like a child that had been caught with a hand in the cookie jar, I looked down at my feet, ashamed. When I looked up, Alice was…smiling? Confused, I looked over at Edward and noticed him still holding the can of whip cream.
"He threw some at me," I shrugged, pointing to the whip cream on my face.
"I can see that," she laughed, her eyes looking around the kitchen, which was partially covered in the white cream. "Well, I hope you finish shortly." With that, she left without another word. I sighed and looked to the ceiling before I looked over at Edward.
"Thanks," I bit out even though I couldn't contain my smile anymore. I didn't know what was happening. One minute I was yelling at him and the next I was straddling him. He was creating feelings within me that I was not keen on feeling.
He laughed at my remark and walked towards me, his finger tapping my nose and taking the cream off of it.
"We should really get back to work, Bella," he chided. "You wouldn't want to leave the guests hungry, now would you?"
I nearly cursed as I turned my back to him and tried to focus on the recipes.
I figured I was getting to her. She didn't say much after our whip cream fight but she wasn't frowning either, which to me, was an accomplishment. She actually laughed at a joke I made as she cooked the meals for the guests.
"And then she fell," I finished, telling her a story of when Rosalie tried to become a runway model. Bella began to laugh as she put the lobsters into the pan. Her laugh was something I could listen to forever. I realized that I would have to get her to laugh more often. When she did, it lit up her entire face, making her even more beautiful.
"I can't see her doing that," she said after a moment, "She seems so graceful."
"Well, she did," I laughed and handed her another lobster. She grabbed it and our fingers brushed for a brief moment. I saw her cheeks redden as she turned away from me, trying to clear the awkwardness.
"Alright you two, you can go get ready," Alice said as she entered the kitchen. "I'll have the caterers do the rest."
"Okay," Bella said before she disappeared through the door Alice had just come in. I sighed and dropped the lobster I had been holding onto a plate and followed her. Before I made it out of the kitchen, Alice grabbed my elbow to stop me.
"Just wait until later," she offered before she smiled and left me alone.
I guess I had to wait until later. Whatever that meant.
I honestly don't know when the next update will be. I haven't written it but when I get an idea, I tend to stick with it and write until I'm completely finished. Anywho, can't stay and chat. Anyone see Avatar yet? Awesome movie! Alright, that's it! I really do have to go. Please review and leave your comments/questions/thoughts/the works. Thanks to everyone who's reviewed!
With love :)